Au Pair Guidelines: Does your car have a curfew? (Poll)

by cv harquail on June 2, 2010

Our au pair car was a naughty, naughty car.

Its very first year as an au pair car, it often stayed out kind of late.

Once, it got left behind at a bar and didn’t make it back until Monday. Another time, it was hanging out 95 miles away from home, without permission, and tangled with a deer. At 4 am.

Naughty, naughty car.

After the encounter with the deer (though, surprisingly, not after staying over at the bar) I decided I needed to be more firm with our au pair car.

You now have a curfew, Miss Maxima. Weeknights, you must be in by midnight. Weekends, you must be in by 1 am.

I don’t care if “all the other au pair cars” get to stay out later. You’re my au pair care and you will follow my rules.

The end.

201006021014.jpgAs our au pair car matured, and demonstrated more responsibility, I did allow it to stay out overnight IF parked at someone’s home by 1 pm, and if I knew in advance where the car would be. I expect (in fact, I’m sure) that this curfew was occasionally broken, but since I am usually asleep by midnight I rarely noticed.

How about the car that your Au Pair uses?

Does the car your Au Pair uses have a curfew?

View Results

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Image: New Car….. from scarynaughtyduck


StephinBoston June 2, 2010 at 10:37 am

Yep, our car has a curfew, au pair car #1 did too, until it was totaled… Au pair car #2 is still alive and well and must be home by 12AM week nights (just like the driver :-) ) and must be home by 2AM on weekends (driver can do what she wants as long as it doesn’t involve our car being out past 2AM). No overnights for the car, it gets to sleep in our driveway every night.

M in NY June 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

I just have a question (and this is not to offend anyone, I just want to know how you’re thinking):

If the car has a curfew, and the au pair doesn’t, why is that? How come the car is more important than the person?
(a couple of my au pair-friends has to have their cars back by midnight/1pm but they can stay out all night if they want to and I just don’t get why…)

Should be working June 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I considered this logic as well, M in NY, but I realized that it is not about the car being more important. Rather it is about the difference between an object and a free-willed person. If I’m concerned that the car not be driven around after bars close, or I’m concerned about my car being the chauffeur-car for all the local APs, that is one thing, it is about the car staying in good shape and not acquiring too many miles. The AP can use her judgment, free will, and money (for taxi, e.g.) to get herself home when she wants in a safe way or can choose to sleep somewhere else.

The only real problem I see here is who is driving my AP around after my car curfew, and whether that person is a safe driver. I hope our AP has good judgment and doesn’t ever get into a car with someone unfit to drive. We also tell her to absolutely call us, any time day or night, if she needs a ride home, because her safety is important to us.

And if she is sleeping over at someone’s house, she is inside somewhere safe, whereas my car would be out parked somewhere where I myself would prefer it not be parked.

I have considered a 1:30am curfew for non-work-nights, in order to avoid my AP being on the road with ANYONE after bars close. But I figured this is where the ‘adult’ issue kicks in. I tell her clearly that even when she and her companions are totally sober and good drivers, other drivers might be drunk–and not just after 2am. I tell her that if she is out and about late nights she needs to be extra careful about who she drives with and to preferably take public transport.

Our AP tends to just sleep over at others’ houses, which makes me worry far less than if she were coming in at 4am in someone else’s car.

StephinBoston June 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm

M in NY: Car is not more important than the person, I realize young people like to go out, like to spend nights at their friends’ house and that is absolutely fine. That being said, paying for a 3rd car is very expensive so I try to limit issues with the car. Having it parked in some obscure place, near a bar or in a town where it shouldn’t is not something I want. So if our au pair so chooses, she can go out and make her own decisions but I don’t want those decisions to involve my car. I think most au pairs would prefer that to having the car curfew and not being able to stay overnight at their friends house. I’m perfectly happy to have my au pair go pick up a friend who will spend the night at our house so that she can leave the car home because her host parents have a car curfew..

mom23 June 3, 2010 at 10:12 am

With our first few au pairs we let our au pairs take the car out at night. We do not have a dedicated parking space. The au pair would come home late at night, park the car four blocks away and then I would be dragging my two year those four blocks to the car to take her to ballet on Saturday morning. I then said that the car had to be on our block by 8 a.m., but the au pair resented that and didn’t feel that she should have to wake up to move the car. So, now no car use at night, unless permission is asked and granted. We live near numerous bus lines, near the train, and taxis are plentiful. Our family has one car that is mostly used by the au pair during the day since my husband and I use public transit to commute to work.

