Alpine Mummy

A new life in the middle of nowhere

Alpine Mummy’s new life


My recent (rather lengthy) bout of writer’s block has been caused by the overwhelming stress of  hiring (and then almost immediately firing) a crazy, irresponsible, spoilt, arrogant and quite frankly useless au pair…

A hungry Alpine Girl just looking for someone to look after her

A hungry Alpine Girl just looking for someone to look after her

Or rather, it’s down to me being so traumatised by the whole event that every time I try to write about it I just can’t get it out.  I wanted to do a “hilarious” look at the stress she caused our family: amusingly recounting all the crazy things she did in the 6 days she was with us (yep, 6 days!!! and she only worked for 3 of those days!).   It was going to be called “50 reasons to fire your au pair (and these ALL happened to us!)“.  I was not having a problem finding 50 things to list, that’s for sure.

But each time I tried to put it on paper it turned into a fitful, un-editable tirade which made me look nearly as crazy as her.  So I’ve given up on that post, at least for now.  One day I will tell you all about it, but in the meantime, all you need to know is:

  • she left the children unattended (Alpine Girl next to the oven; Alpine Boy on a main road);
  • she forgot to feed Alpine Girl (despite me writing down: “feed Alpine Girl”.  Who’d have thought you’d have needed to remind the person looking after your child to, well, look after your child?);
  • she left snotty tissues all over the sofa and lounge floor (we’re talking 40-50 tissues here, not one or two);
  • she stole sweets and chocolate from Alpine Boy (it was when I found myself covertly weighing his Easter Egg to see whether she’d nicked any more that I realised this couldn’t go on…);
  • this was her room.  After she had been there about 4 days:


  • and this was her room after she had left (she was supposed to put all her stuff in boxes ready for her dad to come and get it after she had left.  Fail): 


So we got rid.  Incidently, I found out after she had left that she had previously suffered from ‘psychotic episodes’ and delusions which led to her being sectioned for three weeks, and in hospital for a further three months because of her mental health.  She failed to mention any of that.   But hey!  she’s fine now, apparently.  As long as she keeps taking the medication.  This is no joke.

(Alpine Au Pair, if you’re reading, you have a right to reply…)

So this post is about my NEW life sans au pair – it is not a morbid reflection on how bad it was when she was here.

A positive look at things

A positive look at things

I thought you might therefore be interested to know what a day in the life of Alpine Mummy is like, now that she is back to being a high-flying City lawyer (ahem), albeit one who works in her jogging bottoms…  I find it’s always fun to read about other people’s chaotic lives, if only to make yourself feel better… Don’t be shy, read on!

I work three days a week – mostly from home but every other week I spend two days (one night) in London.  The commute is a bit of a killer, but it’s worth it to stay here.  One day I’ll post all about how I’m surviving my London trips.  In the meantime, my working days at home go a bit like this:

I get rudely awaken at 7.30am by Alpine Boy jumping on my head and Alpine Papa dumping a wriggly (usually wet and smelly) baby on my stomach.  It’s pitch black in our room with the shutters closed, and when they’re wrenched open by an excited, screeching four-year-old (at what age do they start enjoying lie-ins please?) and the light floods in, it feels like I’ve been hit in the eyes with a hammer.

I hate waking up, can you tell?

Alpine Papa leaves with the kids at 8.20, so we spend the next 50 minutes in a whirlwind of faffing, feeding, flapping and freaking out.   We never pack the kids’ bags the night before, that would be too easy, and obviously we can never find anything we need at 8.15am (especially when the things we need include plastic bottles filled with gravel, and seeds for the school garden…).

We rush around, we scream, the kids are never dressed even by 8.15, and Alpine Boy never seems to have any clean pants.  And then, with shoes on the wrong feet and a slam of car doors, they’re gone.



The dust settles (literally – I don’t get much time for dusting these days), the cat comes out of hiding, and I finally have time to make a cuppa.  The house is usually a total tip, and I regret not having done the washing up the night before.  Rolling my nose up at the dirty plates and the stinky dregs at the bottom of  various wine glasses, I grumpily stack the dishwasher, clean the kitchen (a little bit), feed the cat (finally – she gets rather ignored in the mornings), get something out the freezer for dinner (if I remember), and then at 8.45 I make that long, demanding commute to work.

30 seconds later (ha) I’m at my desk (having spent 20 of those seconds moving the three-foot pile of clean washing from the desk to the bed – I guess that explains why Alpine Boy never has any clean pants).  I tend not to move for a while – the house is silent, there’s no-one to distract me, and I’m far more productive than I ever thought I would be at home alone.  Distractions are minimal in fact – limited to a couple of annoying cold callers from Senegal (I don’t understand them and am fed up of them ringing, so just hang up); a spot of eagle-watching from the window; or the cat doing a smelly crap in her cat tray (so smelly that it infiltrates through the house and ruins my concentration  – I then can’t do anything else until I’ve cleared it up.  Thanks Millie).  What else?  Nothing really, I just work work work.  Gosh, who’d have thunk it.

