Your Au Pair’s Bedroom: What to provide to make your Au Pair comfortable and welcome

by cv harquail on October 11, 2016

Picture yourself in this room.

 Imagine that you’ve just spent 8 hours with energetic kids, talking in your second language, driving on unfamiliar streets on the wrong side of the road.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could walk upstairs, open the door, and step into a room like this?


It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be big… but your Au Pair’s bedroom should be a place where s/he can feel comfortable, rested and welcomed.

Guiding Principles for an Au Pair’s Bedroom:

Your Au Pair’s room should be a welcoming refuge– light, fresh, clean.

Your Au Pair should have the opportunity to personalize the room a bit to reflect her personality and tastes.

The room should have any and all electronic entertainment items that you can afford, so that your Au Pair can enjoy her leisure time and privacy.

The room should be supplied with any kind of item that makes it easier for her to keep it up to your standards. (e.g., Unless you want laundry on the floor, give her a laundry basket).

The room should be all hers. There should be no junk of yours or your kids taking up floor space or visual space.

Required Items for an Au Pair’s Bedroom

  • Comfortable bed.
    It doesn’t need to be larger than a twin (although that would be nice) but it does need to have a decent mattress. If the mattress smells, is visibly dirty, or is lumpy, saggy and uncomfortable, replace it. Don’t make the Au Pair sleep on a mattress that you would otherwise have discarded.
  • Clean pillows
  • Comfy chair
  • Dresser with drawers
  • Full length mirror
  • Desk & desk chair
  • Bulletin board with pushpins –Otherwise, be ready for scotch tape and pinholes all over the walls
  • Lamp for reading in bed
  • Radio/smartphone speaker/Alarm clock
  • Laundry basket
  • Wastepaper basket — a metal or plastic one, instead of a wicker one, because even if they know better, people will put wet items, soda cans with soda in them, and food garbage in the waste basket. Yuck.
  • Landline Telephone –even better if the phone’s ringer can be turned off or set to low
  • Instruction manual for the telephone, voice mail, and wifi passwords
  • Window blinds or shades that work — All my Au Pairs have wanted to close the
    shades and blinds when they dressed, and of course on the mornings they slept late.
  • Thick rug pad and rug –especially in areas where she’ll walk a lot. Avoid being annoyed by footsteps upstairs!
  • Fire escape ladder –the kind that fold up and can be stored under the bed. Make sure you test it with her/show her how to use it, so that you know it fits on the window and extends long enough that she can climb her way to safety.

Nice to Have

  • A pretty calendar with kids’ birthdays marked on it
  • Bookshelf –maybe with some books she might like, and/or your favorite parenting books
  • Television — if she’s lucky, with cable
  • An electric fan
  • Computer with internet access –even better, with a camera and microphone so that she can use Skype to call home
  • A basket of cleaning supplies
  • A large supply of matching hangers and skirt hangers — These don’t cost a lot of money and it’s so much nicer to have hangers that all match, that don’t get tangled, etc. than to have your leftover wire things from the drycleaner. While you’re at Target, buy hangers some for yourself too!!
  • Mini-fridge — Some people have these, but we don’t, since I’d rather not encourage our Au Pair to eat in her room.

Other Tips for your Au Pair’s Bedroom

Protect your wood surfaces. We have the surfaces of the dresser and nightstand each covered with a piece of glass (cut to size). The glass surface prevents most problems with rings from glasses, spills, and damage to the furniture surface itself. Also, it is easy to clean. Plus, these glass tops create another opportunity for your Au Pair to personalize her room —by putting photos, greeting cards and the like underneath the glass.

Protect your mattress. Use a mattress pad that can be easily removed and washed. Consider putting one of those water-proof crib pads underneath the mattress pad and on top of the mattress to protect liquids from staining the mattress. All it takes is one overturned latte, and the mattress looks really unpleasant.

One Host Mom I know takes her Au Pair to Target/Ikea, gives her a budget, and lets her choose her own comforter, shams, decorative pillows, and the like for her bedroom. And, when her Au Pair goes home, she takes the comforter with her…(though I don’t know how the girls have ever had enough room in their luggage…..) .

Did I forget anything? What else would you add?


Taking a Computer Lunch October 11, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Now that my AP has extended for another year, I won’t be performing my annual routine of crawling on all fours vacuuming every corner and wiping down the back of the toilet and bathroom sink. Once a year the au pair suite was the cleanest place in the house!

To add to the above:

– Really clean the bedroom (and en suite bathroom if there is one) – you’ll never get the odor of the departing au pair’s favorite perfume out of the air in 2-3 days, but the room can look and smell like it has been cleaned.

– I don’t buy brand-new items for each au pair, but I do wash everything from duvets to mattress pads – and that allows me to replace worn-out items – or items with menstrual stains on them. If the towels are ripped beyond believe, they go to an animal shelter – otherwise, they are washed and folded.

– While you’re at Target, pick up some of those $1 samples: toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, cotton pads, Band-aids, etc. And because I live in a mosquito-prone zone – Calamine lotion! I always purchase a small box of Tampax, and OB tampon sampler, and a small box of Lightdays pads – just because it’s easier NOT to have to ask for those items in another language! (Supplies from the departing au pair go in the bathroom most likely to be used by guests.)

