4 Household Rules to Protect Your Host Parent Sanity

by cv harquail on January 3, 2012

  • If you take it out, put it back.

  • If you open it, close it.

  • If you drop it, pick it up.

  • If you take it off, hang it up.

These rules also work well in situations with children, spouses, coworkers, or other humans.adulthood ahead brookeryanphoto etsy.jpg



Image by Brooke Ryan, available on Etsy. This graffiti was on the wall of her daughter’s school– but you can purchase a print of it on Etsy. Might be good for a playroom….


NoVA Host Mom January 3, 2012 at 8:03 pm

May I add:
If you turned it on, turn it off on the way out (of the room, not the country).

Push in your chair when you are done.

Both lessons taught in grade school as well. I may have to print these all out for our refrigerator.

Anonamomma January 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

Love it CV – so simple, so true!

NHM January 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm

The (Host) in the title could be in parentheses … these rules hold true for any household member … especially children :)

DCMomof3 January 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Also add: say thank you when we pay for your restaurant dinner, drinks, snack, movie tickets, park admissions, etc etc. The best way to teach kids is by example (as well as to not make the host parents feel like they owe you all of these perks)

Julie January 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I totally agree with this one–I think it goes a long way with host parents. I also think that if you tell the au pair that you are trying to teach kids by example and you’d like them to say thanks to show the children, you are more likely to hear it, if they don’t already say it naturally. Great point!

NoVA Host Mom January 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

That’s why I was thinking of printing them all up and putting them on the fridge. A nice clean set of House Rules for us all to follow. Best way for the AP to know we mean it is for us to do it, too. Best way for the kids to know we mean it is for all the adults in the house to do it. And I love the TY addition. So very right!

Taking a Computer Lunch January 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Another way to teach by example is to thank everyone in the house. We thank our AP when she does well, does us a favor (like schlepping several bags that are not hers after an outing on her day off) or going above and beyond duty during the course of the day (like the day the hamster got stuck in the glue trap and only peanut butter would get it off his fur). We also thank our children when they perform a chore without grumbling or behave nicely toward a cousin or friend. But I like the idea of saying “Thank you so everyone can hear you.”

AFHostMom January 4, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Printing this is a great idea–we’re big, big fans of thank you’s in this house. I thank the AP every day when I get home from work, she thanks me for cooking dinner, and other little things. We try to model for our kids, and they still need to work on it (like most kids), but it’s worth the effort.
I’m thinking I may add a few pages to the handbook about what makes our family happy (saying thank you, smiling, treating the kids with respect), and give the new AP a place where she can write down things that make her happy.

Chicago Host Mom January 5, 2012 at 12:38 am

I would add to the list — if you break or damage it, TELL US.

LuvCheetos January 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

So true! We are still finding things our last AP (who left when we requested a rematch) broke or that were damaged in her care. They are little things and we wouldn’t have been upset. It upsets us more that she would actively hide it from us (but it’s hard to hide because our children tell us).

MommyMia January 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Very timely, as I just pulled out the “guest” hair dryer this morning because I needed it closer to where it is stored, only to find it had been “blown out” and doesn’t work. Just as well actually, as I would have had to have spent a considerable amount of time cleaning all the makeup and gunk off it before I would have given it to other guests, anyway!

Anom for this January 5, 2012 at 3:32 am

This should apply both ways. I was raised with thank yous, please, welcome, good night and good mornings on a constant basis. It’s hard to not get even a birthday congratulation from your host dad and host kid.

AnonHM Europe January 5, 2012 at 4:14 am

Please be aware that this is a big cultural issue in the US. Before I lived in the US in our Orientation they made a rather big point about “Thank you”, “Thank you notes”, etc. In the countries your APs come from, it might just be different. If the AP is told (by you!) about this certain cultural speciality, they might be more aware of it. I completely adapted to this habit. Even today 20something years after returning to my home-country, I say “thanks for the ride” if a collegue took me with him downtown. They think it rather strange, as this is not something you would expect in my country at all. Yet, I can’t resist, because I would feel so rude, if I didn’t say “Thank you”. So: Gently remind your APs (again and again – plus being a role-model :)) that american people say thank you probably more than other nationalities and that they are expected to adapt, otherwise people will think they are rude, which the APs will most likely try to prevent.

NoVA Host Mom January 5, 2012 at 4:17 am

Great reminder! Thanks!

momto2 January 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

I’d offer, “leave it the way you found it,” which could apply to many things. Some au pairs forget how nice and clean their rooms and bathrooms were when they arrived, and over the course of the year will allow layers of soap scum and toilet mildew to build up in their bathrooms, as well as inches of grime and dust to accumulate in their bedrooms to the point where it can take days to de-funk it after their time is up. Someone was here before you, and someone will need to use it after you are gone. As much as it is your “home,” it is not your house. Treat it with respect.

This could also apply to use of the car…….. if it was clean and had gas when you got in it, be sure to remove your trash and make sure it has gas when you are done.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

The cleaning and filling of the car is actually in our guidelines – the car was cleaned and the gas tank filled before you arrived, please leave it in that condition before you depart. The condition of the AP bed & bath, as well as the car, are issues that I now openly discuss 6 weeks prior to departure (as well as cleaning out the cell phone and handing it back over to me on the last day).

I don’t expect that the APs will make their rooms perfect – and I do get down on my hands & knees and clean with a fine-tooth comb and wash all the bedding and towels (but nothing will get the scent of the last AP’s perfume out of the air in two days) before the next AP arrives, but only one out of 6 who have departed had not left their space perfectly usable by the next person. I’m the one who wants it to be as spotless as possible.

MommyMia January 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Hear, hear! Another task I spent my morning doing, as I discovered that departed au pair’s version of “I cleaned out the car” is WAY different than my idea of what constitutes clean!

kooky January 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm

This is great advice. Thankyou so much!

Comments on this entry are closed.