My Au Pair is ruining my life…

by cv harquail on May 10, 2009

Saving this post until after APAW— it’s too much of a misfit after all that appreciation!

… I am counting the days until she is gone.
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She refuses to do anything except be a lukewarm body. She claims nothing is her responsibility. I provide written instruction each day. She ignores them.

She isn’t suppose to do laundry, cook, clean….because the kids are older and they should do everything!!!! If they don’t listen or are at sports, etc, then I have to do everything when I get home from work and on the weekends. She will sit on the couch, watch TV, call friends, use her computer and has no idea where my kids are while she is on duty.

She has dropped my kids at the mall (not permitted) so she can pick up a friend, etc. etc. Also, she wants off at 3 p.m when my kids come home from school. We get home at 7 p.m. and she is suppose to work 3 – 7 p.m. and usually has a 2 hour break during this time due to kids activities and the refusal to cook dinner, etc.

Mornings are 7 – 8 a.m. to get the kids on the bus. She has the entire day off, but she doesn’t like the hours she signed up for.

I can tell you story after story, but at this point there is nothing I can do but feel the pain. I have no idea what I am paying for. I have been extremely accommodating.

My first LCC told me to treat them like grocery store clerks and make them do their job. If you are nice, they take advantage….after two transition au pairs…boy was he right. I kept saying- they are suppose to be a member of your family, etc. etc. I took them out to dinner, gave them gifts, did everything possible to help them and they couldn’t even put my coffee cup in the dishwasher!!!! Absolutely nothing extra, and never what they are suppose to do each day……and they only had to work 25 hours per week….maybe.

I come home from work and clean up after her and the kids, (she didn’t make the mess and she shouldn’t clean up after kids that are old enough to do it themselves) cook dinner, do laundry, grocery shopping, etc. and she goes out with her friends. The mileage on my car is ridiculous and she doesn’t put gas in the car. I talk to her until I am blue in the face, but nothing ever changes. She makes faces when I talk to her and plays dumb and claims she doesn’t understand.

Sorry…………I don’t mean to go on, but the only thing I will appreciate is when she is out of my life. Yes – I have had numerous meeting with the LCC and I have always given another chance. Never ever again. Shape up or ship out .. and after nine months I have had to pay for two weeks vacation and all the education. Plus she calls and lets me know that she is leaving early because she has plans and that we better get home. All I can say is the NERVE. I have been told by the agency………..no answer …………new au pair is coming soon. I have no family and can’t take time off from work so …..here I am …with nothing to appreciate.

I hope you all have much better stories about great au pairs. I hope to get one soon. Sorry…but I haven’t had a good day in a really really long time.

Readers, this comment was posted in the Au Pair Appreciation Week area, and I took it out because it just didn’t feel right to have anything so unhappy there. I’m not sure if there is anything to say or suggest that would help this Host Parent, but if you have any ideas, please feel free to add them, below.

{ 36 comments }

Fernanda May 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Hi, l’m a Au Pair from Brazil! In my opinion the better thing to do is just talk to her to go home, quickly! That situation is horrible for your family. You can find a better Au Pair. Good luck

Deb Schwarz May 7, 2009 at 9:23 pm

She would have lasted a week in my home!! I always say “there are more where she came from” (actually that’s my husband’s famous quote as he never has to go through the pain of finding the next one) – but he has a really good point. I think you know within two weeks if an au pair has the motivation, attitude and competancy to work with your family. I was surprised to hear that there is an agency that doesn’t allow transitions within the first two months – yeah right! I think that the au pair program has somewhat of a bad rap from folks that hang on for far too long. There are good au pairs out there….so END THE AGONY! Just tell your LCC that you want to transition – and remember, the most important thing in your next au pair is attitude. I’ll take a positive attitude over experience any day of the week.

D May 7, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Well said.

These girls are people with personalities that all different. Most au pairs are wonderful and most families are wonderful…. but sadly mis-matches happen….. the girls are like host families, we are all different. We can’t change them & they can’t us. Its a matter of getting the right match.

