Extreme Scheduling: Is it fair to an Au Pair?

by cv harquail on June 27, 2014

 Extreme Scheduling: When you use all your 45 ‘on duty’ hours in one fell swoop

6115258370_c383d3230f_zPeople actually do this.

  • I’ve heard from au pairs who are scheduled for three days in a row when no parents are otherwise present, even at ‘off duty’ times (such as when a mom is a pilot and works in 3 day shifts).
  • I’ve heard from au pairs who are scheduled for 15 hour days, three days in a row, and
  • I’ve heard from au pairs who have six days of 90 hours total, then six days completely off.

Most of these extreme schedules fail to fit the formal guidelines, much less the spirit behind them. 

From a parent’s perspective, I understand how these sorts of Extreme Schedules come about.  Flexibility is really high on the list of reasons why we choose Au Pair care over day care or live-out caregivers.

And let’s face it, not all of us have reasonable work schedules or have control over our work schedules.

Doctors, pilots, truck drivers, manufacturing employees, consultants, and more work ‘extreme’ hours themselves. And we live in a nation with inadequate options. (How nice would it be to live in a country where overnight hours at a childcare center aren’t 2 times the price of daytime hours!)

From au pair’s perspective, can these extreme schedules feel fair. Or even desirable? How can you make this kind of schedule reasonable?

Have you ever asked an au pair to work an Extreme Schedule — not just for a rare weekend, but consistently?

How do you manage this? How does your au pair respond? What makes it work? 



Image: “Dangle” by Sarah Horrigan,  Some rights reserved



TexasHM June 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I am going to try to not get flared up on this one. :)

I have long been a vocal opponent of those needing extreme scheduling joining the AP program. I have gone as far at times as to question if APs should be allowed to go to homes where this could be a problem (aka – single parent households, two doctors, etc). I know of countless times that APs have been left home alone with kids while HPs took vacations (no joke) single parents took business trips, and doctors were on call and had their APs mirror their schedules, essentially making the APs on call and working at least 12 hour shifts at a time. Not one of those APs was happy about it and yes, I did speak with all of them directly.

The stress of being left alone with the kids and household on your shoulders while HPs are on business trips, vacations, etc frazzled the APs to no end. That combined with them being forced to lie to their LCs because the LCs do ask if they are working more than 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week so now you are asking your AP to lie regularly for you in addition to you lying about it when the LC or AD checks in with you.

Now, if you want to get two APs and have them split times so that everything is covered (again no long trips away from home but like doctors on call) and the APs are good with that no worries. But asking one AP to take that on I think is too much. I watched one dual doctor family go through 4 APs and two agencies this way and lots of hard feelings all the way around. BTW – that 2 doctor family paid the AP $15 an hour for everything over 10 hours a day and 45 hours a week and the APs were still miserable. Being on call did not allow them to have a real experience and while the money was a nice gesture it didn’t make up for the fact that they had trouble taking classes or making any plans ever.

German Au-Pair June 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Actually, I was left alone with the kids (pre-teens, so they did go to school and could be left alone for a quick run to the shop) for almost a week. I actually liked it. It was exhausting, yes. I couldn’t really meet friends because they were usually busy in the mornings and off in the evenings and when my HP came back I walked through Target for almost 2 hours just because it felt so good to do something for myself, but I happily offered to do it again. It doesn’t have to be bad.
I personally would only consider working such an extreme schedule if I really really felt I wanted to live with this family for other reasons. And then only if there’s a clear schedule at least a bit ahead of time. I think every AP has to cancel plans last minute every now and then because something came up for the parents but I would not do being “on call” would definitely not work for me.
I absolutely think being on call needs to be counted as work time because while the AP may be able to do relax during that time, she’s also not able to do as she pleases.

exaupair June 30, 2014 at 4:57 pm

You’re right, however there are more and less important plans, and some things simply cannot be cancelled. For that reason I wouldn’t want a family where both HPs have jobs that require their extreme flexibility because I would have to be extremely flexible as a result. Extra cash is always nice, but I agree that APs who always need to put HPs schedules first get unhappy and resentful really early into their year.

CAcapitolHostMom June 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Never asked an au pair to work crazy hours like that. But– dual military family– they’ve wanted in on the action. About three or four months into their year and they see how much I pay a babysitter for those extra hours she can’t do because they exceed her 45 hours, she comes to me asking for more hours. And I’m happy to oblige. Why shouldn’t that extra cash go to a capable, integrated child care professional instead of a (sometimes) lame babysitter?

Extreme scheduling is another example of host parents taking advantage of au pairs, a big no no. But after awhile, if an au pair is truly part of the family, she wants to pitch in during a busy season too. That’s what a true family member or friend does and I admire their passion.

Here’s what I think the greater issue is: I wish their was a personality test for host parents to see if we’re really up to snuff. Some of them really mail it in and have expectations of getting slave labor instead of a human being.

WarmStateMomma June 27, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I think the key here is that the AP is asking for the extra hours/cash. I’d rather have my AP watch my daughter than a babysitter any day, but I also understand why some HPs feel like they should say no.

TexasHM June 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Totally agreed. While we do have to make sure that our childcare options are affordable and a good fit, if the only reason you are getting an AP is because its cheaper I don’t think you are on track.

As any of the HPs on this site will probably attest, hosting requires investment and getting an AP because its cheaper (its not less expensive for us, actually) doesn’t usually translate well into the spirit of the program. We have plenty of friends that think we are nuts for doing the AP program when we could do several other things for the same money or less but we love hosting, we really do so we invest in that. Same goes with scheduling 45 hours because that is the max.

I know HPs that will schedule the AP just to have them work 45 hours and while again, we all have budgets and hosting has to make sense $, I don’t think making them work to get the max hours is in the spirit either.

I’m not trying to judge or say many do this, just saying when you find yourself saying “I don’t have anything this weekend but AP has only worked 20 hours this week so I need to add in a date night and have her work this weekend” you might consider other options or at minimum PLEASE be very candid and upfront with candidates about it!

AlwaysHopeful HM June 27, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Single mom here, with a long commute. I’m gone 12 hrs a day, assuming traffic is okay (not an easy assumption). AP works a split shift, so I can still fairly easily sta within hours, but I move heaven and earth to make sure i’m not home too late time-wise, so AP has a meaningful chance to go out with friends if wanted. Also, weekends are rarely needed, or if so, just a couple of hours. Texas HM, I get what you’re saying about some types of families being in a position of being less capable of sticking to the rules, but I dont think thats the same as saying that those types are more likely to break the rules. Totally agree with HRHM’s point there. Like everyone else, families with extra challenges do what they need to do to make it work, trying their best to follow the rules along the way.

