Au Pair Guidelines: What’s a reasonable curfew? (Poll)

by cv harquail on June 2, 2010

Do you have a curfew for your au pair on nights before she or he is scheduled to be on duty?

201006020810.jpgMany Host Parents find that they need to be explicit about what time their au pair should be home, to make sure that she or he is ready to go the next morning. They have an explicit “weeknight” curfew for these evenings before work days.  Other families also have curfews for nights before their au pair will be off duty (otherwise called here: Weekend Nights.)

We haven’t had a specific curfew, just a comment in our Handbook that our au pair should be home one hour before going on duty and that she should be well-rested. Then again, we’ve never had an issue with an au pair staying out so late, all the time, that she couldn’t do her job well.

What do you do about curfews in your family?

Do you have a curfew for your Au Pair?

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If you have a curfew, is it for:

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If you have a Weeknight Curfew, is it:

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If you have a WeekEnd Curfew, is it:

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Let’s talk about curfews on cars in this post: Does your car have a curfew?

What kinds of Au Pair curfews do you think are reasonable, or unreasonable, for the night before a work day?

‘sota Gal notes:

Our work night curfew is 8 hours before AM work, and no curfew on the weekends (unless she works in the AM).

PA AP Mom:

We ask the AP to be in by 11pm on weeknights (before a morning shift).  That’s 8 hours before the shift starts.  On weekends, we ask for 3am, unless they have plans to stay overnight somewhere.  In that case, we ask for a text, letting us know that she won’t be coming home so we don’t worry.

All of our times are negotiable for special events, occasions, etc.

Image: When you look out the window it’s...from MMN-o

{ 72 comments }

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 10:25 am

As an AP, I never had a curfew. For weeknights or weekends. But I was also 22, and had been on my own and working/going to college for a while. I knew how late I could stay out and still do a great job the next day. I also knew there would be hell to pay if I was too tired, grumpy, etc, to do my job. When I have an AP, I will not give a curfew with the provision that if I feel they are abusing the privledge or cannot work properly the next day, I will be forced to issue a curfew. However, if you go with the curfew route, I think between 11pm-midnight on nights they have to work the next day is fair. And no curfew on their time off.

PA AP mom June 2, 2010 at 10:37 am

We tried the “no curfew” last year with our first AP. When we caught her sleeping on duty for the 4th time, we imposed a curfew. She was furious!!

I think it is easier to impose a curfew and then relax it than it is to not have one and then try to add one when things get out of control.

HRHM June 2, 2010 at 10:25 am

We have an “8-hour before start” work night curfew which we are reasonable about making exceptions to on a case by case basis. In addition, on every day, weekends included, our car has a midnight curfew which means if she plans on being out late or overnight on the weekend, she needs to make alternate transportation plans.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 10:43 am

I guess it depends on the age, maturity level, and personal responsiblity of the AP. I personally would have never gone to a family who imposed a curfew because I feel that if you trust me with your child/ren, then you should trust me to make sure I am physically and mentally prepared to do so. But I do understand that that is not the case with every AP. And I think that is sad!

StephinBoston June 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

We have a curfew, I think it’s more of a reminder to the au pair that 1) she lives in your house and quiet or not, someone will notice when she gets home and wake up, whether it’s the parents, the kids or the dog. 2) she has to be well rested before work.
So we ask them to be home by 12AM every weekday night and we don’t have a curfew on weekends, that being said my APs work 8-5pm most days and very rarely work weekends. This year AP didn’t work Wednesday morning and Friday mornings so if she wanted to come in a little later on the nights before those days, I have been fine with it. And I agree with PA AP Mom, it’s much easier to set the rules and then be lax when you want to be. I share ALL this info with my APs before we match, that way I don’t get a frustrated, annoyed AP when she gets here since it’s old news to her already. It also helps to match with APs who are OK with the concept right off the bat. Oh and this applies to all APs, all my APs have been 22 up to 26 and have all been fine with it. Another thing is, we as host parents teach by example, when we do go out during the week, we are back by 12AM. I also need to be rested to be able to work :-)

AnonHM Europe June 2, 2010 at 10:48 am

We just want to know what time the AP plans to be back and ask for texting/calling in case of changing plans. These are adults – I would feel bad to tell another adult when to be back home. We never had an issue so far with APs being late for work or too tired. One of them sometimes had a hard day getting through her workday but the kids were well taken care off – no exception. By now our APs are never scheduled “seriously” before noon – it is appreciated if they help for breakfast but no drama if they don’t. If they get up in time to eat with us, they usually go back to sleep after cleaning up until noon (speaking of a meaningful break – 4 hrs. sleep :-)) If they don’t get up, they can do the cleaning later – since nobody is at home no one is bothered by the dishes…

My 2 cents June 2, 2010 at 10:56 am

We have a weeknight curfew of 11 p.m. and, since we are not comfortable with anyone, let alone a younger woman from a foreign country, driving our cars late at night with other drivers 90% of which are returning home from a night out, we have a “car” curfew of 1 a.m. on weekends. This has worked out really well for us, perhaps because our au pairs have been on the younger side and haven’t had regular access to a car; perhaps because I know many of the host parents in our group have similar rules; perhaps because we are just lucky and have au pairs that appreciate regular vehicle access. We have granted exceptions for special occasions and overnight stays at another au pair’s home.