I used to buy a phone card, but now that everyone Skypes or uses Whats App, I don’t bother. I do buy a sheet of international stamps, some air mail stickers, and a sheet of stamps to use within the U.S. to get her started.

I print my handbook out and put it in a 3-ring binder. In the side pockets, I put the stamps, a map of our subway system, local bus schedules, and other things she’ll need.

I make sure the cell phone is charged and the outgoing au pair has removed her personal email from it, as well as our her non-family contacts.

I put some travel books on her shelves. I put an English-language dictionary there, too. I keep a dictionary of her language to English on the dining room shelf, because that’s where most of the translation often happens. I make sure all the instruction booklets are out on the desk – to the heater (our AP has a basement suite), to the radio, to the cell phone.

I make sure the flashlight still works. Our power goes off frequently enough.

Oh, and I give the house more than a lick-and-a-promise cleaning, too. You know – to put my best foot forward. It doesn’t take but a day or two before someone has dropped something on the floor and it’s sticky again – but it’s worth the effort.

Aupair Lauren October 12, 2016 at 7:54 am

I’ve been wondering where you went! Your thoughts and opinions are valued greatly by myself :)

Dorsi October 13, 2016 at 11:29 am

I have never once had an Au Pair send or receive mail. So, I stopped buying stamps. It makes me a bit wistful.

American Host Mom in Europe October 12, 2016 at 6:59 am

As with above, I make sure the bedroom and bathroom are absolutely spotless. All towels / bedding / mattress pads / pillows are washed and aired.

We don’t buy new bedding or sheets, but once they’ve settled in, I do advise that if they feel something needs replacing, to let me know – and two of my APs have asked for new sheets, and we’ve gotten new in those cases. I also make sure they always have two sets of sheets that are theirs, so if they need to remove one (to wash or for whatever reason), they aren’t compelled to do laundry before they can make their bed again.

When a new AP arrives, they’ll find their bed nicely made, their closet stocked with hangers, their trash can empty, and the room pretty and clean/vacant for them. On the desk is the handbook in a binder (with folders in it full of local maps and tourist information), a welcome note on top with some tips and guidance and the WiFi access info, their iPhone / charger / manual, a page about their phone number and access codes for the phone, etc. I’ve also had business cards made for the APs which include our home number, address, my email, my mobile, HD’s mobile, the emergency number here (it isn’t 911), number for the national nurse’s line, and the local taxi number. There are about 5 of these, and on the back I’ve handwritten the kids’ social security numbers (which the AP would need if there was ever an emergency and she had to take them to the doctor/hospital).

In the bathroom is a basket with shampoos, soaps, other toiletries – mostly left from previous APs or visitors, but providing a starter pack if someone has forgotten something.

And as others said…I try to be sure the house is very clean – so she sees how we like to keep it (although it doesn’t last long…)

HMof2 October 12, 2016 at 10:16 am

I am in the US. I assume you are in Europe, given your screen name, so perhaps healthcare works differently in Europe.

Has this happened before with AP experiencing problem at the doctor/hospital when the kids need emergency care and the lack of a social security number delayed or prevented care? We have never had any kid related emergency (knock on wood) so have no experience with this. I would assume that the doctor/hospital would provide care first and get the info (usually the insurance card, not SS#) later, if it is truly an emergency.

I would not be comfortable writing down my kids SS# on any paper that is routinely carried around. Since this is on a business card, I assume the intention is for her to carry it in her wallet. The risk of her wallet getting stolen and identity theft happening is too great for me.

WestMom October 12, 2016 at 11:16 am

Not relevant here. AP doesn’t need to know DCs SSNs.

But… you may want to consider giving your AP a child medical consent to give her authorization take your child to the doctor and receive treatment. You can find templates for these forms online. usually they include the insurance information, and any medication your child might be taking. I have this form in our family guide.

We have used the form a few times, for example for AP to take kids to get a flu vaccine at the pediatrician, or strep test at urgent care. Luckily it was never used for anything major, but I have this form because of a more critical scenario, for example one of my children needing to be sent to the hospital and there is a lag until DH or I can physically get to the hospital.

HMof2 October 12, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Thanks! I never thought about having a medical consent form. I will have to look into it and ask our pediatrician.

WarmStateMomma October 23, 2016 at 3:49 pm

I have these signed in the kitchen for my AP to take. She has used them for follow-up visits (only if the child is better, or I’d go myself) and flu shots. I leave the date blank and she fills it in. It saves time if she can drive a sick kid to the doctor or hospital while I drive there from work to meet them.

American Host Mom in Europe October 19, 2016 at 3:45 am

Not in US ;-)
Our social security numbers are used for everything here, and are commonly given out, so not the same degree of secrecy as in the US. It is the number on a national ID card, our driving licenses, etc. I am sure a hospital would provide emergency care without it, but in case it ever came up (it hasn’t), things would definitely be easier if the au pair has the numbers.

I think a medical consent form is probably also a good idea. When my kids were young and ear infections, bad coughs, etc., were common, I signed one with the national pharmacy so our au pair could pick up prescriptions for the kids, since otherwise I had to go out during working hours to do so (shorter pharmacy hours here than in the US).

WestMom October 12, 2016 at 7:51 am

A few points from my personal experience…

Landline? No one uses a landline these days. We never felt the need for one.

