The 3rd Car: Avoiding a sense of entitlement

by cv harquail on March 31, 2009

We all want to be generous, and we all want to be appreciated. There’s nothing like having a third car for your au pair to use to make you aware of the tension that can exist when you want to be generous and want to be appreciated.

When we bought our first Volvo wagon to give our precious new baby a fancier, safer "ride" than my 8 yr. old Nissan, we decided to hold onto the Nissan and use it as an "Au Pair Car". Like the archetypal "station car" in a John Cheever story, the Nissan was intended only to get you there and back safely. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but it ran well, was safe enough, and was in great shape.

Our first au pair drove respectfully and safely, as did our second, third, and fourth au pair. It wasn’t until our fifth au pair made a right turn from the left lane and smashed the front fender into someone else’s that the car started to look kind of junky. And it wasn’t until our sixth au pair that the third car was taken for granted.carkeys.jpeg

Up until that sixth au pair (who was in every other respect a FABulous au pair), I really loved having that third car. It seemed like a nice ‘carrot’ to tempt a desirable au pair, it relieved me of having to coordinate my driving plans with my husband’s or the au pair’s, and I was never blasted out of my seat at ignition by a radio set at high volume and tuned to a heavy metal station. Quite an assortment of benefits!

But, when I discovered that our sixth au pair was driving to another state to follow her boyfriend’s band, explicitly and implicitly ignoring the rules about car use, I realized I had let it go too far. I had traded that sense of "one less hassle for mom" into "just another thing I’m supposed to have. And I can use it as I darn well please, thank-you-very-much."

So, we had to set up few new practices and rules. Here are some of the things we did, and that you can try, to reduce the sense that the "third car" is something your au pair is entitled to.

We changed the way we talked about the car.

1. We stopped calling the third car "the au pair car" or "your car". We started referring to the car as "the silver car". [Also, my husband and I trade off who drives which of the other two cars when we are home, so we don’t have a situation where one car is "Mom’s" and one car is "Dad’s", leaving the third car implicitly to be the "Au Pair’s".]

We began to vary who drove the car, so that it wasn’t always and only our au pair who drove it.

2. I started driving "the silver car" occasionally when it was last in the driveway or just more convenient (as long as I wasn’t putting out our au pair. It was and is still critical for her to feel that she is more or less free to come and go when she’s not on duty.)

3. I put a car seat in the back seat, and another spare car seat in the trunk. This was in part to make it possible for the au pair to take the kids somewhere in the silver car in an emergency, in case my husband and I both had taken the other cars with their car seats. Although our au pairs almost never took the girls anywhere in the third car, the car seat was another kind of reminder that this car was for the extended family, not just for the cute single girl and her friends.

4. When Grandma & Grandpa came to visit, they got dibs on the silver car too (never when our au pair was off duty). I paid for their gas. This way, the car was used as an ‘extra car’ for whoever needed it, and the need was negotiated. This helped make it less hers alone, and more like the 3rd car.

We asked our au pair to take a little more responsibility for car.

5. Also, we made it a practice to have our au pair take her car (oops, I meant) the third car out of the driveway in the morning to park it on the street, to continue to re-park it on the street when she went back and forth during the day, and then to pull it into the driveway last thing at night. This helped me and my husband not have to be car jockeys when we needed to get out of the driveway in a station wagon, and it also made the station wagons easy for the au pair to use for the kids when she was on duty.

6. We asked our au pair to take the car to get its oil changed and to check the tire pressure… in her on-duty time.

While this tactic might seem like a way to have the au pair take ownership for the car (and it may have done that) this was intended to encourage her to think of the car as something that cost money. We didn’t ask her to pay for the oil changes (we paid for that and other maintenance) but we did ask her to pay to have the car professionally washed and vacuumed. (Of course, when my parents in law came, I took the car to the carwash myself.)

We treated the car like an expensive and valuable family possession, not like some hand-me-down.

