When invite an au pair to come live in our home and be ‘part of the family’, our lives become an open book.
- Frustrated with your DS? Your au pair knows.
- Threw out 6 bags of organic greens that decomposed in the fridge? She saw it.
- Hoarding Thin Mints in your special cabinet even though you’re trying to lose weight? You think you’re fooling her?
Some of the drama of life, including your mistakes, your relationship concerns, and your bank balance, can float over the heads of your kids. But au pairs are a bit more aware. They notice what’s going on around them, inside your house. This can be kind of a drag– who wants their au pair knowing everything about them?
I’ve been lucky with our au pairs who, despite their excellent English, have all known when to leave the kitchen if I’m on the phone with my best friend. I have a home office where I can keep our family papers, and a bedroom with a door where I can try on one ill-fitting outfit after another without anyone commenting. I do have some privacy, which is a good thing.
Not so lucky is Host Mom CK. She doesn’t have secrets, just regular family stuff. What she does have, though, is an au pair who regularly crosses the line between being aware and being nosey:
We are hosting our second au pair and she’s been with us for about 5 months. One issue (there are others) that really bothers me is that she is nosy. By this I mean that she reads and looks at things that I feel are not her business.
I don’t think she is doing this maliciously, I think she is just a very curious person and doesn’t have a sense of boundaries. For example, she reads or looks at *everything* to the point that it slows her down in her job. On top of this, she looks at papers that are on the counter.
Because I don’t have an office or a desk, I use an area of the kitchen counter as my “desk” area. Being a piling type, things are not neatly organized here and it is often a dumping ground for bills and mail. I often find my au pair picking up things from this counter area and reading them: flyers, brochures, catalogs, junk mail, kids work from school, instruction manuals, etc. She will pick up stray pieces of paper in the car, even just receipts, and read them.
I have not yet seen her pick up a credit card bill, but given her curiosity with the rest of it, I imagine she does this when I’m not around.
She also tends to ask a lot of questions in a way that feels intrusive. For example, I make a phone call to inquire about a class for dc and when I hang up I get questions about what the class is, when would it be, what would it be like, etc. I’ve even been asked questions about personal calls where I am discussing a personal issue with a friend and when I hang up, she asks me questions about what’s going on, etc. It makes me wonder if she’s looking through my drawers and stuff when I’m out of the house.
Advice on how I might address this?
In addition to recommending that CK find a spot of her own (even a nice basket from Target where bills, etc. can be placed, and which can then be put “off limits”), what ideas have you?