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Childcare dilemmas

I am just a normal working mother, with my own healthy share of unhealthy mother guilt, strange behaviour (probably not for public consumption), I can be slightly delusional (Don Draper’s real right?) and I have a slightly obsessive love of dry shampoo. Most of my problems I create for myself, my middle toe is currently numb, I expect this has something to do with running, and I have just created a new social media addiction in the form of Pinterest. 

 But. I am a nice person. I’m OK; I was brought up to be honest and sensitive to other people’s feelings. Our home is a bit haphazard and the walls are decorated with felt tips, glitter and stickers, there’s all manner of treasures down the back of the sofas and the TV has two black lines on it where Tilly pushed an over enthusiastic finger at Peppa Pig. But the fridge is always full (and sometimes the food’s even in date), there’s a brilliantly stocked goodies cupboard and he bathrooms always clean. Normal right? 

When I went back to work we decided to try an au pair. My hours mean childminders and nannies can be tricky, and the girls are at pre-school much of the time anyway.  To be clear this doesn’t make me Victoria Beckham, nor does it mean I off load my kids on the au pair when I’m not working (“ooh must see my colour therapist – would you mind having the little princesses for a couple of hours?”), if anything having an au pair is like having another dependent.

So we had a lovely girl who came last year and left us recently, she went home to work in a nursery in a beam of smiles and kind words about us and our children – him indoors and I are ‘amazing’ people (we are also ‘amazing’ actors). We then got another lovely girl.  A Spanish nurse as it happens who had done nannying. Perfect? Not quite. Being able to ask for “dos cerveza por favor” is all well and good when you’re on a 2 week package to Spain but not so good when you’re trying to communicate about potty training or feeding the children. Suffice it to say despite everything (including many English lessons) she felt it wasn’t going to work out. 

 I can see her point. My kids, no doubt all kids, talk a lot when they are little. They are learning to communicate and express themselves and they get frustrated when they can’t make themselves understood. I get frustrated when I can’t make myself understood but I’m a grown up so I probably shouldn’t. But Eliza asks questions like “Why do we have eyes on the front of our faces?” and “how does the microwave make my milk hot?” it takes a bit of creativity to come up with an answer she’ll be able to relate to (which is why I normally say we’ll wait till Daddy gets home, he’s the teacher). 

When you consider this, it was never going to work out with our lovely Spanish au pair. So it wasn’t something I said, or the drawing on the walls or even our mangy old cat Mabel that has landed me in the position of trying to sort our childcare situation again. It was just one of those things. So here I go again, back to the world of Skype interviews whilst trying to keep the glass of wine out of shot. 

Wish me luck….


  1. Good luck with your search x

  2. Ah, childcare. It’s a tricky business that one. I hope you find someone amaaaazing. x

  3. It must be very hard trying to choose a suitable person. The girls after all are very precious. Good luck!

  4. Such a constant juggling act – know the feeling of wondering if it is worth working but also know I am a better person when I have work too…good luck x

  5. It’s a hard balance isn’t it choosing the right person for you and for the kids – when I was interviewing nannies my daughter invariably liked the 18yr olds who she could clearly wrap around her finger! Wish you good luck!

  6. Where to find a real life Mary Poppins or, indeed, Maria, who has your house spotless and you kids singing in harmony (if in dodgy sailor outfits!!).
    Good luck with it…. Remember, one wine helps your judgement, three wines- not so much!

  7. Gotta tell you my latest Au Pair drama. My little 6 year old Cherub and his 9 year old sister have a brand new Au Pair, only been here 2 weeks. Now they are well practiced at this, she is after all our 6th Au Pair in 5 years and Mummy runs the Au Pair agency, Dream Au Pair in New Zealand.

    They had been playing up all day, testing boundaries and pushing the limits of acceptable behaviour, fighting with each other and the like. New French Au Pair took them to the park to run off some steam, great idea…then my charming 6 year old son removed his pants and poo’ed and wee’ed on the grass field at the park! New French Au Pair promptly takes them home, requesting little charmer have a shower. Her request was met with a raging tantrum, fists and feet thrashing. Needless to say I was met at the door on my return by a crying Au Pair and very sheepish little boy (aka brat).

    Both children got sat down for a very stern talking to, threatened with after school care for the rest of their lives, meaning no piano, no skiing and NO playdates…ever! Both were asked to write apology letters and sent to bed early. New French Au Pair seems to have recovered, and she is lovely, but boy do those kids give new au pairs a rotten time!! I was so embarrassed!! How do yours transition when a new Au Pair arrives??


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