7. We reinforced the rules for using the car. We had always had the car curfew, a weekly mileage guideline and limited travel radius (7 miles around our house… including the nearest two malls but not including New York City). We began to be more consistent about applying these guidelines.

8. Also, we set up some guidelines around car-pooling with other au pairs so that other au pairs didn’t take advantage of either our au pair OR the third car. We didn’t want our third car to into the au pair clusters’ taxi, with our sweet au pair expected to drive everyone else. More on that in a forthcoming post.

9 We made it clear how much the car cost, and discussed it as an ‘on the job benefit’.

Grunge car

We told our incoming au pair how much the silver car was worth and how much extra it cost us to have a third car insured with an under-25 as the main driver. That really helped establish the car as an "extra", that we paid for it, and that it wasn’t something to be taken for granted. (Check the post on the cost of having an au pair to see how much this nets out to.)

Being Generous & Being Appreciated

Despite the fact that having a third car for our au pair is pretty generous, I’m sure that any au pair can find someone else with a nicer material situation. (Be sure to read the post on avoiding the "Amenities Arms Race" and the competition with other host families.)

We live in a town where there are many au pair families wealthier than ours, whose au pairs drive expensive SUVs and never pay for their own gas.  But there are also au pairs driving clunkers, sharing a mini-van, and riding the bus, the train, and the bike. For every au pair with a fancier ride, there’s another au pair who’s glad for a lift to Target and who is happy to chip in for gas.

There is often a tension between wanting to be generous and wanting to be appreciated… for both host parents and au pairs. This tension doesn’t have to be resolved just by managing the use of the spare car(s)— we can be generous in other ways (comfy room, occasional latte, a flowering plant on a rainy day) and ask that the privilege of a car be appreciated.

Ultimately, there are au pairs who will feel entitled and au pairs who will feel privileged. Happily in our family, we’ve had 9 au pairs who appreciated and enjoyed what we have been able to provide for them, and only two that behaved in ways that would have embarrassed their moms if their moms had only known.

It’s important to remind your au pair and yourselves that while there will be host families for whom the cost of a third car is nothing, for some of us that third car is an extra expense that is hard to justify.  We are now in the process of selling that third car, and so things will be changing in our family. With my husband commuting by train and my desire to reduce expenses, having a third car just so that I can avoid the hassle of negotiating who gets a car on Saturday afternoon (with two kids at soccer and an au pair off duty) seems like too much. But I’m ready to work on that.

For starters, I’m trying to make sure that I offer the material things that we can afford, and be even more generous in ways where money is irrelevant.

Are there other ideas that you have for helping your au pair appreciate the privilege of a third car? Do share…

Here is the original query from CT Mom:

How do you deal with use of the car when there is a 3rd car? We have a 3rd car, so obviously there is no need to “share” the car. Our current au pair is new (our last one just ended her year with us) so we’d like some ideas so this doesn’t become an issue this year.  For those with 3rd cars, please share your car rules! Thanks.

{ 23 comments }

NoVA HostMom March 31, 2009 at 4:08 am

We have been pretty lucky in that we have easy access to public transportation and are now on our second au pair, neither of which are drivers. However, we do have a 3rd car, and have held onto it not only because my husband’s pre-marriage/baby car is not car seat friendly but also for possible au pair use.

I think the rules set out here are pretty fair, and I would expect gas to be provided by the au pair. If she receives it full, it needs to be returned the same way. If not, after 1 warning, the privilege is removed and it is bus-city for the au pair. Same for keeping it in good condition (and reporting any problems, malfunctions, accidents, etc. promptly), and not using it to tour the country without permission.

Since we have not had to really address this, I am still looking for great additional things to keep in mind (for those things that always seem to come up that I had never considered before).

