One of the most important lessons I learned when my kids were toddlers, and one of the important lessons I’ve tried to impart to our au pairs, is that actions have consequences. If we said no drawing on the wall and you drew on the wall, well then you would not be able to use the markers for the rest of the day. And, you’d ‘help’ to wash off the wall.
Similarly, if you regularly slept through your alarm and were late for work, you’d lose important privileges, like using the car on weeknights.
Well, that’s how it works in theory.
Our “Seasoned host Mom”, below, has backed herself into a bit of a corner. Her au pair has an evening curfew– 8 hours before needing to be on duty — but regularly ignores this curfew. Worse, her ignoring this curfew has serious effects, since the au pair rather regularly oversleeps and is late for work, leaving Seasoned Host Mom scrambling to get to her work on time.
I have read many of the posts and comments on the site, and I haven’t found one that particularly addresses the issues I am facing with our au pair.
Our AP has been with us since late spring, so we’re about 7-8 months into the year. She is 23 and from Germany. She is responsible for my two kids, ages 7 and 4. I work outside of the home, full-time. This au pair is our third au pair (I have only recently discovered your site, and wish I had known about it when we were feeling our way with our first au pair). We had a relatively positive experience with the first au pair, although she spent ZERO time with us outside of her work hours. It was a business relationship, but at least she was dependable. Our second au pair was our “Mary Poppins.” She loved us and we loved her, but she left a couple of months early because of a family crisis back home. When au pair #1 left, SHE told US that we should have a curfew! With au pair #2, we asked that she be in about 8 hours before working the next morning, but she was older and very mature, so no issues arose there (although I think she stayed up late sometimes).
Here’s the problem: Au pair #3 has the same “curfew”–we expect her to be back 8 hours before next morning’s work hours begin. We have had a regylar problem with her ignoring the curfew and coming home very late. This seems to have gotten better within the last couple of weeks, but I don’t think I can expect that to last (see below).
Also, we have another problem. Even when our AP is here on time or doesn’t go out, she stays up until all hours of the night. She sometimes wakes me up by walking around her room in the middle of the night, but that is not as bad as when she is late for work as a result of being up late. She struggles to get up and get downstairs on time in the mornings. She “oversleeps” at least one day a week.
I find that I have to check to make sure she is up every morning. I can’t leave the house to exercise (which I have generally done in the mornings so I can spend the precious evening hours with my little ones), since I can’t rely on her to get up without having to be awakened. I should add that my DH travels during the week, every week, so I am a “single parent” Mon.-Thurs., and I need someone to act responsible and reliable.
The problem is that we have had numerous talks during her time with us about the curfew and her lack of dependability when it comes to being on time to work. Time and time again, things will get better for a week or two, and then regress. (She has admitted that she realizes that she does this.)
The last talk we had, last Sunday night, was when I said that if she doesn’t come in on time or doesn’t get up on time, “we’re done.” I told her that if she needed to set her alarm and iPhone both to go off to get her up, then that’s what needs to happen. (She claims that she is a very heavy sleeper, but I think it’s the constant sleep deprivation.) Well, it took all of a week and two days for her to oversleep again. I don’t think she set any alarm, because I was up and about yesterday morning and heard no alarm going off when it needed to be. This ticked me off, of course, and ticked off my DH even more, since we’d been so clear about the consequences.
My conflict, though, is that she is good with the kids, they like her, and overall, I trust her to keep them safe and to engage with them. She does an OK job on things like the laundry, a good job cooking on the one night a week I ask her to do so, and is a nice person. While there have been other small issues, such as her disappearing at the kids’ bedtimes at night while still on duty, constantly having her iPhone on her person (don’t know what she’s doing with it), or having a small fender-bender, they haven’t been enough for me to consider rematch. Breaking the few rules we do impose, however, is another story.
I feel that if we don’t immediately initiate re-match, it will ultimately make us look like we don’t enforce our own rules or are pushovers. And yet, there are a number of positives that are keeping me from making the call to my CC to initiate re-match.
I would love to know what others think. Is this enough for a re-match?
What will happen if we don’t initiate a rematch after all, after we said we would?