How did I become a doormat?

by cv harquail on September 16, 2009

Hello. I have been reading Au Pair mom website since we got our first Au Pair from Brazil in Feb 2009. She is 19 years old. We have 22 month old twins. My husband works out of the home for the most part and I work some from home and some away from home. My schedule varies a lot. For the most part our Au Pair has a good relationship with our children.   When it comes to keeping them safe, I have no concerns about that.   I do have several other concerns.

I’m not sure if this is the way the program works or if we are just wimps who don’t want to confront her. For the most part, I feel she watches the kids and then it is like we are here to serve her.

She has really one “chore” to clean out the dishwasher every morning. When we first discussed this with the coordinator she did not seem like this was something that we could have her do. However; she didn’t come out and say no, so we continued it. For months the Au Pair totally did a bad job at it. Usually not even emptying the dishwasher. My husband kept reminding her, 200909161014.jpgbut it would go in one ear and out the other. The coordinator said to keep reminding her. It was really irritating to me, because before I started to cook dinner, I would have to empty the dishwasher and then put up/clean the dishes she used during the day before I could cook. Maybe its just a pet-peeve of mine to want to start cooking in a clean kitchen. My husband finally told her that us giving her a telephone with unlimited calls and text messaging and internet usage was a privilege and we could take those things away if she could not do as we asked with regards to emptying the dishwasher. She had an attitude, but improved. However; she never does it on Sunday. That is the one day that she is always off and it makes me feel she thinks because she is off, she does not have to do it. The other thing that we have is the person who cooks does not have to set the table or clean up after the meal.  This is usually me. She is never around when it is time to set the table.

She does help cleaning, but IMO she leaves anything she does not want to do for my husband and cuts out early. Maybe she feels it is wrong for us to ask her to clear the dishwasher when we have no “set” chores. In a way this is true.   My husband is responsible for the garbage and basically my chore is cooking. We do some cleaning around the house, but usually have it cleaned every two weeks. She does not clean. We have had to continuously tell her to clean up after herself in the kitchen. She has had an attitude all day, because my husband took a picture of the kitchen floor where the kids had spilled food while she was watching them and she did not clean it up.

She doesn’t even clean the kids rooms. Toys are usually all over the floor and their bathroom might have hair on the sink from her combing their hair and their are always towels on the floor. We don’t say anything, I guess because I feel we are not the cleanest people, but then part of me feels, but we are paying her.    We have learned that her mother made good money for Brazil and she had a maid at home. A lot of times she does seem to me to be a spoiled, rich girl.

There are other problems, I will try to address briefly. I complain about her so much to my friends. I really just want her gone. Do I like her as a person? I used to.   Now she is an irritant.

The other issues in a nutshell:

Napping on duty— I learned she was staying up late at night and then taking 4+ hour naps with the kids (took them in the basement, turned off all the lights, held each in one arm and made them stay quiet until they fell asleep). We asked her to limit the naps to two hours. I intentionally one day when I knew she was up late the night before, left out after she put the kids down to sleep and came back 3 hours later. Went around and looked in the basement and it was dark. So, we told her to start putting them in their crib and again reminded her of no more than 2 hours from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Yet, Friday when I came home unexpectedly at 10:00 a.m., she is in the basement with the lights off. When I went down there she had the tv on saying they were watching a movie (they never do that).

She is deceitful. She also lies. Lies about eating things around the house and lied on her application.   She said she spoke Spanish fluently. She does not. She said she does not get cold sores. She has had an outbreak three times since she has been here and told me she always gets them when she goes on the beach. It’s no big deal, I get them, still its just that it was not true.

She doesn’t really care for the kids. She is on the internet or text messaging friends during the day when she is hear watching the kids. When she puts on their Babies Can Read video, she goes and lays on the sofa and does not interact with them. She failed her driving test and continuously asks my husband to take her somewhere or pick her up at the last minute. The last time it happened, I told him not to do it. She ended up having to pay for an expensive cab.