CaliHostMom March 31, 2009 at 6:03 am

Thanks for all your many great suggestions for little things to do that can influence attitudes and behaviors about the 3rd car. I am going to use a lot of these! We, too, are on our 9th au pair, and have a 3rd car. We’ve never actually had any big problems with our au pairs abusing the car privilege. Our big problem has ALWAYS been other host families and other APs abusing our AP and car so I can’t wait for your follow up essay on “the AP cluster taxi”.

I’m really bitter about it, actually. I’m more bitter at the stingy host families who refuse to let their cars be used and turn our AP into a taxi, than I am at the other APs. Frankly, I think the other host families, who have no problem trusting their own children to an AP, but can’t trust a vehicle to them, ought to be ashamed. Maybe NYC metro is different, but in suburban S.F., you really can’t get around by bus and train very easily. I dare ANY host mom to take a dose of her own public transportation medicine that she has foisted on her AP. I’ve learned enough to warn our own AP how to mitigate the situation but there is no perfect solution.

If your AP is over 21, the other APs want a built in designated driver and they actually ‘pretend’ that their host family won’t let them use the car. Solutions: 1) Don’t advertise or brag about your easy use of our car. 2) Be ready and willing to call their bluff from time to time and spend the night at home with a DVD instead of driving.

Sometimes APs just don’t want the risk associated with being the driver at any time. If an AP gets in an accident, she’s got to pay the deductible. So again, APs will jockey for NOT driving and will hide behind an excuse that their host family won’t let them use the car. Solutions: 1) For trips, get an agreement from the other APs in writing, that they will share any deductible costs in the event of an accident AND share in the cost of cleaning of the car. 2) Call their bluff once in a while. 3) Negotiate future trips: “I will drive tonight, if you agree to drive next week.” 4) On very rare ocassions, I have intervened and called other HMs I know and flat out asked them to allow their AP to drive along the lines of “say, I understand the girls are going to the outlet malls this weekend. They’ve used my car the last few times, and I’m really hoping they could use your car this weekend. We need the 3rd car this weekend and Tanja could use a break from driving anyway.” Most HMs don’t know each other well enough to do this…but in some cases, it could work.

I would love to hear other ideas and strategies on this topic.

(By the way, your 7 mile radius sounds awfully restrictive. We let ours be used in about a 40 mile radius and even into San Francisco, provided the AP gets her Calif. drivers license and follows car rules.)

iMom August 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

Did there end up being a post about the AP cluster taxi? I have also been frustrated by other host families not being considerate of the needs of their AP to get around, which ended up being inconsiderate to my AP and to me because my AP had to drive her around. Case in point, one family would not set their AP up with direct deposit of her paychecks and yet did not provide transportation to the bank for her to deposit her checks! I really don’t know what they could have expected except that someone else would have to drive her. MY AP usually ended up driving her to the bank every Friday. Perhaps I should have said something, but I never did. My AP didn’t mind much because they usually spent time together Friday evenings anyway, but it was still a hassle and very inconsiderate!

Deb Schwarz March 31, 2009 at 6:35 am

Great topic! Whenever I interview new host families, I tell them that the BEST thing we ever did (around our 4th au pair out of 14) was to go out and buy a “beater” au pair car. (a Honda Odyssey that I found on Craigslist with 100k miles on it and lots of dents and scratches). It relieved a lot of car tension (especially for my husband), and that darned thing survived another 80k miles and many more au pair dents (I never thought it would die!). We now have a used Pilot and are pretty laid back about the car (few rules), but we do have the au pair take care of the car (make sure that it gets oil changes, is clean – which we pay for), but one thing that we learned the hard way – is that we took off the “Fast Pass” so that bridge tolls are on their dime. We initially had it on there for the gymnastics run over the Golden Gate Bridge, but quickly discovered that we were being charged $5 for every boyfriend visit (which was almost every night!). Much to our surprise, our gymnastics run is during car pool time, so it’s free without the Fast Pass. Thanks for your tips on how to show that it’s not their own car…..sage advice.

