Any Way to Change Behavior of an Au Pair Who’s Always Late?

by cv harquail on April 15, 2016

What do you do when you’ve organized yourself and been clear about your needs, but find yourself unable to influence the behavior of your Au Pair?

When communication or training differences pop up, we usually go back to the basics:

  • Do you have a handbook?
  • Do you have regular check-in meetings?
  • Were you clear about your expectations during the interview process?
  • Is your family generally organized?

Running Late Au PairMost of the time, it’s one of these basic foundational elements that’s lacking…and “all” a host parent has to do is put this foundational element in place and (most times) the problem gets resolved.

Or, you might have these foundational elements, but just not followed up in practice. Then, “all” a host parent has to do is explain the “Why” behind the rule, or link the expectation to a larger sense of purpose and responsibility.

Alas, for HostMomLosingHerPatience, she’s done all of this. And more.  

Her situation is not one of those “rematch, now” kinds of things. It’s a little late in the year for that, but even more importantly, this issue speaks of a deeper frustration and disappointment with the Au Pair -Host Family experience.

Awaiting your words of wisdom —     

Dear Au Pair Mom, I have searched this website and many others* related to promoting a good relationship and communicating with my Au Pair. We have been a HF for 5 years, with a total of 7 Au Pairs. Some went into rematch for varying reasons – initiated by both them and us.

We Set Up a Good Foundation for our Au Pair Experience …

I try to be very clear during the interview process and after arrival that we need our Au Pair to be organized and stay on top of the routine, making sure she is ready to start on time, and get the kids to and from school/activities on time.

  • I have a written family handbook and a one-page summary of the house rules/Au Pair expectations.
  • We meet with our Au Pair almost nightly for a quick check in and review the upcoming day (or 2 or 3), and
  • We maintain a calendar with everyone’s everything listed.

Our family motto is Plan Ahead.

… But Our Au Pair Doesn’t Behave as Though She Recognizes the Issues

Our current Au Pair is from S. America, and we know that there are different cultural standards regarding what it means to be “on time”.  My Au Pair actually mentioned it during the ride home from the airport on her very first day. She observed that when the training school schedule stated 9am start time, it started PROMPTLY at 9am, and this facet of American life was emphasized during the training week.

So, here we are 8 months later, and she is still struggling to stay organized and anticipate, for example, getting the kids to music lessons on time.

I have given her feedback, suggesting that if the drive takes 10 minutes under perfect conditions (and DH has spent countless hours helping to shore up her driving skills), she should leave the house 20 minutes before the lesson starts, to build in time for traffic, etc, life-happens kind of stuff.

This week, she pulled out of the driveway about 8 minutes before the lesson start time. Kid #2 told me the Au Pair was “rushing” when she drove, and intentionally didn’t prepare a snack (written on the calendar) for kid#3 because she didn’t have time. In the same week, I had to knock on her door to wake her after her start time on a school day. This is just an example of recurring issues with being on time or anticipating the next activity, which comes up at least once a week.

I am not sure if this is a cultural thing, personality thing, or an “I don’t care” thing.

All I know is that it’s making me crazy.

We have an Au Pair because we are very busy working parents. I’m losing patience (okay, it’s been gone a while) with having to constantly reiterate how important it is to us that she knows when and where she/kids have to be next, and planning ahead to be on time. I’ve even stressed that we as adults are setting an example for the kids, to learn to think ahead, and to value other people’s time (as in not making others wait for us).

(I’ve not asked my LCC for assistance; in the past, she has offered very little support, hence 3 transitions).

How do I express to myAu Pair that running late is not acceptable and help her to embrace this concept?

I know she feels micromanaged (I have an irregular work schedule/work from home), but when I see the same issue cropping up on a regular basis, I can’t let it lie.

We are in the interviewing process for the next Au Pair, and I’m so over this whole thing. Having an Au Pair is supposed to make life easier, but it rarely does.

Please help! ~ HostMomLosingHerPatience


*(cv notes: what many others? do tell!)