CCDC Mom June 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

We had an 11 pm work-night curfew for our first 9 au pairs, all of whom would begin work between 7 and 7:30 am. The rest of the time we did not impose a curfew but asked that they be quiet if they returned late and let us know if they expected not to come home. None of them abused the curfew, and none seemed to find it overly restrictive. There were times when one or another would request a relaxation, and I never had a problem saying yes. We are also liberal about having guests over (including boyfriends), so I don’t think the au pairs found our rules too strict in general. This year I opted to get rid of the curfew, in large part due to posts on this site that made compelling arguments for recognizing the au pairs as responsible adults who should be able to make their own decisions regarding how late to stay out before work. I am SO SORRY I did it! This year’s au pair is 23 and has lived away from home for several years, but she is also one of the least mature of our au pairs (most of whom have been 19 or 20). She regularly stays out until 3 or 4 am, sleeps for a few hours, and slides out of bed to get the kids off to school. Like some other posters, I am familiar with the melted makeup look and the monosyllabic grunts that have become routine. It’s awkward to ask her to do anything in the morning (and unfortunately it’s usually the best time for me to remember to do it). After bringing the kids to school, she returns home and then sleeps until 3 pm when it’s time to pick her up. Since she does get up and get the kids to school on time, I have little basis at this point for complaint. But in the future, I know I do not want another au pair like this one living in my home (yes, there are other reasons as well), so I have reinserted the work-night curfew in my handbook with a clear explanation of why it is there. I always share my handbook prior to matching, so all prospective au pairs would be aware of it. Bottom line is that it will weed out au pairs who think the curfew is unreasonable, and that is fine with me.

MommyDearest June 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Uh-oh. Sounds like you got our previous rematch/extension au pair (except if your name is also your geographic area, maybe not, as ours is in a northeast state, but not DC)! So sorry to hear that someone else is having the same experience we had, which is why we now have an improved handbook (thanks to this site) and a curfew, which can be relaxed on a case-by-case basis, but as others have stated, difficult to impose after the fact.

Anna June 2, 2010 at 11:12 am

We have a curfew of 8 hrs before starting work the next morning, and none on days when she is not working next morning. If she is not making it home on time for some reason, or if she is planning to stay out overnight on a weekend, we ask for a phone call to reassure us of her safety. I think it is perfectly reasonable and shows we care.

To the au pair who wouldn’t match with a family who has a curfew. The curfew is there for those who want to ignore it. My mature and responsible au pairs had no problem with it, their responsible nature brought them home on time or earlier independent of the curfew. The only girl who tried to consistently ignore it, was the one who needed it. So I look at it as a safeguard for those “bad apples” or not-so-ripe apples figuratively speaking. :) Also, you will have a hard time finding a family without a curfew (except maybe a novice), because it has become standard advice that agencies and counselors give to families.

Another reason for the curfew is that I want my au pair to live with us. She is free to stay out weekends at her boyfriend’s, but I don’t want her to live there and come to my home only to work. I will feel used, my home used as a hotel, the program and my family and children used to set up her life here in America. I signed up for this program to have a young person from another country to live in MY house, and to build a relationship with my family. It cannot happen if she doesn’t sleep here most of the time.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 11:18 am

I was already an AP in Europe for 3 years, and worked for 3 different families. Never once did I find a family who even considered a curfew, so no, I dont’ think it is a difficult as you seem to think. I have 3 glowing letters of recommendation from all the families. But I think the AP system and expectations are extremeley different between here and there.As I said before, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on a curfew. And not all of us who wouldn’t work for a family with one are “bad apples” or have poor judgement. It’s the complete opposite.

PA AP mom June 2, 2010 at 11:56 am

And just as you say you wouldn’t work for a family with a curfew, I wouldn’t hire an AP who balked at the idea of one.

Our current AP has never even come close to the curfew. She is a mature and responsible AP and is a valued member of our family.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

There you go. To each his own, and that is how it should be. :)

NJnanny May 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm

you seem to suggest that only APs that don’t argue with a curfew are mature and responsible. I disagree! I’m nearly 25 and have been working as a nanny for almost 5 years, the last 4 of which have been with the same family. I have never had a curfew with them and would be insulted if they tried to instate one. I work breakfast to bedtime, monday through friday, with two school-aged children and stay out past midnight on at least Fri, Sat, and Sun and occassionaly (albeit, rarely) during the week. I am always up and running in the mornings to get them off to school. Do I sometimes get back in bed after drop-off? yes. but so what? I have one AP friend who has the same work schedule as I do with school-aged children. She’s 22 and has a curfew and we all think it’s silly.

Anna June 2, 2010 at 11:26 am

CS nanny,

Europe and its au pair program are different, I think you should’ve mentioned it in your very first response in order not to mislead us.

About not going to a family with curfew, I still disagree. I don’t think twice before taking a job that has defined work hours, rules of personal conduct, etc.; how is that so different? And my job is not even with kids, but yet it asks me to uphold a certain personal ethical standard. It is better to have it written down, than as an unwritten expectation.

