Au Pair Advice: Getting enough sleep & being noisy late at night

by cv harquail on March 14, 2010

If there is anything about having an au pair — or anyone, really — in the bedroom on the third floor that bothers my DH, it’s noise after 10:30 pm. He is a fussy sleeper, and it drives him nuts to be able to hear a tv, or a phone conversation, while he’s trying to fall asleep. So, we have ‘quiet hours’ (when you turn the volume down), and rugs on the floor, and ask our au pair to close the door of her room and at the top of the steps so that sound doesn’t float downstairs, and that usually does the trick.

201003131654.jpg Well, actually, let me restate that: The sound-reducing strategies  solve the problem of us not being able to fall asleep, but it doesn’t make sure that our au pair herself gets enough sleep.

For PAHM, her au pair not getting enough sleep has become a serious problem. She writes:

I have a request for a topic….SLEEP!!!

My au pair stays up until all hours of the night and into the early morning. She is usually on the internet. Occasionally I hear her speaking German. At times she is VERY noisy on the phone and it wakes me up and i have to remind her to please be more quiet. Thankfully my kids are sound sleepers and her being up all hours has never woken them

She is often too tired to interact with the kids during the day. I often catch her sleeping on the couch while she is on duty. My boys are 8 and 5 and very active. They get really disappointed when AP is too tired to engage with them, which seems to be nearly everyday.

I have a curfew in my handbook, but it really only applies to going out… it would seem a little too controlling to have a “bedtime”.  After all, she is an adult.

201003131654.jpg

I have suggested to her that she need sleep for good health, to enhance her mood, and even to help her sustain a healthy weight, but none of those arguments has gotten her to go to sleep earlier.

She has been with us for several months, and this has been going on for a long time. Any ideas what I should try next?

morning phone call from xjyxjy
1st time i participate in a tag…from
irina slutsky

{ 58 comments }

Dorsi March 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

I have a lot to say about this (and will do so in a bit) but the fundamental problem here is job performance. She is not doing her job well and must change.

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I see two problems – lack of consideration for the family as well as poor job performance. I would have a discussion with her about the ways she is falling down on the job and suggest that she is capable of doing a good job and would do so if she got more sleep. If it doesn’t improve, I would ask for a rematch. I would not go down the route of telling the agency that she is up til all hours – that could lead to discussion ( aka argument ). Instead, I would concentrate strickly on job performance. After all, if she was awake , quietly, in her room reading War and Peace, she would still be tired and ineffective in terms of her chores and there would be no way you would know she was awake. So, I would concentrate on job performance

franzi March 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

if she does not perform to your expectations then this needs to be addressed.
you seem to attribute part of her staying up too late to internet use. sit down with her and explain that you will set the internet to cut off at midnight. internet use is a bonus imho and unless she is using her own access, you have every right to turn off the wireless at midnight or even sooner. that is, given that she gets off work before that to have time to attend to her social contacts.
maybe unlimited wireless on the weekend or if the next day is off is ok. your call.

i would also address her noise level. it is not acceptable that you wake up when she’s on the phone! this is something that she needs to be more considerate about and i doubt that she would be so inconsiderate at home (i.e. being so noisy that her parents wake up at night when she’s on the phone).

Tracy Hall March 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

I really like your idea of turning off the internet at night at a certain time if she is expected to work. It really is a nice perk. I knew as a nanny that I needed to be up at a certain time I went to bed. I realized there are time differences in their home country….I don’t know what they are.

Calif Mom March 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I have a similar problem–but our au pair and I are both still up on nights when my hub is on travel. Truth be told, she’s usually in bed before I am, and I find myself on a roll, still writing at 1:30 a.m. Our AP can take a nap while the kids are at school, but it looks bad for me to snooze at work. :-)

In addition to the performance problems, there’s a very practical solution:

I bit the bullet and set our server so that no one can be on the internet after 12:30 a.m. (Our AP isn’t dealing with big huge time differences to chat with folks back home, but I did take that into consideration when picking what time the internet goes to bed at our house.)