The best peice of advice….is learn how to interview. An attitude weighs over experience by far like Deb said. Look for the girls that ask you about your family…. not just about their room, friends, and material things. Look for someone excited about coming, that loves her family & wants to be in a family.

It took us 2 au pairs…now to get to this point of “knowledge”. So use this website, its a god send.

TMK May 8, 2009 at 1:40 am

Not sure I understood correctly but you have had her for 9 months??
Why do you have to wait to have her leave. Will your company not allow you to rematch? Or are you afraid you can’t find someone else? I can’t find one reason in this to still have her 9 months later. It seems like you have a new AP lined up??? If so can you move up her arrival date? If not ask to start the interview process early and end the current AP’s year early.

me May 10, 2009 at 6:32 am

I am sorry to hear about your au pair, I can imagine that its difficult. Unfortunately there are au pairs who only get into the programme since its a cheap way to stay in a diff. country for a year. Those party au pairs often dont have any motivation to spend time with kids, nor do they want to be part of the family, for some families that might be alright, but mostly those girls are only a pain in the a..
I would let her go early, and find a better au pair, there are great au pairs out there!
Hope you are luckier next time!

Jeana May 10, 2009 at 8:53 am

You are not getting the support you need from your agency. What you’ve described is totally unacceptable. I’ve had three wonderful experiences with aupairs, and two that were removed from the program and sent home. To not know where your kids are, and to have dropped them off at a mall without your permission, is a safety issue. I work with AuPair in America, and both times I had trouble, my aupairs were removed from the program. Rematch was not an option, as there were safety issues, and due to their liability, they would not allow an aupair to continue in the program.

This is an example, to me, of how to judge an agency. I’ve judged my agency by how things work in a good situation, and how they respond in bad situations.

Contact your cluster leader and tell her you want to go into rematch today.
Jeana

Franzi May 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

I’m really sorry you have this terrible AP in your home. she doesn’t even deserve that title. seriously.

if i were you, i would take those car keys, make her work the hours she signed the contract for, and get into rematch immediately. you should not put up with this a second longer. she’s dropping your kids off somewhere despite having other instructions? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

Anonymous May 10, 2009 at 5:01 pm

I would call your LCC and give her a date to pick up your AP. Let her stay with her and not you. Also consider switching agencies because you can waive a lot of fees by switching now…..competition and the economy are driving this. I have seen ads saying if you switch they waive the fees and give you a gift card.

Darthastewart May 10, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I’m sorry. I think I know which agency you’re with- we were with them the first two years, and your experience matches ours with our first au-pair. It _does_ get better. Hang in there.

D May 10, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Darthastewart,

Which Agency did you have trouble with….

PA Mom May 11, 2009 at 8:10 am

9 Months! Is this your first AP? Are you kidding? Sorry but we LOVE our AP and none of our last 3 were ever even close to this category. This is a BAD situation. Unless your kids are 16 and 17 your AP should know where they are every second. And even if they are that old – she should have an idea. The best idea for this young lady is to have her GONE. No other family deserves to have to put up with that nonsense – so be fair if they call for a reference. And know that there are great APs out there and even mediocre APs are better than what you describe.

Dawn May 11, 2009 at 8:40 am

I agree with everyone else — this AP has got to go. Have things just recently gotten worse, or have you really been putting up with this kind of behavior/attitude for 9 months?

Somehow it seems like your AP has the idea that she is in charge — if for some reason you aren’t able to rematch now, at the very least you need to have a very serious conversation with her and your LCC to “lay down the law.” Go over in no uncertain terms what her responsibilities are, what the house rules are, and the distinction between the things she is entitled to (a private room, food, her weekly stipend), and the things that are privileges (use of the car, computer, cell phone, whatever else you give her). Then explain that she will no longer get any of those privileges unless she earns them.