I bet if an au pair in Europe showed up past midnight every day and was sleepy every working morning, her family would have asked her to be home by a certain hour. Any responsible parent would. I don’t see a difference having it all written out in advance. Agencies in America encourage families to have a “handbook” of au pairs with all the expectations written out; this is part of it. Again, please don’t compare to Europe, you are comparing apples and oranges.

Amelie ex au pair June 2, 2010 at 11:34 am

I used to have a 12am curfew during the week, which was good cause reminded me to keep an eye on the clock!

But my host parents never reinforced it, and I’m sure they’d be open for exceptions.

Au Pair in CO June 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I don’t have a curfew. I have a boyfriend who lives about 10 miles away, and often spend the night there, before driving home the next morning (I’m always home at least 30 minutes before I start working). I talked about this with my host mom to make sure it was okay, before I stayed out overnight the first time. She seems to have noticed that I’m actually better rested and in a much better mood when I’ve been sleeping there, so she’s not complaining about it:P

WasTooSoftAPMom June 11, 2010 at 2:16 am

I am strongly considering a curfew because my old AP had a boyfriend once and started staying away and coming home straight from his for work. She constantly started having unprotected sex and texting to say she was at the hospital for emergency contraceptive every now and again. Made me orry as I am the responsible adult of her wellbeing and safety. My current AP doesn’t discuss much about her personal life but I can see she is now seriously dating and has ‘totally’ lost focus with the family. Totally!! My summer AP will have a curfew and even if she got a boyfriend they can see each when she doesn’t have to work the next day. I also do not want to explain to my kids why and where she is if she’d visit her boyfriend and sleeping over; I think this is not examplery to the kids even if the AP is an adult. Yes, she also comes back in a better mood, obviously BUT also extremely anxious and impatient to get back to him; on Skype and emailing in her room which has become uncontrollable. It’s not visible to the AP how it’s affecting her work and we now, we have to talk. It’s a horrible situation because I want her to be in a relationship and be happy ‘but’ to remained focussed. :(

Taking a Computer Lunch June 11, 2010 at 6:56 am

It sounds like you need to have a chat with your AP and maybe a discussion about the appropriate time to return for work, and appropriate use of the computer during working hours (I wouldn’t worry about it after hours unless it prevents her from making good use of her AP experience outside of work.) Tell her how happy you are to see her come home in a good mood, but if you don’t see it translating into taking better care of your kids it’s a problem.

But why wait for the next AP. Our rule book clearly states, be on time, be prepared, act pleased to see the kids, but beyond that our APs know how much sleep they need. When they start sleeping the 6 hours they have off between shifts, I gently remind them that there is a lot to do in our city during that time, without telling them not to party all night.

Anna June 2, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Please tone down the emotions.
Where did I say anything about MY ethical standards? I said the company I work for has a formal code of conduct I am supposed to follow.
I have no problem with au pairs who won’t match into the family with a curfew; to me it is a red flag anyway, and a sign of immaturity and lack of understanding. I am not forcing anybody to be my au pair. And I have no problem finding great au pairs who are happy to come live with my family, curfew and all. So I am not going to change my rules despite how you feel about them.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Honestly, I don’t care at all what you do with your family or how you run your household. You know what is best for your family. All I did was give my opinion on the thread, and you were the one who took what I said and attacked it because you didn’t agree and were rude. The whole purpose of this is to share different viewpoints and opinions. I find you to be extremely closed minded to other’s point of view if they differ from yours.

Anna June 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I have read that part (about Europe), but it was not in your first post about curfews.

Should be working June 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

As I’ve written elsewhere, with our first AP (age 25) I felt uncomfortable giving curfews. And then she started coming home at 6:55am with smeared makeup and in her night-out clothes, and that is how she would begin work and bring the kids to school (I will confess to being embarrassed at the thought of the other parents seeing her).

With the transition, I imposed a midnight weekday curfew and no weekend curfew. The car, however, has a midnight curfew every night. Exceptions could be granted occasionally with discussion in advance. This works much better–but I think it’s really just we have a more committed au pair.

I will keep the curfew on the books if we ever get another AP. It just keeps things clear for any incoming AP that we have structure and expect them to as well.

PA AP mom June 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I’m with you “should be working”. I’m not sure if my curfew makes the difference this time around or if it is just that I picked a more mature, responsible AP this time around.

HRHM June 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I have the same take on this. When I didn’t have these rules, when things got out of hand and I tried to reign them in, all of a sudden I was the bad guy, changing the rules. Now, when I tell them at the first conversation what some of the rules are and email the HF handbook with ALL the rules clearly stated before we decide to match, it acts as a prescreen to weed out the party girls who won’t be “told how to live”. In addition, we talk about the rules and I get some perspective on how her thought process works. My current AP ( who is working out great) said essentially that she was ok with the curfew because I would see she was responsible and then I would be able to relax. So, she understood exactly how the system is supposed to work for both of us, without my even having to tell her.