maleaupairmommy June 4, 2010 at 3:44 am

its not that the car is more important than person but I don’t want it driven everywhere in the middle of the night out in who knows what kind of neighbor while my au pair is safely inside. My au pair is an adult and I try to treat them like one like they know their limits what needs to be done,etc. Thus I give them the freedom and choices to do but not with my car which I would/will pay gas, maintence, etc for if it is broken into etc. Car has to be home by midnight on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekend night the bars close at 2 a.m. for special occasions I will let it spend the night but rarely. The au pair as long as we know he is safe and happy than I’m fine with him being where ever. Though rules for that too if spending the night somewhere please call or text so I don’t worry.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

CV, I love how you wrote this post. It was really cute, and made me chuckle. Though I think you meant 1AM, not 1 PM. :)

Au Pair in CO June 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

I don’t have a curfew on the cars I use. As long as I’ve asked if I can have a car, and my host parents don’t need it, I can keep it out till the next morning. I have had the car away for whole weekends (Fri afternoon til Mon morning), but I was only 10 miles away, and I made sure my host parents knew where I was, and that they could call me at any time if they decided they needed the car back. I do have certain rules for the car when I stay out overnight (no street parking in “bad” areas etc.), but it seems like I’m pretty lucky:)

NY Host Mom June 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Humans are always more important than cars. We as host parents however, have been advised that we cannot impose a curfew on our aupair unless she is working the next day. We are more concerned about the aupair, but there is nothing that we can do if the aupair chooses to stay out all night. We can however impose a curfew on our car which we do because replacing it would be a tremendous burden. I am certain that next year’s aupair will appreciate having a car that is still operable because of the curfew we imposed this year.

kerri June 3, 2010 at 6:49 pm

What agency told you that you cannot impose a curfew on your au pair on non-work nights? I think they are mistaken. Our agency LCC was clear with the au pair at the first meeting that the agency recommends a curfew which was a little less generous than what we imposed. If the au pair is staying with our family, I don’t need her coming in at 4 in the morning waking the children up, making noise etc. Not to mention the fact that I would be concerned and wait for her to return at night. Although I honestly can say that with all 6 of our au pairs the curfew was never an issue- it was mainly they had to tell us when they expected to return that night (or not) in advance. The curfew is mainly for the nights that she has no plans and we dont’ want to be stuck worrying about where she is and when she might be home.

NY host mom June 4, 2010 at 8:19 am

Thank you! I feel vindicated. I was starting to feel like a puritan.

Having a Computer Lunch June 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm

We don’t impose a curfew on either car or driver, but all incoming APs must pass the HD driving test first. He’s more strict than our local motor vehicle office.

For the first year we only had one car, and so our AP had to ask permission to use it and be prepared to bring it back on a moment’s notice if The Camel had an emergency. Sometimes she chauffeured HD and The Camel to the hospital for routine medical appts., so she could have a playdate with AP friends who cared for children my son’s age.

After we received a gift of a minivan from my parents, the compact car became the AP car, and we put times on the calendar when we will need both cars, generally for kid’s Saturday morning sports, so the AP knows it has to be back by then.

We are very clear about drinking and driving, and most of my APs have either 1) become designated driver for their friends or 2) hired a taxi. The AP car has gone 200 miles away for the weekend, with our blessing. In general, the AP car does not rack up the miles that the minivan does, because we are more likely to take the minivan long distances to see family or go on vacation. I’m not obsessed with miles, personally.

As far as I know, the previous AP car (it lasted a total of 14 years before succombing to age) was only involved in one minor traffic incident – our AP slid off the road in a snowstorm and had to have it pulled back on. I think my APs have seen how difficult it is for their friends to get access to a vehicle and don’t treat the AP car as a right but as a privilege. All have behaved responsibly with it (and at this point, it looks better than the minivan).

Anna June 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm

No, our car doesn’t have a curfew.
Our au pair just asks if we need it if she wants to use it. And I have let the car stay out overnight.

some Au Pair June 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

My family has a curfew on the car. I DID NOT KNOW THAT when I arrived. I have asked them if I am going to have a curfew and the host family told me: oh no, we trust you to be old enough to be responsible.