I disagree with the LCC who told you that you should treat an AP like a grocery store clerk, but I do think that you can and should clearly lay out your expectations and rules, and you’re entitled to have them followed. As an AP, you shouldn’t be treating her as the “hired help,” but she is also not supposed to be the one running the show. There is a happy medium somewhere in between — our AP is absolutely a “member of our family,” but she also recognizes that she has to fulfill all of her responsibilities and that the various “extras” we give her are just that, “extras” (as opposed to entitlements). She appreciates all the ways that we go above and beyond what we are “required” to do for her, and in turn, she goes above and beyond for us in various ways.

You absolutely should not put up with your AP’s spoiled and disrespectful behavior for one more minute! Put a stop to it, or get her out of your house.

Anonymous May 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Unfortunately, I had the same situation. It was my first au pair. The agency made me feel like I wasn’t giving the AP a chance. The LCC came out and met with us many times and kept saying it really sounds like things will get better. Month after month they never did……things only got worse. Then I was told it was too late to rematch. “You only have 3 more months”. I tried to say no way, but the LCC told me that she would not have an au pair live with her. The agency would not pay for her plane fare home because she hadn’t completed her education credits (I had paid for everything). The au pair had no money for a plane ticket. The only way to get her to go home was to pay for a plane ticket. Then I would have been left with no childcare and another huge bill. It was a nightmare. This situation sounds so similar.

Good luck!!!

Darthastewart May 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm

If you want to email me offiline, we can discuss agencies. I’m not comfortable talking here. (it’s the d a r t h a s t e w a r t @ yahoo.com

Franzi May 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

@anonymous any AP in the US who terminates the program w/o completing the educational requirement or because she quit before year’s end will have to pay for her trip home by herself. she has 48 hours to leave the country after the agency notified the govt that she is not in good standing anymore.
the APs know that, so the excuse of not having enough money does not count. if you as family decide to rematch and the 2 weeks time is up, she needs to leave your house unless you allow her to stay. then it is the responsibility of the counselor to take her in. the fact that the counselor doesn’t want to do that speaks for the agency, in my opinion.
i’m sorry they had you hanging on for so long and then tell you that it’s too late to rematch. big BS if you ask me!

Anonymous May 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Most issues seem to reach their height by 6 months. An LCC that is paying and speaking with the host families and au pairs once a month by phone or in person as required by the US Dept of State should know well enough before 6 months if the AP and HF can work together or if the AP is doing her job according to the agreement and HF guidelines. There is NO reason you should be hanging on this long. That’s unacceptable. You don’t just need a new AP, you need a new LCC. Maybe switch agencies? You can certainly find better APs out there. Good Luck!

Anonymous May 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm

An LCC that is paying and speaking with the host families…

Paying attention – not paying the host families. (don’t we wish!)

Host_Dad_In_VA May 24, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I’m not sure why you haven’t taken the car keys from her permanently, and cut off her internet access. The internet access is the easiest to control, and seems to have the most effect.

We had some issues with our au pair neglecting her daily duties, and a tersely worded email and a promise that her internet access would be severely limited worked wonders.

Abby May 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm

for our first au pair, we shut off the internet intermittantly. we felt sneaky for doing it, but on the other hand, the work actually got done those days and she played with the kids. I wished I had done it sooner and more permanently.

Zuzana June 12, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Hi, I know what you are going through! I used to be an au pair. But now I am married to a british guy and have a wee boy. I had two au pairs. Both extremely lazy! Spending time on the internet, phone… Last one turned to be a smoker even tough we said we are looking for a non smoker!
People seems to be surprised that you had your au pair for so long but it is hard to ask someone to leave when you have to give them couple of weeks to leave.
My au pair was not paying attention to what she was doing and left cupboard with cleaning things open! I have 21 months old son who went straight in there. Lucky enough I just got home! I asked her to leave and gave her two weeks. She left that night and now sent me email telling me what a horrible person I am and how she has no where to go, has no money. None of it is true! I feel awful as I took her everywhere with us, paid for her etc. I know what is it like to be in another country and not to speak the language much, living in somebody elses house.
BUT I have to say that I always done what my family asked me to do, I maked sure kids were safe and parents did not have to worry when they were at work. Sure I did not like everything about them and did have some gossip sessions about them with another au pairs ;) But I did respect them and appreciated that I had my own room, food provided, pocket money included.
My son is now going to creche as I can not cope with another person in our house!
I know that there is thousand great au pairs so I think I just made a wrong choices! I used au pair website not agency.
I think the best thing is to set ground rules from the start. So there is no discussions later. You need to have some authority at the end of the day they will be taking care of the most precious thing in your life!