Desk and chair? Well we have one, but none of our APs have used it. They tend to hang out in their bed when using electronics, laptops etc.

All loved our big white and cork boards. They write important details, vacation dates, travel plans, passwords.

A map of the USA is also a big hit in our room for dreaming about travels (and also realizing that the west coast relative to the East coast is about as far as Europe- not great for a ‘weekend’ trip).

Computers and electronics… I wonder if I am the only who doesn’t feel like it’s my responsibility to provide electronics (aside from a working phone)? Perhaps because we pool from Western Europe, but 7 out of 8 APs has come with either a laptop or tablet. Only one came with a crappy phone and no other means to access the internet. Interestingly, this one was an AP for 2 years before us, and always had someone lend her a laptop or other device before, so she never felt the need to buy her own. And admittedly, this sort of became a problem because she had to share the family computer with my 3 middle/high schoolers who need the computer to do homework. (it could have been a much larger problem if I didn’t decide to buy a new desktop for my husband and I when we work from home). She spent a LOT of time on the computer in her off time, despite priding herself on how little she needed electronics and in the internet in her life. I started resenting that she never wanted to invest in a proper electronic for herself, considering she relied on the internet so much. It also meant that she was always in common spaces during her off time (where the family computer is), so we felt a lack of privacy. At some point, I feel like buying yourself a proper laptop or other device becomes a necessity. I can see that it can be luxurious, especially for someone from a less developed country, but I would sort of expect most Western European au pairs to come minimally equipped to access the internet at this point in time.

My last point is that I like a spare room. It’s always easier to add than to remove. Your Au pair may not have your same design style (actually she probably doesn’t), so I focus on keeping things ‘virgin’ and for her to make her own.

ExAupairNowHM October 18, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Agree with every single thing you are saying. Same here.

Chicago Host Mom October 12, 2016 at 9:00 am

We also do not buy all new linens but replace what is stained or too worn that I wouldn’t sleep on it. That usually works out to every 2 or so years before linens are replaced in turn. I think providing a computer other than access to the family computer goes way beyond necessary. All of our ten au pairs have either had a laptop/tablet or purposefully left theirs at home to buy a new one. With smartphones, Skype and whatsapp, we have yet to have an au pair who is without internet access at her fingertips. In addition to the suggestions above, I print out and frame some photos of the au pair with her family/friends (I usually ask her to send us some photos after the match bc the agency ones are so bad). I also ask what their fave breakfast items and beverages are so that there is sure to be something familiar and on hand when they get up in a strange house for breakfast the next morning. I also buy a sweatshirt for one of our beloved chicago sports teams – usually a hoodie – as a welcome gift. Invariably it is well worn by spring.

Bat Mum October 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

I always ask if they have a laptop or tablet themselves and tell them to bring it with them if they do. We provide a phone.
I put hair clips and bands, cotton wool, shampoo, toothpaste etc in a drawer to get them started. I buy them a big warm dressing gown, fluffy socks and slippers as our girls generally come from much warmer parts of Europe and don’t anticipate the cold here.

HMof2 October 12, 2016 at 10:01 am

We also frame photos of her family and friends from AP profile. It is a collage of smaller pictures so getting it via the agency website is okay since resolution does not have to be great for small pics. This goes over very well – they are usually surprised and very appreciative.

We also buy the AP a local sports team shirt – depends on time of year she arrives, either t-shirt or something heavier so it is appropriate (seasonal) for her to wear immediately.

We like to encourage them to explore the community when they first arrive so we get the new AP tourist day pass for local bus/subway along with the maps and brochures about different neighborhoods.

We put up a welcome banner. All AP have left it hanging the entire year. We have not had any AP who really decorated the room.

I reuse linen and replace if it cannot be cleaned well.

We have not provided:
– Radio/smartphone speaker/Alarm clock (AP use their phone)
– Mini-fridge (we don’t want to start a habit of storing food in the room for sanitary reason)
– Landline Telephone (AP use their phone)
– Television (there are TVs in common areas of the house and AP often use own laptop to stream videos, shows, and movies anyway)
– An electric fan (we have not found AP have cooling issues in their room)
– An electric heater (we rather not introduce a possible source of fire in the room)
– Computer (we state upfront that AP bring their own)

Mom2Jack October 12, 2016 at 11:35 am

We provide a sparkling clean room. A basket with new towels and face cloths (in her favorite color), a new pop up laundry hamper. I use the old au pair’s towels for guests or our summer house. The room has a tv (with access to our cable service and netflicks) and bulletin board. A cute Pottery Barn alarm clock – but not a radio smart phone speaker though that might be a good idea.

Our linens are freshly laundered and, if necessary, new. I find that we too end up replacing items ever few years. I don’t think the second set of sheets gets much use – so I use that for the incoming au pair and it’s like new.

We have central ac and two windows so no need for a fan. I never thought about matching hangers and find that most of au pairs have been more into hanging things on the hooks than in the closet. I leave a winter weight robe and a summer weight robe as the au pairs bathroom is off the hall – but none have ever used them. The room has wooden blinds that match the rest of the upstairs.

We have an antique dresser with glass on the top which we added after au pair #2 spilled nail polish remover all over it. ($1,000 repair later we now have a rule that nail polish and nail polish remover can only be used in the bathroom. Although I’m pretty sure there is some nail painting on the bed.)

