When being an Au Pair goes wrong

being and au pair goes wrong

Sometimes being an Au Pair can go horribly wrong, the relationship with the Host Family does not work out, resulting in a premature end to the stay in the Host Families home. This is a bad outcome for everyone concerned, effecting everyones plans. The Au Pair feels uncared for and has to return to their country or find somewhere to stay. The Family has to quickly find a replacement whilst managing with out the assistance they had anticipated. The children can be left confused as to what happened to their new member of the Family.

We believe a lot of problems stem from poor communication of expectations. One of the reasons we created Au Pair finder, after hearing stories of poor experiences, was to try and make expectations very clear, and remove some of the ambiguity around the placement process.

Recently we were contacted by Juliette, an Au Pair from Belgium. Unfortunately Juliette had a bad experience whilst being an Au Pair.

Already in Australia on a working holiday visa Juliette joined an Au Pair Facebook group and started chatting with a single mother, agreeing to become her Au Pair and fly to the city the Family lived in.

However, when Juliette arrived she found the hours greater than expected, confusion around the expected duties and the children difficult to control. When Juliette left she wasn’t paid the outstanding allowance for the hours she had already worked.

Juliette was concerned that this sort of thing might happen to other Au Pairs, so we suggested posting an article on her experience, as it may help both Au Pairs and Host Families avoid a similar situation.

Juliette's story

It all started when I arrived on the 29th of January. I agreed with my Host Mum on Facebook that I could stay 3 to 4 months if everything went okay. I was in the Gold Coast at that time, so I had to take a flight to get to my Host Mums home in South Australia, we agreed that she would pay half the flight.

Once I arrived I never received instructions of what I had to do. So I did what I thought was right and checked my Host Mums e-mail with the basic tasks that she had sent me before I arrived.

My Host Mum was very busy, most of the time she came home around 10 PM, so I couldn’t really ask her much because once she arrived home she went straight to her room.

My daily tasks were:

  • Waiting for the kids to arrive home from school at 3 PM. But this changed when I arrived, I had to pick them up from school.
  • Doing some housekeeping. But I ended up cleaning everything and doing all the laundry, including my host Mom’s clothes as well.
  • Assist with dinner.
  • Babysitting on the weekends was sometimes required. But I found I was busy with the kids every weekend.

The children were pretty hard to handle, as they wouldn’t listen to me at all. The youngest, who is 5 years old, would start kicking me and screaming if he didn’t get what he wanted. The oldest, who is 10 years old, would order me around telling me what I had to do and making things difficult.

I was supposed to get an allowance of $800 a month, but that could also be separated fortnightly or weekly if I preferred. So I asked my Host Mum if she could pay me weekly, she agreed on $200 a week.

The first week passed by and I didn’t receive an allowance. I had to wait until the end of the second week to get my first allowance. Another hard week passed by and I got a second allowance payment which made it a total of $400 for three weeks.

After three hard weeks I started doubting that this was going to work, I found it really hard to control the kids. I had enough of all of it and became very emotional. The Host Mum knew I was having a really hard time but wouldn’t change a thing.

That’s when I decided to leave. I discussed leaving with my Host Mum and she didn’t seem to have a problem with me going.

A week later I was ready to leave, my Host Mum said she would get the outstanding allowance money from the bank the night before I left. But she didn’t. I left early the next morning at 5AM, the family were not awake. I left my Host Mum a message asking if she could pay me the rest of the money, which would be 2 weeks of outstanding allowance ($400) and half of the flight, which she had agreed to pay ($100).

I contacted my Host Mum a couple of times after I left and she continued to say she was going to pay me.

My Mum in Belgium sent a message to my Host Mum, and that’s when my Host Mum totally changed and became very angry. She made excuses saying that I didn’t work enough, that I didn’t do anything and that I broke the contract because I left earlier than normal. We never had a contract. Now my Host Mum is refusing to pay me anything.

I don’t want this to happen to any other Au Pairs.

Juliette returned to the Gold Coast, looking for casual work in a pub, babysitting or house-sitting. She found a Family in a Facebook group looking for an Au Pair for two weeks, their planned Au Pair was delayed, waiting for her Visa to be approved. Juliette got on well with the Family, and when things didn’t work out with their planned Au Pair they asked her to stay. Juliette will be with her new Host Family for three months, she then plans to continue her adventure, traveling in Australia, New Zealand and Bali.

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