Calif Mom March 16, 2010 at 9:10 pm

This really is a YMMV situation. Our AP *does* get up reliably, no matter how late she’s up. She’s cheerful, even when she’s groggy.

This week, it’s a serious grogfest at our house anyway with daylight savings. We have 5 people under the roof, with but one chipper morning person.

Maybe the time change is a good excuse to address sleep issues in general…

Italian Au Pair March 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Does your Au Pair have time to talk during the day with her family at home?
I have the problem of the time difference when I want to talk with my family. All of them work so there is only a small “time window” when we can meet up over skype.

Usually I use my free Sunday mornings to catch up with my folks at home.

Of course its horrible that she SLEEPS!! during her working time. Thats a NO NO!! But maybe there is something bigger behind that?

Anonymous March 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

This is somewhat of an issue in our house, too. AP is up until the wee hours on Skype and studying – sometimes until 3 or 4am, then must drive the kids to school in the morning. She seems perfectly alert, and performance isn’t a concern, but I still worry about how little she sleeps. I know some people get by on less sleep, but it still makes me wonder if her judgment in driving is as clear as it should be.

Taking a computer lunch March 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

For me it all comes down to “Are my kids safe?” If my AP were napping , dozing, catnapping, while my children were in the house playing, I would say she is failing to keep them safe. Chances that nothing would happen, but if something did, it would break my heart and the consequences would be severe. When I have an AP resist acquiring a skill that I consider essential for the safety of my children, I give them some gentle reminders. If that fails, then I put on my American hat, and am blunt about it. I really like to give a warning, to give my APs an opportunity to improve.

So, my advice is, instead of grumbling about the napping, confront her. “I see you are tired, but napping when you are working is not safe for my children. You will need to sleep when you are not working.”

We don’t have a curfew in my house, but the manuel for my house states that they are to get enough sleep to be cheerful and alert while they are caring for the children. I am not sympathetic to yawns in the morning. Most days my kids leave the house at 8:30 and don’t return until 3:15, so there’s actually more than enough time to catch up on sleep. I don’t get enough sleep either, but I’m alert and cheerful at work. No one pays me to nap.

As for APs and skype. I must say my current AP tends to skype late in the evening. She sleeps below my handicapped daughter, which is not a problem for my daughter – she is slightly hard of hearing – but for us, the HP – it’s annoying because the baby monitor picks up her voice and brings it into our bedroom. Fortunately, she doesn’t do it every night! We have a curfew on incoming calls on the house line set at 9:30.

Should be working March 14, 2010 at 3:37 pm

This was one of the problems we had with our previous au pair. She was up all night skyping, or doing something on the internet, or talking on the phone, and then she would oversleep, or come downstairs grumpy, in the morning. I also had the impression that she slept most of the day, she never seemed to have anything to report about her day at dinnertime. I even noticed that she belonged to a Facebook group for people who are tired because they stay up late for no reason.

Apart from tiredness at wakeup she was ok with the kids, but not stellar. I came to think this was also a bit of depression, in the context of other things I viewed as depressive symptoms. It was not the reason we went into rematch, but part of a constellation of things that made me feel like we were not getting what we wanted from the au pair experience. And I’m so glad, we’ve got a much better match now.

But this is a great question–how to make sure APs get the sleep they need! And how much does sleep deficit affect driving (in young people I figure it’s less than for us middle-aged-ish parents)?