I get a bit depressed at lunch time eating on my own in a silent house so tend to eat quickly and then do much more exciting stuff – like cleaning the kitchen (again?! HOW did it get messy again in the four hours I’ve been working, when there’s no-one else in the house?!), cleaning the lounge, cleaning the loo, dusting (no, that’s a lie), cooking dinner, putting the washing in the machine.  I am so cool.

If it’s sunny (and it rarely is these days – it’s the worst spring for 30 years apparently, hurrah), I make plans to go for a quick lunchtime walk in the hills.  I have never actually gone.  I have however spent a nice sunny lunchtime falling asleep in the hammock.  Much more fun.

A walk I could do at lunchtime.  But I don't.

A walk I could do at lunchtime. But I don’t.

After lunch its back to work.  Not much else to say about that really!   Alpine Boy describes my day better thqn I ever could – he said he wanted to go to work like Alpine Papa and I do.  When we asked him what that meant, he patiently explained that going to work means you “talk on the phone, send messages, and copy things on the computer”.  He got that spot on.  Genius.

And then, at 6.30pm, all hell breaks loose.  It is the same every night – I simply don’t learn.  Firstly I pick Alpine Boy up from after-school-club – he is knackered, grumpy and always the last one to be picked up.  I bundle him into the car and head to Alpine Girl’s childminder’s house.  Luckily the angel childminder has usually fed her, and if I’m even more lucky Alpine Girl will have done a massive poo only ten minutes before, thus limiting the chances of me having to change a stinky nappy that night.

Then it’s back in the car and back home where, somehow, I have to: cook dinner; light the fire; stop Alpine Boy from shutting his sister in a cardboard box; bathe a pair of over-excited screaming children; set the table; stop Alpine Girl from shutting her brother’s fingers in the cupboard door; feed Alpine Boy; stop Alpine Boy from  licking his sister; answer the phone to yet more Senegalese cold callers; give Alpine Girl her milk; stop Alpine Girl from biting her brother; feed the cat (again, no wonder she’s fat); stop the children from poking, licking or biting the cat; feed me and Alpine Papa; stack the dishwasher; stop Alpine Girl crying; stop Alpine Boy crying; clean up more cat crap; put Alpine Girl to bed; read Alpine Boy a story; put Alpine Boy to bed… all in an hour and a half.

Usually only about 75% of those tasks get done – but that’s OK because (unlike my au pair) I do manage to feed the children.

Alpine Papa is home any time between 7.00 and 7.30, by which time I’m usually tearing my hair out.  If I haven’t been outside all day I will usually seize the opportunity of having another adult in the house to, well, to do the mature thing and run away.  Even if it’s raining I just pull my hood up and my boots on and head out into the hills for a walk – I breathe that fresh mountain air (taking care not to walk in that fresh mountain cowpat), let my muscles stretch and my sanity recover.  By the time I get back, the house is warm and quiet, I am calm and collected, and it’s time to snuggle on the sofa in front of the TV.  We ignore the ton of washing up, just turning the lights off in the kitchen so we can’t see it.  I know I’ll regret it in the morning but hey, it’s 9.00pm and there’s a whole series of Mad Men to watch (thank you Becci!! xx).

A dusk walk to calm me down

A dusk walk to calm me down

By 11.30 I’m pooped and so it’s upstairs to bed.  I spend a good few minutes moving all the clean washing from the bed to the desk, wondering why I never actually put it away (or at least find a less annoying place to store it).  I can’t get to sleep without reading so, even though I’m knackered, I always seem to spend at least the next hour not being able to put my book down.  Alpine Papa is snoring contentedly beside me, and eventually I give in and lie down.  As I close my eyes I remember the wet washing that has been in the machine for two days now.  And the dirty lunchbox in Alpine Boy’s school bag.  And the fact that he’s supposed to be presenting his favourite book at school tomorrow, and he has yet to decide what his favourite book is this week.

Oh well, I’ll deal with it in the morning…

Author: Alpine Mummy

Now an ex-City lawyer, I gave up London life 'just for a year' to spend my maternity leave in a tiny village in the French Alps. Nearly three years later Alpine Family is still here - the legal career is gone but we're living the dream (most of the time) and skiing and hiking our way through life. Walks and fresh air are now the order of the day - bye bye smog, hello mountains...

24 thoughts on “Alpine Mummy’s new life

  1. Welcome back! Your adventures were missed 🙂


  2. ditto Alison, I have SO missed your life. i thought you’d gone for good. What a breath of fresh air – I feel I have a soul sister (and my kids are 10-15 years) but that washing has still been in the washing machine three days, and i’m sure no 2 son has been wearing the same pair of pants all week. Welcome back! (I hope her dad picked up the tissues around the bed!)