Image: Late, by Henry Vessa on Flickr


HRHM April 15, 2016 at 7:09 pm

I’m not sure what’s underlying the behavior but it’s clear to me that it’s not going to change, since you’ve done all the normal things and in eight months she still hasn’t gotten her $4!t together. Unless you’re of the mind to rematch now, you need to just keep riding her like a donkey (painful for everyone involved) or give up (wouldn’t happen here – i abhor tardiness.)

I have a section in my HHHB since AP 5 was late daily (slept until DH woke her – I was at work already and had no idea until the final weeks)

It generally states that if I have to wake her for work, she is already late. She is to be upstairs, dressed and ready to work 5 minutes before her shift starts. The first time she is late, we’ll talk about it and I’ll remind her and help her troubleshoot. The second time, she will have to meet with me and LCC to discuss and remediate. The third time, we will go into rematch. I know this sounds harsh, but are you late to work once a month? Nah, me neither. If she really can’t manage to do things in a timely fashion after being told how important it is to you, then she either doesn’t care or just will never be able to do it. No reason to extend the misery.

AlwaysHopeful HM April 15, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Confession time… I am TERRIBLE about being on time! (And I’m not South American, so…). I do think a part of it is personality, and yes, I understand the inconvenience to others, and try to do better, but… I try to find au pairs who have a commitment to timeliness, because I won’t be able to help them if they don’t, and I want my son to develop that skill! And it really is a skill, or lack thereof, not an intentional slight or lack of respect, difficult as that may be for folks who have the skill to believe!

I can say that the one thing that helped (when I tried it, a while back) was HRHM’s suggestion here of scheduling each element of the task. For example, for my morning routine, I wrote out what time my shower would begin and end, same for brushing teeth and walking the dog. It was important to write out the end time because– for chronic late-nicks– the biggest lags tend to be the result of not being able to properly gauge when to stop one activity and move on to the next.

For your sanity, I would recommend trying this with your au pair. I would have her do it. She will break each task into elements, estimate how much time each piece will take her, and write the schedule based on that. You can adjust anything you think is unreasonably shortchanged. Writing it out may also help her realize how unrealistic she has been. For example, she may have been giving herself 15 minutes for something that will really take 30 once you factor in all the components. And yes, use actual times (not just amounts of tims) and set alarms so that there is no question that it is time to stop one activity and begin another.

I know it seems like a lot of work, and you’re closing out your year, but 4 months is a long time to suffer, if there’s something that could make it work.

AlwaysHopeful HM April 15, 2016 at 9:59 pm

Oops- I just realized it was Full Circle, not HRHM. Advice still stands!

NBHostMom April 16, 2016 at 9:25 pm

I 100% whole heartedly think an au pair must be on time for anything that impacts the kids. This includes shift start times, picking them up and dropping them off. I also know that some people just have zero concept of time, my husband being one of them. It’s like time is some abstract concept that can be translated to action. It’s actually very interesting as my son is very much time unaware, like his father, while my daughter is a scheduler / clock watcher, just like her mom.

Long story short, my bet is this is just how your current AP is wired. Unfortunately, this “wiring” does not align to her AP responsibilities. I honestly don’t think you can change her, you’re going to have to make a judgement call if she’s strong enough in other areas to avoid rematch.

During matching, one of my favorite questions is: “swimming lessons start at 4:30pm and are located a 10 minute drive from the house. When do you leave?” The “time aware” au pairs know the correct answer is somewhere in the 30 minute window. They know kids move slow, swimming lessons require getting changed and they need buffer time.

Full Circle April 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I love that question. I will add that to my list!