I guess I also agree with the statement that families shouldn’t use leftover hours just to get their money’s worth out of cheapness, but looking atbit another way, for someone who’s accustomed to just not being able to get some things done (long work day, very active son who wants and deserves lots of attention, and work I have to bring home to complete after he goes to bed, not to mention all the taking care of the home stuff), it’s an amazing feeling to sometimes realize: oh, that’s right, I do have a way to get (fill in the blank) done! AP can watch HC for a few hours and things will be less overwhelming! If AP understands that 10/45 hours are the standard and less is a bonus, and HF is using the hours they need– not to pinch pennies, but because they need help within the limits of a flexible child care program, why not use the full 45?

Also, I won’t do it because I have nearby family to help with backup care, but if AP is willing to do a little extra time here and there for money or perks, and she’s not getting too burned out, I don’t fault the HPs who engage in that.

Bottom line– I believe that most people are just doing the best they can to get what they need from the program without doing anything wrong or unfair. And those few that are really just looking for naive, low-paid laborers should be removed from the program.

TexasHM July 1, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Like! And totally agreed on your bottom line.

SAHHM July 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

Seconding TexasHM. Absolutely agree!

HRHM June 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Dual military, living as a single parent (stationed separately) doctor here. I have never, not even during advanced surgical fellowship or deployments, used an AP in any of these extreme schedules. People don’t do this because they “have to”, they do it because they think they can get away with it…

Dorsi June 27, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Agreed. DH and I have challenging work and travel schedules and we get extra help when we need it. When I have worked overnights and DH travels, we pay someone to sleep with the kids, so AP can be fresh and bright in the morning. It grates me a bit to pay $100 for someone to do sleep with their ears open all night, but I don’t feel I have a choice. My three kids burn out the AP pretty well when everything goes smoothly — for her mental health, my kids’ safety and happiness, I need her to be rested and have enthusiasm for her work.

This is one of the reasons I won’t consider APs with 10,000 hours of experience — taking care of a sibling 15 hours/day x 6 days a week x years. When you do that kind of care, you do the bare minimum. You put the kids in front of the TV so you can get through the day.

WarmStateMomma June 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Our AP works 3 days a week, for 11 hours a day. (We try for 10, but it’s usually closer to 11 because of work/traffic realities.) That should get better when we move next month to a neighborhood with a shorter commute. Staggering work times would cost $450-500 more per month than carpooling, result in the AP working four 9-hr days per week, and the AP wouldn’t have the second car available. We have one child and she sleeps 3-4 hours of the AP’s work day, so the AP isn’t dealing with an awake child more than 4 hours in a stretch.

Our AP also usually works 2 more shifts per month, between 1-5 hours, while I run errands or head to the doctor. These usually fall during my child’s nap time on weekdays, when the AP rarely leaves the house anyway, so I can have more awake time with my favorite girl.

I don’t worry about the 1.5 days off or how it’s structured because the AP usually has a 3-day weekend and never has 3 full workdays in a row.

This all seems reasonable and within the spirit of the program to me, although technically out of compliance. We made the hours seem more onerous than reality prior to matching so there wouldn’t be sour grapes upon arrival.

The next AP’s job will be a lot harder because there will be two kids and she won’t necessarily have 3-4 hour stretches where everyone is sleep. We may revisit our thinking on the schedule then.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 28, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I know it seems reasonable to you, but if the relationship you have with your AP breaks down, not only will she have great grounds for rematch, you may find yourself bounced out the program.

DH and I have done tag team parenting since child #1 was born, so it seemed perfectly natural when the first AP came into our lives when child #2 was 5 months old that we would continue to behave that way. We stagger our schedules, and when needs be, use vacation time to keep the AP under 10 hours a day and 45 hours per week. Since I couldn’t afford to take a vacation for the first few years we host, the use of my vacation time didn’t seem so awful. Ironically, it was worse when we used nursing for The Camel while we gutted our house to make it handicapped accessible. The nurses couldn’t care for child #2, and every time The Camel had a doctor’s appointment, I had to take 1/2 day off to run home, pick up the car, pick up child #2, head to the school of child #1, and drive to the hospital outpatient clinic. And give the nurse the evening off! That stress alone made au pair juggling 100% worth it!

Have I ever broken the rules? Absoutely – no one’s perfect and I’ve been hosting for 13 years! But it’s a lot easier to beg AP foregiveness for the rare infraction than for the daily one!

WarmStateMomma June 29, 2014 at 9:07 am

We got tired of apologizing for being gone 10.5 hours all the time, so with AP#2 we just told her the days would be 11 hours long. We wanted her expectations to be realistic.

If the AP is looking for grounds for rematch, I’d prefer to rematch anyway. Hosting an AP costs twice as much as daycare and to add another $500/mo for extra commuting costs would make the program cost-prohibitive. My job also doesn’t have “vacation time” or “personal time” – just “face time.” Juggling everything and paying so much extra to guarantee we stay within 10/hrs would eliminate the whole convenience aspect of the program for us so I’m not overly concerned about getting bounced from the program. Regardless, we are moving next month to shorten our commute. That should keep us within 10/hrs barring (rain or wrecks).

Peachtree Mom June 28, 2014 at 9:48 am

Our aupair would love an extreme schedule. She is older (26) and LOVES to take off and explore with her friend. I do not use an extreme schedule because I don’t have that need at the present but have been between the rules and extreme b/c of the same situation HRHM is in. Having done one and scheduled for the next two weeks with a night call shift that falls on a Thursday late afternoon and ends Friday AM, I asked our aupair what she wanted to do. I could hire our cleaning lady who we’ve known for the last 5 years to cover at night or our aupair could cover and take off as soon as I got home Friday AM. I have a neighbor who is my family careplan and ready to jump in for any issues. My daughter is in daycamp or school everyday until 4 or 5pm and sleeps in my bedroom which has a sunroom/bedroom attached. Our aupair left Friday morning and I will see again sometime Sunday night. Because she was off last Sunday, her total hours worked this week was 35 even with that overnight shift and everyone is happy. The first scenario of leaving the children for three days without parental supervision is crazy but my aupair would love the next two scenarios. Our spirit seems fine. Our aupair is always saying how happy she is with us and the three of us have a great time together. I agree there should be rules to protect the aupair with how vulnerable they are here, but there should also be some wiggle room when it works well for both the aupair and HF.

