Here’s a situation we see time and time again on AuPairMom:
The family has an au pair (often, their first one) and the au pair is only okay. The au pair’s relationship with the kids is “fine”, but the au pair doesn’t follow through on her other responsibilities. The host parents have tried a few things, and are now wondering– is there something they missed?
I hesitated to put this email up on the blog, because we have, in fact, answered this question before.
We already know to tell a host mom: Use a checklist, have a ‘you’re on notice’ meeting, call the LCC, be more explicit, be firm, and so on. We remind the host mom that most host parents who go into rematch report that they should have done it sooner. We tell people not to extend au pairs that are only ‘so-so’. We tell each other “there *are* great au pairs out there. You can find one.”
What is there left to tell this Host Mom, below?
Dear AuPairMoms — Our first ever AP has been with us for approximately 2 months. She is 19, and from the same European country as me. We have 3y-o boy and 1 y-o girl. My husband and I both have FT office jobs.
We generally like our AP though think she is quite immature and very self-centered.
Our AP seems to have a mediocre relationship with our children but generally seems to be more interested in her cell phone, FB, texting and skype during and outside her work hours.
My husband and I had gone back and forth as to whether to be very firm with rules, chores, boundaries for our AP. Ultimately decided that she was an adult and we wanted to trust her that she would make the right choices, judgment calls and prove us that she is responsible and reliable. Unfortunately, in retrospect this seems to be a mistake. Although our situation is mostly working out, our AP does not seem to be following our rules and does not seem to be doing the assigned chores most of the times and things seem to be progressively worse.
We had given her a list of rules and household chores when she started, communicated all verbally and gave it to her in writing, went over all later again, and tried different things. At first she would follow for a little but the little over time got littler and littler to the point that now, when we ask her to do something (which we don’t think we should need to ask her to do in the first place) she simply does not do it.
To give some examples and prove we are not slave drivers, the list of her daily chores includes playroom and kids’ rooms clean up with the help of the kids, put away dishes, clean kitchen table and counters, sweep kitchen; weekly chores include kids’ laundry; monthly chores are washing kids’ bedding. We have gotten to the point that we have to ask her number of times to do the laundry and it still is not done, forget the sweeping or clean up.
Also, social media use such as FB, skype, cell phone use, texting are an ongoing issue. We expressed number of times that we’d like her to limit cell phone, computer and such to 5 minutes per hour during her time with the kids. She agrees but never seems to actually follow through.
To make matters feel even worse, our AP constantly compares her situation to her AP friends and is in disbelief how others need to do these chores and those chores, have a curfew, and strict HPs; and is surprised how many of her friends end up in re-match.
So now instead of having some help with the household we come home to a disaster and spend a good portion of the precious time at home with our kids cleaning up after the 3 kids (our two toddlers and our teenage AP) and debating how to diplomatically approach the subject to not to hurt the AP feelings.
We feel we are being very flexible because we want all of us, including her, to be happy but are getting to the point of being frustrated that our expectations are not being met and are running out of patience and ideas. Please help!