And, we have two large wicker trunks one as a bedside table and one as the tv stand – but these each hold plenty of off season clothes for the girls. Like others have said no land line. All five of our au pairs have brought their own land top so we only provide a Smartphone.

I too leave a basket of small toiletries and new hygiene products (I put the last au pairs stuff in the au pairs linen closet and the new au pair can decide to use of toss). I always leave a new beach bag filled with a new beach towel, sunscreen, bug spray, a subway card, maps, info on tourist attractions and a few candy bars or bags of snacks that she’s mentioned that she likes. I mostly do this since our au pairs arrive in the summer and the daily duties include swim team practice and afternoon at the pool or spending the day at the beach if we are at our summer house. There’s a waste basket – and I ask that she empties it if anything smells or before the cleaning people come.

I emphasize to both my son and au pair that the cleaning people aren’t our servants and we need to make things as easy as possible for them to do their job. Finally, I tell her when she arrives and again a few weeks in, if there is anything that she needs for her room just let us know.

The one thing that we don’t have is a desk. I did ask our current au pair and she said she would not want one and that it would make the room a bit crowded.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 12, 2016 at 9:20 pm

We have an above-ground swimming pool (thank you, make a wish – a present for a medically fragile child). When our APs arrived in summer months, they were greeted with a special towel with their name. At this point, our APs arrive in the late fall-winter, and it is a Christmas gift. Having an AP towel with a name/picture on it is a must when you have a child who will blindly use anyone’s towel. (And yes, said child has a picture towel with his name on it – and he now has a learner’s permit and is learning to drive a car!) And, having washed all the pool towels – having just closed it for the season – I realize we’ve lost about 20%!

cv harquail October 12, 2016 at 1:28 pm

I’m surprised that none of you commenters has a landline in your guest room/ au pair room. Maybe it’s an artifact of the amount of time we’ve been in our house, and/or that our family STILL USES a family phone that is a land line. Grandma and Granny both call us on the family land line, as do our neighbors. I would not want an au pair to have to tromp downstairs just to answer the family phone.

Also, we’ve always offered a laptop or computer for the au pair to use, but these have always been old ones that are ‘hand me downs’ from us parents. When/because we own the computer, we feel more comfortable having restrictions on what can be downloaded or streamed, for what that’s worth.

We have a desk largely so that our au pair has somewhere to neatly put things like books, papers, the computer while it’s not being used, etc. We’ve also at times put up a folding table in the room for the au pairs who’ve wanted to sew or do crafts in their room. (The room’s pretty big.)

WestMom October 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

cv, we do have a landline which is pretty much exclusively used by for both sets of grandparents and spammers :)

I am curious, you ask your au pair to answer the home phone? I specifically ask not to answer unless she recognizes the number (for example if it’s me trying to reach AP who is not answering her cell). I prefer she not answer the phone and let it go to voice mail, which is then sent directly to my email address.

I’ll put a nice plug for, in case some of you are receiving as many spam calls as us. When the phone rings, it matches the number to a spam database, and if there is a match, it simply hangs the call. Love it, and best of all it’s free for landlines!

hOstCDmom October 12, 2016 at 4:29 pm

I’m surprised so many HP even have a landline, much less in the AP room! We have not had a landline since 1997! :)

NBHostMom October 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Also no landline in the house. I find out brand of APs smart phone before arrival and have active SIM waiting for her on arrival

Schnitzelpizza October 18, 2016 at 4:33 am

I aupaired in 1999 (heck, I am old) and my HF did have a landline, including one in the AP room. I had friends who had their own landline with their own phone number in their room – in the area where I lived that was (still) really popular in the late 90s.

I didn’t have a cell phone, my host parents had beepers (I would beep them and they’d call back – they did have cell phones I was just not supposed to call them at work and without my own phone couldn’t text them). I used phone cards to call home (2 cents a minute) but my family would call me on the landline when they wanted to talk to me. My dad didn’t even have internet at home at that time :) my friends and I used messengers (such as ICQ) to keep in touch and email.

Of course my HF only had one line for phone and internet. So no being on the computer and receiving calls (which got me in trouble one day because I used baby’s nap time to chat with a friend and the school tried to call home because my middle one was throwing up… they then called dad who had to come and pick her up… oups) and no two people using the phone at the same time (sometimes my host kids would pick up the downstairs’ phone to call their friends while I was talking to my mom from my room phone on the weekends). I still think it’s amazing how far technology has come since then (which then makes me feel old again).

Taking a Computer Lunch October 12, 2016 at 9:23 pm

We have a landline – and the AP has 1 of 2 phones that does not require electricity – which means when the power goes out she and child #2 have the amount of time until the Fios battery back-up stops beeping to use it! Every AP has turned off the ringer. Every AP has pissed off the neighbors who have tried to call when 1) the electricity company wants her to move our cars so they can trim the trees under the wires or 2) the annual curb leave-sweeping occurs and our cars are in the way. Otherwise, our landline is useless to the AP (and increasingly – us, too – although we are old farts, and hear conversations better on it than our cell phones).

