Au Pair Asks: My Host Mom’s Boyfriend is cramping my (caregiving) style. Advice Please!

by cv harquail on March 18, 2010

When it’s the host parent herself or himself who is making the au pair’s job difficult, she knows exactly what to do — bring the issue up with that host parent, and come to a resolution.

But what if the person causing the problems isn’t the host parent, but the host parent’s “friend”? The au pair/ caregiver has no explicit agreement with this person for who is in charge and what the arrangement should be. And, the caregiver has no authority over this person to have him or her adjust any behavior that gets in the way of the children’s welfare.

In this situation, the problem is made worse by the fact that the boyfriend isn’t keeping his promises about finding a job. Likely there is some conflict brewing between him and the host mom. What to do?201003181541.jpg

Hello, Host Parents–  I am asking for some general advice and not sure who else to turn to.

I am currently a nanny, not au pair (but we all experience similar problems!). I think that you might have some advice that might work for a nanny or an au pair.

I’ve been working for this family since October. Until mid-Feb., everything has been great. No complaints, the mother, baby and I got along perfectly. The family consisted of my boss, a single mother and my (now) 18-month-old charge.

I’ve been working 8-6 M-F. Nap times have changed since the beginning, but since December, the baby has been sleeping regularly from 11/1130-2, daily.

All that is fine. Here’s the problem though: As of mid-Feb, the mother’s boyfriend has moved in.

I was told at first that he would be here for 2-3 weeks, maximum. It is now the 4th week. I was also told he would be “out” most of the day finding a job. This is where the issue has begun.

He has been here 4 weeks and has no advancement in his job search. He is home most of the day.

He “over disciplines” me. If I tell the baby one thing, he says it back to him again. This is making me think the baby is going to lose his respect for me.

Also, the baby is not the best sleeper and needs the apartment to be very quiet when he is sleeping (and it’s an apartment with terrible insulation, so every noise is heard). During the baby’s nap, the boyfriend slams doors, talks on the phone/skype, watches television, cooks extremely loud. And consequently, the baby is taking very short naps.

It’s frustrating to me because this is my only break time and it’s been cut to 30-40 min a day. The baby wakes up angry and is in a bad mood for the rest of the day. It’s exhausting and each day I am physically exhausted.

I’m not sure what to do. Do I talk to the mother? Do I talk to her boyfriend? I can’t deal with him being around for anymore time! I’d love any advice– NK

201003181543.jpg Scott from AlisonD1975
40.365 from twodolla

{ 19 comments }

Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

I do not think that your host mom is going to appreciate complaints about her boyfriend. On the other hand, she is not really going to appreciate him hanging around doing nothing , living off the fat of the land either for too long. At some point she is going to want him to start earning his keep. It is a conumdrum. When she gives him the boot, you may be off the hook. A good technique, I think, might be to pick one specific issue ( quiet during naptime, for instance ) and mention this to your host mom as a concern rather than citing the boyfriend as the reason. Maybe you could say something like
” I am a little concerned that baby is napping less ; do you have any suggestions”. Be prepared for the boyfriend to get annoyed at you.
Walk around this very deliciately. I hope he doesn’t come up with the idea that he can replace you as the nanny. Your host mom would have to be crazy to replace a great nanny like you with a boyfriend who may be gone with the wind tomorrow but sometimes people do foolish things. If this were a husband who was out of work temporarily he might be driving you crazy, too. And I suspect that many aupairs would not be too thrilled if their host mothers suddenly found themselves working from home or out of work (not so uncommon nowadays ). If you were an aupair, your agency would have asked who was living in the household and would have explained the rules of the program to everybody who lived in the household. The agency would not have the right to tell the host mother not to let her boyfriend move in but I think that a good LCC could speak to the host mother gently and honestly. Since you are not an aupair, I would advise you to hold your breath and wait for him to move out or on. After all, your host mom might marry this man and you wouldn’t want him to have a bad attitude toward you, going forward.

My 2 cents March 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

I agree with Anonymous. Wait it out. No doubt Mom is feeling the impact of the fussy baby too — and even more so than you! It won’t take her long to figure out what the change in dynamics is. She likely has already. If you complain about the baby not sleeping well, it may look like you are complaining that the baby is interfering with the 3 hour lunch break you got a little to used to.

Hula Gal March 19, 2010 at 11:18 am

Oh wow. I feel much sympathy for your situation (and for that poor baby). An unemployed boyfriend living at the apartment and home during the day while the mom is at work. Ugh. I will refrain from making any assumptions about the boyfriend’s character, although that will be hard. ;-)

First, you should prepare yourself for the possibility that this woman will not have the strength to kick the freeloading boyfriend to the curb when the time comes (seems like it already has). Second, you should prepare yourself for the possibility that you may have to quit this job. Once you have done both of these things, you should speak to the mother and tell her that the baby is not napping well during the day because the noise level in the apartment has increased now that there are more people around during the day. Sympathize that you understand that the boyfriend has to be able to live there and do what he needs to do to go about his day. Ask her if there are ways to make the room more soundproof and put it on her to come up with ideas. You could throw out one suggestion like rolling up a towel and putting it in front of the door or maybe a noise machine in the room. That shows good faith that you are not blaming the boyfriend but she gets the picture that he is the problem.

If she does not respond well than your next move needs to be a threat to leave. When you agreed to be her nanny the boyfriend was not living there and sharing your “workspace” during the day. She changed the terms without getting your input. You have every right to say “I am no longer happy with this work environment since you changed the terms of the deal and need to quit if we cannot go back to the original terms of our employment” (in other words – no boyfriend at home during the day).

Good luck!

AnotherCAMom March 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I think this is great advice with some great suggestions. Good luck!