American Host Mom in Europe June 28, 2014 at 10:54 am

I find this an interesting discussion because it tends to focus more on following the rules in the US, rather than about what is reasonable, fair, or agreed. As a non-US HP, we have no rules around this in the country I’m in. When I needed help 12+ hours a day (had three children under 2, including newborn twins, and husband works out of town Mon-Fri), I got two au pairs — not because it was a rule, but because it was sensible for them, and for me, and for my kids — to not have burned out, overtired caretakers (well, other than their mom, but nothing to do about that!). Now, one or two times a year I have business trips (and hubby is still out of town M-F), and I plan so I’m never away more than 2 nights, and my au pair is fine with it — but we agree it months in advance. And my kids are at daycare 9-3, so she still has a reasonably short “active work” day – 2 hours in the morning, 4-5 hours in the evening, then sleeping time. I guess by US standards this is considered extreme, but none of my au pairs has worried about it. To me, the most important thing is an open discussion and ensuring reasonableness for all involved. For instance, the first time I had a business trip away, I also scheduled a babysitter to come the afternoon in the middle and help / give AP a bit of relief.

FormerEuropeanAu-Pair June 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

I have stayed with a family where I had three long days (plus the occasional babysitting) and four days off (3kids, the oldest was 3). This actually suited me very well, as I loved to be able to travel and go on daytrips on my days off. However the days were really long and I was always exausted in the evening (which was fine, as I had some days to rest afterwards).

In another family I have also looked after twin-babies for 8 days while the parents were gone and this was actually quite nice :)

exaupair June 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

“In another family I have also looked after twin-babies for 8 days while the parents were gone and this was actually quite nice :)” – it was also quite illegal, unless you got a fair amount extra for it consider yourself used and abused.

American Host Mom in Europe July 2, 2014 at 5:03 am

Only illegal in countries that actually have rules around this, like the US. In much of Europe, there are not regulations around what an au pair can or can’t do.

Peachtree Mom June 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I like the comment that the arrangement is discussed fully between the HF and aupair. Also, with the wiggle room and flexibility with the stated rules, it is not always about the extra expense. For me and my husband’s unexpected deployment, I want to limit the foot traffic in my house. I am kind of paranoid Our well known family cleaning lady and family careplan neighbors are always there as back up. As I said earlier, Friday AM when I got back, she had her bright pink overnight bag on her shoulder and a big smile on her face. I brought my daughter to tennis and then daycamp and had a nice snooze until it was time to pick her up. Win-win for both of us.

WarmStateMomma June 29, 2014 at 8:51 am

Your arrangement seems to benefit everyone. Sometimes when I think about the way APs operate in Europe and the US, the US system seems really patronizing to the APs. Of course the hours should be reasonable, but different APs will have different wants, needs and abilities. When I was AP age, I would have gladly taken the overnight shift to have a long weekend. And if the child sleeps through the night anyway, it’s really a no-brainer.

German Au-Pair June 29, 2014 at 9:50 am

I think it’s to protect the APs who can’t or don’t want to deal with this sort of arrangement. When both parties agree to something like that, I don’t think most ADs would mind either. The rules are there for a reason -to protect young women in a foreign country from exploitation and that’s good. But when the AP agrees to change that a bit -for mutual gain-, I see no problem.
It’s just important that it’s an offer, not an order by the HP so the AP doesn’t feel obligated. Or, if it’s necessary for the family, to make that perfectly clear before rematching.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 29, 2014 at 10:21 pm

The major difference is that in the United States au pair agencies are regulated by the State Dept., and au pairs arrive under a cultural exchange visa – hence the need to complete college credits and attend cluster meetings. It is obviously a fiction – while HF “know” that they have brought the AP to work. Nevertheless, the program is designed to protect APs from abusive schedules and unsafe living conditions, while also protecting HFs. Yes, we all know that HF abuses exist and that some APs are sent home immediately because they are ill-equipped to do the job. It’s not a perfect system, but it obviously works for a majority of people, or the agencies would have stopped running the program long ago.

There is a a system for individualized contracts – nannies.

It can be extremely difficult for parents of young children who need every minute of the 45 hours to juggle and make it work – btdt! But it’s really important to the HF-AP relationship.

WarmStateMomma June 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

I understand your point, but sometimes these scheduling violations are an accommodation or benefit that benefits the AP as much or more than the HF.

We’ve given the AP a choice over whether we have our date night on Friday or Saturday (Saturday would have violated the 1.5 days rule that specific week) because her plans with friends were still in flux. It was kinder to let her join her friends on Friday than to make her stay in to “protect” her right to 1.5 uninterrupted days. APs can be up to 28 years old during their stay – their preferences should be accorded some consideration even though they aren’t American.

swede June 30, 2014 at 9:31 am

Au pair here (NOT in USA NOT with agency)

I worked extremse schedule and I am happily comeing back to that family.

Fisrtly before divorce HM (homestayed mum) really took advantage of me, using me my days of wiuthout pay or single thank you, HF worked a lot. Was thinking about leaving but talked to HF realized divorce going on. Long story short i stayed with family because i love these kids.
FIRSTLY after divorce i was supposed to go one week with HM while living with HF and than second week with HF. Exhausting and bad working enviroment didnt go over 30 h in each house tough.

SECONDLY after talk with HF i stayed only with him because of HM behavior and i worked like 60/80 hours one week, basily did houswife job (everything from laundry to cooking) but kids were in day care from 9 – 4 and if i had special plans i never had problem to take a free day even when it was the week when HF had kids. (shared care with HM) and than next week i had completly free when HM had kids. Have to say because HF was helpful even if he came home really late or whatever, Open to change schedule, I felt like member of the family, and thats why I am comeing back, even when the schedule is crazy, it worked well, so i think it depends how you do it.

TexasHM June 30, 2014 at 9:41 am

TACL as usual you hit exactly what I was trying to say but in a much clearer manner and I will add a little to it to clarify my position from above – it can be extremely hard difficult for dual working parents of young children, single parents and certain professions to juggle schedules and make it work within the rules of the program – but its really important to the HF-AP relationship and critical to the success of the program as a whole and like you said, there is a system for individualized contracts – nannies!
We had a dual doctor family in the area go through several APs before they finally changed to a nanny and now they spend the same money and are much much happier. Nanny loves the arrangement as well. I love the AP program but there are some scenarios that I think are too much to ask of an 18-26 year old from another country and while being upfront during matching is definitely a good start, I often see APs that agree to anything to get here and then end up miserable, in rematch or go home and that doesn’t help anyone. Same reason we send our handbook as part of the interview process – no bait and switch here. If she reads the 20-30 pages and finds herself nodding her head and really gets it – thats a great sign for us. Anything less and we Skype to make sure its not a language issue and assuming its not then we cut her loose.

Seattle Mom June 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I really think I’m going to use the handbook as part of the interview process in the future. In the past I’ve only used it after matching, but by that point it’s too late.

We’re not a rules-heavy family but we do have some quirks that some APs might find hard to swallow.