Should be working October 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm

We have a landline with wireless receivers in several places, and the phone in our (parents) bedroom is an old-fashioned one that plugs into the wall and the receiver is attached to the main part. Because in an electrical outage, the wire-free phones won’t work, and I want one phone that will work even in an electrical outage (obviously it won’t work in a landline phone outage). AP doesn’t have landline in his room but is welcome to use a wireless receiver wherever he wants to. Most of them have used skype or some other app, very little landline use!

txmom October 12, 2016 at 6:44 pm

We are on our first AP, so we did purchase new linens and towels this year. I’m hoping they are in good enough condition to re-use. We have a double bed, large dresser, nightstand, floor lamp, floor length mirror, cork board, alarm clock, tv w/ cable and netflix. We did not provide a computer, our AP brought her own. In January when DH gets a new iPad from work, we will use his current iPad as an AP iPad. We haven’t had a land line in over 10 years, so no phone in her room. We do provide an iPhone.
To make her feel welcome, we greeted her with a banner at the airport. I also made sure to buy her favorites at the store prior to arrival. We sent her a welcome package to the hotel where she had training. I like the idea of a sports team shirt…I think I will do that next time.

2 kids and a cat October 12, 2016 at 7:17 pm

We have all the essentials plus a bathrobe and shower caddy since she has to share the hall bath. Full-length mirror behind the door. The bookcase has a dictionary, some ESL texts and a few novels – from Harry Potter to some middle school classic reads. I concur that the white board is surprisingly popular.
We do not provide electronics beyond the smart phone and no tv in the room. She shares a wall with the kids’ room – we don’t want the noise upstairs, and the APs generally watch netflix on their computers (with headphones). We have strict rules about eating food at the table so definitely no mini fridge!
On arrival, we have a stack of pamphlets from the tourism bureau, plus a Starbucks mug for our location stuffed with some gift cards for local places (restaurants, movie theatre, and of course Sbx).
Every two weeks i schedule at least one of her hours for cleaning the room, and give a specific checklist for vacuuming, washing sheets/towels, etc. even if she does the bare minimum, I won’t be de-grunging a hovel at the end of the year.
We never go in the room and try not to knock during her off time.

Batmum October 13, 2016 at 7:57 am

My poor aupairs deprived of a full length mirror and we have no landline and I give them a packet of blutack in lieu of cork boards. But I do provide a hair straightner as they have all arrived without one but ‘need’ to use one every day and my good one tended to disappear into their room long term.
I am actually really enjoying a break from aupairs at the moment and my electricity bill and risk of a house fire have decreased enormously!! :)

WestMom October 13, 2016 at 8:02 am

I am in the same place Batmum. No APs since August. We are out of the program at this point, and I am thoroughly enjoying my privacy and the cost savings!

One the hair straightening note… AP1 bought one, and left it for AP2, who left it for AP3… etc. We still have it after 8 years but everyone in our family has super flat hair, so it’s no use for any of us! I am wondering from people’s experience, what APs leave behind after they leave? For us, it’s mostly been clothes (lots… and since most of our APs were miniatures, their clothes could basically fit my kids), toiletries, travel books, cheap party shoes from Payless…

cv harquail October 13, 2016 at 8:32 am

I’ll set that question up as its own post! :-)

Taking a Computer Lunch October 13, 2016 at 10:28 pm

When APs leave behind clothing I sort through it. Keep the extra down coat and the Polartec jacket (the latter was retrieved by said AP on subsequent visit) – as well as scarves & mittens. I keep the novels, the bric-a-brac until it becomes too sordid (or I find in the corner of a closet at the end of an AP year). The rest gets sorted for the dump, a local charity, and the animal shelter. The unused toiletries stay, the rest go into a medicine cabinet in a bathroom used by guests.

Oh – one thing I did not mention buying for APs before was a mending kit – and to this each AP has invariablely added extra thread, needles, fasteners, etc. That all stays!

oranje_mama October 13, 2016 at 10:08 am

I’m fascinated by others replacing linens every 2 years! Maybe this is a quality issue, but we do not replace lines that often in my house. We use until completely worn out, which is closer to a decade than 2 years.

That said, we do have several sets of sheets (including for AP bed) and our cleaning lady strips the sheets & makes bed every week (so AP’s sheets are changed once a week). Maybe that makes the difference?

Dorsi October 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm

I find our AP linens get stained. I wouldn’t necessarily replace them if they were my own, but I can’t expect a new AP to sleep on them. It may matter that AP sheets get washed much less than once every week.

cv harquail October 14, 2016 at 10:05 am

DORSI!! <3

Taking a Computer Lunch October 13, 2016 at 10:23 pm

A decade! DH and I have one set of regular sheets and one set of flannel sheets. I wish they lasted that long. If only the AP’s bed were the same size as our own, as I don’t care about my sheets – as long as there aren’t huge gaping holes (which DH & I currently have – but neither of us wants to go shopping for replacements). Our AP has one set of regular sheets and one set of flannel sheets. The only person who has 2 sets is The Camel, and that’s because her diapers tend to leak while she gets a tube feeding overnight.

Should be working October 14, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Our sheets last a decade. We have a duvet cover and sheet that we got when we got married (2000). They were really expensive, so I’m glad they last. Kids’ sheets also last years, but I recently threw away my teen daughter’s old Disney Princess pillowcases (kept Disney sheets for guests or occasional nostalgia moments–daughter did once ask me to put them on her bed when she was sick recently!!).

