A request for advice from “Everybody In The Pool” —
Dear Au Pair Mom readers,
An issue has arisen with our new au pair (arrived 2 weeks ago) – and it’s not one I anticipated. I’m hoping AuPairMom readers have some thoughts and insights…
It’s a cultural issue and also a personal issue. It is tricky because it influences whether this au pair can “do the job”. Perhaps this situation is one that other host families have encountered and about which they can share some wisdom.
Here is the situation:
Our AP won’t swim, wade or wear a swimsuit when she has her period. This is an issue for us. Swimming and being able to swim/rescue a child is a very important part of the job of caring for our children, and an important part of the job of being our au pair.
Our kids swim A LOT in the summer. The fact that she won’t/ doesn’t want to/ thinks she can’t/ swim with the kids for a week every month because she has her period and given that some of the kids are young enough/non-swimmers that for them to swim in a pool/lake/beach they need to have an adult actually go in the water with them, is going to be potentially a huge challenge.
I believe that the specific issue is not about going in the water, but about using (or not using) tampons. It appears that our au pair does not think that tampons are an appropriate option.
Our application made clear the need for a swimmer and that the AP would need to swim with the kids as one of the duties. During matching, this au pair confirmed that she was a swimmer.
Granted, during our phone interviews I didn’t ask the exact questions “do you use tampons”, nor did I ask “will you swim while you have your period”. To have done that seems a bit beyond the pale. But I did ask about her swimming experience and willingness to swim with the kids. I explained that we swim a lot and she would be required to swim *with* the children, not just sit on the side and supervise them. My handbook (shared in advance, and gone over by the two of us, page by page in the past week) makes explicit the same – it says if child X is in the water, you must be in with him also.
In my view, having your period is not a “health related” reason that should reasonably excuse an AP from a normal duty.
I don’t really feel that my children should forgo swimming ¼ of the summer simply because the AP can’t figure out a way to swim while she has her period.
Furthermore, it isn’t merely a summer issue, as our au pairs take our children, especially our toddler, swimming (and go in the water with her – actually required by the indoor town pool where they go) every week all year – not just during the summer.
Today, when our au pair said she wouldn’t swim, we were on our way to a nearby beach where the plan was that she would be alone with the kids for part of the time. I was surprised that she said “I will not go swimming”, and after we painstakingly managed to communicate about what the issue actually was (made difficult by her rudimentary English and the nature of the topic), I said but you have to be ready to go in the water with the kids. She replied that she was, but she was wearing sneakers, corduroy pants, several layers and a sweater. (She is used to a hotter climate, so our pleasant, breezy 80 degree day was apparently cold for her, hence the attire – the rest of us were in shorts and t-shirts all day, swimsuits at the beach.) I said that wouldn’t work – one can’t swim in those type of clothes even in an emergency. She insisted, but so did I. I told her she needed, at a minimum, to be wearing shorts and a t-shirt, in lieu of a swimsuit, and be prepared to go in and actually swim to save a drowning child.
This is my baseline for safety, but it isn’t my desired paradigm for being at the water with the kids…
So here’s my question for AuPairMom contributors –
- What can a HF insist on? Can a HF you “make” an AP swim with your kids?
- Is having your period a “health related” reason that should reasonably excuse an AP from a normal duty?
- Are there other options we haven’t thought about to solve the ‘won’t swim during her period’ issue?
- And, really, could anyone actually go into rematch over this and bear the discussions and explanations re the reasons for the rematch?!
(By way of background, while it is early days, she is otherwise seeming like a potentially decent au pair and is willing to undertake other duties – but it is too early to say with confidence “she’s great in all other respects” – the jury is still out on that point (and fairly so, since she’s only been here 2 weeks)).
We are flummoxed by this situation. Does anyone have any ideas on how to resolve this, or should we consider rematch?
“Everybody In The Pool”