TexasHM June 30, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I know other host families that wait until after the AP arrives to review the handbook and their APs feel like its a bait and switch even if the family swears they told the AP everything thats in the handbook upfront. At this point a surprising benefit was that its been a great screening tool – some APs agree to anything and then they read our handbook and realize we are serious about this and organized and BSing their way through the interview and agreeing to everything may work for some families but will not be swept under the rug here. Our handbook isn’t scary but it is candid. We explain our policies, give examples from previous APs of things that worked and didn’t work and its a general how-to thrive in our household guide. Our two fantastic APs LOVED it (or at least said they did) and read it multiple times without being asked. The last two got here and said it was exactly like we said it would be – best compliment I can get. :)

exaupair June 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I’m surprised there are APs who just jump on the plane to join the family not having seen the handbook first.
I would be equally bemused seeing HF who doesn’t share the handbook before even considering matching. Either way too risky.
Plus HF saying something like “we will discuss the details first thing when you get here” would just sound dodgy, but what do I know, maybe there are some desperates out there who don’t care what Family they’ll end up with as long as it’s the US.

AussiePair June 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm

My current family didn’t send me a handbook and in fact still Donny even have one and they’re fantastic! And my previous host family’s handbook simply had numbers and addresses of family members I might need to call and instructions on how to use the household appliances and they were also fantastic! There’s a lot more to a good match than seeing a handbook

WarmStateMomma July 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm


I don’t know how many families use a handbook – we never heard of one until I found this site. Sharing the family’s policies/rules with the AP before matching allows the AP to make a more informed choice about whether the family will be a good fit. A lot of families probably do this by email conversation, too.

I also suspect part of the reason your host families are so fantastic is because they see how engaged you are with their kids (treasure hunts and the like) and know their kids are fortunate to have someone like you caring for them.

WarmStateMomma June 30, 2014 at 6:39 pm

I’m going to ask AP#2 for feedback on revising our handbook before sending it to potential successors, to ensure it’s as accurate as possible. Well, it needs to sound more onerous than reality. We’ve loosened up on the rules set forth once we realized AP#2 wasn’t going to give us reason for concern in certain areas. I’d rather relax expected rules than impose new ones.

Angie host mom June 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

We break the rules only with considerable forethought and conversation, and with an understanding of our au pair’s position and disposition.

Most of the time it is because she has asked for extra time off to go somewhere for a long weekend and not count it as vacation time, so we extreme scheduled when it was useful for us and wouldn’t be too hard for her (ie kids asleep).

Host Mom X July 1, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Angie host mom – This was how we operated with a prior AP (our best). She wanted to go home for two weeks for a family event when she had already used her two weeks vacation (plus had more vacation time when we went away to visit family a couple of times). She was a wonderful AP, and we were extending. We told her we could do one week, but two would have been really hard (HD has a very flexible schedule and works form home a lot, but a certain amount of work does have to get done, sometimes with deadlines). She then offered to make up the hours at other times before and after her trip, so that HD could have that time to get his projects done. This resulted in AP working some days longer than 10 hours, and other weeks more than 45 hours, but she was much happier doing this and having her two week trip home than she would have been had she only gone home for one week. (The flight was so long to her country that one week may not even have been worth it for her.) And we were happy to accommodate this favorite AP, yet in a way that allowed us to still get our work done.

This AP also would do extra babysitting or hours for extra pay. We had a “right of first refusal” relationship with her. If we needed extra hours, we’d ask her first if she wanted to do it, and if not, we’d get a babysitter. This is of course against the rules, and TACL is right – this can come back to bite you. But with this AP it did not.

Now, with a subsequent AP we never did this. She was an extension and made it clear from the start that she had just come from a family that did “extreme” scheduling regularly, as well as unpredictable scheduling, and she wanted no part in that. We discussed schedule before matching, and assured her that we were a family who did clear scheduling, and would never ask her do work beyond the program hours. While we had a good relationship with this AP, it was more professional than family-like. After having a babysitter over several times while AP was home for the evening, or having a dogwalker come in while we were away for a weekend while AP was home, AP came to us and said she’d be happy to do this extra babysitting or dogwalking instead of us hiring a babysitter. (I think she felt awkward having the babysitter or dogwalker in the house while she was there, and realized that she could have also been making cash while not doing too much extra, since the kids were asleep, and walking the dog isn’t too hard.) But we didn’t take her up on this more than once or twice. I think because the relationship was less family-like, less give-and-take, less flexible – we had the worries that TACL expressed. That if something went downhill, we didn’t want this extra scheduling to have been part of the relationship.

With our current AP, we probably could have a similar “right of first refusal” arrangement for babysitting, but I think we got so used to just making the 45 hours work with the prior AP that we haven’t broached the subject (well, and HD’s schedule has gotten even more accommodating in the past few years).

Should be working July 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm

We do “right of first refusal” with dog walking. Basically our APs the last few yrs have volunteered to to walk the dog, and I felt guilty and started paying them. We’ll see what the incoming one wants, I don’t want to start off with a rule-bender issue.

Seattle Mom June 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I am not in favor of extreme scheduling except in a true emergency that could not have been predicted, and definitely not on a regular basis.

The only time I have had an au pair work more than the regulated number of hours was when I went on a business trip. I gave the au pair the choice of staying home with the kids (and DH) or coming along on the trip with the kids. If she stayed home she would be on her regular schedule, but if she came along then it would be different. We stayed at my MIL’s house and it gave AP an opportunity to see a major U.S. city (and tourist destination) far away from our’s- she’s a travel buff, so she accepted the trip & knew up front what it would entail. I was at a conference for 2 long days, so she worked 12 hours those days. My MIL was home with her and the kids, but my MIL is useless with children. Then AP got 3 days of vacation in the city, while I hung out with the children (and visited friends & family because it’s a city where I used to live) and AP toured around. She had to help me get the kids to bed every night because they were very difficult at that age (just 1 and 3), and she also provided childcare after bedtime one night so I could go out with a friend. Overall it was a pretty good deal for both of us and we’re glad we did it!

Outside of that situation I’ve never had an AP work greater than 10 hours in a day.. a different AP ended up working more than 45 hours once in her year with us, because older DD was sick for a whole week and couldn’t go to school. I was going to take some sick leave to relieve the AP but she insisted that she didn’t mind working more. She told us from the beginning that she loved to work and didn’t mind working more hours than the rules allowed. I was still careful to never schedule her for more than 45 hours in a week except that one week. She was an extension AP and her previous job was much harder, so she felt like her life with us was a vacation. She did work hard with us, but her previous HF had 5 kids and we only have 2.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 1, 2014 at 8:05 am

Emergencies are different, and one always hopes that one’s AP will rise to the occasion. I came home one day in a week in which AP #3 was working a 45-hour week AND I had houseguests, and the AP said to me, “Look at The Camel’s neck.” Sure enough, a piece of metal was poking through (the Camel’s neck was fused when she was 5), and I said “I need to go to the ER right now. As much as I want to let you go right now, my houseguest is useless to take care of child #2, could you please work extra until he goes to bed, at which point the houseguest will be the adult in charge?” Not only did she agree, but she packed The Camel’s bag for the ER while I packed mine. (And yes, the Camel had emergency surgery.)

