In the new era of the quantified self, we have Fitbits for counting steps, apps for managing nutrition, online calendars to coordinate schedules, and GPS to get us where we need to go.
Many of us use these tools not only for our selves, but also to organize our Au Pairs.
We also now have options for gathering data that we only could guess at before.
Take cars and driving, for example.
It took me a few months to realize that one of our au pairs was routinely breaking our family car use policy. It wasn’t until I drove the Au Pair car one day and noticed nearly 500 miles “extra” miles on the odometer — and asked our Au Pair where they came from — that I learned that she’d been driving over 50 miles each way to see her new boyfriend perform with his band. These were not only too many miles, but also highway miles, late night miles, and into the big, bad city miles– all verboten by our family car use policy.
And this, from one of our most responsible au pairs.
Now I get mailers from USAA (our car insurance company) advertising easy-t0-install monitors and apps that will help me track the specifics of any driver’s behavior — including average speed, rough braking, and more. And, they’ll even give me a discount on my insurance if I put one of these on our car.
I’ve wondered if any family has tried these with an Au Pair car? It seems like a great idea to have that data and to be able to use it to guide your Au Pair’s training and expectations.
Then I got this email, below:
We are currently hosting our 4th AP and are 7 weeks into a match that seems fine, but certainly not amazing. The kids seem to like him (which is great!), but everything else is pretty mediocre when compared with our other au pairs and our expectations. In the past we have had 2 successful matches and 1 rematch.
Here is the issue, though: Our previous au pairs did not drive, as we live in a city with great transit and opportunities for walking/biking. We recently moved to a new house that is slightly less ideal for transit (although still a good option), so decided to give the AP a car to use.
We added him to our car insurance in the second week of his stay, and the insurance company suggested that we use a monitoring toggle to track our driving for 6 months (because you can get discounts, etc. on the insurance).
We went for it without really considering what information it might give us and what we might do with that information.
BUT, upon looking into the AP’s driving patterns, we are shocked and terrified. He is speeding almost always (45 in a 25mph zone, 53 in a 35, etc.) has frequent “hard stops,” frequent “rapid accelerations,” and apparently lets the car idle for 15-20+ minutes at a time (maybe when picking the kids up or something?). None of these things show up when my husband and I are driving, which provides us a baseline for differences between what we consider safe driving and his driving.
Two of our children have also commented (unasked) that he drives too fast and slams on the brakes a lot, and they have no knowledge of the toggle monitoring his driving.
I’m torn to know what to do. I’m worried that our children are not safe in the car with him, and yet, I fully realize that most HF’s don’t even have this sort of information to go from because why would we? Driving toggles aren’t a common thing, I imagine.
Until last night when we saw the driving data we were willing to keep coaching and reminding and trying to make the match work out primarily because the children are happy. If he was a stellar AP maybe this would feel like an easier issue, but we are also feeling exhausted by the lack of help with au pair duties beyond simply playing with the kids and driving them to and from school activities (he’s terrible in the kitchen, cannot cook, leaves messes for us to clean up, and generally is not helpful beyond what I explicitly ask him to do over and over again). He’s a nice guy with terrible English, so it’s also difficult to communicate and build the relationships deeper than the very basics. I’m also wondering how he is going to handle all 3 kids in the summer alone (he’s rarely with all 3 alone now), and now I’m fearful of letting him drive with them at all.
Anyhow, I’m leaning towards rematch, but wondering if that is unfair? We have spoken with him at length about speeding and safe driving and he really thinks he’s a great and safe driver. I’d love your thoughts.
~Quantified Host Mom