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Au pairs - how long do you give them before you know if it's going to work out or not?

23 replies

cloudberry · 20/09/2007 07:22

We've had au pairs for 18 months now and you'd think I'd be able to work this out for myself ...! We've had this one for almost 4 weeks, will be 4 weeks on Sunday and she's really annoying me. Very over sensitive, mouse-like which I know she can't help, is fine with my dcs as long as they're fine but is unable to work out how to deal with them if they're grizzly so I'm having to take over which is not great when I'm trying to get some work done or want to rest (i'm almost 12 weeks pregnant and run out of batteries by about 3.00 pm). She now says her back hurts so can she do less hoovering, all I'm really asking her to do is push a hoover round the kitchen floor once a day to get rid of dog hairs, 3 dogs = a lot of hair, and hoover other areas a couple of times a week when they look as though they need it. I ended up doing a massive clean last Sunday as I couldn't bear it any more, and there's other things which I've asked her to do, put down on paper which I give to the girls when they arrive, jobs etc, which she's not doing even though I've reminded her and reminded her. I find that I have to be incredibly careful about how I remind her otherwise she bursts into tears. She's basically a sweet girl but is very immature. She's meant to be with us until the end of Feb. Last week I managed to have a chat with her and she told me she was finding my dcs very difficult which has surprised family and friends as everyone comments on how easy-going they are, and they're now very used to different girls being around. Were going to have another chat this weekend, but she's very hard to read and I'm not sure what to do if she says she's feeling happier with them. My gut says let's move on, but then I feel sorry for her which I know is fatal, and wonder if I'm being unfair to be so irritated by her. We have had fantastic au pairs in the past so I know what it's like to have one who is a pleasure to have around. Sorry, this is now much longer than I intended. Any suggestions?

OP posts:

goldenoldie · 20/09/2007 08:00

cloudberry stick to your gut instinct. It is not working and will not work unless you are prepared to do the lions share of housework and sort out all the kids squabbles she can't deal with.

as you say, lovely girl, but not for you. Does not sound like she is happy either.

get an au-pair used to living away from home and one that has been au-pair in uk before that way you can speak to last family and learn from their experience.


mummypoppins · 20/09/2007 09:14

I agree..we had a similar one 12 months ago....very sweet butvery needy. Couldnt manage the children at all and the most terrible driver...........gave her 3 weeks as I was keen to be fair but when the BSM instructor said that the onlly positive thing about her driving was that she was fundamentally in control of the car but not much else I knew she had to go. Had big tears and she was gutted but not as much as I would have been had she killed my children or me!

Go with your gut reaction. I learnt that over the 5 we had.



MrsRecycle · 20/09/2007 09:44

In a nutshell - when you know exactly how long she's been with you!! My new AP started at the beginning of September and I can't say how many weeks she's been with us as it's gone so quick. She is wonderful. Although she has made some mistakes but they are easy forgotten. However, if these mistakes were grinding on me then I would know it would be time to let her go.

I had a Nanny like yours and as soon as she started complaining of a bad back and couldn't do things, it was time to let her go.


ingles2 · 20/09/2007 10:58

Cloud I know exactly how you feel....Am not at all sure about my new AP and she's only been here 8 days! You're right MrsRecycle...I could even tell you the hours! Mines's doing the "sickness" thing! It's a cold for goodness sake!
and she doesn't talk to my to be time to change I think,..after all we can't be irritated in our own homes can we?


scienceteacher · 20/09/2007 17:40

I've had a new au pair for a month now, and the penny was starting to drop about a week ago. She doesn't clean, and wants to spend hours at the dinner table with us chatting. She's also in contact with her own mother too much.

We are calling it quits, and have a new one arriving in a week.

She's a nice enough girl, but isn't cut out to be an aupair.


MrsRecycle · 21/09/2007 09:07

sc - having had to get rid of two APs before the current one, you are definitely taking the right approach. It feels good to part on good terms rather than having to sack them for gross misconduct, eventually.


cloudberry · 21/09/2007 20:03

Thank you everyone for your comments. I had another chat with our ap and she said she was still not happy and that perhaps it would be better if she looked for another family. so result really. I didn't have to be mean and tell her why we weren't happy with her and I will help her to find another family gladly. We do need help but my dh and I are getting fed up with crappy au pairs. in the last 18 months we've had 2 good ones which actually I suppose is not bad going. But I haven't got the energy to go through the whole process again only to get a girl who finds that being an au pair is not what she thought it was going to be, ie she might actually have to do a bit of work! so we're looking for alternatives ....!

OP posts:

ingles2 · 21/09/2007 22:17

alternative childcare all together cloud? I've been thinking about this today too but I can't think of any other alternative...we're rural and commute! I am fed up with AP's though and the agencies! I think they're (ap's) being sold a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for absolutely no work.
Do you know, agency ...which charges me a FORTUNE, has phoned AP twice since she arrived last week to make sure she's ok,...haven't phoned me though!
I need to remind them who's paying I think!


cloudberry · 23/09/2007 14:36

Ingles2, we're now considering going down the Mother's Help route. My dh says that he'd rather pay more to get quality help than be driven demented by someone not pulling thier weight. I'm hoping we might find someone local who would live out. I've got various irons in the fire and just pray that someone turns up so to speak. The ap has gone to a couple of interviews and one of the families rang me last night for a reference. She said that she found the ap flat and bland which doesn't particularly augur well. She, the ap, told me yesterday that it is all much harder and more work than she thought it would be, and yet has gone to see families wanting the same number of hours!! I think she hasn't got a clue. Anyway sorry, I'm just feeling a bit soured by the whole ap experience. I'll let you know if we have any luck with the new search.