And then I had to bring the car home at 10:00pm every day!!!
I mean, Barnes and Noble is open until eleven or some movies start at 09:00pm. I felt like a teenager again. Thank God that I can laugh about it right now, at the beginning it was a bad shock.

Should be working June 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm

When I started reading this blog last fall, I asked if I should send my WHOLE handbook to prospective APs (coming out of transition with our first AP, having had no handbook when she arrived, and then producing a 27-page handbook based on that experience). Most of you said YES, and that was great advice.

It never occurred to me until now that it would be good advice to a prospective AP that s/he ASK for the whole handbook. And APs should also be told that first-time HFs might need some prompting to reflect on questions about curfew, car, overall expectations.

BusyMom June 3, 2010 at 7:52 am

SBW – that’s super advice for a prospective au pair.

Our 20 page handbook can be daunting, but I’ve come to see it as a test of a future au pair. I used to use it (though it’s evolved over the years) for nannies as well…though back then we called it a “work agreement.” If she’s scared away by it, then she’s not a fit for our hyper-organized, lists for everything family.

CrazyLady June 2, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Our car does not have a curfew. When my husband is deployed, our au pair essentially has her own car, since I have a car as well, and the minivan stays with whoever is caring for the kids. When he’s home, there’s just a little bit more coordination, but on her off-time, it’s essentially hers, since my husband can just use my car. Where we live, though it’s pretty urban/ suburban, public transportation is not very good. I don’t think it would be fair to our au pair to not allow fairly free access to a car given where we live. We are moving to the metro DC area next month, and I will definitely be encouraging the use of public transportation, but for trips outside the metro area, our car will be available.

Jan June 2, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Love the name!

DarthaStewart June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

our car now has a curfew since an au-pair many moons ago who parked the car in a bad part of town repeatedly.

franzi June 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

in my first host family, the car had a curfew while i had not (on the weekends). because i was able to use public transport it wasn’t much of a problem but i did feel weird about it. i was told during the matching about my curfew (reason: be rested before i start work) but the car’s curfew was never mentioned. if there is a car curfew in place i think it is important to mention this as well!

in my second family neither i nor the car had a curfew but the fact that i was on such a short leash re: the car in the first family (i had to write down every mile i used the car with a detailed description of where the car was, also on personal trips even though i always would mention that i would be using the car for xyz reason and be back by abc) made me aware of using it in a proper manner. however, i’m sure you all know that it was a lot easier to stay over at a friends house (that my hosties knew) during the weekend because i was able to get there and back by myself.
i was never the “cluster driver” and if you don’t want your ap car to be used for this you should put it in the handbook and explain it to your ap when she arrives and once she has her american driving license.

HRHM June 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm

All it takes is one bad apple to spoil it for everyone else ! :) AP1 had no car rules. We lived in the mountains of PA and she routinely took the car for long weekends to DC. She also had her cluster meetings 55 miles away and would stay overnight with the car. We even paid for her gas because we were new and naive and wanted to keep her happy. Flash forward 8 months later to her lying about where she was going for the weekend, even when busted; getting the car impounded in DC and using OUR emergency credit card to get it out ($50) and not telling us or paying us back; and stealing us blind by taking cash back when buying gas – this in addition to all the other lying and stealing she did. So, now all the APs have a 25 mile limit, midnight curfew and have to pay for all their gas for personal use. I make exceptions, but I’m even stingier with those because I made an exception for AP2 to stay out late and then saw the youtube video of her and her visiting friend taking footage of each other dancing while DRIVING MY CAR! So, that was the first and last relaxation of the car rules for her. So far AP3 seems a little better put together, we’ll see what the next 9 months brings. But I have a feeling that the car rules ( and all the other restrictive practices in my HF handbook) are here to stay.

Should be working June 2, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Wow. So how do I go about searching for an AP’s video on YouTube??

cv harquail June 3, 2010 at 6:11 am

Yeah, HRHM– we want to know how you found that video?! cv

HRHM June 3, 2010 at 9:36 am

She was careless enough to leave it open on the desktop of DHs laptop!

Jan June 2, 2010 at 6:46 pm

No curfew for the car, but I think it’s important to make sure the AP can drive and to also make sure she understands signs like “No Parking” to keep the naughty car out of the impound lot.

Just received a flyer in the mail for AAA. Maybe I should join!

West Coast Mom June 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Yes … 11:00 pm every night.