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Lol… You shouldn’t have your AP on your facebook in the first place!! That’s just wrong!! Your poor AP probably felt like nothing was sacred or private… I do however agree that being late every morning and being grumpy is not fair towards the children or the host parents!! I just want to say in defense of the girls… a lot of us are not used to having internet access like this in our home countries, so it’s very exciting and new and as far as I know, most AP’s are addicted to the internet!! It’s just sooo much fun!! And then for the hosts… girls that act irresponsibly in this sense deserve to have rules…

Anonymous March 31, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Facebook is a public venue. If people do not want to be observed on Facebook they should not use Facebook. You can set up a completely private blog and control access. But as long as you go on Facebook, you are the one who has violated your own privacy.
Many young people one day are going to wake up and realize that Facebook has done them quite a bit of damage.

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Don’t agree with you honey!! If your host mom invites you on facebook, it will be a little bit awkward to not accept her, but as far as I’m concerned your host parents shouldn’t put you in that position!!!

VA Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Fair enough that FB is public but it doesnt mean that everyone can see it,there are privacy setting on FB that you control from who see and who doesn’t. But for your host family to send you a friends invite on FB ,is making them seem nosy in what you are doing and saying.

Soccer Mom April 1, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I am FB friends with my entire family and extended family, as well as with about 80% of my high school graduating class (most of those people I was not really close to then or now). My point is, why would I be friends with all those people, but not FB friends with my AP who lives in my house, cares for my children all day, and is supposed to be part of my family? When my kids are old enough to be on FB, I would friend them too for a whole bunch of reasons. FB is not a sacred place where you share things that you write in your diary – I see it as a place to share things about yourself that are appropriate to share.. I could see you not wanting HM as a friend on FB if you were sharing things that were not really appropriate.

Dorsi March 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I think when you address this with the AP you need to make it exclusively about work performance. (I stand corrected from my post above — this is also about being considerate to the rest of the people in the house, but I think the important point here is the work performance). I work nights and am always juggling sleep. I have no sympathy for visibly tired APs (or coworkers!). Like TACL said, you need to be alert and cheerful. If you cannot do that, then you need to change what you are doing outside of work or get a new job.

I would bring this up with the AP and ask her to solve the problem: “You seem tired when you are with the kids. That is not good for them! We both know you even fall asleep once in awhile. That can’t happen! What are you going to do to fix this? How will I know that you aren’t sleeping when you are supposed to be working? What will we do if this doesn’t change by this date? Is there anything we can do to help you relax during your off hours — ear plugs, etc.” You can’t make an adult sleep, but you can hold her responsible for her job performance.

Good luck.

Host Mom NY March 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I have concerns about sleepiness due to the internet and skype. I’m not sure when wireless internet became a fundamental right, but it seems to consume many hours of aupair time. It is used during the day (when the children should be watched) and at night (when the aupair should be sleeping). I like the idea of turning the server off during certain hours of the day and I may try that. I think if job performance is affected you should definitely address it!

Taking a computer lunch March 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm

You can try turning the server off, but if your AP has her own laptop she may have many servers from which to choose. I know that my own APs, whose bedroom is in the basement, sometimes choose my next-door-neighbor’s server because the signal is stronger in their room then the server upstairs on the 2nd floor.

I could always tell when my first AP used the study when she was working because my son, who was an infant and then a toddler trashed the study (which was none too tidy). I’d come home and find my negatives all over the floor. She once asked me what “lip service” meant, and I replied, “Lip service is when I ask you not to use the computer unless the children are taking a nap, and you tell me you won’t — and then do it anyway.”

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm

From my perspective… I agree that when skype and internet influence work performance it should be addressed, but to put off the server is ridiculous… A lot of families seem to forget that the AP’s are only human beings!! And they are supposed to feel like part of your family… And having a tooo strict schedule is definitely not going to make her feel welcome or comfortable!! It’s definitely not all about the AP’s comfort, but you as hosts should understand that we are away from our families and sometimes it’s a family member or friends birthday or a special occasion or sometimes we just feel homesick… So as a human being try to think how we sometimes must feel so far away from our families… and then when we have strict rules and things like that, we feel even more alone… all I’m trying to say is plz try and understand where we are coming from before freaking out because we skype in the day and especially at night (which is our free time)!!!!! Imagine how you would feel so far away from your families!!!

