Readers, this situation is a challenge on many fronts… I’ve listed them out in headings to make things a little easier. It looks like a no-win situation to me, so I’d recommend rematch. But I might be missing something… Read on and offer your thoughts.
“Where do I begin?
My partner and I are two full time working moms and have a 15 month old son. We just finished our first year with the most wonderful Polish au pair ever. Our new 23 year old Ukrainian au pair arrived two weeks before wonderful au pair left so wonderful au pair could be part of the training process since my partner and I are at work all day. Thus, we were able to get a little insight from wonderful au pair before her departure.
Homesickness & Making Friends
At first new au pair was very homesick and skyped with friends and family, including a boyfriend she left back home, for 4 and 5 hours at night. The first full weekend new au pair was here, the LCCs for our area planned a weekend ski trip to the mountains which wonderful au pair and new au pair attended. Wonderful au pair had many, many friends during her year here, including both other au pairs and American friends she met through school and other social activities. Wonderful au pair brought new au pair with her everywhere to introduce new au pair to wonderful au pair’s friends and help get new au pair assimilated into our community.
After returning from the ski trip, I asked new au pair if she met any au pairs she liked and thought would be her friends and she replied that she didn’t really connect with any of the other au pairs, other than our wonderful au pair. Wonderful au pair continued to take new au pair every where with her until she left, two weeks ago. Even last weekend one of the local au pairs asked new au pair to go out on Friday or Saturday night and new au pair wouldn’t go.
Additionally, before she left, wonderful au pair let me know of a few safety concerns she had with new au pair, i.e. putting our son down for a nap with big beaded necklaces on and picking him up inappropriately, among other things.
We have addressed all of the safety issues we know of but I must say, my gut doesn’t feel 100% (or even close to 100%) comfortable with new au pair, especially should an emergency situation arise.
Doesn’t Follow Directions
Also, there are other little things. New au pair was doing small loads of laundry with four items each time, I asked her twice not to do small loads but to wait until we have a full load of laundry. The next day she did another small, four item load.
The other day she told me the woman that cleans our house was at our home for too long even though the time she stayed was expected and paid for; it just didn’t meet new au pair’s approval. I could go on about other small issues.
Boys on the Brain
In addition to new au pair’s boyfriend back home, new au pair has an ex-boyfriend who lives in another city and state, over an 8 hour drive from us. New au pair previously dated this boy for 4 years and their original plan was to come to the US together, new au pair as an au pair and ex-boyfriend on some sort of work-exchange program. Ex-boyfriend came to the US almost a year ago.
Shortly after ex-boyfriend left their home country for the US, new au pair met another boy (current boyfriend) and broke up with ex-boyfriend in the US. However, within the first couple of weeks of new au pair’s arrival, ex-boyfriend made the 8 hour trip to visit for the weekend (stayed at a hotel). Ex-boyfriend has made it very clear he wants to get back together with new au pair.
We made it very clear that ex-boyfriend was not to be inside our house when we weren’t at home.
Ex/New Boyfriend Hovering, against our wishes
Monday of this week I came home from work and ex-boyfriend was parked outside our house. I told him I didn’t know he was coming to town and he told me nobody knew, it was a surprise. They went out Monday night and when I saw new au pair Tuesday morning as she came on duty, I asked how long ex-boyfriend was staying. New au pair told me “he moved here and is renting a room in a house with two roommates. He loves me and came here to achieve his goal” (being with new au pair.) On Tuesday when I got home, ex-boyfriend was once again parked outside, waiting for new au pair. They went out.
Not Following Guidelines
She didn’t come home that night, nor did she call or text (as is written in our au pair handbook). She was back in time to be on duty Wednesday morning. We talked to her about the importance of letting us know if she wasn’t coming home and to call or text next time. Wednesday when I got home from work ex-boyfriend was there, ready to pick up new au pair. At 9:30 PM she called, leaving a voicemail (we were in bed) and said she’d be home in time to be on duty Thursday morning. Thursday morning she came home about 20 minutes before time to be on duty.
I scheduled new au pair to be off on Friday but to be on duty at 6:30 Saturday night. Thursday afternoon she tells me she is leaving after her on duty hours on Thursday to be with ex-boyfriend and will be back in time to be on duty on Saturday night. Our au pair handbook does not give our au pair a curfew. The car has a curfew, but the au pair does not. However, ex-boyfriend is driving new au pair around so effectively she doesn’t have to be at home at any certain time.
Is this a case for a re-match?
If I wanted someone to come in while we are at work to provide childcare and then leave once we are home, I would simply have hired someone locally and paid them hourly. After all, an au pair is “live in childcare.” I feel like this is a waste of my agency fees.
However, I’m torn because if I don’t have her scheduled to be on duty, then she does have the right to go out during her free time. I don’t need my au pair to be “on call” when not on duty, but I do expect them to be a member of the family and contribute a little more as a member of the family beyond being on duty within the 45 hour limit.
My LCCs have been very supportive and think it might be heading towards a re-match. I honestly don’t know if I can spend a year with new au pair as her very being now seems to just get under my skin.
Looking hard for something positive
I should add that new au pair plays wonderfully with our fifteen month old son. They spend lots of time outside, which I love. She sings to him and is silly with him, which I also love.
But overall I still have those concerns in the back of my head that she might not handle anything out of the ordinary properly and would be overwhelmed in an emergency. Could she help him if he were choking? I don’t have that level of confidence I had with wonderful au pair. The boyfriend/spending all off duty time away seems to be the icing on the cake. Any advice is welcome.”
Oh moms, this one seems absolutely right for a rematch. For many of us, a safety concern would be the immediate trigger. But in addition to that, you’ve got the boyfriend distraction (and related question of her acutal motives and commitment), not following directions, not following guidelines, and more.
And, while it is nice of you to look for the positive, being friendly with your child is just not enough. There are many great au pairs and candidates out there who will be great with your son, fit in with your family, follow your guidelines, and manage her social life in ways that to her au pair experience rather than detract from it.
Parents and au pairs, is there anything this mom can do (in addition to rematching) to make this situation work?