KM June 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm

The car has a curfew. I do not want to get up in the middle of the night to rescue the au pair if the car breaks down, especially a work night. If I happen to be alone, sans dh on biz trip, it would mean waking up the kids to go fetch her. Don’t want her flagging down strangers either. The car is not that old. . .but who knows what can happen? Maybe it’s a flat tire. Sure, call AAA. But if it is more serious, then au pair needs a ride home. Could be an accident as well. So our house rule is car in the driveway by 10 p.m. on work night, midnight on weekends. Au pair can stay at a friend’s house overnight or entire weekend if friend is willing to pick her up. Our au pairs told us they thought this was fair.

Someone told me there is a device you can put on the car and it will track where the car is and relay it to your cell phone. Can also download where the car has been. Cell phone will beep if car is out of allowable range or at a place it’s not supposed to be. And cell phone can disable the starter so driver has to call. This sounds great for teens and au pairs.

Love the following. . .

Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.

Host Mommy Dearest June 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I love that bumper sticker too. We actually looked into that car tracker for our AP who was blowing off curfew and car curfew left and right, and not letting us know where she was going. It is not cheap, and our 6th AP was our first issue so we decided after 2 meetings with her that we would stop the madness and let her know it was her last warning before transition. Of course if she were a wonderful AP otherwise we would have sucked it up, but her disrespect of our rules was just another symptom of the attitude – I don’t care about you and I borderline care about your kids – so her rule breaking helped make for a smooth transition with no push back from the agency/LCC since I updated them on my conversations and warnings along the way. We could stick to rule breaking as our reason for transition and could stay away from the more emotional reasons that may have existed as well.

Should be working June 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Yes, it is another ‘transition tip’ to document (by email to LCC, for instance) every discussion with an AP about rules. Even a ‘good’ AP can go bad after some time, and the paper/email trail is a useful thing to have.

PA AP mom June 2, 2010 at 9:02 pm

We do not have a car curfew, but we do have a few restrictions. The AP must let us know either prior to going, or by text, if she is keeping the car out all night. If she is coming home, she is to be home by midnight on worknights and 3am on the weekends. Exceptions are handled on a case by case basis with us almost always saying “yes”.

We also don’t let the AP drive farther than 50 miles one way without prior permission. We have only said “no” once because our last AP wanted to park in downtown Philadelphia and we weren’t comfortable with that. She wasn’t the best driver, especially in parking situations. Had 3 accidents in our driveway.

Host Mommy Dearest June 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Our car (& AP) have a weeknight curfew of 11pm. Our car has a weekend curfew of midnight, but our AP can stay out until 1am if she does not have the car. The AP can stay overnight at a friend’s house for the night or weekend, but the car is not allowed to stay overnight. We ask her to let us know where she is taking the car, and generally when she expects to be home, and she can text us if her plans change dramatically. The car is definitely not more important than our APs safety. We also ask her to let us know her general plan even if she does not have the car in case something happens where we would need to know. We have a rule, similar to the one my parents had for me, where if our AP is somewhere and is no longer comfortable, or is supposed to get a ride home and doesn’t think the driver is fit or safe to drive, she can always call us no matter what time it is. We will help her, no questions asked (until later). So many unexpected (and not so unexpected) things can happen when the AP is out with the car. We have had 3 different APs leave a car interior light on (despite our warning) and discover a dead battery. DH had to go help jump the car in the movie theatre parking lot late at night (probably at quarter of midnight) one time, but I’m sure those calls would come at quarter of (insert curfew here) and it does stink to get out of bed to go jump a car but of course you are going to do it.

Sota Gal June 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Our naughty car also has a curfew on the weekends. Did I mention my DH doesn’t think any thing good happens after 1 AM??? :) We will not allow it to be out over night, largely because we share our family car with or AP’s and we always need our car on Saturday mornings. We make it very clear during matching that she will be sharing the FAMILY car and that the families need for the car will almost always trump any other activity. Our second vehicle is a king cab truck – its huge – and all of our AP’s have been overwhelmed by how big our minivan is that we won’t even consider letting them drive the truck, nor have none of them wanted to. Since our AP’s don’t have “their own” car we try to be flexible and use the truck on the weekends so that she can be out and about with friends, but for long trips the truck isn’t all that comfortable for the 5 of us (and sometimes the dog too and all the stuff that we need to haul along with us). Thankfully, many of the other AP’s in our area have their own cars and we try to explain to our AP that she gives money for gas and offers to drive when she can so as to not totally take advantage of her friends cars.