Full Circle April 15, 2016 at 7:37 pm

So yes, it is a cultural thing AND in this case, it sounds mostly a personal thing. While south american countries are much more relaxed about timeliness than here in the US, people are still expected to show up to work on time and fulfill their obligations on time. So tardiness is mostly for social events, not actual real life commitments. So a school play that is scheduled to start at 7pm may only start at 7:20 or later. If you are invited for a dinner party, you generally only show up 20-30 mins AFTER the start time (or you may catch your hosts getting ready). It is actually considered rude to be on time for a party. But you still show up on time for work. Kids are still expected to come to school on time or they will get a note, detention, etc. So I think her difficulty could be a number of things: if she never had a job before being an au pair, she is not used to having to be on time for real life responsibilities. However, most south americans I know can and do adjust quickly once they are aware of how things work here. it also part of the culture to be very aware of how other see you and to do what you can to present yourself in a favorable light. With that said, I have had to personally remind many south americans about timeliness (sitters, etc), and occasionally had issues and encountered some difficulty in understanding just how important it was because they seemed to equate a babysitting job as more of a casual job, so tardiness didn’t seem that much of a big deal to them. I imagine this au pair may be doing the same thing, since job and family life have such blurry lines in the au pair program (again, I think that is HER difficulty, not a general cultural thing as most DO adjust). Since it seems like you already had plenty of conversations about it, the only thing that comes to mind to me is to help her actually develop the skill of being organized and on time because if she never had to do it, she hasn’t developed this skill. So setting reminders on her phone/alarm clock when she needs to start getting ready or leave the house, have check lists or list exact times where things need to happen (5:15pm begin getting kids read, 5:30 pack snacks, 5:40 get shoes on kids and gather items needed, 5:45 leave house, etc etc etc.). Breaking it down for her might make it easier for her to follow through as she could simply be overwhelmed with what is so simple and automatic to most of us.

This may be way more work than you are willing to do (it would be for me) and it may take more time than you have to have this resolved.

New to This April 15, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Aha — your comments on culture perfectly explain my observations below about my AP and her friends. My AP had lots of work experience before coming here, and she has the professionalism thing down cold. I only encounter her friends in social contexts, so their apparent looseness about time in those settings fits what you describe… Thanks for the insight!

New to This April 15, 2016 at 7:41 pm

If a stern and specific articulation of your standards (possibly including, if not a direct threat of rematch, an admission to the LCC in the AP’s presence that you’ve “thought about” it) doesn’t get through, maybe start padding her schedule for her? If you’re not using all 45 hours, set her shift start times half an hour earlier. Tell her the music school has asked that your kids start arriving ten minutes before class begins so they can “set up.” Throw some busy work into her schedule and expect it not to get done; e.g., if she’s skipping making a snack because she’s run out of time, ask her to make the snack and then clean some dishes, and hope that means she will get to the snack when she’s “supposed” to be doing dishes. All of this seems like way too much effort for you to have to go through, but I don’t see much likelihood at this point that this AP is going to start getting the job done without putting you through a lot of headache.

For what it’s worth, my South American AP has never been late for a shift, but her friends from the same home country do seem pretty flaky about time to me (e.g., showing up half an hour after our reservation time when we took them out for my AP’s birthday), so maybe it is a cultural thing and my AP is just the exception.

Multitasking Host Mom April 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

You got great advice, and it sounds like you have tried many of the right things…but I think this au pair just might never be able to be on time… for whatever reason. I have had friends like this and there was nothing I could do to change them. I just started scheduling things with them to start fifteen minutes before I really wanted to meet up. Then we were both happy…but this was a social situation…not a work one.

Best just to focus on choosing the next one. It sound like you want someone who is organized and punctual. I would recommend looking at only potential APs that have had some sort of job where they had to show up and be responsible for a whole day over an extended period of time. It can be part or full time, paid job or internship, and not even related to child care. Hopefully with this experience an AP will have already gained the skills you are looking for. I used this criteria for my past three au pairs, and I have noticed that they do show up on day one expecting to do a job and are not easily overwhelmed. Plus, it is really hard to be someone’s first employer…been there, done that. Also, really pay attention to the personality tests (hopefully the agency you are using provides them). They are a great way to get a better clue of what a potential APs intrinsic nature is like.