Her bonus – our car has no curfew nor distance limitations once APs have their US driver’s license. So the time she took the car to another state and didn’t get home in time to work on a Monday morning, we chalked it up to all things being equal.

WarmStateMomma July 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Thankfully, we’ve never had such a serious emergency.

HD had to work very late one night (unforeseeable work emergency) when we carpooled to work. I went home solo to relieve the AP, with the plan of taking the toddler back with me to pick up HD at 11 pm. The AP put her foot down and insisted the toddler stay asleep in bed even though the AP had worked a full day already. (This kind of thing happened twice with the old AP, who never once mentioned letting the little one sleep.)

We responded to this (and the AP’s general good attitude) by inviting our kind-hearted AP to a major tourist destination on her US bucket list for 5 days while I visit my parents. It’s a true vacation for her (we’re hanging with family, not seeing the sights with her) and she has a friend joining her so they can explore together.

You reap what you sow.

WarmStateMomma July 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I’m still thinking about your daughter’s neck. Your family must be made of pretty strong stuff to handle everything that comes your way.

Seattle Mom July 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm

My thoughts exactly!

TexasHM June 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I think its important to note – and please correct me if wrong CV – that the spirit of the original post was EXTREME scheduling. Not one-off babysitting that the AP wants to do for extra money, moving an hour here or there to accommodate APs travel wants for the weekend (working win/win) or being within minutes of the limit due to challenging commute thats disclosed upfront to AP before matching. I get the impression by using the term extreme scheduling – that this is consistent, planned scheduling that falls well outside of the program rules. Examples given – 45 hours straight, 60 hours one week off the next, 15 hours 3 days in a row.
Its clear to me, and one reason I love this blog that the vast majority of posters have a strong sense of the spirit of the program and are here to the betterment of all – other HFs that read their comments, APs, their own APs, HKs, etc. I don’t think anything mentioned so far has been an example of extreme scheduling. I’ve seen APs work 115 hours per week (yes I confirmed it and did the math with her) watching 8 kids, APs work for dual physician families end up “on-call” and break every scheduling rule (over 10 hrs per day, 45 per week, 1.5 off per week, weekend off per month). I also know families that have left the AP alone with kids for overnight business trips regularly. None of those APs were in happy in spite of the fact that all but one of these families mentioned provided additional perks. Doctors paid extra $, business trip family gave extra vacation days and paid extra, etc. It didn’t make the APs happy and strained or killed the relationship every time.
I realize no one is likely to raise their hand and admit to extreme scheduling because of the potential for outing oneself on a major program violation but I am curious to know if anyone has (or thinks they have) a happy AP with an extreme schedule.

WarmStateMomma June 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

My AP told me a friend of hers is watching a toddler while the HPs go out of town. The boyfriend is allowed to stay with her and she’s looking forward to it. She’s an extension AP and has a history with this family. I expressed surprise and mentioned that it’s against the rules and my AP said it wasn’t a big deal and she’d be fine with that. (I wouldn’t do it, though.)

115 hours in a week with 8 kids would drive me to a nervous breakdown – or worse.

Seattle Mom July 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Very good point, emergencies =/ scheduling. I don’t actually know anyone who does extreme scheduling, but I am sure they are out there. I think it’s a bad practice to get into, though maybe some APs can tolerate it and like the perks. I think it is a risk not worth taking, on many levels.

Host Mom X July 1, 2014 at 5:50 pm

You’re right, Texas HM – there probably aren’t a lot of regular posters on here who truly engage in extreme scheduling! As you’ve pointed out, if folks understand the spirit of the program and its limitations as most of the posters on here do, they would not use an AP for childcare if they had extreme scheduling needs.

Over the years, our APs have had friends with extreme-scheduling families, and while some have been unhappy with it, others seemed okay. Maybe not overjoyed, but were otherwise happy with their AP year, enough-so that the extreme scheduling wasn’t worth it to them to initiate rematch over. E.g. one of our AP’s had a best friend who lived in the neighborhood whose host family would leave her with the kids for full weekends, or have her drive or take the train with the kids to grandma’s and then watch them there while the parents were away for a weekend. This was tough for her (the kids were pretty young and required a lot of attention), but she loved our city and her friends, and she generally had full weekends off and didn’t work super-long days. But the full weekend thing (with overnights) was somewhat common (I think the parents were actors and would be away for performances).

Another AP’s friend’s host parents were constantly “late” from work – so her usual work days were 12 hours, although it seemed the host parents never scheduled her that way officially – it just kept happening. These host parents engaged in some other egregious behavior I won’t describe here, but generally – this AP also seemed fairly happy with her time in the program. She extended with this family.

But this, to me, is why the rules exist. APs should have a happy year while not also being exploited! For instance, in the last example I described, I don’t think the host family paid the AP extra for the extra work. This AP may think of her time in the U.S. as a great time, but she was exploited, and wrongly so.

Should be working June 30, 2014 at 4:43 pm

In general I like to stick close to the rules, to keep things unambiguous. But a few times, with a trusted and loved AP, we have broken the rules–but in a way that sticks to the letter of the member-of-family law, albeit not the spirit of the employee-law.

I say something like this: “Because of the 1.5-days-off rules, we can’t do x and y the way we wanted and so that you could have Saturday night off; so you’ll need to instead work q and p, including Saturday night.” And she says, “I would rather do x and y, I don’t care that it’s against the rules.” And I say, “I can’t ask you to work x and y. But are you saying you WANT to babysit kids during that time as a favor, as part of the family? And then we can do you the favor of not asking you to work q and p?” and she agrees.

That’s living with a family–favors and exchanges, freely offered and taken. I would only do this with a trusted and loved AP, where the hint of ambiguity can be handled. It is corny, but I do feel like it takes “member of the family” at its word and to everyone’s benefit. Same thing when an AP sees that I really need to run out and get milk or something, and she’s home, and kids are watching tv, and says, “No problem, I can be in charge for a few minutes while you are gone”, even when it’s past her 45 or 10/day.

TexasHM June 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Totally agreed on this. Had DH slice his hand open when AP was off duty at home with an AP friend over and they took my 3 kids and shooed DH and I out the door to the hospital and wouldn’t let me get a word out in protest. I got them a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory (don’t get me started) so they could go out another time as a token of our appreciation. Youngest got stitches end of last week and the minute it happened my off duty AP was telling us to go and she would watch my other two – in that case we insisted DH stay home and watch the kids and I took youngest to urgent care myself (it was 3 stitches) so again, a one-off mutually agreed upon event I think is very different than CVs definition of extreme scheduling and there is definitely an exchange of favors in a family that isn’t subject to this. At the same time, I have to wonder if our APs are so willing to pitch in with situations like this because we don’t usually ask for favors…APs? Any APs out there happy with consistent extreme schedules?

