One time I had a prospective client tell me after we had done her intake interview, filled out all the forms and she had told me exactly what she wanted, which was an au pair, we will get to that in a minute, and I told her that we could find the staff she needed, it just wouldn’t be one person, but two or three.
We have talked about what au pairs are before, they are a cultural exchange program, not a professional doing a job, so while at first it seemed to this family that what they wanted and needed was an au pair, their kids were at school during the day and the parents travel a lot and work out of the area where they live, when the list of duties and the schedule arrived I wasn’t sure what to answer except no, that’s not an au pair, that’s a part time nanny, a cook and a housekeeper. Without going into too much detail about what they wanted let’s just say that the cleaning duties went far past the kid related clean up and meal prep. When the kids were in school all day they wanted the house deep cleaned, dinner prepared for the whole family, groceries shopped for, laundry done for the whole family, the husband’s shirts ironed and before leaving in the evening, the lunches for the next day prepared for the parents. All these services are perfectly fine to outsource, in fact, we often encourage families who want to spend more time with their kids to hire a housekeeper and a chef a few hours per week to clean and prepare meals, but for an au pair, who would take care of the kids in the afternoon after they came home from school and do everything with them until their parents came home from work, the workload during the day was unacceptable. I think in their case, if it was just for the childcare, an au pair might have been fine because they were away a lot and needed the flexibility and the kids were old enough, it wouldn’t be a client for us since we don’t place au pairs. An au pair could do some of the kids’ laundry and clean up, and feed them when the parents are not there, but not clean the house, cook for the whole family and do all their laundry.
When I tried to politely explain the different roles she was looking for she got really upset and asked me why she should pay for a cleaner when she already paid for the au pair. By the way, she wanted to pay the au pair 100 euros per week, plus room and board. My question then is why should I pay for gas when I paid for groceries? Why should I pay for shoes when I paid for face cream? Why should I pay for a handbag when I paid for a hotel room? You get the gist. They are different things, that’s why. I told them that I pay my nanny and my cleaner. They do different things and I can’t do what they both do at the same time, so why should they? As you can imagine, she didn’t like it and didn’t end up hiring anyone with us. That’s fine, I prefer to work with people who are respectful and not that entitled. The thing I wonder in situations like this is if the family thinks about how it would be if the situation was the opposite. Would they take the job they were offering? Why would they, or why not? What are you offering that benefits the other person, except money, in which case as soon as something with more money comes along they will take that? I think it’s always important to try to see what you are offering from at least two perspectives, both as a nanny taking a new job and a family hiring someone to take care of your kids. Know what you offer and why that is valued by the other person.
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