    • aw thank you too! The thing I love about writing these blogs is to find I am not alone – hurrah, I am not the only one to leave washing in the machine for days on end!! (I was hoping I might get better at it over the next few years but I doubt it)

      nope – her Dad did NOT pick up the tissues because we had to do it before he arrived. Ditto for the chewing gum and sweets on the floor, the spilt drinks everywhere, and the dates squashed into the rug. Hmpf…


  3. Oh, what an exhausting day! And glad you found out about your au pair before things got worse. Better luck next time!


  4. Glad you’re back from the land of writer’s block! Your post couldn’t help but take me back to my own days as an au pair–one of the most miserable experiences of my life. Looking back on it 15 years later I can laugh a bit, but at the time it certainly wasn’t funny. I’ll have to write a post about it sometime.


  5. Aw I’m sorry you had a bad experience too. Everyone I know who has had (or has been) an au pair has had such a good experience – you and I must have been unlucky. I was really looking forward to having a new member of the family coming to live with us – we really wanted it to work and tried so hard! I hope you do better than I did trying to write a blog about the whole experience – maybe I’ll wait 15 years before I try!


  6. Ho dear,
    Just reading your limited bullet list I’m in complete disbelief… How, why, who pretends to be an au pair and behaves like this? Glad she’s gone, for you and the safety of the Alpine famiily.
    As I do not have any kid-related excuses, I have just started the washing machine, if I do 2 loads today and find space to hang it all, I will have clean clothes for work (sure to still be damp tomorrow, nothing wakes you better on a Monday morning than a wet jumper) and my next guest will have clean, and dry, sheets on the sofa bed (what a host). Then of course, I should vacuum, and clean the bathroom (the kitchen is fine, I’ll be eating out most of this week anyway)… Mmmhh, chores are my excuse for not working from home. That and cheking if there are any bees on the chives in my window box (where best to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon than sitting on the kitchen bin looking at an absence of bees).

    Glad you’re blogging again, and looking forward to seeing you in London!


    • haha and you’ve had the longer, unedited ranting version!

      ooh you do sound like a good host! clean sheets! 🙂 and glad to hear you’ve got sun – that’s more (much more) than we have. In fact I don’t even remember what the sun looks like. I’m depressed that I’m go sunseeking in England these days…

      Don’t do too many chores, it’s Sunday after all. See you soon



  7. Really enjoyable read … sorry to hear about rubbish help person though (although admittedly looking forward to highly entertaining account of the full horrors at a later date). Smiles Ruthie C


    • thanks Ruth! I’ll work on the full version – the trouble is I’m still so scarred by the whole thing it is unlikley to be ‘entertaining’ unless I leave it another year or so to enable me to calm down! 😦


  8. Glad you are back!!!! I am still sitting in shock over what happened with that au pair. I wonder if she was really that well when she was looking after (or not) your brood….


    • Thank you – it’s nice to be back!!

      Judging from the amount of time she spent lounging on the sofa or sleeping, rather than actually doing what she was paid to do and look after our children, I would agree that she really wasn’t that well…


  9. I KNEW there was a reason I didn’t have children! Sounds exhausting but hey it’s good that you don’t stress too much over the dusting, that would definitely put you in the same category as the aupair…but in reverse 😉 What an awful experience, I hope you’ve recovered. I never used to do the washing up before morning but I’ve been on a re training programme! and I have to say that it’s been great – but I don’t have anything like the workload that you do. Cosy time is MUCH more important.


    • Hey I’d like to hear about your re-training programme, perhaps I should enroll! I do get mad bursts of resolution where I do the washing up every night, and take the washing out of the machine before it’s even turned itself off. That rarely lasts… I’m a great believer in cosy time – the washing up can wait until I get my next burst of resolution! 🙂


  10. Thank goodness someone else’s house is as nuts as mine. I have an entire room dedicated to clean laundry that (1) needs to be folded or (2) is folded and needs to be put away. I call it the laundry annex and it is rarely cleared out.. Welcome back!


    • That’s genius – I wish I had enough rooms! (In fact, it is probably worth making the children share just so I can have a laundry annex. Might just do that…). And at least you know where the clean washing is – we have problems because some is in the airing cupboard, some is in Alpine Girl’s room, some is in the basket next to our bed, some is on the desk, some is on the deskchair… hence why we can never find clean pants!


  11. Bonjour. Ew, au pair horrors. Gone now tho. Sounds like u have it sorted. I’m impressed! X


    • Horrors indeed! Firing her wasn’t fun but it was such a relief once she’d gone! Just wondering what we’re going to do with Alpine Boy when he’s not at school in the summer though – still not sure we’re brave enough to try again with another au pair! x


  12. Goodness me! Wow, i hope that au pair will never, ever be employed by anyone again! Sounds like you had a narrow escape.


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  14. Love this…. Makes me feel like my life is normal, other mums live in mayhem too!! I’m just finding my feet with this blogging malarkey…. You seem to have it sorted! A great read!!


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