Everyone say it together:
New Host Mom, this au pair is putting you through the wringer over food issues.
You should try one more time to set some limits about what food you will and will not provide. You were clear when you were matching, and it’s your au pair who’s changed the terms of the social contract here. She needs to change her expectations, or prepare for rematch.
You should also consider having a conversation with your au pair about what her changing needs and expectations are really about — because I’ll bet they aren’t about food.
And, you and your partner should step back a bit too, and discuss how this situation slipped away from you. It’s the “boiled frog” problem, where each increment isn’t much change, bit over time the situation’s gotten intolerable.
Lots of us have been there, trying to fix this and be flexible with that, until the whole base of your au pair relationship is contorted and you aren’t getting the help you need.
Folks, chime in!
We are having a very difficult time with our au pair. She has a very specific diet, and the longer she’s here the more she has cut back on certain items. Before she arrived, we were told she had no allergies, no food restrictions. We had ourselves eliminated from consideration any au pairs with food allergies or restrictions because we didn’t want to deal with it.
She told us she liked to drink soy milk and only ate cheese a couple times a week AFTER we matched. We thought okay we can deal with that.
To make a long story short, now she only eats fresh fruits and veggies, boiled chicken and eggs. That’s it! She will not touch frozen or canned foods.
She wouldn’t eat frozen broccoli we made for dinner one night. She only wants fresh veggies. She wants us to buy her all organic foods. She wants tropical fruits which get expensive in our area. She would eat a whole pineapple in the morning everyday if we let her. We’ve had to give her a budget for all her fresh fruits and vegetables. Fifty bucks a week just for fresh fruits and veggies. Then we buy all her chicken, eggs and coffee when we get our groceries. She goes through everything so quickly that she HAS to be taken to the grocery store every single Friday, otherwise it’s the end of the world.
She cries A LOT. She cried because she ran out of cucumbers one week and didn’t have a cucumber for her salad on Thursday. When she first arrived, she ate chicken thighs. Now she won’t touch them, only chicken breast. She drinks coffee all day long, so now we’ve stopped buying k-cups because my husband and I only drink a cup in the morning and they get expensive when you drink so many throughout the day.
When we cook dinner, she stands in the kitchen watching every single ingredient that goes in and if she doesn’t like it, she won’t eat it and proceeds to make her own meal. If she does eat with us, she complains the whole time about the food. Telling us how easy it is to boil fresh broccoli instead of eating frozen broccoli, which I tell her that some people have to buy some frozen and canned foods to save money. We can’t all eat fresh fruits and veggies every single day. We’ve had to cut back on our grocery budget so we can buy her the foods she wants. If she ever eats our food, she complains the whole next day that our food made her sick.
This is our first experience with an au pair. We were really looking forward to it, and it’s become so stressful! We don’t want all this stress in our home. None of our friends have had experiences like this. They just buy extra groceries and their au pairs eat what’s in their home.
She’s wonderful with our baby, but we just don’t know what to do.
I feel like if we get a new au pair, they might eat the same foods we eat but won’t be as good with the baby or as willing to help me out when I need extra help.
We’ve talked to the agency but they are all about trying to make things work. They don’t have much advice for us besides setting a budget for her. Please help! Thank you!
Image: Felt Frog available on Etsy