Fathers are sleazy and mothers are lazy....

What Foreign Au Pairs REALLY Think of British Parents
By David Wilkes in The Daily Mail

When the au pair greets your demands with a shy smile, you may think it is a sign of deference to a respected working mother with a fantastically busy life.

If so, then think again, for behind that facade, she's probably pondering just what a slothful, selfish and bad parent you really are, according to a study.
Researchers claim that au pairs generally feel any family that chooses to have one 'must, by definition, be either lazy, or lack proper care and consideration for children and for people in general'.

And as for your husband - well, in her eyes he's more than likely a sleazy sexual predator who will try to get her into bed the minute your back is turned.

One au pair, called Petra, was told by the mother of the house where she worked that 'She knew what Slovak women were like, and what her husband was like'.  A few weeks later the father told Petra he would be waiting for her - in the Jacuzzi. The au pair quit soon after.

Other au pairs told the researchers they were asked to clear up sex toys and lingerie in their hosts' bedrooms.  'These people have no shame and behave as swines,' said one.

The far from flattering view foreign au pairs working in Britain have of their middle-class employers is revealed in the first in-depth academic study on the subject.

Authors Daniel Miller, professor of anthropology at University College London, and Zuzana Burikova, an ethnologist at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, have just published their book, Au Pair, after a year's intensive research.  Dr Burikova interviewed 50 au pairs working in London who, because some changed households, represented 86 host families.

All the au pairs were from Dr Burikova's native land of Slovakia, chosen for ease of her speaking to them and because Slovaks form one of the largest groups of the 90,000 au pairs thought to be working in Britain.

The employees - whose names have been changed to preserve their anonymity as have those of their employers - were found to have a generally dim view of women who think they can 'have it all' by juggling the demands of work and family.

Jarmila, employed by a mother who worked from home selling antiques on eBay, 'was particularly shocked when the mother just seemed to be playing games on the computer and failing to take an opportunity to be with her child'.

Meanwhile, Marika was 'horrified when she was regularly employed as a babysitter ... so that the couple could stay at home and watch TV together without interference.'

'An English mother has three wonderful children ... she works only from home ... fortunately she has an au pair because to spread butter on toast for all three, to make their beds, defrost their ready-made food for dinner, to vacuum, iron, sweep the floor, this all would be really, really too much for an English mother'

'I'm surprised that children and parents do not eat the same food, and that parents seem to buy healthy food like vegetables and fish for themselves, and not for their children. Meals should be freshly made, as my own mother used to make them'

'English mothers are constantly talking about quality time and feeling guilty if they were not actually reading to or directly playing with the children. Yet in most cases it was pretty clear they really did mean quality time rather than quantity time, given that it occupied such a short part of the day'

'I was on my own, reading a book. Suddenly the door opened and there was the man of the house, standing only in his underwear. I shouted and he only asked whether he had scared me'

'The British like TV programmes by experts telling them how to keep their home, since they don't know how to do it themselves. This is why they need au pairs'

'Au pairs constantly refer to the slowness of English women. One said it took as much time for her host mother to prepare carrots as it does for her to clean the whole house'


lynn said...

the premise for this book is pretty funny - insight from young girls without kids on the laziness of mothers who want a babysitter-

CS Nanny said...

I don't think so at all. I spent 3 years in Switzerland as an aupair, and was shocked that pretty much all the moms had no interest in raising their own children. And no, it wasn't because they couldn't afford not to work, or they were single moms. In the case of my employer, she simply didn't want to have a child (she told me one night when she was drunk) and that she had no problem paying someone else to take care of the little girl. She wasn't the only mother like that that I encountered. Most employed aupairs simply to have more time shopping, and getting their hair done.

cali mom said...

I'll say it again...The moms "only work from home", therefore it's not really work?

Of course Slavic women can meet the deadlines on projects set forth by their employers, constantly demonstrating that a mom of young kids working remotely is every bit as reliable as a single person working in the room next door, while simultaneously cleaning the house, cooking for the kids, reading, playing, snuggling, listening and teaching...because "working from home" means websurfing?

These snotty little 20 year olds should go back home where their dear mothers are available to provide free childcare 24/7 and they have no rent or bills to pay if they think it's that easy.

TC said...

because "working from home" means websurfing?

that's exactly what it means in the house I work at. The dad has a new ipad and the office is at the bottom of the stairs and it's an all glass door. I was upstairs and happened to look down towards the office when I was walking down the stairs and what do I see on the ipad? A picture of a naked Usually he either plays videos games, gets on facebook, or surfs for porn when he's 'working from home' I just wish they would put up a curtain over the door so I don't see him 'working'

likeanauntie said...

I must say whether or not people agree specifically with what is said by the girls about individual cases, the general opinions expressed on the issue are exactly how I see it. While I have seen parents who are great and hands on, the general feel we get as nannies and au pairs is that they would prefer to be sipping coffee or champagne with friends (or simply watching TV). I've seen the worst, and the best parents, but either way my assumptions about them are will definitely be covered in that Book.

and cali mom, i think you will find that au pairs and nannies know exactly how easy it is actually ... people don't work with kids unless they are completely capable, unfortunately, the same can't be said for parents ...

pampered mom said...

