The mystery of aux pairs!
An au pair (plural: aux pairs) is a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, aux pairs take on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a monetary allowance for personal use.
Happy New Year! I hope you are looking forward to the goodness the rest of the year will hold for you!
Back to the purpose of this blog, au pairs! I was rudely introduced to the mucky world of aux pairs, as one of my friends said when the incident happened.
For those of us who do not have the luxury of having a trusted family member help with childcare while we go back to work, and who giving up work temporarily for a year plus is not a feasible option, we turn to the affordable option of getting an au pair.
I started the search back in October and after asking to a number of our friends who continuously use aux pairs for the best way to find one, I registered with au pair world and another UK childcare website. It is free to read the au pairs profile but to contact them you have to pay at least 20 pounds to contact the au pairs for a period of 4 weeks, I think au pair world is roughly 40 euros for 6 weeks.
About three weeks into my search, and after several negative replies from the ones I contacted and me also letting some know they were not suitable for me, I met this 24 year old lady on the childcare website. She said she was interested in joining our family, I read her profile, I interviewed her on skype, she seemed okay. I arranged another interview for her to talk to my husband just to make sure we were on the same page, he agreed she seemed okay as well. So we let her know we will like her to join us and she said she will take down her profile and stop looking for another family, I did the same.
We asked her to provide a number of documents, from doctors report to a reference etc. She provided a doctors report, said she received no response from her last employer. I said okay, she provided me with the persons email address so it wasn’t too bad. Next she bought her ticket to fly from her country to the UK and sent me a copy of this. She sent me a copy of her passport, ID card etc. We were constantly in touch with what she should bring to register with the doctors here and so on.
On the eve of her arrival, I contacted her again to make sure she was okay and had everything she needed and also to make sure she knew how to get to me. Our last conversation was at 6pm. Fast forward to 6pm the next day. I tried reaching her, no response. I called nothing. Eventually at 7pm I asked if she was okay, she then replied saying:
yes I am okay. I am not coming to the UK again for now. Sorry.
I thought I was reading double. I had changed my son’s nursery from full time to two days a week starting the following Monday. I did not go to bed till 3am the night before just making sure her room was clean ready, I forgot to buy new sheets, I dashed off to the stores late at night to get emergency ones. I just couldn’t believe this was happening. This happened to other people, not to me. The dame thing happened to my aunt, her Romanian au pair never turned up. My friend as well had trialled this au pair for the weekend, they spilt the cost of travel for that weekend and then, as soon as she got back to Germany (if she went back) she stopped responding to my friend’s messages! I had heard these stories and hoped it won’t happen to me but ALAS, I was in for a surprise as well.
Thankfully, I had taken two days off this week to show her the ropes and my husband was able to take a day off as well and our son went to nursery the two days he was scheduled to go. Of course I swallowed my pride and got back on the phone to the nursery to ask for him to come back full time and I was so lucky they hadn’t yet found someone to take his place. He is back full time from next week.
My search for an au pair continues, but I don’t know what else I can do to ensure this process is successful. I remember that night talking about the room that was to be her room to my husband and I called it Rosie’s room and then I had to correct myself! It is not her room as she didn’t turn up, it is still a spare room. Each time I walk past that room, I feel like I can’t go inside, I can’t explain it. I just look at it from afar!
On the flip side, in happy this happened before she joined us and proved to be unreliable. God has a way of turning things for our good.
Wish me luck.