She eats continuously. She said that if she does not eat every two hours she gets sick. I am a generous person, but she has caused our grocery bill to skyrocket.   She said she has gained over 10 pounds since she has been here. It’s true. It’s very noticeable and others have said it to me. When I am cooking dinner, she will ask when it will be ready. If I say 30 minutes, then she will eat something like a cup of noodles or a sandwich. She still also eats dinner.

I am disliking this and I am at my wits end.    I don’t know how to improve it and right now just feel I want her OUT OUT OUT.

LH Mom

Image and poem from Dodinsky. Be sure to read the text of the poem… it’s thoughtful.


Chicago Mom September 16, 2009 at 11:39 am

I feel your pain. It’s time to get her out. She is disrespectful, not following your family rules, and she is not doing her job. Bye bye au pair. You do not deserve, or pay for, this kind of attitude. Not acceptable.

Host Mom VA September 16, 2009 at 1:02 pm

One word……..ADIOS!!!!!!
She sounds like a carbon copy of our first Au Pair, also from Brazil regarding cleaning etc except ours was very interactive with the kids.
Give her 2 weeks notice and get her out of your house.

NewAPMom September 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Wow, there are just so many things wrong here.

I held on to our first au pair because she had a good relationship with the kids, despite all the other red flags. Shouldn’t have. And I didn’t have nearly as many red flags as you do.

Can you put up with this for a year? No way.


Anonymous September 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I am a schoolteacher and this morning in a conference the principle told us that he is a laid back guy when it comes to the kids but the one thing we are not, under any circumstances to tolerate is disrespect. I think that addresses the real issue here. I would tell the LCC that it is a difference of personality and that I want a rematch. Then , with the next aupair I would take a firmer approach at the outset. I think the four hour naps are totally unacceptable. In this type of situation, I think it is very difficult to remediate an attitude. Better for everyone to start over with a clean slate.

Southern Host Mom September 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I’ve learned that I can not and will not tolerate deceit. Without truth and trust, you have an impossible spiral that will only get worse. We had an au pair who would tell half-truths or otherwise try to avoid telling the whole story. As I asked more questions, tried to probe to get the whole story, she became more deceitful, spinning a tangled web indeed! It went downhill quickly . . . Rematch! [And 4-hour naps?!? At what other job on the planet would this be in the realm of acceptable!]

Daniele September 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm

My advice as a brazilian au pair: REMATCH.

I am brazilian, I am au pair and I have a maid back at home. It doesn’t mean anything once I am living here under other’s people roof. I help with the trash and with the dishes, when I see things out of place I clean it too. After I cook for myself or for the kids I clean up. I even get the mail sometimes.
I have other chores like cleaning the rooms, playroom, kid’s bathroom and bedroom including mine. Do I HAVE to to dishes or take the trash outside? Do I have to clean my hostfather mess? No. BUt I do it anyway. Why? Because I live in the house too and I feel that it’s like a community where we need to be there and help each other. Problably there are times when I will need my host fami;ly to do things for me as I do for them. It’s a polite trade between people that lives together.
Most of brazilian girls are not in USA because they need the au pair job. They are here to travel and being an au pair gives you that oportunity. The visa is expensive so most of them are “princesses”. REMATCH NOW. This au pair is not for you and she doesn’t respect your house and your rules. don’t know why she complains once she doesn’t have any other chores.

Good Luck

SeattleHostMom September 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Rematch :)
Sounds like the au pair we had a few months ago– we never really knew when she was telling the truth or not. At the end, it became that the only thing we were sure of was that when she volunteered a piece of information, it wasn’t entirely and completely true.

I questioned myself a lot through the process– I had it thrown back in my face multiple times (from the AP & my LCC) that I didn’t trust the AP, my standards were too high, I’m too controlling, and so on.

However, now that’s she’s left, I know it was right because as she left she OVERTLY told the agency, the LCC and her temp host family lies about me. One thing I thought of when making the decision was whether she was a good role model for the children; the other thing was the idea that things probably weren’t going to get much better (I realize some things can get better over time).