German Au-Pair April 16, 2016 at 6:12 am

Being from a culture that is known to be on time, I can tell you that for the life of me I cannot be on time. Even when I meet people 5 minutes away, I am late. Many of my friends are the same and it not uncommon for us to commit to meeting at 8 and all arrive at 8:20, almost at exactly the same time…
Now that I have friends who are NOt late, I struggle with that. I usually only tell them “around that time” to make sure they don’t wait too long.
I think when it comes to appointments I usually overcompensate, so my HF only ever rolled their eyes about me leaving WAY too early. When I have to catch the train in the morning I usually have about 10, sometimes 15 minutes to wait in my car because I am afraid if I leave later I will leave WAY later and miss it. That way, if I plan to leave 30 minutes before the train comes, the drive there is only 15 minutes, I end up stuck in traffic AND end up actually leaving 5 minutes later, I will STILL be on time.
While it’s definitely also a cultural thing, I believe that being on time is mostly a personal thing. I’ve been working on it for such a long time now and I have wasted as much time being early as I have been too late.
So that’s the only thing I can tell you: tell her to leave 30 minutes before the lesson starts and that is non-negotiatable. Tell her to make a snack 40 minutes before the lesson starts. That way, she has 20 minutes extra and she’ll probably need it.
And it really isn’t about not caring. I really do feel bad when people have to wait for me and every single day I try to work on being ON time instead of choosing between being late or early. It’s been better in some areas but it’s a lot of work and people who are always on time cannot imagine how hard it can be :D

2 kids and a cat April 16, 2016 at 6:55 am

I would mediate with the LCC and un te meting yourself. Even though the LCC has been in helpful, maybe having her there will help drive home the message.
Can you move some tasks to the end of the previous shift – like have her work an hour after she’s done with the kids, but use that time for prepping for the next day (snacks, clothes, etc) including packing it in the car and setting any alarms se’ll need. Are there any personal privileges you can revoke, or an extra Friday off you can offer in a month or so for fixing the problem? This is unacceptable professional behavior, but we have so littl recourse, it’s frustrating.

TexasHM April 16, 2016 at 9:43 am

This really hits home for me because I am dealing with this for the first time in going on 6 years of hosting. Our AP had struggled with waking up for her weekday morning shifts. I agree with the above posters as well that it absolutely wasn’t that she didn’t care or didn’t feel bad, she would apologize the whole day and into the next until we would tell her to stop.

It didn’t actually surface until we switched into the school year schedule. During the summer she works 8am-5pm and that apparently wasn’t a challenge to wake up for but once it switched to 630am the struggle began. First couple times I ignored it because I figured the embarrassment of being woken by your HPs (esp DH) would be enough to deter it in the future. We had a reset conversation about a couple of other things (primarily car usage) but – sidenote to everyone – we made sure to list EVERYTHING that was an issue, potential issue or annoyance so we could review and have her sign and send to LC and being late to activities and wake ups were on there.

That fixed things for awhile. Then old habits slip in and she was good to go on activities but was starting to oversleep again. I had a tough morning one day and as soon as the kids got on the bus and she walked back in I had her sit at the kitchen table and I flat out told her that I was SUPER frustrated and found it hurtful and didn’t understand why she didn’t see the need to do her job. She was floored. I asked her – seriously what is the problem? Are you staying up too late? Alarm not loud enough? How did you function in (home country)? (I know, not my finest moment but as said I was very frustrated.) She then proceeded to explain that even though she had had full time jobs and lived away for years she always had a roommate or sibling or parent to wake her (she’s a heavy sleeper). This was literally the first time in her life that she had to wake herself on a consistent basis in the early am.

I was floored. Calmed me down a bit because it made more sense but told her it was still unacceptable and she needed to figure it out or I would via literally giving her a lights out/curfew (in case it was fatigue driven) or taking away car privileges or other privileges and would likely have the next sit down be with the LC. Once she saw how upset I was and thought about it herself she decided to set two alarms and put her phone on the desk across the room. I wish I could say it never happened again (not true) BUT – I think it’s only happened once – maybe twice in the last 6 month or so which is annoying but whatever, she is amazing in many other ways and my kids have never missed anything.