PA au pair mom March 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I think that sometimes APs forget that THEY signed up for the program voluntarily. When our last AP didn’t get her own way she would say “You don’t know how bad it is being away from my family. How would YOU like it?” I wouldn’t, so hence I would not sign up to be an au pair.

When you commit to a year, or more, in the USA, you know that you are going to miss holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions with your family.

Last week was my AP’s dad’s birthday. She asked me if she could use Skype during the day when the kids were off school. Of course I said “yes”. I told her to turn on a video or video game for the kids and to take as long as she wanted.

I am not unreasonable, but I don’t like being taken advantage of either.

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I agree with you, but I can honestly tell you that all the host families are not as reasonable as you sound!! And I also agree with you that AP’s sign up for a year and we know that we will be away from our families, but we’re also young and some are a bit more naive than others and they don’t really know what to expect here and some even try to get away from bad situations at home, and a lot of my friends have gotten to their host families and was very disapointed and hurt by the fact that they get treated like maids and cheap labor!!

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 1:52 am

From an LCC’s perspective: If you haven’t already, ask her what she thinks is a fair and reasonable compromise? Ask her if she can perhaps start earlier and then end earlier on the computer and by a certain hour. Also, tell her that you know she can’t be doing a good job with the children if she stays up so late. It is probably more of a question of habit with her. Thank her when she follows your request and tell her how much you appreciate her cooperation when she does comply. (Ideally, these are topics to bring up before the au pair arrives. Tell her the rules are lights out, including computers, phone, etc. at a certain hour. Can she live with that? If she says “yes”then expect her to live within her commitments. The more you set expectations up front, the better! Tell her that you do not expect this to be a bargaining point when she arrives. Give her a written set of the rules if possible and ask her to recite them back to you in her own words. You can always relax the rules later. Make sure you go through a typical day at your household and tell her the times when she can call her family and friends so she doesn’t worry about having any time for socializing with them. Set expectations as to her performance and curfew beforehand and make sure she knows without a doubt what is expected of her. Some host families even have au pairs sign off on house rules before their acceptance of the au pair.)

Euromom March 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

I love the idea of a “light’s out rule” and will definitely include this in my handbook for my next au pair as we are an extremely – early to bed/early to rise family, mainly because HD starts work at 6am most morning so bed time in our house is usually before 10pm. However our current au pair does stay up later than this – usually to midnight or 1am and although she is cheerful and absolutely brilliant with our 9 month old boy, you can tell sometimes when she is tired particularly if he is having a bad day. She is however wonderful in every other aspect so I count my blessings. However if she ever showed as much disrespect to me or mine as the au pair in the original post, I would drag her a$$ back to reality with a wake up call – quite literally :o) !

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

Hi Euromom,

I remember (when I was younger) I used to call Europe early in the mornings instead of late at night. (It was 8am here and 5pm there.) This works ideally in California! Thus, ask your au pair to get up early for phone calls instead of making them late at night. This may help her and your family in the long run. It is funny, when I lived at home, I was a morning person as I loved having coffee with my mom. Then when I moved to college, I became a night owl! We can all adjust to schedules and new environments… Au pairs, please take notice of this! :)

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 2:56 pm

As far as I’m concerned that’s the worst rule I’ve ever heard of… “Lights out”!!! We are not children and as long as we do what is expected of us, nobody has the right to tell us how we should spend our free time!! I have a wonderful host family… I have basically no rules and that encourages me to be a responsible grown up/AP!! I have overslept and things like that, but come on… We are also only human!!! It doesn’t always mean we were up too late or out too late!!! I thank God every day for my hosts… They encourage me to go out as much as I can and I go out almost every evening… It seems that the girls that doesn’t perform and are really unhappy are the girls with all these rules and I have a couple of friends that has this problem!! In contrast to this, my friends that has the same type of host families and “rules” as I do, are quite happy and almost have no problems in their host homes!!