I am a stay at home mom and had an au pair once to help me out with my 3 kids. She rarely watched all 3 at once- I only had her work about 30 of the 45 hrs a week I could have. Once I told her to keep an eye on my 6 yo son and his friend in the back yard while I took my 2 yo upstairs for her nap. I come down 15 mins later after putting 2 yo down for nap, look out the window and the older boys are spraying the house and windows with the garden hose. My au pair is eating a sandwich on the sofa and watching a soap opera on TV. I could write a book too about bad au pairs and moms just hoping to catch a break because their husbands work 80 hours a week.

nycmom said...

I think people have a limited understanding of the differences between a professional, experienced nanny and an au pair. I know I didn't fully get it until I had had both.

In the US, au pairs are a strictly regulated industry. Au pairs are young women (18-26yo), often away from home for the first time ever. Although they are required to have 100s of hours of childcare experience, this is commonly faked by friends or family members (verified for me by at least 5 au pairs from 3 countries). They are misled in their home country as to what the au pair experience will be, because the recruiters get paid by commission on number of girls they recruit. They think they are coming to be part of a family and do a little babysitting.

Host families are led to believe they are getting experienced young nannies who are capable of working 45 hours a week. They are told rates are lower since full room, board, and educational stipend must be provided.

Well, both sides are completely misled and both sides end up being disappointed. I've had 6 au pairs (only 2 for a full year) which I kept trying primarily for our attempts to immerse our kids in Spanish langauge. Of the 4 who did not work out: 1 got falling down drunk while in charge of my child; one was a sweet young woman with zero interest/experience in childcare; one was, I believe psychotic to the point of frank paranoia and delusions; and one was simply too homesick and openly thought she would be doing minimal childcare while here. Don't get me wrong, I've heard plenty of host family horror stories too and helped one agency by having girls who left bad families stay with us until they rematched. But my US-based experience has been that the au pairs are usually vastly underqualified, often here to party and marry an American, naive, and inexperienced.

I think the idea of a book is a good one, but I think a better book would be half au pair POV and half host family POV.

I would take an experienced nanny over an au pair any day, even at double the cost.

cali mom said...

likeanauntie, my point is strictly about people who take the attitude that working from home isn't really working, because you aren't at an actual jobsite.

Of course most nannies and many au pairs are more experienced than new parents at working with kids. But if you're saying that most of these 20 year old judgemental au pairs, or most nannies, could carry on phone calls to various vendors to collect bids on a print job for instance, then call the client to discuss particular aspects of the job, then call the boss to discuss the quotes given and parameters of the project so far, then proceed to start the layout, edit the text, format the images, call the client with a technical question, get back to the vendors who needed more info from you before they could formulate their bids, and get a first draft finished by the end of the day while **SIMULTANEOUSLY** paying close attention to several kids under 5, playing, reading, fixing their dinner and vacuuming, I'd they couldn't.

THAT is what working from home means. It seems to me I hear plenty of complaints from nannies about how hard it is to load the dishwasher and fold a load of laundry while taking care of the kids so why would someone be able to do the childcare, housework AND work from home all at the same time?

TheOriginalDenverNanny said...

LOVE your last post, cali mom!!

I know there is NO way I could work a full time job while being a full-time mom! Yes, some days I have done 5 hours of homework during nap time, but those days oare the (very) rare exception...

cheshirecat said...

I only lasted a month as an au pair and had 2 families. I admit I was too young (18) and inexperienced. As well I had clinical depression and my psychologist encouraged me to be an au pair because the routine would help me...yes I realise now that was stupid of her. Furthermore I had a boyfriend back home. My first family were horrible anal-retentive workaholics. They did invest a lot of time and money in their children but at the same time their children were spoiled and I spent more time doing unnecessary chores than spending time with the 2 year old I was supposed to talk to (to teach her English), so I left after 2 weeks. Then I found another family whom I would have been happy to live with for a year were it not for my depression. Because the father worked 12 hour days it was more like joint parenting between the mother and I. She worked 2 days a week as a psychologist and went out horseriding for a few hours a week too. I have no problem with parents who choose to do this because if they have some time for themselves doing things they like then they're happy. And if they're happy their children are happy. I worked 33 hours per week, free board, free internet, food, own bathroom etc and got paid 260 euro per month (which is a bit of a pittance in Germany). Overall I've heard horror stories from both au pairs and host families. From my experience I don't think having an au pair is wrong seeing as most European families have au pairs so their children can learn English and it allows parents to not have to revolve their lives around home and family so they can go back to work and indulge in hobbies.

likeanauntie said...

... well that stuffed up ... Sorry

oh I completely agree with you cali mom on the working at home issue ... yet that doesn't mean the lifestyle you have described in post no. 2 isn't lived by women all over the place ... I wont say I know plenty, but yes I do know some ...

cali mom said...

Yes ladies, I just get annoyed when people use "WFHM" and "SAHM" interchangeably, as if they are one and the same. My husband finally gets it now, after one last argument about "well, why can't you build that website while you're taking care of him? You're home, aren't you, and the computer is right there..."

No, I cannot compose HTML code and read a book and play "Mama, watch this" all at the same time!