Ex- au pair June 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Your au pair is not a maid. She is not a mothers replacement.
If she is only supposed to do such and so, she has no obligation to go the extra mile just to make you happy.
You seem to be forgeting au pairs are exchanging students, not slaves.
If you need someone to clean your house, cook for your family, pick up after you all, then you should definetely consider dropping at least $1000 a week.
It makes me sick to my stomach that people like you think its completely acceptable to think that your au pair is here to serve all purposes, cleaning, washing, vacuuming, driving.
You are the one with expectations that are way, way, waaayyy too high for someone who is only willing to pay $100 bucks a week.
Why be stingy when it comes to your children?
It sounds to me like you are the one making HER life hell.

Ann October 26, 2009 at 4:02 am

I’m sorry, but I really think that you are wrong.
I am not an Au Pair yet, my departure will be -hopefully – in April next year, but honestly: by now I already know that *cleaning, cooking and tidying up* will be my job within the next year.
It has nothing to do with being a slave. That’s just the job an Au Pair has to do and if you already know that this is not what you want to do for one year long, you should not become an Au Pair.
I am definetly sure by now, that this year won’t be pleassure all the time, but at least i am quite realistic thinking about it…

Emma October 26, 2009 at 5:08 am

I agree with Ann. This is my job, I *am* here to do light housework, cook dinner, tidy-up. Being aware of how much money things actually cost, I often feel I am the one getting the better end of the deal. I don’t pay rent, electricity, water, food, cable, telephone, internet, health insurance, car insurance, or my for classes AND I still get paid on top of this and get to live in a foreign country for a year? Sh*t.

I mean, yes of course it can be exhausting living with kids, living where you work, always seeing dirty dishes piled on top of the dishwasher waiting for you to put them away, but really. Put things in perspective. We get all these benefits and all thats asked of us is to play with a couple kids for a few hours and do our share of chores in the house.

MommyMia October 27, 2009 at 12:13 am

Ann and Emma,
Thanks for showing us that there are some excellent au pairs out there with a balanced, realistic attitude! I was beginning to feel (based on my experience so far) that poor attitude and a feeling of entitlement was par for the course. I wish that more au pairs looked at all they’re given in addition to their weekly stipend as “benefits.” Gratitude and appreciation are always welcomed!

Host Mom VA July 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Ex Au pair:
Are you my first au pair still here illegally after we fired you?

MominPA July 15, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I have had that experience! Put your children first and let your LCC know this arrangement is not acceptable! It is dangerous to drop kids at the mall and leave them unattended if it is not allowed by you. She needs to go stay at the LCC’s house. You set her hours and her tasks, she has responsibilities she needs to complete. I promise wonderful au-pairs are out there I have had them!

Ex-aupair, I think you have some growing up to do, and perhaps you should better read the post before you comment so harshly.

s

PA au pair mom August 4, 2009 at 12:52 am

Do we have the same au pair?

I started contacting our LLC 5 months ago when things starting going sour. Her advice, “communicate more”. I followed her suggestions of writing down daily instructions and suggestions, having a weekly family meeting, talking more without the kids present, etc. Nothing has helped. We are now 31 days from our AP’s return to her home and I can’t wait. Everytime there is an issue, about once a week, and the LLC talks to her about it, she turns it into my fault, the kids’ fault, the agency’s fault, etc.

My fingers are crossed that the new au pair, arriving early September, will be much better.