Anonymous March 31, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Colleges have ” lights out ” rules and quiet times and no visitors after a certain time rules. Understanding that families have rules is part of acting like an adult.

Lee March 31, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Most colleges do NOT have lights out rules…quiet hours yes…limited visitors depends on the college. I worked in higher education for quite a while at multiple universities and none had lights out rules….perhaps a few private schools do. This is not the norm.

Lee March 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I agree that a “lights out” rule is for your children…not for your au pair. Au pairs need to be treated like adults.

Why.... June 25, 2010 at 2:23 am

‘Lights Out’ is a horrid idea….. So it’s ok for you to treat an AuPair as an Adult when they are taking care of your children…. But when it comes to their free time you feel YOU have the right to set rules as you would for CHILDREN…. No, thats a very very bad idea, and as DC Au Pair said; the happier AuPairs are the ones who do the best jobs…. Start making the AuPair feel used or unapreciated and your just putting a miserable girl incharge of your childrens care!

Sleeping on the couch is an absolute no-no, this is putting your child/children at risk, so i understand that in that situation things would have to change….

But for all the other AuPairs who can only skype LATE at night or are just Night-Owls anyway putting these sort of rules into effect will only cause feelings of offense which could inturn lead to resentment and of course Rematch. If the AuPairs sleeping habbits (or lack there of) are not affecting her abbility to care for the child/children then it really is none of the HP’s business.

PA au pair mom March 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

I am the original poster and I sent CV this suggestion when our last AP was still here. Our current AP doesn’t have this issue.

We met with the AP several times to discuss performance issues related to sleep. She denied that there was a problem. I hate that I had to resort to this but my oldest son took pictures of her sleeping on the couch on 7 different occasions over a 2 week period. I then confronted her with the evidence. She didn’t have a rebuttal.

She had from 8:30am to 12pm everyday and all day on Saturday and Sunday to Skype or call. We also agreed to be flexible with on-duty sessions for special occasions (birthdays, etc).

She never did change the behavior but since we only had about 2 months left and our LCC was completely unsupportive (imagine that?!?) we just lived with it and then happily sent her packing back to Germany.

Karin Six March 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm

LCC Perspective: Thank goodness I live in CA! :) (I m singing that song “Wasn’t me!” in my head!)

Darthastewart March 16, 2010 at 10:41 pm

You’re describing my last au-pair situation pretty closely. We sent her home in January. Our next AP arrives in July. In the meantime, we’re using backup options.

sarah March 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm

If a family were to tell me they had a “lights out” rule or any other stipulation along those lines, there is no way I would match with them. None.

PA au pair mom March 16, 2010 at 8:35 pm

what about a curfew? Is that acceptable?

Chev March 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I don’t think i’d want to match with a lights out rule. A curfew on work nights is fine but someone giving me a bedtime, not so ok. I understand that with some au pairs it might be necessary, but as a 25 year old looking at host families profiles if i saw a lights out rule i probably wouldn’t be very interested in talking to them.

Karin Six March 17, 2010 at 2:05 am

Hi Chev – How else can a host family make sure that they don’t hear wild laughter in the middle of the night? For instance, I remember having a roommate in college who stayed up most of the night talking on the phone to her boyfriend. This was irritating beyond belief! The rest of us asked her nicely to be quiet but she did not care. She felt it was her right and she did what she wanted to do! If it was my house and I wanted the house quiet for when I try to go to sleep, I would want someone in my home to respect that! In other words, an au pair coming to my home would have to agree with this! (Perhaps if she was super quiet, then it would be alright and I could relax the requirement. It would depend on the au pair’s behavior I think.) Great to hear from a future au pair! I appreciate your honesty!

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Have you tried to talk to your AP about this wild laughter late at night?? Most girls I’ve met and I’ve met about 30 would definitely be considerate of their host families!! And if she’s not, get another AP!

