“Princess Au Pair”

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s Monday, which on  Au pair 2 be is a new post day!

For some time now, I’ve been thinking of writing about  au pairs’ and host families’  general expectations of each other.  If you ask either party they are bound to give you their short (or long) list of expectations.
Generally speaking,  an au pair  may expect to have a private room; a welcoming family that respects her and respects her privacy; pays her adequately and on time and respects the working hours initially stipulated in au pair’s contract.
The  family on the other hand may generally expect the au pair to be a mature person who is responsible and caring towards the children; they would also expect her/ him to be among others, relatively flexible…

All that sounds so much like the kind of  information au pair agencies give to prospective au pairs. It is without any doubt important; but it is also oh so banal. So, I figured, it would be more interesting to write about the “what au pair host families and au pairs do not expect of each other”. And today I would like to chitchat about a particular kind of au pair behavior and profile, that although not the norm, does indeed exist.  I’ll call it princess like  behavior, and the subject of my banter (let’s give her a big round of applause :-) ) is none other than “Princess Au Pair”!

“Princess Au Pair”,  is a host family’s worst nightmare.  She does not know how to vacuum clean the house, neither does she know how to do laundry,  iron nor cook …And it is not because she comes from a poor country where vacuum  cleaners are to be found in 0.0001% of households countrywide. No.  It is simply because she just does not know how to and and if she were to be honest, she could not be bothered to learn!

“Princess Au Pair”  loves  to go out with her friends on a regular basis and if often unwilling to accept unexpected requests from the host family. If the parents are stuck in traffic jam somewhere on their way home, they should not expect her to look after the children beyond  her usual working hours. If they are late and she misses her friend’s ride and does not make it to the Friday Au pairs’ Party,  then yes, she will sulk all weekend and all week long. The family has no right to disrupt her plans! In other words, as far as  her au pair duties are concerned, rigidity is the key word and the family is expected to adapt to her plans and schedule.

OK, I can sense your mounting disbelief…I can hear  your  “Mmm come on, what a storyteller! So, here’s a post you can read . It concerns an au pair who does  not know how to cook  but she also does not want to eat what her host host parent prepares for the rest of the family: http://www.findaupair.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=5819

Bedrooms are also a good place to identify princess like behavior, and the typical “Princess Au Pair” would have a super messy room. OK, I guess one would argue that the state of the au pair’s room should not be of any concern to the host  family… The issue is, ideally, it should not, but the reality is it does bother host parents. (Here’s a link where au pair host parents express themselves on the state  and their expectations of their au pairs’ bedrooms: http://aupairmom.com/your-au-pairs-room-how-much-mess-can-you-take/2009/12/14/celiaharquail/)

Why would the messy state of the au pair’s room bother the host parents? Simply because despite it being the au pair’s space, it is above all a part of their home. Also, if the parents are keen on having their children learn how to tidy up after themselves, assigning the Messy-Bedroom-Au pair the responsibility of transmitting this much desired value may come across as a total contradiction, if not hypocritical.

On numerous occasions, “Princess Au Pair” will  pick up the children late from  school , not because the family car she drives broke down while she was on her way to get them, but rather because she did not wake up from her after lunch siesta; which leaves the host parents little choice but to always  find an excuse to call her sometime before she is due to go pick the kids up from school.

Long Live “Princess Au Pair!”  :-)