Karla March 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Hi – you need to speak with the host mom about her live-in boyfriend – you did not sign on with the boyfriend living-in. Sit down and share your thoughts and feelings in a friendly way and perhaps she has some suggestions that might work.

Lee March 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Definitely inform your LCC. It is required that all adults living in the host family home undergo a criminal background check. This is a State Department requirement and therefore an agency requirement. By letting the LCC know, she can contact the HM and it would be an opportunity for the LCC to talk to the HM about the situation (and it wouldn’t be out of the blue).

ExAP March 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm

She’s a nanny, so she’s not with an agency and doesn’t have sth. like an LCC.

PA au pair mom March 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Oh, what a difficult situation for you to deal with.

Next time the boyfriend comments that the baby seems fussy, could you mention nicely that it would help if the house is quieter during nap time? Does the host mom know that he is not out searching for job?

I agree that you may have to be willing to quit if this continues.

good luck.

Karin Six March 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

All great advice above! Since you are a nanny, I can understand that you don’t want to sound like you are complaining to your agency or to the mom about your job. I would have a heart to heart with the mom and let her know about her baby waking up at nap times due to noise. Give subtle hints about the boyfriend but be very careful. She will either ask for more information or not. Just be honest as much as possible with her. Reiterate that this is just your opinion on the situation and that you really care about her baby. Hopefully, she takes it from there… Good luck!

NannyKelly March 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Mention to the boyfriend that he needs to be a little more quiet during nap times because the baby needs sleep and without the baby won’t be at his best! Try to stick it out, if you really like the family!

Anonymous March 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I feel sorry for the mother is this situation, too. She is going to have to choose between her boyfriend and her nanny. I don’t know what city the family lives in but in parts of this country it is very hard to find a man who is straight, single , employed and willing to make a commitment to a long term relationship. It is almost as hard as finding a nanny or an aupair. Maybe this is a nice man who is just out of work and not accustomed to living with a young child. Maybe he is feeling terrible that he is out of work with no prospects – not an uncommon situation. How long is this woman going to be willing to live with this ?. I had a girlfriend who got into a mess like this because she met a guy who seemed great. The only problem was that he was in graduate school – he was changing careers. She had kids before he got a job because they were a little older. He never did get a job although he kept looking. Various babysitters quit because he was always hanging around at home, interfering and supervising .
Then the economy took a downturn. This man now tells people that he is retired. The children no longer need a sitter. My friend feels she wasted a large part of her life supporting a man whom, it turns, out,
never did work a day in his life. He went to school and dated gorgeous women. Lived by his wits. The nanny is going to be able to find a job a lot faster than this lady is going to be able to find a new boyfriend. BTW , is she divorced or a single mom by choice ? It seems to me a divorced dad might have welcome or unwelcome opinons on this situation . Advice to NANNY – do not get the baby’s father involved.

Angie March 22, 2010 at 4:01 am

Keep your eyes and ears open for other jobs in case this melts down in a bad way.

anonnany March 22, 2010 at 7:33 am

hi everyone, i’m the one who wrote this. I am keeping my eyes and ears out for a new job, in case. They boyfriend has become quieter after I mentioned that the house needs to be very quiet for naptime. But there’s still no progress on the job front for him. He’s still here most of the day, which is getting very difficult for the baby. The baby sees him, wants to play, but he’s busy looking for a job and goes into another room, subsequently the babies gets upset and starts crying and screaming. A large portion of my day has been spent calming the baby down. We’ve also been going on outings a lot more, to avoid this situation.

Also weird comments have been made by the boyfriend that makes me question my job secuirity such as “Do you still want to nanny in the next year?” “Maybe I could be (baby’s name) nanny if I don’t find a job”. Any opinions on this?

Darthastewart March 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

That would be setting off alarm bells all over the place, as if the current situation weren’t. I would be seriously looking for another position, and be initiating conversations with Mom Boss.

Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I suggest that you start looking for a job immediately. I suspected as soon as I read your original post that he would try to replace you as the nanny. He probably won’t admit to this and may get annoyed.
Read the tea leaves and move on.

NannyKelly March 22, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Thanks everyone for the great advice :).

Euromom March 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm

If I were you I would have the big talk with Momma Bear – (outside of her apartment – nowhere near him!). If the boyfriend is making comments such as “I could be baby bears nanny” if she is half the lady I give her the credit for being (mainly because she has chosen you as a nanny) then she will show this golddigger the door. He is supposed to be putting all his efforts into finding a job and he is already looking at “plan B(aby)”. Is he serious? Does he really think that this lady is going to pay him to sit on his a$$ and mind her baby when she has already employed a professional to do so. And if he is the sort of man to propose a situation such as this then honestly why would she want him??

It sounds to me like he has got his foot in the door and his feet under the table – but I bet you if you “dropped” into conversation with her that “x” was said and you are not feeling very secure right now and hey – if that is the way she is feeling then you would have appreciated it if she told you – bet you $50.00 he’ll be packed up and gone the next day.

She might have been feeling a bit vulnerable (who isn’t after a baby) but if she is the intelligent, independant lady that I am assuming she is – she will realise that he is taking her for a fool and will take alot more than that if she does not show him the door.

I know that I would pick securtiy for my child over any man any day of the week and I would not appreciate any man interfering with the security that I have made for my child.

That’s just my opinion and I freely admit I am a pure Momma Bear – I may be cute and cuddly but threaten my cub and beware my claws. Tell her..

Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Sounds like Romeo has already made his career plans. I wonder if he is going to offer to play nanny for free or for room and board.
That poor woman !

FormerSwissAupair April 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I am interested in finding out what ended up happening?? Did you talk with mom?? Find a new job??

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