Seute Deern July 1, 2014 at 5:05 am

No. It is so wrong to expect au pairs to work such a schedule.
Case of emergency? Mom is away for business, dad ends up in hospital, granny needs 48 hours to fly in… ooookay. There are probably many scenarios where an au pair will ‘need’ to work a crazy schedule because ‘something’ comes up. That’s life. It happens.

I did overnight care twice. We were fine, obviously. Host parents were very appreciative. Said thank you, scheduled additional (paid) vacation days for me.
Once it was scheduled after asking me (host dad surprising host mom at the last day of a business trip due to it being their wedding anniversary), second was my host mom having a baby (I could have gone home but asked to stay at the hospital with the teens who wanted to stay and wait for baby brother to be born).

I really can’t believe there are many au pairs out there who appreciate extreme schedules like that, even in a country where it might be allowed. They will do it, of course. You can pressure some girls into anything really. But you will risk ending up with an exhausted au pair that provides less than stellar child care.

Au pairs are. not. parents. Parents don’t get time off. But that’s a decision you make when you have children. Au pairs are employees. Employees get time off. Your employer doesn’t schedule you to be in the office 60 hours in a row. Even on a business trip you will at least be off over night (I actually am lucky to be working less than usual while on business trips and it is still counted as full hours worked). Pilots don’t fly 72 hours, they get breaks. They might not be able to go home but they aren’t tied to their plane. Doctors and nurses in hospitals may work crappy hours of course but still – no reason to make your au pair suffer together with you.

Ending up with burned out, overtired, frustrated caretakers for your children really can’t be what you want to end up with.

WestMom July 1, 2014 at 12:10 pm

By no means extreme scheduling, but how do people deal with two commuting parents? I used to work closer to home and I was transferred to the city in April (1.5hr door/door commute each way). My husband has a new job and zero flexibility. Now that the kids are out of school, I am finding it impossible to keep to a 10hr day. For the first time in 5 years, we have had to ask for a longer hours (4x 11hr days- but AP is actually very happy about the 3 day weekend). Things will settle again once kids are in school, but for now I can’t see any way around this…

NoVA Twin Mom July 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Camp. Seriously.

My kids are at “Camp Grandma” at the moment, but when our new au pair comes in a few weeks, they’ll be spending three hours a day at MyGym (like Gymboree or Little Gym), at three they’re old enough for the drop off classes and they’re running a pay-by-the-day camp. We’re signed up for something like five weeks.

Between camp and preschool (four afternoons a week, three hours at a time during the school year), and the staggered schedules we’ve come up with, it works. I also have a 90 minute commute, which goes marginally easier the earlier I leave. So I leave the house at 6, he leaves at 7:30. I return at 5:30 (ten hours after he left) and he returns at 6:30. I take one or two hours off on Friday when necessary to make everything even out to 45 hours. The two weeks that my husband has to travel for work my parents are coming in to help, mainly to cover the “edges” of the au pair time so we stay within the regulations.

We try really hard to keep our schedule within regulations. I warn our au pairs when they arrive of the Commutageddon that happened a few years ago – a sudden snowstorm in the middle of the day caused some normally 1.5 hour commutes to turn into 8 hour commutes home. Luckily all the au pairs and LCCs I heard about pulled together and no one was left without care – helped by the fact that everything closed and au pairs had nowhere else to go! Or the earthquake we got a few years ago (and we DON’T get earthquakes here :)) that caused the commute home to go crazy. Because chances are there will be a problem at some point during their year.

As TACL reminds us, as long as your relationship with your au pair is OK, “off the books” arrangements for schedules and other accommodations work. Once she decides she wants rematch or has a problem she can no longer deal with, those arrangements will just become mud for her to sling your way. Better to have only emergency situations for her to bring up.

NoVA Twin Mom July 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Sorry, I wasn’t entirely clear – we use camp to not only “buy” us a little cushion on the days they’re in camp, but to “buy” us some hours on Friday – because otherwise we’d run out of our 45 hours about halfway through Friday. By putting the kids in camp or preschool 12 hours a week (and I count three hours of camp as a two hour break, since she’ll have to get there and back if she decides to go home) we get about 53 hours a week instead of 45. Still tight, but not nearly as bad as only 45.

WarmStateMomma July 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I had an internship somewhere where the staff had a choice between working 4 days or 5 per week (same hours total). Not one person chose 5 days. Some had kids, some didn’t. Some lived close to the office; some didn’t.

In my current city, the biggest corporate employers offer many of their employees a system where they can choose to have alternating Fridays off in exchange for making up those hours on the other 9 days. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t take that deal either.

If most Americans would choose a 4-day schedule, it’s no surprise that your AP is pleased with the arrangement. And it doesn’t mean that your family is taking advantage of her.

WestMom July 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I work 4 days as well. That’s how we can manage the 11hrs x 4 days at the moment. Unfortunately, both our schedules are not very flexible. DH has a new job, I am consulting, so I have no real job security. I managed to negotiate a 4 day schedule, but those 4 days really count. And although I can ask for my own time off, it means no paycheck is coming in, and I am afraid of being less marketable…

About camp… Our kids are older (13, 10, 10), I haven’t really seen any drop off/half day camp options for that age in our area. Each child goes to day camp for a few weeks during the summer (not overlapping, and each their own based on their talents/affinities- nearly impossible to get them excited about the same activity at that age…). That leave AP with only two kids at the swimming pool for most of the summer.

Technically, we are getting to the point where I could tell AP to just be done at 6PM and leave my 13yr old in charge. Thankfully AP doesn’t mind the summer schedule, but I might have to consider that for next summers…

NoVA Twin Mom July 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm

For older kids by us, the parks and recreation people have camps that might work. Your kids may actually be too old for this (and not sure of your religious preferences) – what about Vacation Bible School? My kids are still a year too young for most programs, but next year I’m making a big list of what church meets what week and they’re going to have a tour of VBS in our area. Those tend to be 2-3 hours at a time and VERY reasonably priced.

Seattle Mom July 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Good point. I’ve just been offered a new job (yay!) where I think I will be allowed to work 9 hour days and get every other Friday off… there might even be a 4 X 10 work week. I am seriously considering these options.

WarmStateMomma July 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm


TexasHM July 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Yay congrats!!

exaupair July 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm

My company allows 3 types of schedules, 7.5hrs/5 days a week (chosen by most of people in the office) 4 longer days per week with Friday off or 6 short days per week including Saturday. And guess what, EVERYONE in my team except me signed up for the 6 day week, where they only come in for few hours each day. For the time being my partner has an extreme schedule so I can’t afford to spend half of Saturday at work as it would mean we wouldn’t have much time left to spend together. However if his schedule was different then I’d probably like the idea of 6 short days instead of 5 long or 4 really long ones!

