Au Pairs “as a concept” and a particular au pair in real life are two very different things to imagine in your world.
An Au Pair “as a concept” is the idea of a young adult living with you as part of the family and as an employee childcare provider, sharing your food, sharing your home, and sharing in your family dynamics.
An Au Pair as a specific person is a little different– It’s “Maria” or “Jamie” or “Bau-Yu”.
When you’re having trouble with your Au Pair, it’s important to distinguish whether you’re struggling with an au pair “as a concept” or with the specific experience of the person who is your Au Pair.
If it’s challenges with this specific person, you can usually find a way to address them, either by asking your au pair to do things differently, adjusting your own teaching strategies or expectations, or choosing to let something go.
But if it’s the concept of an au pair that your struggling with, you have a different set of responsibilities: I think then that you have to buck up until your Au Pair’s year ends, and then choose another type of childcare.
How do you tell, though, if it’s just this particular person or the very idea of an au pair, that you are struggling with?
A/B HostMom writes to ask:
I need some advice. I’m not sure if an au pair is right for us. We are currently 5 months in with our first au pair. She is a very nice girl, but there are some things that irk me. Nearly every day I complain to my husband.
On the other hand, I think many of the little things that bother me are fixable, so it’s not like I need to put her into rematch. I am now questioning if at the end of her year if we should try another au pair and start fresh or do something else for childcare. I figure that now that I know all the things that bother me about this particular au pair, I could orient our next au pair a little better.
- Uses her cell phone when she’s on duty.
One evening my 6 month old was whining and stirring in her lap while she texted. I told her to put the phone down and play with the baby. Plus it says in the hand book not to use the phone on duty.
- Leaves dirty pots/pans out after cooking when sink is empty and dishwasher had dirty dishes in it.
Says in the rule book to clean up after yourself, and I’ve already had to remind her not to leave her empty tea mugs around the house. Also doesn’t load the dishwasher properly and doesn’t wash all the baby bottles properly despite my showing her twice. We end up reloading the dishwasher.
- Stomps around the house. Seriously.
We call her bigfoot (not to her face). And she’s not a big person. We had to buy a white noise machine for my toddler son so he wouldn’t wake so easily. I’ve told her before she needs to walk softly and it’s in the handbook.
- Eats a ton and asks for expensive food.
I’ve already told her about certain things that they are too expensive and she can buy them herself if she wants it (i.e. smoked salmon which she asked for and alternative non-dairy yogurts). I know that we have to feed her though so I am working on myself to not get so upset over it. I just don’t understand why she has to eat a completely different diet than we do. Plus the extra food she buys just clutters the kitchen.
- Doesn’t go out every weekend, stays around the house a lot, and eats with us on the weekend too when off duty, but doesn’t help with dishes or clean up and doesn’t say thank you for cooking (which even my husband says!).
Sometimes we just want out own time alone as a family. I feel like I’m running a restaurant when she expects dinner on the weekend.