Lee March 31, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I really hope as an LCC you aren’t encouraging your host families to implement a “lights out” rule…

Chev June 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

There’s a way to state that you want quietness in the middle of the night that’s not saying you have to be in bed by this time.
I’d hope that any au pair you found mature enough to match with would be able to respect that fact that after a certain time at night she needs to keep the noise down so the family can sleep, it’s similar to having the no phone calls after a certain time rule. And putting it like that in your family hand book is a much nicer thing to read rather than lights out at 10pm

Host Mommy Dearest June 25, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I think it is ok to say that the kids are in bed by 9pm and HM/HD have lights out by 10pm, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable imposing a lights out rule for our AP. My “you wake ’em you take ’em” rule for waking the baby was plenty discouragement for loud noises after bed time! We are lucky that our APs room is not right next to the rest of the family’s rooms, and we often call or text each other on cell phones with a question or a “dinner’s ready” instead of yelling or knocking in person which I find more obtrusive. I have called our AP on her cell late at night once or twice to ask if everything is ok because I heard some loud banging. I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that she may have tripped and hurt herself, but if she was rearranging furniture late at night she needed to know we could hear the noise loud & clear.

VA Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Yes i think a curfew is acceptable during the week, But if the au pair is not working on the weekends or the following day and it is fine with the host family then it’s ok.

Anonymous March 17, 2010 at 4:25 am

I agree. Curfew on worknights, I’m not that bothered about. My HF spoke to my mother before I left and asked if I had a curfew at home (I was only 17 when I went.) She said she trusted my judgement so they didn’t give me one, but I don’t really go out during the week anyway. Car curfew isn’t an issue because I’m not a driver. A ‘lights out’ rule, however, is slightly ridiculous. Sometimes I stayed up till 2am Facebooking friends back home, but I made up the time by going back to bed in the mornings.

On a side note, one morning I yawned at breakfast and my HD started lecturing me about how he’d heard me go to the toilet (next to my bedroom in the basement) at HALF! TWELVE! I had to fight the urge to laugh in his face, especially when I’d gone to bed at 10pm.

Lee March 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Your host dad was obviously clueless to the fact that not everyone sleeps through the night without having to go to the bathroom…I would have told him that my bathroom usage is none of his business…

angie March 17, 2010 at 3:35 am

I agree this can be a tricky issue, because you want to keep your kids safe and still treat a young adult as an adult not a child.

I have a flexible schedule and work at home and have always told my au pairs, if I see you are too tired to take care of my kids I will send you to bed. If you are too tired to wake yourself up in the morning, I will let you sleep until you wake up. You can make up the hours later or another day. I don’t want an au pair taking care of my kids or driving when she is too tired.

I’ve had to send all 3 of the au pairs I’ve had to bed at one point or another because I thought they were too tired or sick or grieving when they felt they could work. I made it about the kids’ safety and my comfort level, and they were all ok with it in the end – at least all 3 extended with us and I think they were happy.

Contrary to what most people seem to say, I wouldn’t make it about performance. It’s not that the au pair is doing a bad job. It’s that you feel your kids aren’t safe. You need as a mom to be comfortable that your kids are safe. You should be able to engage your au pair in a cooperative way to figure out how to make sure that happens. If she won’t cooperate when you are trying to work with her – if she lies or breaks rules you set together – get her out of your house. If she tries honestly to cooperate, try to work it out and still allow her to be an adult.

Angie

Taking a computer lunch March 17, 2010 at 7:00 am

We interpret job performance differently. For me, part of job performance is keeping my kids safe. I interpret that as: having enough sleep to stay awake and play with them, listen to them, and look out for them.

I also require feeding them nutritious foods (at least most of the time), driving well, speaking English well enough to explain what they know as we change hands in the evening. We have a swimming pool in our backyard – not deep, but we require that the AP be able to get her head wet in the event one of the kids be in trouble.