CT Mom March 31, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Cali Host Mom– I hear you about other host families. There is this one host family within our cluster (whose au pair our previous au pair and now our new au pair is freinds with) that doesn’t ANYONE in their car other than their children. So of course, someone else within the group is always giving her a ride. This really upsets us because we feel that this particular host family is taking advantage of everyone else.

We do have car rules– 11pm curfew during the week and 2am on the weekends (which I think is too generous but my husband disagrees), she can only drive within particular towns (which we’ve specified) or she needs special permission, she needs to tell us where she’s going and needs to call us immediately if her plans change, etc, etc. Our biggest issue is with sharing. We live a little further out and there aren’t any public transportation options. So hardly anyone ever comes to pick her up, they seem to meet in a central area. So far the advice has been great– I think we will be talking to our new au pair about others taking advantage of her. Keep the advice coming!! Also, cannot wait for the post on the au pair taxi service.

EUROaupair August 24, 2010 at 9:16 am

Just wondering, what is the purpose of a car curfew?

My HF have rules for the car, all reasonable; I pay for my own petrol unless I am taking the kids, I take my phone with me, I keep it clean, I tell them if I am going out of town etc.

However, as much as I love them, I would probably pack my bags if they announced a car curfew; it is essentially an au pair-curfew, isn’t it?

Aupairgal August 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

Well, the main reason I see having grown up in America is that 1:30AM is last call and 2AM the bars close. Basically between 1:30 and 4 is the most dangerous time to drive in regards to drunk drivers. My parent(not host parents..parents) always had me either be home by 1:30 or stay where I was.

My 2 cents August 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

As a host mom my main reasons are to avoid bad crashes and drunk drivers and to control the use of my property and avoid issues of entitlement. The thought of my car that I insure and pay for out in front of your boyfriend’s apartment building, or another host family’s house for an entire weekend really bothers me. And I know for a fact it bothers other host families. So we just don’t go there and put a curfew on the car absent specific exceptions and clearance.

I’ll also own that it is a way to more deftly and less personally manage an au pair curfew, especially one who would stay out all night if permitted.

Sorry, but unless you have your own car that you paid for and insure, you would need to pack it up and leave. 24/7 access to a car is not an entitlement. It is a piece of personal property of high value and has the ability to get you and others with you and on the road around you into a lot of danger if not respected.

StephinBoston August 24, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I think we are a pretty lax host family but that car curfew is not going away here. I’ve had a car totaled by an au pair, had to go pick her up and honestly I have no desire to have her involved in a car accident at 3AM in the morning. My insurance is also VERY expensive ($1000 per year on a 8 year old safe car) for the au pair and I don’t want it to go up more due to the car being vandalized in a bad area or another accident.

Melissa August 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I agree. The insurance on our modest 3rd car (AP car) is the most expensive out of all three of our cars because she is listed as the primary driver (even our luxury SUV costs less to insure). She has little driving experience and is from another country, so we can’t qualify for any discounts. We’ve been there, done that with one of our APs who wanted to keep the car out constantly, and it was frequently parked all night long (and often all weekend long) at friends houses. It became a big issue and a major source of annoyance for me. We learned and won’t be doing that again.

EUROaupair August 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

This is all actually quite interesting! I see some differences here right off the bat; I haven’t so much as scratched the car, the car is part of my verbal contract, we live in the middle of nowhere, I am 23, used to drive cars for a living & have Defensive Driving qualifications etc.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I would be offended and angry if a curfew or something was enforced on me, having been living alone and driving my own car for five years now.

I forget that some of your Au Pairs are really young and/or less responsible etc. and that some of you HFs have had terrible experiences with APs and cars!