CCDC Mom June 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I would just ask you to consider that every au pair is different, and that while you may feel confident in your own ability to make judgment calls with respect to the hours you keep, not every au pair may have that same ability. In addition, there may be many au pairs who are wonderful people and trustworthy with the children, but who may have other maturity issues that a HF has a legitimate interest in, particularly given that the au pair will live in their home. There are lots of au pair candidates out there, and both the au pairs and the families are trying their best to find the best fit possible with one another. When HF make rules, they are trying to set expectations so that each party can decide whether the relationship will be a good one and the values and lifestyle that each has are mutually agreeable–not everyone has the same definition of responsible behavior. You state that you would never work for a family that has a curfew. Of course that is your right, and I would venture that it would probably not be a good match if you did. But I feel it’s a good idea for both parties to be clear about what’s important to them right at the beginning as it prevents misunderstandings and resentment later on. I would personally rather state my work night curfew expectations up front than have to backtrack after too many late nights because I assumed our au pair’s standards were the same as mine. It’s fair to her and fair to me.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

And that’s great. As I have stated many times before, if I had an AP who couldn’t function the following day because of no sleep or whatever, I would put a curfew in place in a heartbeat. I’m not sure why everything, to that regard, as been completely ignored.

Should be working June 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

CS, the problem I encountered is that there was BIG resentment from the AP when I imposed a curfew or made changes to the rules I had initially laid out during matching. Of course there were good reasons for those changes and the new curfew–AP was sleepy, grumpy, and smeared with last night’s makeup during her morning shift. But ultimately the resentment that she developed was part of what led to transition.

I think now that imposing a curfew from the get-go means that I might (and only might) avoid the problem of an AP coming to resent what she perceives as ‘new rules’ that she perceives as ‘unfairly’ added to the rules I showed her when we matched. But of course we might have been headed to rematch in any case.

I think a HM’s own experiences might have a part in whether she decides to lean toward “treating as an adult and making modifications later if it doesn’t work” or instead toward “setting up a structure that prevents resentments building up later in case treating-as-an-adult fails”.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I am sure it was very difficult. I know there was a few times that I got comfortable over the years, and was *gently* reminded of my commitment to the family, and it irritated me, at first. I think that is human nature. But hopefully the AP is mature enough to realize that she created that situation. And I stated before, I do understand why a HF would implement a curfew.

CCDC Mom June 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Yes, I understood that. My response to your point is that I feel it is more fair to everyone to set expectations up front than backtrack later, as the latter has a greater likelihood of hurt feelings and resentment. What may seem perfectly reasonable or obvious to me (coming in at 3 am on a regular basis and unable to communicate effectively in the morning does not make an ideal employee), may not be viewed the same way by my au pair (as long as I get the kids to school on time why does anyone care?). Of course no one can know in advance all of the things that may need to be addressed between families and au pairs in the course of a year, but I would rather try to clarify what’s important to me beforehand than have to retroactively impose a restriction after it turned out we were not on the same page. It avoids each party feeling the other has been unreasonable (again, one person’s personal opinion of “functioning” may be very different than someone else’s). Information benefits both sides, especially since assumptions about reasonable behavior vary widely.

CS Nanny June 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm

It must be incredibly frustrating to think you have hired someone great only to have that kind of stuff pulled. I don’t understand it. When I was an AP (and my AP friends as well), I would never have thought to do any of this stuff! From lying, sneaking around, coming in an hour before your shift starts, etc. It’s just unprofessional.

My 2 cents June 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Yep, horrible !

This is exactly why a lot of us at least intially impose and forewarn of a curfew and other restrictions that may seem — especially across the pond where life may be more relaxed and where almost all au pairs are mature by nature — silly and childish. It also makes it a whole lot easier if you have to try to reign in a wild au pair or want to go into transition and avoid push back from your agency or counselor. The lines are white and black and everyone knows where they are.

Au Pair in CO June 3, 2010 at 1:57 am

Why is it unprofessional coming in an hour before your shift starts? As long as the au pair is well rested and ready to do her job, I really don’t see the problem. (Of course, if the au pair is like what “Should be working” describes, it’s a problem, but staying out overnight doesn’t always mean drinking/partying/not getting any sleep.) Does anyone else here show up to their job more than an hour before their shift starts?

StephinBoston June 3, 2010 at 8:49 am

Au Pair in CO: I’ll speak for myself here… One of the many reasons I got an au pair is to get away from problems with my caregiver NOT being home in time because she didn’t wake up, got stuck in traffic, car broke down, dog ran out, and the list goes on… So the one thing that’s very important to me is to know what my au pair will be in the house when I need her to be and not stuck somewhere else.

CS Nanny June 3, 2010 at 9:06 am

I’m a live-in nanny who spends 5 out 7 nights at my boyfriend’s. I came home about 30 minutes before my boss leaves. I don’t see a problem with it. I’m well-rested, and ready for the day. I meant more along the lines of girls who come in an hour before their shift starts hungover, tired, cranky, etc. I also occasionally spent the night at a friends on a work night when I was an AP, and came home an hour or so before my shift started. Again, I was well-rested and ready to work. But if I had been anything of the above that I described, that would have been wrong and a big issue.

Au Pair in CO June 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Thanks CS Nanny, that is exactly the way I see it too. As long as I’m rested, always on time, and my host parents have okay’ed it first, I don’t see a problem:)

Melissa June 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I agree that coming in an hour before your shift starts isn’t unprofessional, and would actually be a little odd to show up that early, in a typical job. But, being an au pair isn’t at all a typical job. You are living with a family, and of course it is first and foremost a job, but it is also about integrating and experiencing American family life, a different culture, attending school, etc. For most host families, all of those things are an important reason why we chose an au pair vs. a live-out nanny. While I certainly don’t want to control my au pair’s free time, one of the benefits for me of the program is that I do get the extra level of security knowing a little about the personal life of the person who cares for my kids. I do see her as more than just ‘the babysitter’ who shows up for work and leaves when her shift is done. Otherwise, it feels a bit like we’re just providing a job and a bed when she needs one.