Back to the original topic, for me au pairing was meant to be a chilled gap year so I rather wouldn’t pick HPs with demanding jobs or weekend-date-night expectations. But then I met some APs with really weird hours, who were only in it for the money(quite frankly they didn’t even like children…) and every night, weekend or few days in the row was a way to earn more. Few of them actually managed to save up a lot at the end of every month.

NJ Mama July 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

WestMom — My husband and I both have long commutes (he is an hour and 10 minutes west, I’m at least 90 minutes north). He is also in the army. I don’t think we could have made this work when our kids were younger. (At that time, before we were both downsized, we each had a one-hour commute one way. But my boss was especially flexible, so I went in early and left early, and my husband went in late and left late. We had the kids in daycare and then aftercare).

Now, with our long commutes, there is no way we can stick to a 10-hour day schedule when the kids are off from school. I have found an arts center nearby that is reasonably priced and the kids really like, and I usually send the kids there (or some other sort of camp — county parks, YMCA, etc) for at least a few hours in the morning when school is out and neither of us can take off from work. That keeps us at or under 10 hours/ day. But it’s a juggle, and I know my friends think I’m crazy for spending money on an au pair and the camps. But what are you going to do? In fact, after trying stringing together a bunch of week-long cheaper camps in the summer, we now buck up and send the kids to a great (ie, expensive) summer day camp (the kind where they pick the kids up at 8 am and drop them off at 4 p.m.). I will say the consistency in the schedule has been great for everyone.

As a result, just as TACL did when her kids were younger, we have never gone on a real family vacation. In fact, I now tell the kids that the great summer camp they’re going to is their summer vacation. :) It helps that we live close to the beach.

That said, we do get squeezed from time to time. Despite our best efforts, inevitably one of kids will get sick during the rare week that we’re hitting the max, and then the whole schedule is thrown off. Or my husband is sent on a 3-week training just as I’m hitting a crazy time at work, and the commute runs late and I’m over hours. It doesn’t happen often but it probably happens a few times a year. Like many of the others who commented here, I will then ask the au pair if she wants to work longer hours and either offer more time off or extra money. Often if we can’t stay home the day one kid gets sick, one of us can stay home or take off the next day or later in the week to give her a three-day weekend.

I think what makes it work for us is 1) it’s not a routine event and 2) with both kids in school full time, our au pair typically works 30 hours a week or less (and less in the summer) and 3) we give them a lot of extra time off anyway (2-3 weekends off a month; long weekends because DH will typically get 2 Fridays off a month; and time off whenever we can get time off while the kids are home from school).

So that’s how we do it — not perfect, but we get by. I don’t know if the camp option is feasible for you, but it might be something to look into. And I’d also love to hear how others with long commutes swing it.

WestMom July 1, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Thanks for the tips NJ Mama. It’s nice to see how other people pull it off.
Not sure we can handle the cost of 3 kids in camp + AP though… We may have to leave the kids to fend for themselves for a few hours next year! Oldest will be 13.

Should be working July 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm

This is a really timely question, maybe post-worthy–namely:

What about that transition when the oldest host child is 12-14 and can start to be the babysitter for younger children?

My oldest is 12 and so I feel ok leaving her with the 7-yr-old sometimes, daytimes only, short stretches, while 7-yr-old is well occupied (unfortunately usually tv). But then it becomes harder and harder to justify an AP if I can have my 12-yr-old fill in for childcare. But the 12-yr-old still needs driving places, and is not a reliable, long-stretch caregiver either.

It’s intensifying my ambivalence about the cost of the program, for sure.

NJ Mama July 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Should Be Working — I am counting the days until my older one is old enough to run the show (she thinks she already is lol!)

My older one is almost 11 and I do leave her home and in charge for up to 90 minutes, sometimes up to two hours, and only when she is absolutely comfortable with it. (Sometimes she wants to be home and in charge, other times she wants to come along with me). It is weirdly tricky tho – and I’d like to hear from others on this too. If you leave your pre-teen/teen in charge, but the au pair is still there but not on duty, how does that work? I have allowed my au pair to leave the older one at home when she drops off and picks up the younger one from dance (15 minutes tops). Usually I leave them alone to run to the supermarket on the weekends. I have yet to do this when the au pair is home.

Like you I will need someone to drive the kids around in the afternoons for awhile, but as soon as they are both comfortable getting themselves off to school (or camp or whatever) I will find a college girl to do the afternoons. And I will feel like a rich lady and take that vacay! Not sure how many years I have left but am looking forward to it nonetheless.

WestMom July 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm

To follow up on this, we do leave our kids alone at home for short stretches. Sometimes, it’s when AP goes to drop off one kid to an activity, and I prefer she leaves the other two at home to finish their homework.

At the moment, I mentioned AP wokring 4x 11hrs, but she actually starts at 8AM while we leave at 7:25. I consider that my children can take care of themselves during that 30 min stretch. I guess I could do the same in the evening.

I am thinking this will be our last year in the program (last arriving AP in August). By the time she leaves, my oldest will be 14, and I can’t imagine needing much weekend babysitting. We are thinking of getting a college girl with a car to help after school. But that doesn’t really solve my summer problems :)

HRHM July 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

I have no qualms leaving DD9 alone. She has her own key and stays home alone while AP runs DD6 to gymnastics, etc. I too will soon be in the position that AP will be more for driving to activities, cooking and enforcing homework/chores than actually caring for kids. If it wasn’t for the driving, I think we’d be out now already…

NJ Mama July 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm

13, 10 and 10 is tough in that I know it’s hard to find the cheapy camps that either all of them will like or that are open to that 10-13 age range. That’s the trouble I ran into with piecing it all together for the summer. Sometimes I could get them in the same camp but more often than not we were dropping one off here and the other one there and picking one up at this time and the other at that time. You have to have a really reliable au pair to make that work, which I did in the past but it’s been too risky lately. I can barely swing two in the summer day camp — and I know I couldn’t afford three so I feel for you.

This is definitely hard, but at least we can commiserate. It sounds like your au pair is being flexible with you, which is nice. Good luck!

Seattle Mom July 1, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Summer vacation = long weekend camping trip in our family. No joke. We do like camping, but it’s also the only thing we can afford.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 1, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Camp. And DH and I take turns taking time off from work. On average, I take 4-8 hours a week off during the summer to make my AP schedule work (I’ve been working much longer than DH so I earn more time off). A couple of hours here and there – and my colleagues don’t mind. I do take a week off every year for “au pair switch-out week” and force DH to do the same – he watches the kids while I scour the AP suite and clean the house to put our “best foot forward” – which child #2 calls BS.