Host VA Mom August 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm

We apparently share the same Au Pair too… ours is going in 2-3 week, counting……..quitting Au Pair program after 4 long months…..

NewHostMomtoBe October 26, 2009 at 3:22 am

You quit the program after 4 months because she was so bad? What agency are you with?
I am so sorry! That is so sad that she can ruin it for you. It is really scary for me as a hostmom to be. I hope by now that you have your life back under control like you want. Sorry for your hard time with the AP.

PA au pair mom August 6, 2009 at 1:06 am

Ours is going in 4 weeks as well and quite frankly, I just hope I can hold on until then. She is a constant source of contention around our home. My oldest son, age 8, has started staying with my parents just so he doesn’t have to be home with the AP during the day when I am at work.

She was great until just after xmas when she started ignoring instructions, yelling at the kids, violating curfew and car rules, etc. I spoke with the LLC on numerous occassions and was repeatedly told to “hang on” or “communicate more”. We are to the point now where we barely communicate at all.

And, just for the record, she has her own car and every weekend off.

The new AP sounds wonderful and I hope she is.

NY Mom August 18, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Not sure what ex au pair read, but you get hired to do a job for a good price and your education is getting paid for by these families, room and board, a few hundred dollars extra in electricity , water, phone bills, food and more because they use up these utilities a month. My daughter attended a daycare that did more than my nanny, for a lesser price. They provide food, that they cook daily for them, teach, read, do activities like paint and sing, take them out to the park, sanitize and clean each daycare room daily and potty train. My daycare had one adult for five children. without barely any days off, because their were only two women, with one substitute to fill in for emergencies and vacation. my 14 year olson does about the same that our nanny does, without getting paid. so, it sounds like this family put up with alot , with that aupair. It’s a shame!

NY Mom August 18, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I’m sure ex au pair is young ,immature and not too knowledgable of what a working parent goes through daily. But I’m sure you will find that out as an older adult. Sounds like you should go into a different field, not sure if you will get paid more than two hundred dollars a week after taxes, as a young inexperienced adult anywhere else, but it’s worth a try. Try to pay for your own college credits, rent and food and maybe you will appreciate people more. good luck! God Bless!

Czech Aupair May 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Wow… I can´t believe you kept her for 9 months