Funny story – AP #5 left us. Why? She wanted us to buy her her own car. Yes, she asked. Buh-bye!

M in NY June 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Thank you guys for making it a little bit clearer for me. I’m lucky enough to be able to have my own car and I can have it out all night if I want to, but now I get it more why people would want it home earlier.
I guess it’s better to have a car and a curfew than not have it at all…

NY host mom June 3, 2010 at 8:17 am

Exactly! A car is an expensive piece of machinery to purchase and to keep on the road (tires, maintenence, insurance, etc.). It should be appreciated and respected.

cna training June 3, 2010 at 1:28 am

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Melissa June 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm

We didn’t start out with any car curfew (newbie HF!), but we now have 2 full pages on car usage and maintenance in our handbook. We allowed our first AP to have the (dedicated AP) car out overnight whenever she wanted, but she did only occasionally and it was always to stay over at another APs house or at her boyfriend’s, so it was never an issue and worked out fine. We even allowed her to take it for the occasional long (4 hours away) trip because we trusted her and she was extremely mature and never tried to take advantage of anything. Also, we’re in a surburban area where everything is very spread out (most other APs are at least 30 mins away by car) and public transport is not great, so aside from driving the kids, the primary reason we have a car for the AP is to allow her to get around and help her have a fun year here. We tightened the reins with our 2nd AP because she became ‘the driver’ for several weekend trips (2-4 hrs away) with friends and we realized we didn’t want that much wear on the car and the risk of her breaking down far away, etc. Our current AP is quite the social butterfly and would use the car CONSTANTLY if we’d allow her, so we had to set some very specific boundaries. Like other posters said, it was MUCH more difficult to tighten the rules after she had been here and I absolutely hated having to be the bad guy and have yet another ‘conversation’ with her. So, now she has to have the car back by 11pm on weeknights (same as her curfew, if she is working the next morning). The car doesn’t have a curfew on weekends (and neither does she) – we’ve considered this, but we decided we’d rather have her stay out all night instead of hearing her come in and wake us up or exchanging cars in our driveway (which is narrow and difficult to navigate) at 2am, so we allow her to have the car out overnight on two out of four weekends a month. The other weekends she is expected to get a ride from friends (and we never see her on weekends unless we require her to be here to work). Even this I feel is too generous, as I don’t feel completely comfortable with our car out overnight, but I think it may be more related to the fact that I don’t know our current APs friends (most of whom are people she meets at bars/internet, I’m assuming, and not other APs), or fully trust the security of the areas where she is going. With our other APs who I knew were going out for a day at the beach and then the movies and staying over at another APs (i.e., another host family’s home, not some 20 year old guys apartment complex), I didn’t give it a second thought. We’re getting ready for our new APs arrival in a month and I’m changing the car rules to ‘no overnights’, except for special occasions or with advance permission. We also have a mileage limit on the car too (600-700 miles/month), which, again, came about as a result of our current AP constantly driving the car all over the places and racking up 1000 miles in less than a month.
My overall perspective is, we would love to NOT have a car curfew, but we would love to have an AP who doesn’t NEED a car curfew (i.e., mature, not a partier, good judgment, etc). We’ve learned through experience that that is not always the case, however.

AUPAIR Momma June 7, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Our aupair has no curfew and our car does not. I am thinking about this. She drove our car 3000 personal miles last mo. For our fam maybe 200 miles in the mo. Also she sleeps over her boyfriends house every night now. We feel kinda weird about this. But she is 21. And she says in Europe this is ok … socially liberal mindthought …. thinking about putting more rules for our next aupair. She is quite responsible but still not sure I like this type of arrangement. Thoughts?

DarthaStewart June 7, 2010 at 3:24 pm

3000 miles in a month is beyond excessive. I think anything over about 150-200 miles/week is too much, honestly.

Sota Gal June 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Wow, I would have went through the roof with 3000 miles in a month! You can certainly set limits for your car as you are responsible for its upkeep and wear and tear. As far as the rest goes it depends on what you are comfortable with. I know for me personally I wouldn’t be OK with it. For our family that AP program is to invite someone into our home and live with us as part of our family. I want someone who can be a good role model for my kids, someone who is a part of the family not an employee. IMO, someone who spends most nights with a BF is an employee. Why not hire a live out nanny instead???