OP posts:

ingles2 · 23/09/2007 22:06

Hi Cloud..yes do...we've got an au pair plus and they all seem to think it's too much like hard work. I'd give my right arm to do 6 hours of playing with the kids and light housework a day


kittywits · 26/09/2007 23:00

Please help me on this if you can. My new aupair is driving me nuts. She's fine with the house work and mostly with the kids, but she doesn't stop talking, she's always in my space and I'm more exhausted now than before she came.

Dp and I don't have a second to ourselves. Would you expect yopur aupairs to be with you in the evenings?

She has friends locally but is always back by 10.30 and tells me al about her evening and sits with us. She has her own room and sitting room too! Help!


Squiffy · 27/09/2007 17:33

hahahahaha kittywits. I have been there myself, so you are not alone.

Unfortunately, in my experience there is no solution to this, other than praying that she will find herself a boyfriend. Perhaps you could ask DH and his friends to pose round the house provocatively flexing their pecs in the hope it might get her thoughts flying in the right direction? Not, obviously, an entirely riskfree solution....


cloudberry · 01/10/2007 21:05

Does anyone have any suggestions about how I could find a Mother's Help? I have put an ad on gumtree which has produced nada, and I've never had any luck with it. An ad on has produced 2 applicants both of which I've interviewed: one came across fantastically and I got very excited until we rang one of her references and was told don't touch her with a barge pole!! The other seems fine, I'm getting a verbal reference for her tomorrow but she hasn't really excited me. But how much does that really matter?! I've just spent about 45 minutes trawling through nannyjob myself and sent various emails expressing interest and will wait and see, but wonder what pearls of wisdom anyone here can offer? I need someone to start asap, 2 small dcs 2.10 months and 18 months and no. 3 due in April and I work from home. Not sure about agencies as they seem to charge the earth but will be open to suggestions, so help please .......!!!

OP posts:

frannikin · 01/10/2007 22:13

Whereabouts are you located? Some gumtrees are better than others. If you're a smaller town with a gumtree near a bigger city then try other local gumtrees too.

Go with your gut feeling on the other mothers help - if something feels wrong it probably is. Not necessarily that she's a horrible person but you might not work well together.


Millarkie · 01/10/2007 22:39

If the reference is ok on your 'non-exciting' candidate could you ask her for a day (or few days) trial to get a better feel for her? Might give you the time to realise what you don't like about her or the time to realise that she's good at the job.
People advertise for mother's helps in our local paper - not sure how much that would cost but probably not that much.


ingles2 · 02/10/2007 09:46

Hi Guys...ok, I had a long chat with our AP about what I was happy with and not so, and asked her the same she's also settled in a bit more and tbh is doing much better, ...she's made a group of friends so I think there was a definite element of home sickness in her mood before. I think if you're not having much luck on local ads cloud try an agency, expensive I know but your dc are so young and all the references will be checked etc.etc I won't recommend mine they still haven't called me!


cloudberry · 02/10/2007 14:23

Thanks for you suggestions. I spoke to the other girl's reference this morning, and guess what, it was an absolute joke!! So the penny has dropped about agencies and I agree Ingles, far better to pay and get a decent girl. I'm really glad for you that your ap is getting on better, what a relief for you.

OP posts:

ingles2 · 02/10/2007 14:38

Thanks Cloud,..this morning I let out that huge sigh of relief I've been holding in for the last month..So is your AP still with you or has she moved on?


cloudberry · 02/10/2007 15:05

She left last thursday and d'you know she made so little impact I barely notice she's not here anymore, and thankfully neither do the dcs!

OP posts:

ingles2 · 02/10/2007 20:37

Phew...well that's good. I think you should get onto one of the bigger agencies (someone's recommended millenium au pairs to me on another thread)and get them looking for a slightly older (20+ maybe) au pair plus / mothers help. Preferably one who's au paired before and has plenty of experience with babies. Good luck..let me know how you get on


alycat · 15/10/2007 17:48

My new Ap has been here 10 days, oh yes I've counted every hour! So by MrsRecycles test, I should get rid!

PITA, you spend weeks looking and checking and then when they arrive they are not the Mary-Poppins-style person they (or their references) purported to be!

I'm a bit spoilt as had some lovely ones, so am giving it a few more weeks (days).

The DCs have started to talk about the old AP who has been gone 2 months all the time, with the LO calling her name everytime the front door opens.


mishmash · 16/10/2007 10:24

We said we would give it 2 months - we have given it a little more than that and though our girl is "nice" she is not the person we perceived her to be before she came and as DH put it last night she has an "attitude" - we can't quite put our finger on it.

Anyway not going to see her for 3 weeks and when she comes back I think I will be telling her we don't need an aupair anymore which isn't a lie because my work arrangements will be changing after Christmas which will see me more at home than ever.

We got on great on really well in the beginning but since boyfriends arrived on the scene she has really changed.


ingles2 · 16/10/2007 11:59

Aah...the dreaded boyfriends!! Yep,.our best AP ever, a lovely czech girl, became a nightmare when the boyfriend came on the scene! Thankfully she decided to leave and move in with him or I would of sacked her. She had been with us nearly 2 years though.

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