NJMom June 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

It’s funny, all of my AP’s said they were happy to read my “rules” including a curfew in my matching information when they were still at home because it showed that I “cared” about her arrival and that I had given my house rules thought. None of my AP’s have been from Western Europe and all had been living with their parents when they arrived here so I’m sure they had a different perspective. I would never match with an AP who was worried about a curfew. Similarly I didn’t match with the AP who asked only where the nearest “disco” was in our town! I know a party girl AP would be a disaster for my family so this is a good screening tool for MY family.

Hula Gal June 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm

We started out with no curfew for our au pairs. But our current au pair (age 25), whom we are very happy with overall, started coming in at 2 or 3 in the morning on weeknights. The dog would bark and wake me up and she was getting tired during the day, and getting sick. She does not have great self control when it comes to socializing and spending money. So we decided we needed to impose some restrictions. We put her on a 10:30 curfew on worknights, since that is the time my husband and I go to bed. She wasn’t thrilled at first but has never stayed out past the curfew and she has never complained to us about it. She has also been more energetic and more healthy since we starting requiring this. We have decided to keep the curfew in place and put it in our handbook. If an au pair doesn’t want to match with us because we have a curfew that is ok with us. But we are very upfront about it so she knows about this restriction before she decides to match.

MommyMia June 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I’m with you, Hula Gal. Nothing worse than to have just fallen asleep and then hear the garage door (unfortunately underneath our bedroom) open and then keys being loudly dropped on the counter, door into the house slammed, then the door to her bedroom slammed. Luckily, we don’t have a dog, but one of our kids is a light sleeper, too, and is very cranky when has not slept well. Yes, we’ve shown the AP how to gently close the door (a necessary skill when exiting a sleeping toddler’s bedroom, unless you want to be up there for another hour trying to get him back to sleep!) but she seems incapable of mastering this for some reason. She’s been great about everything else, though, so I have learned to live with it.

Az. June 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm

If I’m going to be 100% honest here, while I don’t necessarily DISAGREE with a curfew I think 10.30 is slightly ridiculous for an adult. That was my curfew when I was about 12! I totally get that she abused your trust in coming in that late before, but wow…10.30?! Out of curiosity, if the agencies in the US endorse work-night curfews – is there a recommended time they think you should set?

Jan June 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm

No curfew on week nights or for the the car. I just remind the au pair at the beginning that she is mature enough to know when she needs to be home so she can be well-rested to watch the kids. If this turned into a problem, however, I sure wouldn’t hesitate in telling the au pair that I was disappointed in her behavior and that I felt she needed to be home a little earlier. I also like for the au pair to tell me or write down where she is going, who with, and when she thinks she’ll be back so I can be on the look out for her. I should mention that 10 p.m. is late for me to be up and am a very heavy sleeper so I’d probably need the au pair to punch in on a time clock so I could keep track of her!

Future AuPair June 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I’m Spanish, and I was an Au Pair in England las summer. I didn’t have a curfew, not during the weekdays nor during the weekend nights, I can’t think of a single weekday night that I came home after midnight (even 11 pm), spending all day with the kids (4 boys) was exhausting, and I found out that all I wanted to do during the night was being calm watching a film with the HF, reading a book or maybe going for a coffe or a movie with friends. I never spent the night at a friend’s house, but I would have texted o phoned if so. I did go out some nights on the weekends (when i didn’t have to work next day), but I was mature and responsible enough to be quiet, so no one would be waken up), and I can say that many mornings (when I wasn’t working) some of the kids would come to my room at 7 am to ask for breakfast or a diapers change, and I wasn’t able to say “no, i’m not working, ask your mum”, because they were like lil’ brothers to me, so even if I was tired, or only had 2 hours asleep, I would get up and help them, It is just an example of how you can combine responsability, being mature, respectful and have nights out with friends. After a few weeks, my friends (who were local) and I decided that it was best for us to spend one night out (on weekends), usually fridays, spend saturdays resting and enjoying family life, and making short trips on sundays (to local zoos, museums, open-air concerts), that way we were able to have some night fun, family quality time and “interesting” and fun things to do on sundays, with the added that we were completly rested and full of energy next morning for work.
So, it dependes on the AP’s maturity and responsability, it’s sad to say that there are many girls (who can’t be called women or even “young ladies”, that only want to be an au pair to party and meet people and boyfriends (wich is fine to do in an appropiate amount of dosis), but don’t realize that they have to work, a really hard work, and are expected to do it great.
I wouldn’t have a problem matching with a HF that has a reasonable curfew, it will show me that they care, and these way they can see my responsability level and be able to relax themshelves.
IMO, it’s all about balance.
PS: Sorry about my spelling, it’s being a while since I last wrote in english.

West Coast Mom June 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm

We have a weeknight curfew of 11 pm … mostly because, the way our house is set up, it would be impossible for AP to come home without disturbing HM/HD, and we really need our sleep. I’m up front in interviews about this.