One suggestion based on what I went through: as you’re going through the rematch process, try to focus on a “good” explanation of why the situation isn’t working. I found it’s a bad idea to insist that she’s wrong and you’re right :) You lose credibility with your LCC, the agency, and future APs. What did work for me was focusing on the idea that our situation isn’t a good match for her, and I could imagine another situation (for example, a family with older children) that she might be better in. This allows everyone to get through the process with less drama and hurt feelings.

Good luck!

Dorsi September 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm

This is kind of an offshoot but — do most families have a policy about phone/text/tv/internet while on duty?

{Dorsi, we have a full post on this… which you can find using the search box… here it is: Advice wanted: Do you allow your au pair to use the personal computer while on-duty?}

Our handbook (very small, but certainly growing when we get a new AP in Jan) states that these activities are not allowed while on-duty and child is awake. It helps that we have a house that is not conducive to working and TV watching — there is only a small TV in our room and one in AP’s room. (Same thing with computers). I never questioned whether this is reasonable — and luckily, neither did my AP. Of course, brief conversations, etc are allowed, but if I thought it was abused I would pull the plug (take away texting, take away cable, turn off the internet during work hours.)

This seems to be a common theme here — what do other people do?

CoCa September 16, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Dorsi: We have strict rules about all those things and so far (first au pair) we haven’t had any problems. However, our kids are school age and I work from home, so this means the au pair is rarely alone with the kids in the house anyway, and when she is, there is usually something specific scheduled for them to do.

I imagine the potential for these problems is bigger in households where the AP spends a lot of time alone in the house with perhaps younger kids (who can’t tell on her ;-))

I have had this issue with summer nannies, though, and it really irritates me when it happens. Maybe because when I was their age, I had jobs like bartending, burger flipping and hotel cleaning, where you couldn’t even go to the bathroom without finding someone to cover for you…

Sometimes I wonder also if the Information Age has made it more difficult in that all this stuff is so easily available? After all, I know plenty of people my own age with big, grown-up jobs in offices, who still seem to be spending an alarming amount of time on Facebook…

Daniele September 16, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Dorsi: I don’t know about cell phones and internet on duty cause my family was never specific about it. I know the other au pair used to use the computer while taking care of the kids. I also have seen my au pair friends telling me their families do not allow it to happen. I guess most of host families do not approve it.

I do not do it ( I am off right now just to let you know lol) because if something happen to the kids I take care of how am suppose to have my conscious clean and be sure I took care of them properly if I was on the internet? I just do not think it’s right and that’s not what I am paid for. Also kids need to be watched. I guess most families do not allow it. In my case I dont do it because I feel like not doing it.

Busy Mom September 16, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Dorsi, we have rules about not using TV/computer and limiting phone calls to 5 minute when caring for the kids.

LH Mom, the napping issue OR the computer use/texting would be enough to push me to rematch, even without the other contributing factors. This is a childcare job and both are fundmentally important issues. Regarding driving, if I had an au pair who was struggling with this issue, but all else was good, I’d invest in some driving lessons.

I see nothing wrong with asking an au pair to empty the dishwasher every day that she is working as her contribution to chores. I don’t have this issue because my kids empty it, but she’s expected to supervise and to help put away difficult to reach items. I actually mention this responsibility in my interviews. Never would have thought it necessary, but I had a nanny candidate once who told me that she didn’t do dishwashers!

I wouldn’t, however, ask her to do this on her days off. This is where that tricky member-of-family vs. employee balance comes into play.

Darthastewart September 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm

We have rules about cell phone/computer/etc usage while working. And NEVER, EVER while driving. Instant rematch if the kids tell me it’s happening.

NewAPMom September 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm

But Busy Mom, in that case, would she still expect to eat the food that LH Mom is making? How about throwing garbage into the cans that LH Dad is emptying? To me, emptying the dishwasher is a household task, which is part of her duties as a roommate, not as an au pair, and needs to be done all the time. She shouldn’t have to cancel all plans and stay home to empty the dishwasher, but if she’s around, she should do it.