Regardless of what is socially acceptable in her home country or even here for that matter, it is what you are comfortable with. I think back to when I was that age and living with a BF, I was not living under my parents roof – I lived with BF or on my own. I did not have the advantage of free room and board, free car with maintenance, etc, etc, etc. I would be ok with an AP spending the night with a BF if she didn’t have to work the next day (or in our case during the school year 3 days a week work begins at 3 PM) but I would draw the line there.

CS Nanny June 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

I disagree. If you have an AP who goes to her room at the end of her shift for the night, (or after dinner, etc) and you don’t see her anyway, how is she anymore a part of your family? All she is is physically in your home. It doesn’t make her any less of an employee if she wants to spend her free time alone.

PA AP mom June 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

I agree that if she spends all her time in her room then that’s not much different, but I wouldn’t go for that either. Some free time in her room would be fine, especially after her shift. If she is “in sight” for her shift only, then I’m not ok with that….that’s an employee, not a “family member” which is what we want.

If I am paying for her room and board (which I am), then I want her to be sleeping in our home at least most of the nights.

Host Mom in Phx October 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm

This is the discussion I was looking for. How do you “require” or can you that the AP spend time with the family. We are on our third AP and each of them has done the same things, after I get home from work, they head up to the their room or out. We rarely see them. I even have in the house rules that they are to have 2 dinners with us a week, but some excuse or other always comes up. How can I help them be part of the family? I keep thinking they just are tired of my kids after 8 hours, but then I may as well get a live out! I wanted some one to watch movies with us on a Sunday evening or want to try a new restaurant with us. Is that asking too much?

Taking a Computer Lunch June 7, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I agree – 3,000 miles a month is excessive. Where does this boyfriend live?

It’s very difficult to take away privileges once they been granted, but in this case I would call a meeting and tell her that you never anticipated so many miles going on the car.

Before sitting her down for chat, call your local AAA and ask them what they would consider reasonable annual mileage for a car not intended for commuting purposes, but casual around-town driving. (I’ve always been taught that 20,000 miles a year is average, but even our most free-wheeling au pair never put more than 12,000 miles on the car!) Once you have AAA’s number in hand, I recommend you make it your threshold. Sit her down and tell her that you never anticipated high mileage when you put no curfew on the car, and that in the future, anything over “X” means that she pays a percentage of the maintenance fees, because obviously the car will need the oil changed much more frequently, the mileage maintenance will occur sooner, etc.

If she’s driving so much, I wonder if in addition to her taking advantage of your generosity, her boyfriend is taking advantage of both of you!

The problem with a bad egg is that she makes it worse for the next au pair. I’ve been running through our handbook, which started out fairly free wheeling, and has gradually had more rules added. My least favorite rule that I had to add – don’t burn candles and leave your room. Duh!

CS Nanny June 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm

You can put a limit on how much driving is too much, and you can say you want her home on the nights that she has to work the next day. And yes, it is very common for younger people to sleep over at each houses. But if you want her to sleep at your home, then that is within your right. However, if it is her days off, or she doesn’t work the next day, then I personally feel that you do not have the right to dictate what she can or cannot do.

Should be working June 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Aupair Momma, sounds like what happened to me with our first AP. DEFINITELY you can limit the mileage on the car–why should you pay for extreme mileage? We tried 100 mi/wk as our limit. And yes, you can require her to sleep at your house before work. This may produce resentments, but then you can deal with those. Whatever her rules were in Europe, she’s in your house now. And next time for sure have those rules/curfews in a handbook, to be given in advance of matching.

AUPAIR Momma June 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Yes … I think during sun-thurs its best for aupair to sleep at our house and on weekend its her biz. I agree its a huge benefit to know your care will be avail. The original ‘rule’ was to let us know if she was going to be sleeping over anywhere at anytime but that never happened-as she started w/out mentioning and we didn’t say anything hoping it was kinda a passing thing. We didn’t say anything but its more and more. You know all -‘in love’. She comes back 15 min before shes supposed to start on duty in morning. I definitely feel like this will piss aupair off and dont know if its worth it.