Dawn March 31, 2009 at 6:00 pm

We live in an area where there’s basically NO public transportation, so a third car is a necessity for our family, since both DH and I drive to work, and we need our AP to take our youngest to preschool, as well as taking all three kids to various activities when not in school. We hadn’t really thought about the rationale you outline above for treating it as a “third car” and not the “au pair car,” but that is in fact how we treat it. Our three vehicles include (1) my husband’s truck, which neither I nor our AP feel comfortable driving because it’s too big; (2) a minivan; and (3) a VW bug, which is too small for my youngest’s car seat. So the way we work it is that the truck is my husband’s, and then the VW and the minivan are shared between me and the AP, with me driving the VW to work during the week so the AP can shuttle the kids in the minivan, and then her driving the VW on the weekends (or evenings), while I use the minivan with the kids. Even on the weekends, however, there are times when I need to make a quick trip with the VW, and/or times when the AP would prefer to use the van if she’s going somewhere with a group of friends, so there’s usually a discussion about which car she can/should use when she goes somewhere.

Our AP has her own set of keys to the minivan, her “work vehicle,” but we have a shared set of keys for the VW, that are kept hanging on a hook in our foyer. So far, it’s worked out well — we haven’t (yet) had any problems with our APs developing a sense of “entitlement” to our cars. Again, as I mentioned, we “share” the cars out of necessity, but it makes sense (now that you mention it, cvh!) that the lack of the sense of entitlement may be due to the fact that there’s not a car that the AP thinks of as “hers.”

I’ve mentioned this in a prior comment, but we don’t track our AP’s mileage or gas use. We pay for the gas in the van, which (when the AP uses it) is 95% “work related use” which we are responsible for — and we’re willing to pay for that extra 5% just to avoid the hassle of having to track mileage. When I return from work on Fridays, I make sure that the VW has a full tank of gas, and then we ask the AP to fill it again on Sunday afternoon/evening if she’s used it.

We don’t have any set mileage/radius restrictions for the AP’s car use, but so far, the few times when our AP has wanted to go someplace “far,” she’s always asked for permission. Again, this is probably a function of the fact that they are “shared cars,” so she needs to make sure that I won’t need whichever car it is if she’s going to be gone a long time.

Other things that we do that may help avoid the sense of entitlement:
* the car has an earlier weekend “curfew” than the AP herself does.
* we have the AP do some practice drives with us before she ever drives either car with the children or alone — and in our handbook, this is described as something that must happen before we “allow” her to use “our cars,” which emphasizes the fact that it’s a privilege, not an entitlement. (Our handbook also says something about the fact that we might need to re-evaluate her driving privileges if she’s in an accident that is her fault.)

Maya March 31, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I have a question about car curfew. Many of you here on APMom mentioned that you have a car curfew and often it is earlier then AP’s curfew. We don’t have that. For the most part, my AP does not have a curfew at all (although it is mentioned in the handbook, I never once enforced it), and she does not have a car curfew. Neither did my previous AP. May be it is because my AP basically has free reign of our second car with very rare exceptions when we need it, or may be it is because her one friend here is another AP who does not drive at all (no driving license). Also, it might be that I did not feel that neither of my two APs so far have taken advantage of the car, I am not really sure. My previous AP was afraid to drive in the dark and did not do that a lot. My current AP is an excellent driver and basically takes the car out on Friday night and brings it back either Sat or Sun . She is out the whole weekend for the most part and I have only a very general idea of where she is (mostly at my boss’s house as she is friends with her AP, lol)

However, I am thinking that I will need to change this setup for next year because my kids’ schedules will change and the second car will need to be shared between my DH and our next AP during the week. However, a weekend curfew still puzzles me a bit. How do girls generally react to having a car curfew? What happens if they do not have the car back by that time? What if it is your AP’s turn to drive, do you let her have the car later then the curfew?

Anna March 31, 2009 at 7:46 pm

IMHO the car curfew earlier than an au pair’s curfew is too drastic and unfair, if the car is not need for host family use at that time. I don’t plan to have a car curfew. If I trust my au pair to drive my car, and if I don’t need the car for the duration of time, I will let her have it. Our cars are nothing special, we buy used, cheap, American, and we don’t keep them sparkling clean and we don’t fix minor scratches and dimples. They are in good working order.