SeattleHostMom September 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm

In regards to phone/texting, we don’t have specific guidelines. It was never an issue with our first AP; with our second AP, we ended up giving her a cell phone on our family plan which included unlimited texting. I told her to keep it reasonable; I then discovered that she was texting more than 200 times per day, just during her 10-hr shift!!!! That’s a text every 3 minutes… (we rematched) While that was clearly too much, I realized it was kinda like pornography– you can’t describe what “too much” is, but you know it when you see it. Since she was flaunting the rules with TV in our house too (in regards to letting the kids watch, after multiple conversations), I didn’t think it would help anything to make a rule since we were going to rematch.

CoCa September 16, 2009 at 11:34 pm

I’m with NewAPMom on this, even if I am myself very bad at enforcing it. Maybe because I am, uhm, also pretty bad at even making my husband and kids do their chores ;-)

I do (once again) think that the whole definition of what an au pair is supposed to be is confusing and needs an overhaul. Perhaps back in 1984 (or whatever), when it really WAS more of an extra pair of hands for mothers who could afford it, the definition worked.

Now, au pairs ARE a way for working parents (fathers, too) to get flexible and affordable childcare – the agencies know it, the families know it, and the au pairs know it. (And in those cases where the au pair is not strictly needed but is more of a luxury, people are still cost-conscious and expect to get value for their investment. Few people are interested in having nothing more than a glorified exchange student.)

So sorry if I am hijacking topic after topic with this, but I really, truly feel that the statement that the au pair is to be “part of the family”, in combination with the hard fact that she clearly IS there to work a certain number of hours for a certain amount of money, creates a lot of these dilemmas families get into.

I guess I’ll have to come out and ask: CV, can we have “definition of au pair as part of the family” (or something) as a separate topic? I have sooo much to say on that, as I’m sure others do too, but I realize I am becoming boring in bringing it up in every context…

(Okay, i give in… I’m queuing that up…cv)

NewAP Mom September 17, 2009 at 12:22 am

Coca, here are two topics to get you started:

I feel like there’s more that we’re talking about that’s not addressed by these two topics but I can’t figure out exactly what it is at the moment.

Calif Mom September 17, 2009 at 1:28 am

amen that doormat issues can be the same difficulty with a ‘regular’ nanny or summer babysitters! See a theme here? it’s about managing how the work gets done, and that managing has to be done by the hosts.

as for the specifics of this “issue” of dishwashers (I use quotes b/c this really isn’t about the d/w at all):
Our AP’s one household chore (besides the kid-related stuff of picking up, but not cleaning) is emptying the dishwasher.

Have you ever timed how long it takes? I can unload a chock-full machine in 4 minutes. Longer with kids helping, of course. But this is no terrible burden. And the dishes aren’t even stinky!

She has the weekend totally off even from this. Because like I said, it takes under 4 minutes. Longer with kids helping…and that’s a fine thing to do together on Saturday morning. Play beat the clock instead of whining about the whiner in your midst! Stop giving her so much power over your mood. Be bold. Find solutions. Move on.

Please take my comments in the spirit of trying to help. Listen to yourself, go re-read your post: this has been devolving since February…seven months is too much. You are like a frog in a frying pan that can’t tell your family is about to croak because the heat is increasing so gradually. Take the pan off the stove!

Lidi September 17, 2009 at 8:55 am

I agree with what everyone else has said: get rid of her! But, what I also wanted to add was to try and be perfectly clear with your next candidates. I had similar problems with our first au pair (disrespectful, deceitful, passive-aggressive, etc.), so what I made sure to be as clear as possible about my expectations with the next round. I sent them our family handbook and reiterated during the interviews what their responsibilities would be and my expectations. I also gave them reasons or explanations about why I was so particular. When we chose our current au pair we skyped several times even after we decided to match and asked each time (in different ways) whether she was sure she wanted to come to this city, that she understood she had to clean the girls’ rooms, do their laundry, etc. , and whatever else was on the chart I sent her. She’s been with us for a couple of months and although I won’t say it’s perfect (she’s actually a little messier in some ways than our previous au pair, but at least she has a much sweeter personality), I feel confident enough to ask her to do things differently, if needed, and not feel like she’s going to throw a tantrum. I’ve also decided to pick my battles and since she’s respectful and strives to do what I ask her to I try not be too picky.