One AP spilled hair dye or something on the duvet cover, leaving a big stain. I was annoyed. That thing should last at least 4-5 years in my view.

LuckyHM#3 October 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm

We provide a clean, big, airy bedroom. Its the only bedroom downstairs and our bedrooms are all upstairs. I believe it was called the mother in-law floor plan when we bought our house. She has her own bathroom (with tub and shower) attached to her bedroom and also a private toilet. Room is huge and has a nice queen size bed. A dresser. Walk -in closet with 3 dozen hangers and a laundry hamper. A desk and chair. 2 bedside tables with lamps. A TV with cable receiver (only bedroom with TV..:-) other TVs in our house are in living room and family room. Trash basket, A couple of large paintings on her wall. We also provide a smart phone with unlimited voice, text and data plan (just additional user on our family plan(

Before each aupair arrives, I go through the aupair towels and bed linens to see the condition. I typically provide 4 bath towels, 2 face towels and hand towels are rotated for all the bathrooms in the house after laundry.. we have about 12 or so. I seem to always end up replacing 2 towels with new because its stained with hair color or has a hole or something. I usually ask them their preferred color and but that. I provide 3 sets of bed sheets, and replace as needed. This year, had to replace 1 set.

On arrival, we buy a nice gift basket/hamper and fill it up with toiletries. I buy whatever regular brand that last aupair says many APs likes. Over time, been different brands, from Aveeno to Aussie brands. I buy family sized shampoo, conditioner (i ask their hait type often in random conversations), body wash, lotion, body loofah/sponge, box of q-tips, chapstick, hair bands,a toothbrush and a large size Colgate or Crest toothpaste, a couple of tic-tacs, maybe 1 or 2 boxes of candy like the 90c Mike and Ikes, maybe a bag of chips or popcorn. The kids and I wrap it up and keep on the dresser. We leave left overs from prior AP in another basket as well typically tampons, pads, left over sunscreen stuff like that and tell her to feel free to take what she wants and discard the rest. All my APs have said how grateful they are that they dont have to buy any toiletries for at least 2 month or more. Every single one of them have been appreciate and used all the stuff..

We definitely dont have a fridge, or landline for her. We dont have a couch either, I have never framed any pictures. All my APs came with their laptops or tablets except the last one. She just used the family laptop in the office and will just take it to her room and return when she finished. She was the only one really using as DH and I often used our work laptops. Current AP does everything on her ipad. I expect that she would use the laptop when she starts school.

TexasHM October 15, 2016 at 11:43 am

I suspect this list may vary a bit depending on the type of relationship you want with your AP. Meaning if you want more privacy you may want to consider putting a loaded up TV in the AP room and computer and minifridge vs if you are not concerned about privacy and want a closer family member that is going to spend more personal time in family areas in which case you might prefer to not provide those same items so that the AP watches TV in the living room, uses the home computer out in the open and eats in the kitchen with everyone else.

With that having been said, we tend more toward the family time so we don’t provide those three things. First AP we had an older TV with VCR (I know, I am dating myself now) with a bunch of movies on a cabinet and she never watched them and actually at the end of the year asked if we could take it out so she could use the shelves for other things and we haven’t put a TV in there since and that was 5+ years ago and no AP has ever complained or asked. To be fair, we have a second living room upstairs with an older big screen and our bedrooms are downstairs on the other side of the house so the AP can go up there and watch whatever until the wee hours without having to worry about waking us so I don’t think they feel like they are missing anything.

We have a landline because its included in the internet and its a backup line for me with work but as others said, its someone that can’t reach us on our cell with something urgent or its spammers so we just tell the APs never to bother answering it.

We don’t have a comfy chair but do have a desk and chair and they usually all sit on their beds most of the time anyway and frankly there isn’t room in the room with the armoire, nightstand, desk and queen bed to add a comfy chair. They have a walk in closet but no full length mirror – that’s a great idea and I have one leaning against the wall of my office right now so I’ll ask DH to hang it for AP that arrives in less than 3 weeks!

We also don’t provide a computer. We started by giving AP1 my hand me down laptop but it was slower than she liked and she ended up wanting to buy her own anyway and all APs have done that since. None have brought their own, they all bought here at Costco in the first few weeks. :) Although the last three have brought iPads from home. We provide a hand me down smartphone (currently a 5S) as the AP phone.

We haven’t replaced towels or sheets in our almost 6 years of hosting but we would if needed. We bought all new when we started and they get washed at least every two weeks but the APs have been pretty good about washing weekly and we (knock on wood) haven’t had any big stains that I know of so we are just coasting on until we need to replace something. To be fair we are the same way with our kids sheets (same age as we got all new when we moved here and started hosting) and our sheets so like most other things, we just treat the AP like another member of the family and do what we would do for ourselves or other family.

We did put a giant Costco US Map above the AP bed last year and that’s been a huge hit. My APs friends actually come over here to brainstorm/plan trips so they can look at everything on the big map and discuss. :)

We print pictures from their profile and put them in frames, we hang the “Will you be our AP” signs that the kids made to ask them to match with us so they get to keep it as a momento of that moment and we put together a similar basket to those mentioned above – small toiletries, snacks, local team trinkets, etc. Last round AP1 bought flowers and a welcome home red white and blue balloon and put it in the room and that was a huge hit. They have that one all the time at the grocery store for service members returning home so we plan to do the same for next AP.

