It’s been over a week since our 1 day au pair from Chile arrived and moved out. It’s been a wild experience from looking for girls, interviewing them on skype to our current situation of trying to get a refund from the agency. I did learn a lot from this situation and am open to considering some kind of help again in the future but not right now. This baby mama is a little tired from this whole au pair circus act.

I spent hours and hours of looking and reading au pair applications so was excited to find a 23 year old from Chile who was infant qualified (minimum of 200 recorded childcare hours) and mandated by the state for children under 2 years old. She had scored a 6 out of 7 on her english proficiency test which was huge for me. I needed someone I could easily communicate with because I knew stuff would inevitably be lost in translation.

Here’s our story: She arrived in New York the week before to attend a 4 day training school that the agency puts on for their au pairs. A week later she arrived at our house on a weekend evening and we spent the next day playing. Took her to breakfast, farmers market, she had a 2 hour siesta, then pedi’s and out to dinner. Never mind that it was 5:30pm at night and Kai was hungry, tired and having a meltdown at the nail place. Sean and I had finished our pedi’s and Kai was arching his back and screaming at the top of his lungs so I was trying to get out of there asap. Never mind that she ALSO ordered a manicure  and made my family wait outside for 20 min while she got it. That was the first time I felt like I was here to “help her.”

The following day was another day off and she spent the day at the mall shopping and hanging out.

Her first work day was day 3 and she was scheduled from 8-noon and 2-6pm.  I thought a 2 hour lunch break in the middle of the day would be a nice first day even though 45 hours of childcare help per week is expected from an au pair. From my understanding a 4 hour shift is a cake walk compared to other schedules. When I interviewed other au pairs who were already living with a family and were looking for something else for one reason or another they were working 10-11 hrs a day, 5 days a week with 2-3 little kids.

We had a doctor’s appointment in the morning and planned a grocery store trip in the afternoon. I was a little surprised when she couldn’t change Kai’s diaper and was so repulsed with a poopy diaper that she stood 3 feet away with her arm over her face. I carried the dirty diaper downstairs and she looked at me funny when I put it a small plastic bag and asked her to put it in the trash outside.  After her 2 hour lunch break she was supposed to work again from 2-6pm. I told her to relax, have lunch and be ready at 2pm. She came out of her room at 2pm and was looking for lunch, she forgot to eat on her lunch break. So, I fed Kai while she fed herself. I reminded her of our grocery store trip at 5pm. I went upstairs while she played with Kai downstairs. I came back downstairs around around 3 and again at 4:50pm. She was blasting the music, toys were everywhere and food was everywhere in the kitchen. I had told her multiple times about putting milk and food in the fridge anytime Kai wasn’t eating. She was a very smart girl with excellent english so I know she just forgot. No biggie. The awkward part for me was when she asked me to look after Kai so she could go “get ready” for the grocery store. She came back 10min later with her hair and makeup done. That’s when I asked her to turn down the music so we could have a chat. I was definitely annoyed at this point and told her I have 3 requests for her. 1. Could she tie her hair back when she was watching Kai? I found her long loose hairs on his shirt and I have a thing for loose hairs. ( She had hair like rapunzel) I told her that I don’t even like my own loose hairs. 2. Could she stop wearing perfume because Kai’s eczema has gotten worse since she arrived. Baby eczema is a bit of a mystery so I said After Kai’s skin clears up in a week or two she could try wearing it again to see if it wasn’t her perfume after all.  At this point she’s staring at me with a blank look which I couldn’t read. So, I continued with number 3. I said, it feels like I’m “waiting” for you and that doesn’t feel right. I definitely want you to be happy like we talked about when you first arrived but ultimately you are here to “help” me. Therefore, if I’m waiting for you to put on your make up and change your outfit during a 4 hour shift that’s going to be tough. She got very defensive and started saying how she was only putting on her make up for a few minutes and seemed very confused. Then she was aggressively telling me how punctual she was. I told her that when she is scheduled for a little 4 hour shift, she needs to be ready to go right at the start.  She seemed completely put out and annoyed with me and kept explaining herself in an defensive manner. Again, she reminded me of how punctual and responsible she is, which I agreed and complimented her on. She started crying somewhere around this time and so I apoligized for hurting her feelings. She said 3 requests is too many at once and she felt overwhelmed. I apologized profusely and told her I wouldn’t ask for so many things at once next time. I told her I thought it would take a few weeks to learn about each other and get on a role since we were living and working together. After 30 minutes of her explaining how bad she felt, I asked her if I could give her a hug. She said, no and walked away. That was when I thought, we’ve got a problem. I asked her if she wanted to stay home instead of go to the grocery store and she said yes on staying home.

Kai and I left  and when we came home a few hours later, her bags were packed and she told us she was leaving. Sean asked her if the three of us could sit down and talk about it and she blatantly refused. She insisted we call the local coordinator first, but Sean wanted for the three of us to talk first. The two of them went back and forth and my eyes got bigger and bigger as she said with angst, “What don’t you understand? You have to call the coordinator first!” Finally, she sat down after running into her room to skype the coordinator that she was scared. (We heard this later from the coordinator when we called her) While the three of us were chatting Sean told her how disappointed he was that she was quitting after 1 day, she immediately hissed “how dare you call me a quitter! I’m not a quitter!” Sean said no he wasn’t calling her that but she was quiting. She hissed it’s the same thing. He said, we work hard here and we try hard as well. She said “we work hard in Chile!” So that’s how the 10min conversation went between the three of us.

We were all shocked because normally if there is a problem the au pair goes into a 2 week transition phase. Also, there is a local coordinator who serves as a liason between host families and au pairs. Her job is try and keep families and au pairs together if possible and if not the au pair has 2 weeks to find another family or they are sent home. She had contacted her parents in Chile and they had called our local coordinator very concerned. Our coordinator apologized to us upside down and sideways and said how unusual this is.

Anyway, the local coordinator came to our house at 10pm that night (her first official day) and took her back to her house. She lives in the burbs with her husband and 6 kids.

Honestly, I was in shock and really disappointed for a few days after she left but think of it as a blessing in disguise now. Two other potential host moms from the East coast have called me to ask about her. I told them my experience with her and they shared their ridiculous au pair stories with me. Turns out a lot of people have to search through a few people to find a good match for their family. Each of them were in transition with their current au pairs but had been through a few already. The real kick in the face is that we paid the agency for a year of childcare after finding our au pair, waited for her for over a month only to have her leave us after one day. The agency is trying to limit our refund and charge us $2600! Crazy, right?