The au pair on the other hand does have a curfew on weeknights when she is working the next morning. I care about her being rested when she is with my kids, this is the reason. I haven’t enforced the curfew (I don’t think I even had it on the books) with our first au pair because she was a responsible adult. I did have to enforce it in the beginning with our current au pair.

I guess if I don’t have a compelling reason in my mind for a car curfew, I am not going to have it “just because” or because other families have it.

Suzanne March 31, 2009 at 10:45 pm

We are about to have our 5th au pair arrive next week and each time before they arrive, I review the au pair “rules”. I just found your site and it’s nice to hear some of the issues I struggle with that other Mom’s struggle with too. We do have 3 cars and after our 1st aupair got into a car accident with our car, we quickly came up with rules that we tailor each year. We only allow the au pair to drive one of our cars. The other two are off limits.

We have a Camry and do have 3 car seats in the back seat. It wasn’t something we needed originally as when our kids were infants they didn’t NEED to go anywhere. But now they are all in preschool and need to be dropped off and picked up. I do find the car seats are a great deterrant from having your au pair be the Shuttle bus for other au pairs. Yes – my aupair knows how to take them out and put them back in and does that from time to time but I found maybe she will only pick up one or two friends versus driving 4 friends all around town.

We struggled with the gas thing for a while too as when gas was $4.00/gallon last year – we couldn’t afford to be supporting our au pairs habit of driving out every night. Our solution has been to track mileage in our car. We keep a paper in the car and expect everyone including myself and my husband to write down the starting and ending mileage for each trip in the car. At the end of the month, we tally the mileage and what miles the Aupair used for personal outings to come up with a figure of what they can pitch in for gas. It has helped our au pairs realize that the car — does cost something.

When our au pair arrives, we do have an 8 hour curfew rule. If she is expected to work at 8 a.m. with our kids – she needs to be in by 12 midnight. The car follows the curfew. I’m more relaxed around curfews on the weekend but our rules are that the car is NOT to be out past 2 a.m. ever unless approved by us beforehand.

While I want our au pair to be able to go places she wants to – we do want her to know the car is a privelage and won’t always be available to her. My husband and I have made a point that we take that car at times – especially if we need to drive someplace far as it does get the best gas mileage versus hauling an SUV 150 miles for an outing. We also do not allow the vehicle to be driven out of the state.

I’m not sure the answers on the car debates – my husband and I always struggle about this and how to handle. We’ve tried to be as fair as possile without being taken advantage of either.

Love to hear others thoughts.

CT Mom March 31, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Dawn, we’ve put a lot of these things in our handbook: sharing of driving responsibilities, asking permission to use the car, etc, but the sharing & asking permission (it’s normally them saying “I’m going to such and such place) almost never happens (even though it is clearly spelled out).

Maya, you are very generous to allow your au pairs to take a car for the entire weekend! We don’t like having our car gone for the whole weekend with just a general idea of where it is. We rarely let them take the car overnight for a sleepover and only allow it for special occasions. With our first au pair, once we allowed her to sleep over one time, she always wanted to sleep over. It’s like you give them an inch they take a mile.

Anna, the reason we have a car curfew is that we don’t want her driving at all hours of the night with drunk drivers and other crazy drivers. Her car curfew is 2am on the weekends (which I think is too generous , but my husband disagrees) and she does not have a curfew on the weekends at all if she doesn’t have the car.

I know alot of our issues are because pretty much the 3rd car is au pair use only. It has high miles and I don’t think it could handle all the miles we would put on it if either one of us used it to commute (we’ve already had the transmission replaced). Our insurance is also less expensive because we have restricted her to our least valuable car. I know we should’ve probably had a shared set of keys to the 3rd car, but I think it would be strange to pull the keys from her now.