I work from 6:30-3:00 and DH works from 8:30-5:00. When I had infants and toddlers it seemed to me that I was slogging my way and would never catch up. Now that I have teenagers I want to get home early to keep them in check.

Host Mom in the City July 2, 2014 at 11:03 am

Yup. Camp. We are two full-time working parents and although we have flexibility to stagger our schedules and such, with the commutes, we still couldn’t make it nine hours max a day (for 45 hours total Monday to Friday). Kids are in school during the year, so that works out. But for summers, we do some weeks of camp, some weeks where one of us takes a day off, some days with grandparents, etc. In a pinch, we trade off childcare with a neighbor.

It sucks and it’s expensive, but I still don’t think that’s a reason to break the au pair program rules.

AnonAuPair July 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I am one of those AuPairs that had that kinda crazy schedule – regularly, and it was not sth I agreed upon before I came to the States. Dad took a new job on the other side of the US about 2 months into my year which meant he was home about every second weekend and Mom actually was a pilot – so on average gone 3-4 days a week, and when she was home, she was tired and jetlagged and I often didn’t feel safe leaving her alone with kids (came home once to nearly flooded house because my little one had decided to give the dog a bath and forgot to turn the water off – Mom had gone to take a nap).

It works for the first few weeks, then you just feel like your batteries are running on empty because you never have time to recharge. I loved my kids, but I could feel how being responsible for them, running a household and caring for the pets was draining my energy. You never really get a break: you get them up in the morning, when they are in school, you are walking the dog, buying groceries etc., then pick them up again from school, try to drop them all off on time at their different activities, prepare dinner, fight over homework and get them ready for bed – only to do it all over again the next day.

On the evenings a parent was home, I was often too tired to go out with friends and just crashed in my room. I know the situation wasn’t their fault, but this family needed a nanny, not an AuPair.

Once, and in an emergency – not a problem, did that as well before the craziness started, that’s part of being a member of the family, but not on a regular basis: you will not have a happy AuPair – and that means you will not have happy kids either.

German Au-Pair July 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Well, you didn’t just work a crazy schedule, you also took over a job that wasn’t supposed to be yours. An AP is not supposed to worry about the kids when they’re with their mom.
They didn’t need an AP, they needed a fulltime nanny.

WarmStateMomma July 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

“You never really get a break” – that’s parenthood, not a 45-hour/week job.

exaupair July 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Sorry to tell you but you have no right to complain now. You have done things that weren’t your responsibility from the very beginning with no indication that you would like the HF to make it up for the inconvenience.
You were afraid to leave the kids with their own mum because she was too tired to look after them? I mean seriously?!? If anything happened when she was in charge she would have been held responsible, not you.
The dad took a job abroad? Again, not your problem, it’s not like you encouraged him so it’s not your thing to rise up to the situation.
“Your” little one nearly flooded the house? First of all the child wasn’t yours, the house wasn’t yours as well. I could go on.
I have no sympathy whatsoever, you silently agreed to work that way, so you can only blame yourself.

rga for this July 1, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Caveat: I wouldn’t have done this with any other au pair. But our current (older and very capable) au pair asked for extra vacation. DH and I haven’t had time alone together since the kids were born, so we mutually agreed to trade two weekend where she’s responsible for the kids for 48 hours straight for two extra weeks of vacation. We’ll be close in case anything goes wrong. We haven’t done it yet but I can tell you that all parties are thrilled with the arrangement, even if it is (admittedly) completely illegal.
Again, though, I wouldn’t have done this with any other au pair or in any other circumstance.

JenNC July 2, 2014 at 8:42 pm

We stick to the rules pretty close if not to a T. My husband and I are traveling in September and will be away 4 nights, 4 days. I asked our regular sitter to come and stay the night with the kids, but starting mid afternoon, so my aupair stays within 10 hours a day! My sitter told my aupair before me, and my aupair actually says she is fine to stay with the kids alone, however, I am sticking with the rules and told her. I feel better doing it by the book and knowing I have 2 responsible adults in my house in case something really crazy or out of the ordinary happened, leaving my kids really stresses me out, so for me 2 able adults in the home makes me feel much better about leaving and staying within the aupair guidelines. But surprisingly my aupair always tells me, ” don’t get a sitter, I will stay with them, I want to” I think it is a reflection of our relationship, that she wants to be so helpful and I appreciate the effort, but I am obliged to say no too. Jen

Taking a Computer Lunch July 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Maybe she doesn’t like the sitter or doesn’t think she is reliable. Have a heart-to-heart with her and get to the bottom of the issue.

JenNC July 6, 2014 at 7:59 am

No she does, it’s just she feels kids are “her responsibility” and she doesn’t like sharing them with a sitter, she really feels like a family member not an aupair or employee, and so it is hard for her when I get other people to help with kids, she feels she should do it reguardless of aupair program rules. She always says she is not worried about hours if I need her she is here for me. But I follow the rules, and have told her many times, even if she is comfortable with it, if some how it got back to LLC or something happened and we were breaking rules we would be in trouble, so I just do as I know is right, that way she knows she has an out, that we won’t take advantage and my kids are cared for, I. Have an AWESOME sitter too, I think my aupair gets jealous that kids like her a lot too.

TexasHM July 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

There may not be an issue. All of our APs have wanted to babysit for extra $ instead of having a babysitter in the house. Our APs often eat dinner and hang out with us so they thought it was silly for us to bring in a sitter to go out a couple hours if they didn’t have other plans. We did anyway and there was sometimes frustration because they wanted first right of refusal so we did that a few times early on before I realized that was a no-no (other HFs here did that).

Taking a Computer Lunch July 3, 2014 at 6:52 am

My first AP was supporting her brother in college and her mother back home. She would send about 50% of her salary home. We couldn’t really afford to go out in the evenings much – having a child with extraordinary medical issues puts a huge damper on finances – and usually had “date night” at home after we put the kids to bed. When we did go out, our AP made it clear that she wanted the right of first refusal. We paid her the going rate for babysitting for a child with special needs – and when we came home there would be a house full of au pairs ready to go out on the town. That AP also took on extra work – caring for other children with special needs, infants, and some older children (which she liked because she could work on her English). Completely not allowed under the visa regulations, but she was desparate to be able to send extra money home that we didn’t say no.

Because she was great at what she did, we attempted to sponsor her as an employer and she ended up living with us for 3 1/2 years. By the time she left, child #1 was in full-day early intervention preschool and child #2 attended preschool for a half-day for socialization in English (he spoke only Portuguese with the au pair), so on the rare occasions that DH and I wanted to go out, we had a cushion of extra hours with the subsequent APs.

Now that I have a teenager, paying for extra hours is a non-issue. Only 4-5 weeks in a year does my AP come close to 45 hours a week.

Comments on this entry are closed.