Here’s a request for advice from a Host Mom in VA
Our au pair (our 4th) has been with us 2 weeks. She’s 20, fluent in English, is a rematch from other family (no fault of her own) after several months, and has 3 months left. We have 2 kids 2 and 4. I work FT nights, husband, FT days.
Our AP has a great relationship with the kids but is lacking in cleaning dept and reliability. Cleaning we are working on, but reliability has become a real problem. We had problems with her taking car for ‘appointments’, being gone all evening, not putting gas in the car etc., but we seem to have solved that issue.
However, in other areas of reliability, there is still trouble.
1. She "slept in" on her first 2 or 3 shifts, and for one shift she didn’t turn up — so I was late for work. We bought her an alarm clock and so sleeping in hasn’t been an issue again.
2. She is not keeping on top of the messes that occur. Early in the mornings, when my husband leaves for work and i am not home yet, we ask her to listing in with a camera/monitor to the kids. She is technically on duty then, but we do not expect her to get out of bed. The other morning I came home to entire contents of clothes cupboard and my jewelry box all over stairs (cv note: I’m assuming the kids did this? So the kids were up and about, not in their beds?) and the AP made no attempt to clean this up. (cv note: Nor did she get up to actively watch the kids.)
Clothes were soaked with water and after I investigated I discovered upstairs bathroom floor soaked in water. (cv note: The kids were playing with water?? Unsupervised?) I spend 1/2 hr cleaning up the mess (with her help). I asked her to put all clothes in closet, but later that day when I got up, all clothes still there waiting for me to put them away.
3. She isn’t actually getting up to mind them in the morning. She listens for kids from 05:15 but they get up 06:00-06:30. That morning, she says they slept in and she did not hear then till 8am (she is 2 floors down). Even with the camera/monitor, maybe this is possible.
The final straw
Well today I was home sick with flu and she is meant to be working 0515 again and I left her with those hrs thinking I would sleep in as I am sick. Instead, the kids got me up at 0620, then finally at 0640. The AP was nowhere to be found. I checked that the camera/monitor was on in the bedroom, changed baby, made some noise in the bedroom,– nothing from the AP. To cut a long story short: I took care of kids, made breakfast, etc. making plenty of noise including them running around like baby elephants above her basement room. She did not wake till 0845 when we went to the basement playroom for them to play.
She comes out, states "I am sorry, I cannot hear them even with camera on". Now I know what happened the other day.
So I added her hours onto end of day and asked hubby to talk to her tonight. I was too mad to talk to her. She wants to extend in Sept and hubby thinks it would be easier for her too as he thinks we would get no better with another Au Pair but I cannot put up with this for another yr. Any thoughts? Thanks. Host Mom, VA
Host Mom VA: My immediate thoughts?
1. Do not invite her to extend.
2. Put her fully on duty at 5:15, which means she has to get her butt out of bed and be completely dressed at 5:15. No "fudging", no gray area– up and as dressed as she’d be if she was taking them to a playdate. Consider asking her to be up and dressed in time to ‘touch base’ with your husband or you at ‘shift change’. This way, you can not only give her a firm reason to be up and dressed but also one of you parents can go over with her what needs to get done.
I am assuming that regardless of when she gets up, she’s scheduled within the limits of the rules. Yes, I know it’s hard to get up that early, but lots of us do.
3. Recognize that you’re in the ‘endgame’… and play it out the way you need it to. In other words, you need her to be reliable, reliably on duty, when you need her, and without you getting too uptight or resentful. Tell her what you need, when you need it. When/if she ‘doesn’t hear’, don’t make resentful noise– call her on her phone, send in the 4 yr. old, or knock on her door yourself.