My point is, make sure you’re as clear as can be with your expectations and exactly what will be expected of them (like cleaning up after dinner, if she doesn’t cook, for example or emptying the dishwasher…and put those family rules in your handbook).

Good luck!

good mum September 17, 2009 at 9:24 am

Without a second thought, she must go! I also had to learn to be more firm with my expectations from my AP’s. I think I am a fair person but at the end of the day, I choose to have an AP because I genuinely need one and I expect high standards for my daughter. Its all about the children in the end. Do it for your kids. Be firm, but with a sweet tongue. My current AP unloads the dishwasher, sweeps the floors, hangs out some washing, takes out the rubbish, empties the nappy wrapper, helps with food preparation, drives my daughter to and from day care and more. She is most agreeable to my very strict rules about no texting, no personal calls and no internet whilst on duty. This reassures me that she remains focused on my daughter’s needs first and foremost.

Megan from RVC September 17, 2009 at 10:31 am

I think CoCa brings up a great point. I’m not sure if the expectations of the AuPairs are matching with the needs of families. We hired our first Au Pair in March and it’s working out beautifully but I was very direct and clear that this JOB is HARD! I think many Au Pairs think this is a free way to travel and have fun and I set the expectations that it’s a lot of work and that they need to be up to the challenge. Not that I wanted to scare them away but I needed someone who was going to take the job seriously. I’m not so sure the Au Pair companies are being that direct with the Au Pairs which is where the disconnect may be happening. Our Au Pair is from the czech republic and very honest, hard working and respectful. What she does on her own time is her business but when she’s working, it’s all business. Having gone through the Nanny route, I’ve learned to be very clear with expectations.

CoCa September 17, 2009 at 11:13 am

Thanks, Megan from RVC – I am absolutely sure that the agencies paint a very different picture to the au pairs, compared to what families in most cases expect.

I am all for making the expectations clear, but I have to say I sometimes feel like I have to tread carefully in order to show that I respect the program for what it is.

MTR September 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm

To LH Mom: Regarding dishwasher, I would let it go. In our house, filling and empting dishwasher is also practically one chore that our AP has (outside of kid related chores like laundry and helping them to clean their rooms). The way the dishwasher thing works with us is that if my husband or I have time in the morning, we will empty or partially empty the dishwasher. She has to make sure that is completely empty before she starts filling it up for the day. At the end of the day, we come home from work, the dishwasher is usually full with that day’s dirty dishes. I never have her start dishwasher. My husband or I do it in the evening after he and I had dinner. She is never home on the weekend and thus never empties the dishwasher, however, I don’t expect her too. May be we are more relaxed about things like that. My view is that I want my AP to be happy and to spend time with her friends and out exploring the culture. She spends enough time with our children during the week as it is.

As for the other issues that you have mentioned: napping, deceitful, doesn’t care for kids – REMATCH NOW! These are the things that normally don’t get better with time. And believe me, I have leaned it the hard way myself.

I have a feeling, that if your AP would’ve been more attentive to kids, truthful, and a generally a better match for your family, you would not even remember about the dishwasher, or would’ve adapted and not worried about it. The dishwasher seems to be the outward symptom of other problems you have with her.

relieved September 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Glad to hear that the chores I have for our APs seem to be similar to others!
The only household chores I ask her to do are to load/run/empty the dishwasher (about 1 time/day), sweep the floor after lunch, and then stuff related to the kids. She also takes out the trash (almost all the time now, simply because she’s around more than anyone else and she just does it), and sometimes random chores around the house.
I’ve specifically asked her not to do laundry other than the kids’, and also re-iterate that I don’t expect her to do anything else than take care of the dishes and sweep the floor. Since my husband and I aren’t around much, many things take a while to get done, and I don’t want her feeling that we left it for her to do, rather than just waiting for us to have the time/energy to do it ourselves. And I don’t expect it on the weekends, but if she’s around she’ll usually give a hand. My belief is that dishes are something that everyone should be participating in (difficult with young children, but we all have to learn), and she’s responsible for making sure it gets done during the weekdays because she’s the one that is around.