Calif Mom April 1, 2009 at 1:13 am

Some thoughts on cars in general:

— to the host family who lives further out than AP friends: have your AP drive to someone else’s house and leave your/her car there, so it’s not always her driving the farther or parking in ‘clubby’ areas. She still can’t drink and then drive home, but at least your car is safer and she doesn’t end up doing all the driving for everyone all the time.

— the car accidents our APs have had have occurred on their own time, not when taxiing kids around. Be sure to have that deductible amount clearly written out in your handbook, or you will feel like a total heel when you have to tell your already-poor-feeling AP that she has to cough up two weeks’ wages for a dimple in the fender.

— I don’t have specific citations for these, but here is the “conventional wisdom” I have accumulated through the years (traffic school, cop friends, last time I read through the booklet for the driver’s license test, etc):
Most traffic accidents happen in the early morning due to people not getting enough sleep (not late at night from drunk drivers) and most happen within a few miles of home. Car crashes are the top cause of death for women under 21 or so, if I’m remembering right, and those crashes usually involve more than one young person in the car. Sharing these stats with your AP can be helpful support your policies.

anu May 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I had car rules in the handbook that the AP agreed to like not driving outside out county,no overnight trips and keeping track of the miles and re-imbursing us for 1 gallon of gas for every 20 miles.Initially she was afraid to travel and I did not notice anything.Once she got comfortable she started driving more.I noticed she was emptying the tank in 5 days.So I told her to keep track of the mileage and re-imburse me.One day I came early at 3.15 p.m. and noticed she was not there and the school bus was due at 3.25 p.m..She cam racing into the driveway with one minute to spare.I had a talk with her and again told her to keep track of the mileage.I noted down the mileage the next morning and when i checked in the evening found she had travelled 67 miles.I aske her where she went and she lied and said she went to a friends house and the address she quoted was only 5 miles away.I charged her that week and after that she cut her usage down to 50miles a week.So I did not charge her.My husband went out of the country last week.She is only allowed to srive his Accord with our permission when we need the van.I found on Monday that the car had moved position.So I note the mileage.Sure enough 2 days later I found that the mileage changed 62 miles.I asked her and she said she thought she would use that car for personal use and use the van for the kids and had planned to fill the gas.She had very cleverly parked the car in its usual spot with the van behind it and even put the seat back in its usual position.She just started at me blankly and finally apologised.

I told her that the next time she violated these rules she would not be allowed personal use of the car and I also told her she has to pay for every mile she uses even if it is trivial.She otherwise works well and I feel bad but I feel I cant trust her anymore.Does anyone have any advice.

Taking a computer lunch May 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm

My sense is that you give a verbal warning. If you’re going to dress someone down, always start with their good points (management 101), “I like the way you do X. I really appreciate Y,” and then get down to the real reason you’ve called the face-to-face, “It really annoys me that…” Make it clear that you consider it a warning, and that you feel disappointed and bothered that you have to watch the odometers, and that it wouldn’t be an issue if she just gassed up the car when she was a) done and b) left more than a minute to meet the bus. (FYI – we always schedule our AP to start 15 minutes before the 1st bus is anticipated – it’s part of her working hours, even if she just sits on her hands and waits, because we want to insure that she is home.)

FormerSwissAupair May 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I would take away personal driving privledges for a week. You are being generous in allowing her to use the car to begin with, and not having to ask for her friends for rides. Explain that she agreed to the rules upfront, and hopefully a week with no driving will help her to “remember” them.

Darthastewart May 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I would point out to her that she has violated your trust, and that you will be monitoring the mileage on the cars. Any further issues will result in a broken match. And notify the LCC.

Jennifer August 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I agree with Darthastewart. If she is lying about the car and going so far as to cover it up – what else is she lying about? Trust is a HUGE issue.

Host Mommy Dearest May 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm

The fact that she broke the car rule would concern me less than the trust issue. Sounds like she was sneaky about her rule breaking, so aren’t you going to worry about what else she will try to “get away with” while you aren’t watching? When is she willing to lie and when will she do the right thing?

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