On the other stuff (activities etc) I did as others suggested but made her do it. So literally told her what time she needed to leave for each activity and had her write it down as well as what they needed to bring (they were forgetting stuff as well) and scheduled her to do this and review it until it became habit which luckily was only a week or two.

Last note – as someone who has/is walking in your shoes and understands what this does to your psyche over time (even when they do very much care but just can’t seem to get it together) for your own sanity sake you have to draw a line in the sand. I know you said LC was not great but she doesn’t need to be great to sit in a reset conversation. Get her butt over there, write out your reset conversation document (email me and I’ll send you mine if you want) and read it off with the LC present with clear action items and consequences and have her sign it. Enough is enough and honestly if she still can’t get it together you don’t need her another week let alone another 4 months. It will be the longest 4 months of your life and as you said – AP is supposed to help make life easier but right now you are doing her job as well and picking up the pieces and you just can’t and that doesn’t mean she isn’t a great person or you dislike her, it just means she can’t do this job and you need someone that can. Take the training wheels off, let her sink or swim and if she sinks get a rematch or get that new AP scheduled on the first possible orientation in exchange for current holding it together the next 6 weeks and then you offer to house her longer in transition or something as a mutual deal but either way get your life back! Best of luck!

HostMomLosingHerPatience April 16, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I have to thank everyone for the feedback. If nothing else, it’s validating to know that my expectations are indeed reasonable, and I’ve offered all I can to support this AP in making the adjustment to our routine and in clarifying instructions.

We have changed the morning start time twice – it’s now 25 mins earlier than at the start of the school year (we really padded the morning routine)! We’ve had the reset conversation and have scheduled a meeting with a new LCC. In conversation with the LCC, it was very enlightening to hear that my AP’s friend, another AP – and that AP’s HK – have mentioned that she is chronically late for outings!

I suppose we are at the point of either giving her an ultimatum or deal with this until August. I’m not a fan of taking away privileges because I take the position from the start that she is here in an adult role, she’s not one of my kids. (If the problem was related to driving, yes, I wouldn’t let her drive – which is more a negative consequence to us than to her. We did that already; she finally got her license, but still rarely drives in her personal time).

I like the suggestion that every activity is listed by the clock (which I’ve already provided for the school morning routine); however, I’m not going to do it for her. I’m going to ask that she itemize every activity in her day, start and end times, and share it with us in the meeting with LCC. I know I can’t change her personality or nature, but I’m hopeful she’ll figure out that she has to take responsibility for her habitual lateness and lack of following through on tasks. If nothing else, I’m not going to make more work for myself.

Evelina April 17, 2016 at 7:27 am

Hello, former au pair here. Thanks for a great blog! I have nothing to add to the discussion about OP’s late au pair, but I wanted to answer CV’s question about other websites. One other website where you can discuss hosting au pairs is DC Urban Moms and Dads. That site has Nanny forums, with a section for discussions about au pairs. I think both host families in DC and elsewhere are active on that forum, and quite often they reference to!

Taking a Computer Lunch April 17, 2016 at 10:42 pm

I must admit, I’ve generally had a fantastic experience, even w/SA APs – everyone “got it” quickly that on time, meant “on time” – and yes, every single AP has to be woken up at least once in her year – so be it. Every AP (even the Germans) arrived late to at least one activity – and made sure it didn’t happen again. Except one. And it was she, that I told I would assign her a curfew (I’ve never had one) if she couldn’t make up her mind to be reliable. She did not want to be home 8 hours before shift (10 pm), and her tardiness rarely happened again. She also stopped blowing us off because she “didn’t feel well.” (There’s a difference between really sick and just not feeling like working, and we were experiencing a lot of the latter.)