LH September 18, 2009 at 7:44 am

Thanks for all the comments. My husband and I both have read them thoroughly. We want to try and stick it out with her. I think she is capable of being a good employee, she is just the type that needs someone to stay after her. Even before we got an au pair one of my concerns was that I would not make a good “supervisor,” because I don’t like to tell people what to do. We have decided to give her a mid-year performance appraisal. She says she wants to stay in America and without a rematch that will not happen, so maybe that will motivate her to perform better.

One thing that Coca brought up and I noticed there were conflicting opinions was whether she should have to do her chore of emptying the dishwasher on her one day off. I wouldn’t expect her to do it if she was out, but she is usually here on that day. She has breakfast, lunch, snack, snack, snack, snack (continue on indefinitely) and then maybe will go out later. She usually comes back for dinner. I do think the au pair program is flawed in that chores have to always surround the children and in a way it does seem like we serve them on their time off. Anyway, we will stick it out for now, but I am already in the process of finding the next au pair and I know this is where I need the most assistance on. The new match and starting off on the right foot.

Thanks, everyone!

Host Mom VA September 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

Why do you want to keep her?
Reread your primary email……..again….
good luck

Anonymous September 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I disagree that the programs are flawed and I disagree that you have to serve anyone on their time off. Big people take care of themselves ( make their own snacks, etc ) . There is no question that an aupairs chores center around the kids but that is pretty clear , I think, upfront. A housekeeper is nice, but for me, anyway it is not practical.
I find that once you have been through this , you just approach the next placement in a very different way. First time is the hardest. I am getting an idea that your LCC is telling you that some of her chores are inappropriate but I never heard that the dishwasher was off limits and that is really the only thing you cited
as a serious chore.

Darthastewart September 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Hmm… It sounds like you’re being fed a line by someone, LH. I do not think that it is unreasonable at all for them to act like an adult in the house. And they are responsible for cleaning up after themselves at all times. There should be NO serving them in their time off. If they’re interacting with the family, you’re not serving them- you’re working together.
You are right that some people have to be managed more closely than others, but this one sounds like she needs a little TOO much managing.

Franzi September 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm

the others said it, time to give her the boot. she doesn’t clean the kids room? she does not interact with the kids? she expects you to serve her and driver her all over? seriously, with two little ones, you need an adult in your house and not a spoiled brat.

don’t worry, move on and make sure you ask better questions pertaining to what you really want during the rematch process.

Hula Gal September 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I can relate to LH’s reluctance. I was going to keep our second au pair until I found out that she had expressed interest in rematching to our LCC. It took less than a second for me to switch our position and initiate rematch when I was having this conversation with our LCC and found this out. LH – you need to get to this place of wanting to rematch when you are ready to do it. We’ve given you advice that is sound but if you need to try a little longer and then come to the conclusion yourself further down the road than that is just what you might have to do. In fact, Calif Mom told me in a previous post when I said we were going to stick it out that I’d be back at month 3 asking for a rematch. She was right. But I had to get there in my own way despite what seemed obvious to others. Because it wasn’t obvious to me yet. Good luck to you! I can tell you now though that there are better au pairs than the one you have.

FutureBrazilianAP September 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

As a future AP, I’ve been reading a lot of HFs and APs’ ‘testimonials’ about it and sometimes I find some really weird things.

I mean, the agency DOES tell the APs that we’ll be resposible for the children AND some houseworks. They make VERY CLEAR on it–and I’m telling that because I’m registered with 2 different agencies cause I had some issues with the first one and BOTH of them told me that when I looked for the AP program information!

So for me it’s weird when I see a lot of HFs telling that their APs aren’t doing houseworks! Maybe the APs didn’t take the program rules for serious or just ‘forgot’ about some aspects, IDK…

I also saw a lot of APs complaining about their HFs with some ridiculous stuff. Some of the girls just don’t wanna be ‘part of the family’–and here comes the question: so why the hell did they decide to be an au pair? They knew they would be expected to be ‘part of the family’–and with that I understand that includes houseworks, of course, they’re not maids, but simple things are more than necessary to keep the convivence healthy. Sometimes I ask myself what these girls were waiting for like… Maybe I was raised with completely different values, IDK… I always cooked, I always were responsible for my dishes and laundry since I was 18, even living with my family! and I don’t know how it is in another countries than Brazil, but here things are really more difficult to do then in US. We usually don’t have dishwasher either dryers at home.