Victoria August 14, 2010 at 2:58 am

I was an Aupair and (gladly) stayed with the same family for 18 months. While my job was harder than most aupairs (I had 4 kids, all under the age of 5 – 2 infants *twins*), I have to say that I was always glad and willing to do everything required of me. However, there are limits for both host parents and au pairs. I would be a conscious guest to my host parents and never abused the privileges that they were so nice to provide for me.
I worked about 12 hours a day, from 6 AM to 6 PM – sometimes even longer. I cooked dinner for the entire family monday through friday, I would do weekly grocery shopping (with 2 infants in tow), I would do all of my kids laundry and ocassionally even my host parents laundry. I would attend all family gatherings with my host family, my kids recitals, birthday parties, halloween parties, christmas celebrations and my host parents’ work events – and I would help while at any of these events with anything I was asked to do. I would maintain my area of the house tidy at all times. I would feed the dogs and the cat, make sure they went out to potty when needed. I would shop for presents whenever one of my kids had a friend’s birthday party. I would take my kids to their extracurricular activities if it fell within my work hours. I would take the 2 older kids to school every morning and pick them up too – all of the above mentioned with 2 infants in tow. Some au pairs may read this and think I was overworked and taken advantage off but I would categorically deny that perception as it was my choice to take on that much work and I did it gladly every day… but here’s the reason why:
First and foremost I loved my kids so much it felt as if they were my own, and even now (4 years later) I remain in constant touch with them through email, phone and the ocassional visit. When I arrived the baby twins were so tiny (nearly 3 months old) and while it was really overwhelming at first, what I got to experience with them I wouldn’t change for the world. I was there for their first time of everything and that is something that even today I look back on with enormous joy and gratitude.
I also had a car I could use for work (to get around with the kids) and for my personal needs (go to the store, hang out with friends, ocassional day trips), I had a cellphone and 400 minute plan that I could use to communicate with my host parents and to stay connected not only with my family but also with my au pair friends. I had a very nice room with my own living area, huge TV and my very own bathroom. When I got there I didn’t have a laptop, my host parents gladly gave me theirs for me to use anytime I wanted and for as long as I wanted to (they had another laptop they shared). I never paid for gas, I never paid for my own shampoo or any other toilettries or personal use items, I was free to get what I wanted for myself at the grocery store, they would always have attentions with me (they always got me gifts for every ocassion – valentine’s day, st. patrick’s day, my birthday, christmas, etc), I was always treated as part of the family and welcomed to any and every celebration, I was welcomed to invite other au pairs for sleep overs on weekends, my personal space was always respected. I was treated my age, I was not made to follow ridiculous rules – I could go out on the weekends and come home at whatever time I wanted to, I never abused this privilege and showed up at 2 AM the latest. And that is one of the points I wanted to make, I had no rules but I still didn’t go crazy – I would be respectful and appreciative of them, their home and their children. And I was paid $230 a week, and not the $160 most au pairs get (back when I was an au pair, I think they increased it now).
The point I want to make with all of this… you’re paying your aupair $4 an hour which let’s be honest is a pretty low pay for the service you’re getting, most nannies charge $10 to $16 an hour. I, by no means, am saying your au pair was right in doing the things she was doing because she wasn’t – she had no say in which hours you wanted her to work and she had no right to refuse to work within the schedule that fit your needs. However, in every au pair contract it is specified that the ONLY one extra thing you are obligated to do is clean after the children and do their laundry. Putting the host mom’s cup in the dishwasher is a choice, not an obligation – no matter how many attentions you chose to have with her – all of those attentions are also your choice and not your obligation. You didn’t have to provide her with a car for personal use if you didn’t want to, you didn’t have to provide her with interner if you didn’t want to either and if you didn’t think she deserved it or that it was interfering with her job you should have taken it away – you were 100% entitled to. In no part of the contract it says you have to provide anything but the agreed fee, the education fees and a roof over her head. And if you didn’t think she was deserving of even that, you should have DEMANDED to be matched with someone else – you didn’t have to be stuck with her for that long, that was also your choice.
Talking about extra tasks – I never did anything because I felt it was expected of me or out of obligation, I did it because I appreciated all the attentions my host family had with me and because I was made to feel they were my family which I appreciated greatly! My host mom NEVER asked me to do anything else that wasn’t in the contract and because I would do so much more than I was supposed to – both my host parents were appreciative of it and reciprocated. When you give your best, you get the best out of people, that’s what I think and you got stuck with the wrong au pair I totally agree but all these other people commenting housework was her obligation are wrong and I still have my contract to prove it.
I hope you’re lucky enough to find a good au pair who will love your children as if they were her own, and she will gladly share and take care of them. And I also hope that if you find that good au pair and she does more than she’s supposed to – you appreciate it and reciprocate. Not because she expects it, because I never expected it from my host family but from the moment they picked me up at the airport it was evident they were going the extra mile to make me feel at home, loved and appreciated every day of my time with them and that is why I made the decision at that precise moment to give them my very best as well.

Anyway, thanks for reading and hope it helped.

MommyMia August 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Victoria, you have just illustrated exactly what many of the host families here are looking for in their AP relationship. Thanks for pointing out that it is all about maturity, appreciation, reciprocity, and most of all, communication. If only all APs would aspire to adopt you as their role model! What a lucky family to have such a wonderful AuPair!

CC August 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Hello,
Is there anyone that is looking for a wonderful, attentive, educated, fun, mature Aupair that would love to be a part of your family? I have one. She is currently in rematch because my husband lost his job, but I would love to find her a wonderful home. If interested, please contact me!!
678 999 2085. Thank You!!

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