If an AP is asleep and the kids are not, then she is not performing her job. If the AP forces the kids to take a nap because she is tired and they are not, she is not peforming her job. I had one AP who used to nap with my son in the afternoons, and I had absolutely no problem with it, but if my toddler had been playing while she had been napping I would been upset.

Darthastewart March 17, 2010 at 9:08 am

Amen.

My AP that just left got in huge trouble with us for sending our three oldest to their rooms to “nap” every day for 3 hours. Those kids are 11, 9, and 6! They don’t take naps anymore unless they are sick. But, she was sending them down to nap so she could sit on her computer and skype. I’m glad that they finally complained. (Although it took a couple of weeks for them to complain about it. Huge mommy guilt!)

Mom23 March 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

Dartha — my kids are close in age to yours. I can’t imagine that they would tolerate a nap!

Darthastewart March 17, 2010 at 1:13 pm

They didn’t nap. They sat in their rooms for those 3 hours every day. Heartbreaking.

Angie March 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm

If the problem is just not enough sleep, then the message “you need more sleep” seems easier to deliver and more appropriate than “you are doing a bad job.” But maybe it works better with some au pairs. It wouldn’t have with mine, they would have felt very bad and possibly resisted the message. But to each their own.

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Have you considered the fact that the AP is not in her own home, room or bed!! A lot of the girls have the same problem… It might not be a conscience feeling, but subconsciously they might just not feel very comfortable and therefor struggle to get sleep!!

VA Au Pair/MAID/NANNY March 31, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Have you also considered that she could have Jet Lag. I also agree with some moms but i disagree with Karin Six ,when i got here in Virginia i was given a 4 page summary of my expectations and i have to chip in with the chores around the house ,fair enough i agreed and accepted for i have been a au pair before in Los angeles and 7 years later i came back to au pair again ,from me doing and knowing the experience and expectations from the host family ,

Well surprise they don’t even keep there side of the bargin, i have to clean ,sweep up after the kids ,pack away the toys during the week etc… but on a Monday morning do you think that they would of done the same during the weekend ,no instead they leave it for me to do, the dishes that was in the dish washer from friday are still in the dish washer with all there other dishes they used during the weekend. The toys are left out and scattered all over the floor ,like a bomb just exploded, but it is stated clearly in black and white in my booklet of rules that the kids are expected to clean up after there play dates.

Rule number 4 teach kids to make beds fair enough but surprise ,surprise that’s done during the week but do you think that the parents make the kids do it over the weekend ,the million dollar answer NO,so I take a step back and try again. But after a few try’s and thinking that you succeed and is just about to give myself a pat on the back ,i get a slap in the face from a 11yr old telling me that ” before you came i had to clean my room ,but now that you are here you are expected to do it as my parents are the boss of you”.

But i think to myself , you 27yrs old and a mature,responsible young lady and your parents brought you up to be a hard working person ,and reminded myself the reason you wanted to au pair again,you can stick this out. After 9 months down the lane the carpet is pulled from under you AGAIN, by the father coming into your room on a sunday morning telling me that i’m lazy,i don’t sweep and clean up after the kids and what do i do all day: well lets check the list , 1.make breakfast for kids,get them ready for school.make there lunch,drive them to school,go to the grocery store with a 2 page list of stuff to get for the house,drop off dry cleaning,go home start kids laundry oh and don’t forget the PARENTS laundry aswell,off load the shopping,if there’s time grab lunch then go fetch the youngest from school,take to park give snack ,go fetch the older kids from school,rush home give snack ,start homework,bath them,make dinner for them,have dinner for myself ,fold laundry and pack laundry away.