Maybe LH Mom’s AP went to US expecting different things than what LH Mom were expecting from her… Nobody says APs jobs are easier, but I know a lot of girls who think it is. Hope they’ll find it isn’t before they have a final match with a hostfamily.

LH September 18, 2009 at 5:40 pm

When it comes to keeping them safe, I do trust her. A lot of times when we are all together she catches things before either I or my husband does. We will give her time to correct the issues which is what the LCC would want to do before rematch.

Anonymous, the only chore we have for her (other than the duties for the children) is emptying the dishwasher. I guess I feel it is almost like I serve her because on the weekends, while I am cleaning and cooking, she is pretty much relaxing. Sometimes even on the sofa while I am vacuuming. I have never asked her to help out, because it is not relating to the children. Still, twice monthly I have maid service that cleans in her room also. I guess that is why it seems flawed. As an adult who uses the very rooms that I am cleaning she really has no responsibility to help clean. For instance, she uses the powder room bathroom the family room, yet I cannot ask her to help clean them. That does not seem right. She eats here every day and almost every night. My husband does not cook, so all of the cooking responsibility falls on me or we have to eat out. I cannot designate a day for her to cook. She doesn’t cook. That hardly seems fair. Again, I am not looking for a slave or someone to take over my household responsibilities. It’s just that I went from taking care of three people (my husband and kids) to taking care of four. I want to make sure not to make that mistake again. I know one of my next questions is do you have household help at home now!

Darthastewart September 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm

In my house we have the rule that you watch the kids, cook, or clean. We don’t just swan up to the dinner table, eat, and take off again. It’s part of being “part of the family”, and frankly, if she can’t bother to help with any of the above, I CAN refuse to serve her.

Emma September 18, 2009 at 6:45 pm

I don’t see why you can’t ask her to clean the bathroom or to cook. I do both of those things. I cook every weeknight, clear/load/run the dishwasher, vacuum, straighten the kids rooms, and clean the bathroom that, while isn’t primarily mine, is the one I use primarily. Given I’m not in the US so the rules are a bit different (30/hrs a week with at least 1 full day off, no more than 6hr a day) but all of those chores are part of taking care of the children/running a household. And (imo) the APs should definitely be responsible for picking up after themselves at all times, on duty or not. Its just good manners.

Busy Mom September 18, 2009 at 9:10 pm

LH, when you’re preparing dinners that she will eat and she’s just hanging out, ask her to help. Even if she doesn’t cook, there’s no reason she can’t be taught/given small tasks (e.g., make a salad, cut fruit, cut up a tomato). Don’t ask whether or not she wants to or wait for her to offer, simply assign the task – i.e., would you please cut up this melon for dinner.

A lot of what I’ve learned has simply been through trial and error over 10 years of having live-in nannies and APs. All but one of our nannies was 21-25, so I’m dealing with the same age group. My 4th nanny played with the kids while I made dinner some nights. I resented this, even though she was terrific in so many other ways, but it was a while before I figured out how to remedy it. Now, I state clearly what I expect when an AP shares meals with us (help prepare and help clean up) and proactively ask for specific help. Part of our AP job is cooking for the kids on weekdays when parents are not yet home – this is scheduled and planned for.

New AP Mom – you asked earlier if my AP doesn’t empty the dishwasher on weekend “would she still expect to eat the food that LH Mom is making? How about throwing garbage into the cans that LH Dad is emptying?” We expect our AP (and ourselves) to empty the kitchen trash whenever they notice it is full. When she’s around during meal prep time, I ask for help. We ask for a fair amount of help when she’s around and then none when she’s not. It just seems to balance out.

Regarding cleaning, I have my cleaning person clean the AP’s bathroom, but not her bedroom. We’ve always done this with our live-in nannies and it seemed like a practical & economical solution. They’ve been expected to vacuum weekly and dust periodically. Do they always do it? No. Do I care? Not really.

