I’ve found your website infinitely helpful to get a look at “the other side” of the au pair experience, and now I’m hoping that you can help me.
I am an American girl who moved to Europe to be an au pair last month. My host family consists of a single parent and three teenage children, which I thought would be great (the kids would be old enough to be responsible for themselves, and the mom and I could get to know each other. Also, I was raised by a single mom, so I have a certain amount of sympathy for the situation).
What I agreed to
However, it has turned into a miserable situation. I agreed to work 30 to 35 hours a week, doing light housekeeping and occasional cooking, but instead I’m working more like 50-60 hours a week, and I spend at least 2 hours each morning doing laundry, making beds, scrubbing floors, tidying up after children, etc. She’s yet to give me a firm schedule, and instead just tells me everyday what time the kids are going to be home, meaning that I cannot possibly make plans more than a day in advance.
I agreed to learn to drive a stick shift and drive the kids to school in the neighborhood, but apparently my host mom thinks that “the neighborhood” includes places that are 30 minutes or more away (in a major Italian city!!). She has also been less than supportive about me attending my language class, even though it is 3 days a week and I am paying for it out of my own pocket (and it is legally required, given my visa situation!).
What I’ve tried so far
I’ve attempted at least twice to talk to her about this with no result (often she dismisses me or speaks to me the same way she speaks to the children, ordering them around and so on). So my question is this – how do I frame my concerns without sounding like a spoiled American brat, while also making it clear that I didn’t JUST come to Europe to be her on-call maid service.
And if that does not work out (and I’m thinking it won’t) does anyone have any suggestions for how I should tell her that I’m either A) leaving or B) looking for a new family?
(I didn’t come through an agency, so I can’t just rematch). Seeing as I bought my own plane ticket and am paying for my own language course, health insurance, cell phone, bus pass, etc, I feel as though I have far too much invested in this year to just suffer and never get to see the city.
I’m hesitant to give her a week’s notice, because I’m certain THAT would be the worst week of my life. Has anyone ever just left their family before?
Thanks so much!