CorkAupair November 10, 2016 at 7:35 pm

I loved reading all of the comments, I myself am an 3rd time Au Pair and all 3 rooms I received were so different (though one of them I was their first and short term Au Pair, They only needed someone short term).

1st room: a single bed bed. a wardrobe with shelves and hanging and drawers and hangers and drawer dividers, it was an en-suite (without divider so bedroom changed into bathroom), shower cabin and sing with cupboard, and a desk with chair and an uncomfortable reading chair. It was very spacious.

2nd short term room: Kingsize bed, and chair with poof for reading, Closet with hanging and drawers in extra room (access only through my room), which also had an extra bed/couch thing. private bathroom with toilet across the hall (which occasionally was used for toilet visits when arriving home, I was sleeping next to the front door) Provided with previous Iphone from oldest daughter and temporary Sim-card.

3rd Room: double size bed, 2 nightstands, 1 wardrobe that is almost falling apart, some left over books, a night lamp and tv that shows a green screen when on. (No phone, no desk, no chair). Bathroom with bath and shower (seperate) which said to be mine but used by kids for toilet visits upstairs and brushing teeth and washing face and hands before bed, and when really dirty from playing outside they use the bath which has their bath toys and their bathmat in there waiting to be used, so really not my own bathroom as said). There would be no room for a desk really.. maybe if I measure out the room and re-arrange furniture (which I am allowed to do).

AlwaysHopeful HM January 16, 2017 at 11:42 pm

So, this is a little off topic, but it was the best fit I could find on a still open thread!

For those who have provided their au pairs personalized google maps, how detailed do you make them? I started loading mine up and it just seemed like a big mess of information that might make my au pair feel overwhelmed. I noticed that you can “layer” the map, but I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, or how to do it.

Au pairs: have you found these maps to be worthwhile? Would it be better to have a few key spots, or a fully loaded map with all of the hot spots?

Host parents: have you found it worthwhile to provide these? What kind of feedback have you received?

Gearing up for the next au pair and trying to remember how to be welcoming!! :)

Taking a Computer Lunch January 17, 2017 at 11:40 pm

I’ve never done a Google map, although my LCC does one with all the APs in her cluster, meeting places, colleges, places to take children, etc.

The car has a gps – it seems to suffice. I don’t know how much my APs have used the cluster map – not many seem to really read maps (I only had one who loved to look at them as much as I do). Most of my APs never really seemed to gain a mental map – they’d go out of their way to drive the one route they’d mastered, sometimes flummoxing me because I expected them to have followed the most direct route to meet me and they arrived from the opposite direction – going around “red robin’s barn” as my father would say!

HMof2 January 18, 2017 at 10:41 am

I start off a new AP with an orientation with paper maps. Our car does not have GPS. AP use their phone to GPS. I bring out the paper map to drive home the point of not relying 100% on the GPS because what if the battery dies or the GPS is plain wrong or an unexpected detour happens. At least some skills with map reading or having a mental map can help them when they are lost. I’ve had AP practice driving around without a GPS so when they get lost, they have to figure out how to get “un-lost” by themselves (pretending I am not sitting next to them) using a paper map or remembering the mental map that I reviewed with them before heading out. I give practice driving tests to gauge their driving readiness, not just to see how they mechanically handle the car but also how they can find themselves around, without depending on electronic devices. I tell them that once they can “un-lost” themselves without a GPS, they will feel more confident about getting “un-lost” under any circumstance when they are alone because they would have gained the skills of direction and way-finding. After the practice, they can use the GPS all they want. I tried to make the analogy that they need to learn math and understand the basic principles of adding and subtraction before they can use the calculator. That electronic devices are for making our lives easier and more convenient but it does not replace having a true understanding and we should not be completely dependent on it.

I understand that some people are just not good with maps and lack a sense of direction. Depending on the AP ability for direction, I tailor my approach to using maps (people who are visual) or using landmarks (people who are sensory) or memorizing fixed routes (people who merely memorize but don’t truly understand but at least it gets them where they need to go). Just like people learn in different ways, we should pay attention and customize our instructions to what the AP’s natural inclination is for learning and retaining information.

Should be working January 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Makes me crazy that young people don’t learn how to read maps and don’t understand the value of this skill. Before APs arrive I send them a map of our area but ask them to MEMORIZE in sequence the main north-south streets and the main east-west streets (about 7 n-s and about 4 e-w). I can almost hear the eyes rolling through the computer, but more than one AP has found when s/he arrived that it was useful to already know the big streets on our grid.

Mimi January 18, 2017 at 4:49 pm

I have tailored maps in our HH and they include pictures of the destinations and landmarks along the way. One of our APs had memorized the routes to places like the pediatrician’s office by the landmarks with the route info and made up these sing-y songs for getting there. (Like “101 McDonalds to 195 police departments to Turnpike Toyota”…over and over…) The twins used to sing them to subsequent APs and will still occasionally sing them when we’re driving places.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 19, 2017 at 8:38 am

Mimi- how much info do you include in your map? I’m trying to strike the right balance.