As for weekends … we had a curfew this past year with disaster AP (see previous posts), and although this may seem odd given our experience, we decided *not* to have one this year, with a caveat. During the first month, while we are all getting to know each other, we’d like AP to come home by midnight. After the first month (and after which – we hope – that we’ve established a relationship of trust and respect, there will be no weekend curfew. We just figured it was not reasonable to ask a 20 year old (ish) young woman to come home by midnight every weekend, and didn’t want to lose good candidates because of it.

We do, however, have a car curfew of 11 pm every night. We will consider informally relaxing this on weekends, but not – I suspect – by much. We, and esp HD, feels strongly that nothing good will come of late night driving.

And, like many of you, we would never hire someone who had issues with a weeknight curfew.

some Au Pair June 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Honestly, I can understand why some parents choose to give there Au Pair a curfew!

BUT, I think if the Au Pair is to inmature to make sure that she had enough sleep to do a good job, writes text messages while driving, makes a big mess in the kitchen and leaves if for you to clean up, (etc…) and is not able to change her behavior after a good talk… then I would not want her to take care of my kids.

If I cannot trust her to get enough sleep for work, how can I trust her to be patient with my 9 month old daughter and give her enough food or trust her to drive my 5year old twins to soccer, piano and chinese and organises a snack in between while making sure that the 9year old arrived savely at his playdate???

If I cannot trust her with little things, I am sure not giving her the four biggest “things” in my life to take care off.

Jennifer June 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm

We have a 10 pm curfew during the week. Our boys are up at 6:30 am and if the ap showed that she wasn’t tired and grumpy the next morning I would consider extending it. But that never happened. I don’t want to wake up to a grump the next morning and it’s not fair to my kids either!

We are also flexible that if there was a reason to be later then usual I am okay with it. But not on a regular basis.

Our weekend curfew is 12:00. Actually that’s the car’s curfew. So far hasn’t been a problem.

Sota Gal June 2, 2010 at 9:58 pm

As first time host parents it had never even occurred to us to impose a curfew on our AP. Our car did – HD firmly believes that nothing good happens after 1 AM and he refuses to have our family car out after 1 AM (which also means early nights for us as well). W/AP #1, even before her arrival we had talked at length about trust, common sense and using good judgement. Thankfully it was never an issue. After she left, we had to institute the 8 hours before AM work curfew. I know how draining my kids are for me, and I want to make sure that those we are entrusting to help raise them are well rested, fun and energetic to get through the day.

AP#3 was in rematch and we had heard that the main cause of rematch was the AP’s busy “social schedule” which did concern us, but not enough to sway our decision. We should have know better…. We imposed tight curfews (even on weekends), made clear our stance on under age drinking and drinking and driving. Our biggest reason for a curfew is to allow our kids to sleep (seems like they turn into light sleepers after 2 AM so if you’re not home by then, you’d best plan on staying at a friends until after 7 AM and texting us to let us know where you are) and to avoid them having to see the AP “walk of shame” in the AM or a hang over. For this we have very personal reasons and we make it clear with our AP’s what both DH and I have experienced growing up around drug and alcohol abuse. We also beg our AP’s to make sure there is a designated driver if there will be drinking and let her know that she MUST call us if she or whoever was supposed to drive is unfit to do so; calling us will not result in a loss of driving privileges. Since AP #3 we have kept these rules in place with ok feedback from our AP’s and very rarely bend the rules.

Chev June 3, 2010 at 2:02 am

I’ve had a curfew with both my host families in my first year in 04 and then this time round. With the first family i was 19 and was expected home by 11 on work nights, if i wanted to stay out later i had to ask in advance, which i did twice and it was fine. this time round i was 23 when i came over and had a midnight curfew on work nights, but that disappeared awhile ago. I’ve been with my family for 16 months now and so they trust me to know how much sleep i’ll need to get in order to be able to be bubbly and attentive for the ten hour work day.

I think host families need to start off strict with all rules, not just curfew. It’s much better as an au pair to have restrictions lifted than it is to have them imposed after you’ve been here awhile.

Previous Au Pair June 3, 2010 at 5:46 am

I honestly dont understand why If an au pair was working the next day would want to be out after 12! when i was an au pair i always aimed being home at around 11 on weekdays
Being tired the next day will not be enjoyable for you or the children..

Sota Gal June 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

Its great that you can realize that for yourself and your host kids! Responsible au pairs like you are such a gem for host families.

CS Nanny June 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

I was the same way. Unless I was sleeping at a friends or whatever, I was in bed by 11pm. lol. Dealing with kids all day is a hard job, and one needs to be well-rested for it!

Sofia, Future Au Pair June 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I agree with you, even if I wasn’t in bed by 11pm i was surely asleep on the couch “watching” tv.

Aupairgal June 11, 2010 at 5:42 am

I’m also surprised that some of these girls have the energy to go out after a day of work. The extent of what my body will let of me ‘going out’ is on Thursdays in which I go do sports and then afterwards go drink a beer with my sports group…and I only work 30 hours a week!
Also, while it is not expected of me, the kids of course know where I sleep, and if HF and HM have to leave earlier for some reason and the kids wake up too early(which is rare but has happened), they know where I am and usually holler for me.

