It appears, then, that my son and his wife are not alone in having problematic au pairs - they've had seven in five years. It breaks my heart that the children being passed from pillar to post at the whim of these au pairs. I had a row with the last one when I was visiting - she had been there two weeks, had done virtually nothing on the day in question because I was with the children. She spent most of the day on her mobile, and then could not be bothered to cook a proper meal for the children - it was too much and I had to say something. I warned my son that she was there to suit herself and not to look after the children but he was extremely cross with me and bawled me out in front of the children - but a few months later the girl left one of the children alone when he was poorly for several hours while she went to the gym. A visitor came to the house, alerted the police and the au pair was charged with child abandonment! How I wish I lived near enough to protect my darlings from this upheaval.
I think it's well worth remembering that au pairs generally have no childcare qualifications.
"DUTIES OF AU PAIRS: Au pairs are not Domestics or Nannies and are not required to have formal childcare qualifications. They help with light housework, i.e. hoovering, dusting and ironing, etc. and also with looking after children, helping at mealtimes, bathtimes, etc. and to babysit for part of the day when necessary. AU PAIRS OR AU PAIR PLUS MUST NOT HAVE SOLE CHARGE OF ANY CHILD UNDER 2." from www.aupairsetc.co.uk/family_notes.php
When training for pre-school qualifications we had sessions on alternative carers..........au pairs always came at bottom of the list. Nothing wrong with the idea but they should really be seen as substiture 'big sisters/brothers'. They can add greatly to children's home environment but they are not a substituite for properly qualified childcare.
We had au pairs when the children were at primary school - 5 in total if I remember correctly - 30 odd years have since passed. We remained friends with two of them for ages and visited the parents of one and were made very welcome. Another though left my son out in the snow and was taken in by a neighbour. I went ballistic when I found out and sacked her. I then found out that her CV had been written by her sister who wrote better English. Fortunately my French at the time was pretty good so understanding each other wasn't too bad but she was absolutely awful as an au pair and I still feel very embarrassed about it all. Another became a girlfriend of by next door neighbour's son which was great because he was such a nice lad and she was nice too. One girl though was so homesick I ended up mothering her instead of her looking after the children [not my forte at the best of times] and arranging with the agency for her to go home. She was pretty useless but a sweet girl. I found it hard having these young girls around - they had their own room but shared living space - but my two children liked it over all. This thread has thrown up a load of memories.........
I do understand the needs of some families to have both parents earning just to cover the day to day bills. My DD1 is in that position BUT I always thought au pairs were only supposed to work for a limited number of hours e.g do some school pick ups or help with light housework when mum /dad at home or only out for short periods of time. They come as a 'mother's help' , live en famille and improve their English and get pocket money ! Never supposed to be used for full time child care..that is a nanny job and you have to pay more for that.
I am very 'hard line' about child care. To do it well requires skill and intelligence. If you want skill and intelligence it costs. Au pairs are not as costly as a nanny / day care so you cannot expect the same service