I was thinking the map would be useful for visualization of the area before our au pair arrives (eg, distances between places, what kinds of places are nearby, how often it is necessary to take the highway, etc.). I included home, school, university, hospitals, nearby family, one or two kids activities, but also closest Starbucks, a couple of movie theaters, shopping mall, a few grocery stores (because we use several), nearby box store, etc. Too much? It looks pretty messy, and if it were me, I might be overwhelmed, butn (ironically) I’m not a maps person. Someone who is more visual might appreciate it, no?

HMof2 January 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

I have a long list of nearby destinations with full addresses with the assumption that the AP will most likely GPS. I include a limited set of google maps, too, but with only 1 destination per map (route from home to destination) so it is clear what the path is to get there from home and how many minutes/miles away. These are the most frequent destinations either for the children, the nearby AP colleges, library, supermarket that we frequent most, and closest big box stores. In the beginning, AP tends to go directly to 1 destination at a time by rote memory without true understanding and only combine destinations into 1 trip when they are more familiar and have developed a better mental sense of the area.

Also, I get different maps from the tourism office, some are simplified touristy maps showing major roads and select attractions or chamber of commerce maps showing local businesses (these tend to be visually less overwhelming and saves me from making the maps myself). I also get local and state road maps for them, more to have in the glove compartment in case their GPS fails them.

I mark up one local road map with places of relevancy during orientation. AP is not presented with a completed marked-up map to start with. Instead, we sit down to mark the map together. AP can follow along while I explain. I circle places on the map and use highlight markers to emphasize what the major roads are and their complete names (our roads here often are known with both names and highway numbers; google have been know to only label with the name while the street signs use highway number and vice versa which confuses the AP who is not aware that a street can be known by more than 1 name/number). I also ask the AP what kinds of places is she interested in, so for example, if she likes to work out, I circle the gym locations but otherwise, I leave them off. This limits the clutter on the map to only what is relevant for her to do her job and to spend off-duty time doing. We can always mark up more places on the map as the AP settles in and think of more places that she is interested in.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 19, 2017 at 12:14 pm

This is really helpful, HMof2. Thank you!!

WarmStateMomma January 29, 2017 at 2:41 pm

We don’t bother with paper maps. You can’t memorize the 12 turns you need to take before getting on the freeway and there won’t be any red lights, parking lots, etc., for stopping the car to read a map or directions. YMMV.

We don’t bother with GPS because the car GPS and the handheld kinds are outdated or too hard to use. (Ex., search for 100 Main Street and it will automatically bring up Main Street in another city we never heard of, instead of the one for our city. Or they tell you which way to turn after you’ve missed the chance to be in the correct lane.)

We rely exclusively on Google Maps on the iphones, with car chargers in each car. There are always roads blocked for construction or accidents, so a paper won’t help with on-the-fly route changes. Put the phone on the dash, and it talks out loud in any language.

SanFranciscoMom January 27, 2017 at 3:24 am

This is a great website – thank you! My husband, two daughters (2 year old and 3 month old) are considering hosting an au pair. The trick, however, is that we live in a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco, meaning that all of us would sleep in the same room (we co-sleep anyway) and the au pair would have the second bedroom. Housing in SF is extremely expensive, so to even have a second bedroom is a luxury, and the au pair program is by far the most cost effective childcare option. Nannies cost about $30-40 an hour for two children. So my question is, does anyone have any experience with hosting an au pair in their apartment? Au pairs, what is your experience living in close quarters with your host family? Host Moms, how do you ask these kind of questions in the interview?

Taking a Computer Lunch January 29, 2017 at 9:54 pm

AP #1 shared a bedroom and bathroom on the same floor with all 4 of us (which meant we knew exactly what time she came home!) The only requirement was that her door lock. That d–n lock is still sticking 16 years later when only child #2 sleeps on the same level, which means we still know exactly what time he goes to bed! I would warn the AP about the tiny living space and the expense of living in SF, but it’s a real city with real public transportation.

BTW, the year we rebuilt our house to make it handicapped accessible for The Camel, all 4 of us lived in 3 bedrooms. The Camel’s bedroom doubled as the kitchen/dining room, DH’s and my bedroom doubled as the study/living room, and child #2’s room is too small to swing a cat (still is). We didn’t host APs that year, but it was very intimate and everyone was grateful when the weather improved and we could escape outside.

workingTWINmom January 30, 2017 at 5:30 pm

I’m in the central valley but I have a cousin that lives in San Francisco. They have twin boys, all four live in one bedroom while the au pair has the other bedroom. Unfortunately, space is really at a premium in San Francisco. I know it has worked well for my cousin for the last several years. It is doable and I think alot of people face the problems of not having enough space and having to house your own family differently in order to be able to have an au pair.

Anonymous in CA January 28, 2017 at 1:46 pm

We have hosted in a 2-bedroom condo and a 2-bedroom / 1 bathroom house. In the condo, there was a loft thing that we used as the kid room. In our house we either co-sleep or have kid on a smaller cot next to our bed. Your job is to provide a proper room for the AP; there are no rules about the sleeping arrangements for the rest of the family! And I’ll bet you’re not the only SF or NYC family to think about putting the family in one room so you can host an AP. It’s just the reality of the housing market.

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