After you finshed the list and ask why can’t they do their own laundry and shopping on the weekend,todays your lucky day another million dollar answer ” because we lead a hectic life style”, So let’s review from my point of view,parents are lazy can’t even do their own shopping and laundry because they lead a hectic life style,while if calling going for a haircut ,manicure and pedicure and go clothes shopping during weekends and don’t forget you do hear thru the kids that some times the parents take a few days off from work to do what i’ve mentioned or go hiking together a hectic life style then i can’t wait to get married and have kids so i can get a au pair and live a hectic life style aswell.

DC Au Pair March 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Very well put!!!!! I also want a hectic life style!!!

Anonymous March 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I think you should ask for a rematch on the basis that these people are dishonest and exploitative. If you want to stick it out,
wait until your year ends and then write a letter to the agency telling them everything you told us. Send a copy to the host parents, too. Let them know that their agency knows just what kind of people they are and what sort of children they have. Too many people like this give other host parents a bad reputation.
You should be able to get help from your LCC but apparantly not all of the LCCs come across for a variety of reasons. So, either ask to rematch or hang in there. You can bet that these people won’t like it one little bit

VA Au Pair/MAID/NANNY March 31, 2010 at 4:32 pm

My year is up on the 22 June and i’m relocating to another host family soon. I’m waiting for my year is up then i will be writing to the agency about the family and about the beginning process to america with the agency,and them not knowing what they where doing.

PA au pair mom March 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm

WOW VA au pair:

Sounds like you have bigger issues than sleep in your house.

Can you talk to your LCC (or equivalent) about how you are being treated? It doesn’t seem fair to me at all. Calling you lazy is over the top. If he had a problem with your performance, he should discuss it with you in an adult manner. yelling is not acceptable.

KittyGirl March 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I never understood the make the bed idea. Whos gonna see it?

taking a computer lunch – I COMPLETELY agree with you. I treat my aupair like an adult. Part of the job is staying AWAKE :) I would and have addressed our needs just like you mentioned that before (though we dont have any w/ our current aupair). I have noticed that youve been sleeping and we need you to watch/play whatever they are supposed to be doing when you are scheduled. Can you please sleep on your off hours? I can’t imagine someone complaining but if so – I would address – safety, why we have au pair and just let the kids stay in house by themselves. I would ask what could I do to help the situation and try to be reasonable. But if nothing really works, I would rematch. Staying awake is requirement #1. I stay up late ALL THE TIME and still get to work and stay awake. Its called coffee or whatever. I definitely expect my aupair to stay awake unless the baby is sleeping and there is really nothing that needs to be done.

Sam May 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Hello everyone!
I’m sorry to write that but although I liked the site it drives me nuts reading only families complaining about aupairs.
I actually do have a funny joke: my host mum offered me the crib and the baby as a bonus tonight, cause -quoting her- «I need some peace at night”. And so do I! Last time I cheeked I wasn’t an owl.
Funniest part is that I was just telling my own mum that I work super long days (about 12 hours a day or so) and that I don’t have enough time to study.

Anonymous March 31, 2010 at 7:27 pm

As I see it, the point of a curfew ( as told to me by my LCC ) is to make sure that an aupair gets a decent night’s sleep before caring for the children the next day. My agency suggests that everyone be home at least 6 – 7 hours before working. It seems to me, then, that it is reasonable to ask for lights out or quiet time 6-7 hours prior to the start of the workday. I remember staying up all night to type college papers and I also remember going to work in the not so distant past on three hours sleep due to a sick child. It wasn’t easy or fun. I think this is just the down side of living with a family. If you lived in a college dorm, then you could stay up all night and stagger off to class ( or sleep ) the next day. It may be unreasonable but it is the norm for most working parents to want peace and quiet after 9 or 10 at night. If a person lives on a college campus they ( or their parents ) are paying for room and board. There are distinct tradeoffs and this is one of them.
Having said that, I would add that since many people give their aupair a room in the basement , she probably isn’t disturbing them at all.
I think the issue is job performance. I wouldn’t fight someone on staying up late but I would have zero tolerance any performance inadequacies I saw related to lack of sleep.

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