Waaa waaa waaa waaa……
Sometimes I hear stories about au pairs and their complaints and I want to say:
“Dude, grow UP.”
“No one forced you to become an au pair. No one forced you to pick this particular family. No one’s making you do anything out of the ordinary. No one’s skimping on your food, your comfort, or your time off. Take a deep breath and buck the *&#% up already.”
And then, I tell my inner witch to calm down and listen more closely to the story.
Which was what I had to do when I got this email from a host mom for whom everything was going well, until her au pair started crying. Yeah, crying. Why? Well the au pair offered a reason, but when the host parents made a switch to meet her needs, the au pair didn’t respond.
Perhaps you, dear readers, are in a better head space than I am, and you can offer some sympathy to the au pair and some really wise advice to our HostMomW/Disconnect…
Dear Au Pair Mom —
I have an AP who has been with our family now for 2.5 months. She is great. She’s 24. Our family loves her and the kids have a lot of fun with her. We have three boys 5,3, and 2 and she handles them beautifully. She is very easy to live with and we really have no complaints about her or her performance.
Unfortunately, on Sunday night we came home to a crying AP who said she is no longer comfortable living in our house. She thinks the kids are great, but she says that for the last 2-3 weeks she no longer feels a connection to my husband or me. She says that is a dealbreaker for her.
We were shocked and saddened to learn of this both because it means that she has been unhappy for a few weeks and we didn’t pick up on it, and because it means we could be losing our AP.
When we tried to get some more specifics out of her so that we could address what was making her unhappy. She said it really bothered her that when we came home at the end of the day we would encourage her to take a break and tell the kids to leave her alone for a bit. We thought we were giving her some much needed space and a break from the chaos at the end of what I know can be very long days with our boys, but she felt it was excluding her from the family.
It seems like the easy enough fix is to change what we’re saying at the end of the day and encourage her to stick around us during the dinner/evening hours. We’re trying that now, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough. Yesterday I came home an hour before she was officially off-duty and told her if she needed to finish up homework before class that night I’d be glad to take over. She said her homework was finished but instead of sticking around me and the boys she went upstairs for the next 3 hours until her class.
She does not seem as open or comfortable as she did last week. I’m worried that her mind is already made up to rematch. Also, I wonder– are there other things going on – homesickness setting in?…the winter is getting long (we live in the Upper Midwest)?…maybe there are other issues that she doesn’t feel comfortable telling us?
To complicate matters I am pregnant and due in 2 weeks, taking care of an ailing mother, and have a lot on my plate right now.
I’m feeling like my gas tank is nearly empty and I don’t have the energy I would normally have to address this situation and take care of her the way that she may need right now. For example, I thought it would be nice to ask her to watch some TV together last night after her class, but I just couldn’t stay awake. LC suggested taking a family trip to the zoo or indoor amusment park, but I’m having trouble even finding time for self-care right now and don’t know how we could fit that in (hubby is picking up a lot of slack right now too).
Sometimes I just feel like letting the cards fall where they may and deal with the consequences of it later because I’m worn out. AP’s are supposed to make life easier (which she was until Sunday) and now life is much more complicated and stressful.
Another side note is that this is our second AP. Our first was a disaster. She came, got into an accident with our kids in the car and did not tell us. When confronted with the obvious damage and the report from our 5 year old 2 days later ,she said she was sorry and then fled the next day. Her visa was revoked and we started the search for a replacement. So, the AP program has not been all I could hope for so far…
So is our AP throwing in the towel?
If she is, is there anything we can do about it?
Help or advice is appreciated.