However, 8 months in may be too late to change patterns that have been set in motion. Personally, I agree with the other posters who have advised to just start scheduling everything. I assume you have school-aged children, and since your AP cannot get her act together, start scheduling every minute of her day.If she complains, then ask for a “reset your attitude” meeting (because it sounds like you’ve done a lot of this and it hasn’t gone through – and with a new LCC you’re hardly going to get “your HF isn’t unreasonable” back-up.

However, it sounds like your children are also old enough to take on some of the responsibility for their lives. At some point, you’ll want them to be independent. Can the child #3 make some sort of snack? So you give the AP a choice, she can make the snack (and clean up), or you’ll ask child #3 to make his/her own snack, and she will clean up when she gets home. Timing might improve.

I’d like to give some side advice about training your own children to be independent (as someone who, at the age of 8, was given a choice – keep the lunch money as allowance and make my own lunch or buy lunch at school). Set the bar for your children above that for the worst AP you have hosted. When AP #8 arrived – never having done a load of laundry and barely able to clean – forget cooking!, I vowed that child #2 would live more independently (The Camel will never be independent – her lack of gross motor skills and her very, very low IQ mean that she will require constant care for the rest of her life.) Child #2 is now in high school, and can cook complicated dishes, do his laundry, clean his man cave (not quite acceptable to mom – but I’m doing a fantastic job of looking the other way), and get himself around via public transportation (including figuring out how to get home when it involves 2 buses and 2 trains).

It’s a little early in the AP year, but it sounds like you need to have “Let’s-end-your-year-on-a-high-note” conversation with your AP. She’s got a job to do, and she’s not doing it.

Finally, should the frustration level get too high, then go into rematch. In my experience, by the time you reach month 10, it’s hard not to let every little thing annoy you. If your AP is sub-par, then you’ll be crawling in your skin. You might be better off a) rematching, or b) seeing if her successor is able to arrive earlier than the 12-month-mark – in which case you could cut her loose.

HostMomLosingHerPatience April 18, 2016 at 10:28 pm

TACL – I hadn’t thought about having the next AP arrive early – do most AP agencies accommodate this?

We’ve had the “Let’s end on a positive note” conversation; it’s never too early! I gave AP the run down that we are meeting with LCC for mediation and explained the significance. I also told her to prepare a minute-by-minute schedule each evening for the next day, and advised her to include her off-duty time, since it is apparent that she runs late in her personal life too. Pretty much told her that if she makes it through this week without any significant issues, I will hold her to that new standard, and we will move forward.

As for encouraging the kids to be more independent, we absolutely do! The teen does her own laundry and cooks real meals (most of my AP have arrived with less domestic skills than my kids). The kids all are expected to help around the house and have specific responsibilities. However, the youngest is not quite ready to prepare his own snack (without total oversight), and in the situation mentioned, I was taking him to one activity while AP was taking kid#2 to another. The plan was for everyone to be ready to leave at roughly the same time; AP just needed to help kids be ready to walk out the door. I was aiming for a certain level of efficiency, which didn’t resonate with AP.

To her credit, AP seems to be making a sincere effort this week. She has acknowledged that she needs to address this habit, she knows that other people besides me notice that she’s often running late; now it’s like the secret is out, so no more brushing it off as “it just happens”.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 21, 2016 at 9:50 pm

We have had a couple of occasions where we have asked the incoming AP if she would be able to move up her arrival time by one or two weeks (I’m talking 8-12 weeks out – not two weeks out!) Most have been amenable. APIA will let HF discharge APs one week early (without pay), as long as both are in agreement. In my case, the APs asked, and I was relieved to say, “Yes!” Once we did a family vacation when we couldn’t get our match to arrive early, but it was clear that the outgoing AP needed to leave.