We ask a lot of our AP, within the hours & rules. We’re very up front about our requirements in our family letter and, during our last search, I had many APs (40%?) say they were not interested based only on our letter.

Calif Mom September 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm

LH — I have been in that situation of struggling to hold on because you like her and it’s scary to think of rematch. This is what I told Hula Gal. I propped up an AP for months longer than I should have because I couldn’t handle the rejection; really, it feels like you are being rejected by this person whom you have opened your heart and home to, and it is really hard.

I do agree you have to come to it in your own time. But also realize that both me and Hula Mom (and Hula Dad!) were really happy when we did rematch, and wish we had done it sooner. So if anything we say can shorten your misery, that’s why you’re collecting so many posts here! We do feel your pain, and it’s not a simple situation.

I will again say that more and more, I think the important thing in a match is that the hosts and the AP get along, and that the AP has a sweet place in her heart for the kids. But I will say again, too, that it is much easier to find someone who likes and can handle the kids than someone who can also handle the ‘being a grown up’ part of managing her relationship with the host parents.

And I also came to au pairing as a person who hates to direct others. I’m not bossy, I like to set standards and then delegate how you get there. But I think you will be much happier if you look at this as an opportunity for YOU to learn how to manage other people. Like rematch, it sounds scarier than it really is, and you come out on the other side a lot more confident.

Please keep us posted! Best wishes…

NewAP Mom September 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Busy Mom. That sounds reasonable to me. I just meant that if everyone is living in the same house, then everyone should do the work together to make that household run smoothly, which is what you’re doing in a different ways.

And yeah I agree Coca, I was very laid back – way too laid back, before, and now, not so much. I feel like I’m still nice-strict but I have some very strict guidelines now. I wish I’d have been that way starting with selection – would’ve made a huge difference.

NewAP Mom September 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm

And yeah, I should say here too that we’re in rematch as of a few days ago. We should have done it months ago. It’s hard, and I didn’t sleep a wink the night before I let her go. But it is SO much better to be out of that situation.

D September 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

I have not had time to read all the posts, so sorry if this is duplicated.

Brazilian girls culturally have to be very “well off” financially to come here in the au pair program. Getting a visa is difficult & expensive and you have to prove to the Embassy you will come back (proof of many things). So because of this, the girls coming are from higher end families in their country. Thus, you have to interview the Brazilian girls extensively about their exceptance of cleaning. With having a daily housekeeper & that lifestyle, it can be a shock, to have cleaning responsiblities. We had a Brazilian au pair, that I taught how to do laundry to and how to make a bed. She couldn’t cook either. The same things you mention in the post we had happen. She was offended when we asked her to swiffer mop the kitchen floor when the children spilled milk for instance. She was mad at us for asking.

The driving. Ya, our au pair took the driving test 8 times. We gave up & removed her driving privs. She told us she drove 400 km per week in her home country. She drove a car like she had never step foot in one. Brazil has lots of buses. So you have to “again” heaviliy interview for good driving. Their idea about her driving experience is different than ours.

Brazilian girls are really nice and great with children. You just have to make sure they can drive & they are willing to clean a toilet without complaint and before they get here. I firmly believe driving and having household duties are critical in the USA as thats our culture. If they don’t want to do these things & well, they shouldn’t be here. I love the Brazilian culture and they are wonderful people, but coming here requires you to mold to the culture.

Calif Mom September 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm

D, please don’t overgeneralize and make decisions about certain cultures as if they have one personality type. Scary if APs would think that way, too. They might think my family only eats junk food and watches sitcoms all day on our way to church, a football game and then cruising the mall. {shudder!}

The idea of cultural personalities is tricky territory. Individual mileage always varies!

I’ve had three APs from Brazil. One princess, two fabulous, hard-working, dependable, loyal, and utterly rock solid young women. The princess lasted 3-4 months (the one referenced above). But our first Brazilian was a fabulous driver (but not from Rio, where, yes, people take buses). Brasil is a big country, lots of diverse living styles…just like the states.

Bayarea October 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

REMATCH is a must – save your chidren good habit and your time –
First lost is best lost – REMATCH immediately

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