My 2 cents June 8, 2010 at 8:38 am

That’s just it, how much does this behavior bother you and what level of impact does it have on her job performance? And are you willing to let her go if she cannot or will not accept your limits? This is what you need to know and be confident in before you set out or enformce new limitations since you know she will not like the change. But keep in mind that you and she signed up for a very different program and lifestyle than the European model she says, or you think, she had back home. That model is irrelevant. That’s not the goal of the au pair program and she knows it.

CS Nanny June 8, 2010 at 10:40 am

I am not sure whether or not the HF said she had to sleep at home during the week to begin with, but if they didn’t and it’s not affecting work performance, then I don’t think it would be fair to change things now.

My 2 cents June 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I respectfully disagree CS Nanny. The point and purpose of this program is very clear to all involved and the au pair actively volunteered and arguably solicited a host family and all that dynamic entails. The intention and the rules are that the young woman physically resides under your roof and is not for all intents and purposes using your address as a mail drop or for tax purposes. It is entirely fair to expect her to behave consistent with the goals and rules and spirit of the program, regardless of how much she is in love with her the current man in her life. It is not reasonable on the other hand, to sign up for this program, make a commitment to a family, and then expect to go and live with a boyfriend for all intents and purposes regardless of whatever rules your host family did or did not remember or know to put in black and white concerning frequent overnight stays somewhere else. If anything, that’s unfair.

Host Mommy Dearest June 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I agree with My $.02 here.

CS Nanny June 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Aupair Momma specifically said she hasn’t said anything to her AP. I am saying that if she isn’t telling the AP it bothers her, then the AP probably has no idea she is doing anything “wrong”. I had a bf when I was an AP, and spent many working nights at his house. But my employers could have cared less what I did so long as I showed up on time, and did a great job. The AP cannot read her HF’s mind. But I don’t think it’s fair that she has allowed it to go on this far, and then just change the rules of the game. The amount of time she wanted an AP to interact with the family during off hours should have been addressed in the beginning. But Aupair Momma, the whole car mileage thing is just ridiculous. There is no need to put that many miles on a car, especially for only personal time!

Host Mommy Dearest June 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Telling Aupair Momma that, because she has allowed it up to now, she can’t tell her AP that it needs to stop, is sort of like saying to APs (see recent French AP post) who let their HF do things to take advantage of them that they should not say “no” to or talk to their HF about changing it because they allowed it initially. Long sentence – similar premise.

Jane June 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm

We did not have a car curfew with our first au pair. We changed our minds the first week after she had a minor accident at 3:00 a.m. driving home and admitted she was too tired to have been driving. She was a mature girl, but at age 20, we do not always use our best judgement when we are out having fun. She had no problem when we then imposed a car curfew of 1:00 a.m. She did not have a curfew on weekends herself though–we said we would drop her off where she wanted to start her evening and she could spend the night at a friend’s house whenever she wished. If her friends drove her back at night, they had a bed to sleep in–I did not when those girls driving late at night either and putting themselves at risk. Accidents increase dramatically after midnight, especially with young drivers who are tired or distracted. We have sleep over guests frequently.

Our au pairs share a car with my husband, and he needs it for work. We do not want the car parked somewhere overnight and not know where it is. It is too necessary to our livelihood and it would be a major expense and inconvenience to replace it. I think the car is a privilege, not a right. Our au pairs have generous use of it–every weeknight and all weekend–but I want it parked in my driveway by 1:00 am every night. I too have had the call at 12:45 am that the car needs to be jumped, and it’s no fun going to the rescue when you have work the next day or kids that will be up at 6:00 am. I’ve made a few exceptions for movies letting out late for the most responsible au pairs.

NoVA Host Mom June 9, 2010 at 10:58 am

To this point, we have been fortunate (?) not to have a driving AP, but as our current would like to learn to drive for personal use, my husband and I have been discussing rules.

Yes, our car will have a curfew. We actually use it ourselves (to leave the minivan home with the children) and I need to know where it is and that it works. As with everything else we do, exceptions will be considered upon request, but whether that exception is granted will depend largely on the nature of the request and the maturity the AP has shown to that point. It is likely that the car will have an 11:00pm curfew on nights before work (the AP has a curfew of 8hrs prior to the start of her shift), and probably 12midnight on “weekends”. AP can be at the bars for last call if she wants, but my car is not allowed. Last thing my husband or I would want to do it put a little too much temptation of bar hopping and then driving with the thought that she “isn’t that drunk”. We see it too much at work and do not want it at home.

