Dear Au Pair Mom Community, I really need your advice about a situation I have where I don’t think “rematch” is feasible (and besides my husband is totally against it).
Basically we have had an Au Pair (our 3rd) for the last 9 months. The first 6 months were great. She’s organized, responsible, a good cook, a good driver, wants to be a pediatric nurse or pediatrician and has taken several of the prerequisite courses so has some medical background and really enjoys being with kids. She is from an Eastern European country.
The Au Pair often took a very “harsh” tone with my 3 and 4 year old.
She made some comments about them being “spoiled” in their behavior, saying that kids in her home country would not behave the way mine do. She was always kind of “on” them about stuff that we really let go. We wrote it off as a cultural difference and didn’t really worry about it much — although my kids started doing this thing where they’d cry on Mondays when it was time for her to start work.
Over the holidays my parents were in town and home during the day with them while we were at work. My mom pulled me aside and said she didn’t like the way the AuPair talked to the kids, that she was inflexible, and she was worried about the negative tone she had with them constantly. One example was calling my 3 year old “a baby” over and over when he had a potty accident.
We had a direct conversation about it and informed our LCC. The AP cried, said she didn’t mean to say anything mean to the kids, promised she’d work harder on being patient and speaking more kindly to the kids.
But oddly over the last 3 months it seems to have gotten worse. Our AP seems to not want to improve or change anything we ask her.
Her inflexibility is making me insane. For example, she had recently cleared out my daughter’s dresser drawers and reorganized them. A few days later a neighbor gave us a bag of hand me downs (which my daughter was THRILLED about) but the AP bitched and moaned and went on and on about how spoiled my daughter was, how she had too many clothes. My daughter was devastated. I directly told her that I didn’t want her saying that kind of thing, particularly in front of my daughter. She sort of shrugged, like she heard me but just didn’t care.
She also has taken to doing some things “medically” that she thinks are important, like making the children wear shoes in the house because she thinks they’ll get electrical shocks from the friction sparks on the carpet (it’s winter and the air is dry, hence, static electricity) , even though I’m fine with them being barefoot. I have a lot of other similar examples.
Now the kids have actually started saying they don’t like her. When she’s not around they say it and say that she is always shouting at them. I really don’t think she’s “shouting” but she does talk in a very loud, harsh voice (by nature).
If it were earlier in her year, I’d consider rematch. If it were only a few weeks until she departed, I’d hold my breath. But, neither of these is an option. With 3 months left and a visit from her family in the books and travel plans made for her travel month that involve our hometown as a base, I just can’t think that rematching is a good idea. Training someone for only what will be ~10 weeks before our (already selected) new AP arrives? Taking that gamble?
She’s not a bad person at all, all of the good qualities above that I described are still in place, I think she’s just burned out and culturally feels our kids are brats and wants to deal with it her own way. I would LOVE advice on how to improve things in the last 3 months so that I don’t go crazy and my kids don’t end up hating her.
Too Stern? Or Not Stern Enough? Your Au Pair’s ‘Tone of Voice’ with Kids
Classic Case: Can you change a Princess?
3 Tips for Cross-Cultural Conversation