TexasHM April 18, 2016 at 11:17 pm

That’s what I was saying in my last paragraph above. If it’s clear it’s not going to work out then you can either go into rematch or start interviewing and make a plan with AP and LC that once you find replacement you will get them on the first available orientation (likely 4-6 weeks out) and then your AP will also have a little more time to rematch/prepare. Two weeks before new AP arrival she officially goes into rematch and if she doesn’t find a family maybe you can house her an extra week since she held on for 6 weeks for you to get a new AP. Regardless yes the agency will work with you because they get to keep your business and you have an amicable exit plan that also gives AP time to prepare and interview.

Seattle Mom April 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm

I’m another chronically late person chiming in… although I have improved a lot as I’ve gotten older and my responsibilities have grown.

Even though I’ve always had problems with tardiness, and it’s sort of related to an undiagnosed attention deficit disorder that I know I have, I have been aware of this problem and have used a lot of different coping methods to make sure it doesn’t ever get me fired or miss anything very important. Not to mention lose friends! So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone who is chronically late and can’t seem to figure out how to get it together. Also there’s a difference between 5 minutes late and 30 minutes late- I tend towards the 3-5 minutes late. And like another commenter above I over-compensate when I’m *really* worried about being on time. When I have an 8am meeting that I MUST be on time for I tend to arrive to work by 7:20am.

But I won’t lie, even as an adult I have had embarrassing slip-ups that have cost me some credibility from co-workers. I have been horrifically late for team meetings with no excuse. I have missed entire meetings. But these really bad things happen maybe once every 8 months- and they aren’t career-ending bad, just seriously embarrassing and in the category of “doesn’t look good.”

I agree with others above that the OP here has done everything she can, short of completely micro managing the au pair to the point where it would make life harder for the OP to have the au pair, not easier like it’s supposed to be. And so I agree that she needs to make alternate plans… a temporary rematch (they exist! find someone with just a few months left on their contract), or get the next one to come earlier, etc. 8 months down and 4 months to go is not a convenient time to rematch, but I don’t think I could live that way for 4 months.

By the way, I’ve never had an au pair with this problem- they have all been relatively timely, and they are better at getting the kids to school/activities on time than I am (I’m not terrible, but not great at this- we have been one or two minutes late on occasion, but usually we’re on time). The only person who was wretched was a babysitter I hired once in between au pairs- I couldn’t believe it, my kids were late to school almost every day. And they *walk* to school about 1/2 mile, and she came to my house a good hour and a half before they had to leave to be there in *plenty* of time. She just couldn’t handle it. Ugh.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 21, 2016 at 9:53 pm

My line is “I would be late to my own funeral.” I’m a stacker, which means there’s always “one more thing” I could be doing in that 2-3 minutes between tasks. Of course that one more thing always takes longer than I think… And yes, I’m grateful for email systems that warn me 15 minutes, 5 minutes, and 0 minutes before an activity. Still, I run…

AuPairGirl May 4, 2016 at 5:32 pm

That’s not acceptable at all!!! You sound like a nice and patient host mom.
The same way we as au pairs expect our HF to be on time and respect the schedule, and not being late 15 minutes everyday. You must require the same from your au pair. Communication is always the best way. Just tell her this is not acceptable, and ask her if there is something else happening that she needs help with (maybe she is taking medications, or drinking until late night, or something else is happening… who knows). If she confirms it’s just a normal waking up issue a conversation might fix it.

Celeste May 23, 2016 at 5:58 pm

I’m very new to this particular blog, and I’ll admit I’ve never worked with an au pair. However, I do coach and counsel women on a variety of topics, and the issues of professionalism in the workplace often come up. Truly, from a complete outsider’s perspective, it sounds like there is just a very apparent difference in work standards and styles at play. I can tell by the questioner’s tone, pacing and word choice that she is a very organized, professional and highly structured person; the examples given about the au pair indicate that she is quite opposite. It seems to be more than a cultural difference. It sounds to me – just based on my very limited take on the situation – that perhaps everyone involved might be happier if this particular relationship were terminated, depending upon the terms of the agreement, of course. Best of luck! It’s really difficult to be unable to count on those caring for your little ones!

Comments on this entry are closed.