Our car will also have mileage and distance restrictions on it. Must stay in our state is a big one, and absolutely no driving into DC. I don’t drive there myself (always take Metro when going), so there is a snowball’s chance I would let someone with less familiarity of the area take it there.

LVJessica June 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

Our car has a curfew of 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. It is not an “au pair car.” It’s one of two my husband and I need regularly. We are usually able to flip around our schedule and needs so that AP can have the car when she needs. While we do not have mileage restrictions, we do request that the AP tell us where she is going with the car either by calling or texting (not while driving). This helps us keep track of what is going on with the car, and allows us to suggest better ways of using the car (e.g. not going 30 mins across town to get a friend AP only to go two minutes from our home the other direction with AP friend who has a car). We pay for the gas, so this is a way of keeping our costs down.

HMinPNW June 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Now I’m just griping– After AP #1, I decided I’d prefer to give the car a curfew from the outset (our car got a few bumps & bruises “mysteriously” when parked on the street overnight in the city), and then if the next AP(s) proved responsible, I would loosen the curfew as appropriate. Our 2nd (and last) AP was very responsible about it at first. Then she got a little sloppier (coming home at 4 or 5am). And a little sloppier (6am). So I said something to her. Then on her last night with us, we had planned to have some family time. We took her out for an early dinner, got back around 7pm. she immediately left to visit a friend (she was transferring to another local family– that part is all fine). When she hadn’t returned with the car at 7am, we first called, then text messaged, then left a “If we don’t hear from you in 10 minutes we’re calling the cops, because you’re clearly not okay”. She then called back and said she was “leaving then” to get back, but she still didn’t get back until 8:45. I was so angry– it just felt so rude. No good-bye time with the kids, clearly flaunting the car & overnight rules even after I had spoken with her about them… and on her last night with us.

She then had to ask me a favor to take her somewhere, and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, given how I was feeling at the moment) my parting words to her were “look, remember that your last impression with a host family is likely the lasting impression, so please try to remember that on your final days & nights with this new host family. I’m going to have to work hard for this to not be the first thing that comes to mind when I remember your time with us. Hopefully it’s not the same for the kids. “

Aria June 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Yikes!!! What an awful story, that’s a terrible way to leave a family!! It’s a shame that was your parting reminder about her. :/

Host Mom in Phx October 1, 2010 at 12:51 pm

So, it sounds like if the car has a curfew, and the AP abides by that, it is normall that they go out every night after they are done working? Does anyone not like that and want the AP to spend some family time or is that not the norm?

MommyMia October 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Host Mom in Phx, you’ll see tons of other postings about au pairs’ interaction with the family and the employer/employee relationship vs. part of the family expectations elsewhere on this site. Some APs do go out every night, others hang out at home – it all depends on their social network, how well they get along with the HF, etc. You should discuss your expectations up front, and expect that during their year here, they will make friends and want to get out and experience our culture.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 2, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I’d say “it depends.” In the 9 1/2 years I’ve been hosting, I’d say that the APs who didn’t work a 45-hour week full-time with toddlers were much more likely to stick around and eat dinner with us. I used to feed the kids dinner before making the adult dinner, and the AP was much more likely to eat with DH and I. We’ve had APs who took nearly a full-load of courses and were never around the dinner – they headed out to class the minute I walked in the door. I”ve had APs who spent every dime clubbing at the weekend and ate dinner with us during the weeknights as a result.

If your AP takes a powder, don’t feel insulted. She’s got a group of friends who are also working full-time. They want time to being young women in America – going to the gym, going to class, going for a walk, going out to eat with adults.

In my experience, APs are much more likely to stick around for the first few weeks, during the dark, cold nights of winter (although if Phx means Phoenix, you probably just have the dark part – comparatively speaking), and when they are broke.

If your AP shuns your dinner table, take a good hard look/listen to it. Are you shouting? Are you constantly reprimanding the kids? Do you include the AP in the conversation? Do you stop your kids if they interrupt an adult who is talking? If the dinner table is too chaotic, an AP might well run in the opposite direction.

If your AP is not working a 45-hour week and you want her company at the table, then schedule her for a couple of nights or ask her to prepare a meal for the family. (That’s how we got our last AP to sit at the table – she only liked the food from her native country, so we asked her to prepare it once a week.) We rarely eat meat in our house – but I can guarantee you, if my son asks for a barbecue and there’s steak involved – our AP will be there.

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