Things au pairs can't stand
Are you taking advantage of your au pair?

Finding the right au pair isn’t an easy task. You want someone who’ll fit in with the family, adapt quickly to your family’s routine and most importantly someone you trust to look after your kids when you’re not there.

If you’ve found someone who matches with all of the above criteria, you’ll want to make sure they stick around for as long as you need them.

Read more: Saying goodbye to the au pair

There are certain things that will put your au pair off wanting to work for you. Some of these scenarios are probably going to happen once in a while, but if these become regular occurrences your au pair might start looking for a new job:

Parents who are always late

We know how awful and unpredictable traffic can be but if our set hours are 8am-5pm and you’re getting home after 7pm every second night, without letting us know beforehand, it becomes unsettling and frustrating.  

It’s all very well if you offer to pay us overtime, but we also have lives and we usually have an assignment to do or other commitments so give us fair warning if you know you’re running late. If the hours start extending over certain length of time, consider revising the childcare hours you require and adjust your au pair’s salary accordingly.

When we have to nag to be paid

This seems to be a common problem with so many au pair families: paying the au pair's wages before the end of the month (or whenever the agreed payment date is). When you interview a potential au pair let them know if wages will be settled after the 1st of every month before they decide to start working for you.

It's incredibly frustrating and off-putting to have to constantly remind and nag you to pay us when we have bills of our own to pay.

Parents who fight

It would be unrealistic to say that parents won’t at some point argue in front of others. We know it happens. It’s when you’re continuously fighting in front of us and your kids that it gets awkward and unpleasant. We also notice that your kids start to behave the same way by shouting at each other and friends the way you do.

On cleaning and where we draw the line

We don’t mind helping out with the housework, if our contract includes such duties. We also don’t usually mind the occasional not so nice cleaning duty, like washing dishes and cleaning floors when the domestic hasn’t shown up.

What we really can’t stand doing are completely unrelated things and then being expected to do them regularly (when it’s not in the job description). This includes picking up your dog's poop, scrubbing toilets and being the only one in the house responsible for relocating the resident spider.

Priorities, priorities

We question your priorities when you ask us to stay at home with the kids for longer than a week while you go on holiday. 

"Can you look after the kids for a few weeks while we go to Bali? It's our anniversary. We'll pay double." Yes, I know of a few au pairs who've had similar requests. Although we love double pay, the right au pair would suggest that you get Granny or a family friend to help out on the weekends or somewhere in between. Au pairs aren't usually parents themselves and childcare for this length of time is no walk in the park. 

We're not robots

When you ask us to drop off your dry cleaning, fetch the post, take the car for a wash and do your weekly grocery shop (all of this with your kids in tow) in 20 minutes, we spin. You might want to avoid rushing your au pair, especially when they're required to drive around to places in a hurry with your kids. 

When you avoid money matters

Au pair agencies aren't very proactive once an au pair has been placed with a family, even though it's their job to keep up to date with salary adjustments. When we've been working for a family full-time for over a year without any increase, it makes it more tempting for us to want to find another job.

The same goes for your decision to have another child that we're required to look after and you don't adjust our salary. Technically, you're supposed to inform the au pair agency when another child is added to the mix and wages are adjusted accordingly. 

We're not going to get sticky about not being paid for the extra 15 minutes you spent in traffic. But when you're an example of the 'constantly late parent', we'll probably start keeping a time sheet and ask to be paid out for all the extra hours we've accumulated.

Are you guilty of any of these au pair pet peeves? Send us your comments to 

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