Lisa, PA HM June 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

We were told by our LCC that we could not give an au pair a curfew, as they are adults.

HRHM June 3, 2010 at 9:49 am

First of all, there is nothing in the State Dept regulations that address the curfew and home rulea stall. Secondly, ask her to show you, where in your contract it states that you can’t. If she can show you this, I’d be shocked and amazed. Thirdly, it’s your house and you can require that anyone living there come and go on a schedule you dictate (as long as it’s reasonable). When we have family here visiting from out of town, they need to be back in before midnight because they will wake us when they come in. The alarm keypad is in my bedroom and beeps when the alarm is set LOUD. So my 78 year old Dad would be asked to be back in at a reasonable hour.

She may disagree with setting curfews, but that’s her opinion, not a program rule as far as I know.

Melissa June 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I agree, I don’t think it’s a program or agency rule (at least none of the three agencies we’ve worked with). More of an issue of reasonableness. And I also agree that because it is your house, you can set whatever household rules work for you (again, within reason).

Host Mommy Dearest June 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm

My agency posted sample handbooks and I believe there were curfews in some of them. When I was away at college (and the same age range as most APs) I was on my own and did what I wanted. When I returned home for a month during Christmas break or for the summer, I still had a curfew. “My roof, my rules” applied to me then, and that applies to my APs now. Only one of many APs has had a problem with the rules, and our family and taking care of our kids was very low on her priority list…so we went into transition – not a moment too soon. If your LCC is new or off the charts advocating on au pairs’ behalves I suggest you contact your agency for an accurate picture of appropriate rules.

Busy Mom June 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Lisa, Our LCC strongly encourages that her families set a curfew. I didn’t think that we would because we never had to for our live-in nannies. However, a key difference is that we were always able to speak to multiple references for each nanny and could establish that they were energetic and on time for their jobs. So, we have a curfew in our handbook and I do think it helps weed out less mature au pairs because those who are sufficiently mature look at an 11:30 worknight curfew and say to themelves “so what? With a 6 a.m. start time the following morning, I’m not going to be out that late anyway.”

CS Nanny June 3, 2010 at 8:50 pm

For me, that’s not the reaction at all. It would be, I’m X age, and she doesn’t trust me to know that I need enough sleep to care properly for her kids? I guess it just doesn’t seem like rocket science. But I do understand that not all AP’s have common sense or are responsible. But that would make me wonder what else they wouldn’t trust me with. But I already know I’m in the minority with that thinking.

AnonHM Europe June 4, 2010 at 3:01 am

I’m just wondering…
As I said before, we never had a curfew for our APs and it worked well. If an AP is not mature enough to figure how to start work well rested, for me it’s a point of rematch (looking for a new AP, as we don’t have a rematch-concept like in the US). As a matter of fact, we had this problem about not being well rested before: Not socialising in person but virtual: chatting all night with friends and relatives (our APs being from South-America, so evening-hours of the natural familie are early morning-hours for our girls…). So some of the families I know just shut down the Internet-Connection by midnight on workdays – like a curfew. Others (like us) told them that we expect them to be well rested in the morning and more or less cheerful (fitting the rest of the family). Either they adapted and stopped being up all night – or they had to leave our family due to different life-styles. Living in my house means adjusting to our customs.

So what I read in your above discussion is: All agree that a person taking care of kids must be reasonably rested to do a good job. Some families and APs believe that this is so normal that they don’t want to put it in a handbook, others believe it’s easier to state it as a rule so in case of need they can refer to the handbook and didn’t change rules (families) and to show that they have put an effort of reflecting about how to live with a person from another country (APs). I really would like to know, if the computer/Internet-curfew you have the same as the APs curfew?

HRHM June 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

We don’t, although it’s something I’ve thought of. Our current AP bought her own laptop shortly after getting here and so I have no idea about her internet use once she goes into her room and shuts the door. Having said that, her family and friends are mostly in Europe, so she is most likely to be online with them about noon our time (while the kids are in school). Late evening/night our time would be the crack of dawn in her country and I doubt her friends like her enough to be getting up at 6 am to talk to her! LOL

With our previous AP, we had to disconnect it during the day because she would surf all day, even when the kids were with her, plus she would “not have time” to finish the kids laundry or clean her bathroom. Thankfully AP3 is more mature and organized.

Jan June 6, 2010 at 10:31 am

Good point about instant messaging and calls home. Our AP from Thailand went to bed early so she could be up at 4 a.m. to talk with her friends at home.

cultureguru June 7, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Our weeknight rule was 10 pm–mostly because we wanted to “close down” for the night, and as “parents” to our aupair, didn’t want to have to worry–our house wanted to go to sleep and 10 was reasonable.

For weekends, the rule was Midnight, or not at all. So, since we used all of our hours during the week, our Au Pairs usually spent the night with friends (au pairs with ‘nicer’ host parents?) on the weekends–they really liked to party! Of course we knew who they were with and that they were safe!

For us, it worked all around–they got to have as much fun as they could on the weekends, and we got a little ‘privacy’ on the weekends!

NewAPMama June 9, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Our AP must be in her room by 11pm on weeknights. On Friday nights, she needs to be home by 2am, and by 1am on Saturday nights. We get up early for church on Sunday, and she needs adequate time to get not only herself ready, but also to help my husband and I get the children dressed, fed, and out the door on time.

NewAPMama June 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Our AP must be in her room by 11pm on weeknights. On Friday nights, she needs to be home by 2am, and by 1am on Saturday nights. We get up early for church on Sunday, and she needs adequate time to get not only herself ready, but also to help my husband and I get the children dressed, fed, and out the door on time. We haven’t had a problem with it so far.

OnceAnAuPair June 11, 2010 at 6:36 am

As an au pair I had a weekday curfew of 1 am which seems very reasonable in comparison to some of the other curfews I’ve read on here. I was usually always in bed by 10:30 anyway so the curfew didn’t really bother me. Just the principal of the curfew bothered me. I think it’s more acceptable to younger au pairs (I was 24, had been living on my own since I was 18). I didn’t think it was neccesarily needed that I had to be told be in bed by 1am, I’m a big girl, I know that already. I already had a full time job with early start times, I know what I need to do make sure I have enough sleep to get up in the morning and get through the day. But for younger girls, straight out of high school, never lived on their own, it would be a better idea. It should depend on the girl, her past experiences in life, and her maturity before you set a curfew.

SotaGal June 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm

You are right OnceAnAuPair, it totally depends on the au pair and her maturity but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen with age… With our 18/19 year old au pair we never had to enforce a curfew, she was responsible and knew what she needed as far as sleep to take care of our twins. Our 22 year old au pair NEEDED the curfew or she would have rolled in minutes before work or late, exhausted. Her priority was about her having FUN. Caring for our children were a means to an end for her to come to the US, and she wanted absolutely nothing to do with our family. She would be miserable sick with a cold and unable to work the full day (made it to nap time), yet she could go out that very same night feeling just as horrible as she had all day. She was home by curfew but being sick she was exhausted and feeling even worse the next day. Age doesn’t always bring maturity, responsibility or common sense…. I wish that all au pairs were as responsible and mature as you!

NoVA Host Mom June 11, 2010 at 11:42 am

I answered before in a previous post (must have been older), but yes, our APs have curfews. My DH and I have standards of behavior we are held to both on and off duty from our own jobs, and we expect similar standards to be held in our home. Also, there is the aspect of necessity. We have an AP not only for the flexibilty of hours and scheduling (ever try to find a day care that opens at 5:30am on a Sunday?), but also for those rare professional emergencies that require both of us to be at work at the same time.

In the past year+, only twice has one of us had to leave for work before the other is home or been called into work early due to an emergency. During those times, it is necessary for our AP to start work a bit earlier than planned (and get off earlier or some other compensation for the last minute change). In addition, our first AP took serious advantage (yes, I had “Welcome” stamped on my doormat of a forehead), and more than a few times was late to work or I needed to go and pick her up in my car (with baby in tow) so she would not be later than she already was (resulting in my own lateness – not a good thing; she had a habit of taking the last possible train back and missing the bus home).

To address that, we now have an 8hr prior curfew for nights prior to work, with no curfew on days off (as long as we know not to expect her home or what time to expect her home, etc – we do sleep a bit lightly sometimes and have 3 dogs that will alert to late night noises; no need for us to be thinking it’s a break-in if we know it’s the AP).

HM September 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

To the au pairs who feel that a curfew is unjust – you may be adults, but the AP-Host Family relationship is not a typical employee-employer relationship. First, we have hired au pairs to take care of our precious loved ones. As parents, we need to make sure that our children receive the best care possible. Second, we have responsibilities to our au pairs – financially, emotionally, and in terms of time – that most employers do not have. We expect to be treated with respect in return.

We do understand your need to socialize with friends. It wasn’t so long ago that we were your age. But please understand the complexities that we deal with as well.

Nina September 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Wow, maybe it is a European thing, but I too would never even consider working for someone – regardless of the job – who told what time to be home for. I mean, they are my employers, not my parents, and if this curfew is put in place, then this just shows a total lack of trust. But if you walked into your own jobs smelling of booze, hungover and so sleepy that you were falling asleep at your desk/in meetings/in front of clients, your boss would have a stern word with you, and I do believe that this should also be the case with APs.

Should be working September 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

If there is one thing this blog shows over and over, it is that being an AP is NOT just a job, and the host parents are not just employers. This is the trick with having or being an AP: it is about what it means for a stranger to come and live with a family, and be part of that family (albeit to different extents in different HP-AP relationships). There are families that want only an employer-employee relationship, and then there are many who don’t. Please just be honest with a prospective HF about your feelings about curfew and the kind of relationship you want with your HF, so that you match with a family that is fine with your own AP approach.

Gianna September 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I agree that your employer would not be able to impose a curfew but aupairs have expectations of families that they would not transfer to an employer, either.

We spend hours on this blog discussing reasonableness of families when it comes to extending the use of a car, cellphone and computer for recreational use because most host parents want to do as much as they can do for an aupair within their means. The differences arise , I think, when a family feels that certain perks are not within their means. When employers provide a car, a cellphone or a computer
every single usage is monitored. Who would ever even consider objecting to the fact that an employer disallowed personal use of the cellphone or internet ?

So , there are pros and cons to every situation. Living with a family (of young children ) implies a certain lifestyle and being in a J1 program means pretty much adjusting to the family’s values and standards.

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