My Host Mom is Snooping In My Bedroom. How can get some privacy?

by cv harquail on February 18, 2014

Dear AuPair Moms –– I’d like your thoughts about managing privacy, especially with a host mom who’s a bit, shall we say, inquisitive. 


il_570xN.365417522_5bpyAs an au pair, I have my own room in my host family’s house. Both my HM and HF are very private people, which I appreciate, since I am the same. When I met them I was like “wow, lovely, this is going to work”. HM is actually more into privacy than HF.  She’s a privacy freak, I’d say.


Privacy was one of the first things we all discussed with each other.  The first few days with this family were like heaven to me because I’m not used to so much privacy. At home, I have no privacy at all. I can’t even have my door closed at home. I’m writing this so you know even though I’m a private person I’m not “spoiled” with privacy.


But my sense of having privacy didn’t last for long.


Since the first day here it was all like… “Don’t go into our bedroom. It’s private.” “Don’t go into our bathroom. It’s private.” I definitely understand that. And I was fine with that. It was the other way too. “We won’t go into your bedroom. It’s private.” “Children, don’t go into her room. It’s private.” Et cetera.


However, the privacy expectations slowly became unfair.


First, the in the kitchen.  My HM told me not to be around at the time of her dinner with her husband.  That it’s private.


She said that I “always seem to be around” —


Here is the unfair thing. I have my “gap” between six (since the children usually eat until then) and seven o’clock.  During this time I’d might like to have my dinner / tea, but I have to predict where they are going to be.  The parents tend to hang out in the kitchen, often till 11 o’clock and I cannot tell if they are going to go to the living room ever.


There’s always somebody around when I’m eating.


Just because I don’t have a husband there or something like that I don’t need a privacy like they both do? I just don’t understand.


The second thing is with the bedrooms.         That’s actually the reason I’m writing here.  Recently she has started “visiting” my room very often. She always says it was “emergency”. For me, emergency is fire, something with the heating, something with the windows, dead person in my wardrobe or something like that. You know what I mean.But I don’t think emergency is taking the diffuser because its smell is too strong. Or coming in to take the blanket of my wardrobe (yes, Mrs. Privacy felt free to fish for some blanket in my wardrobe).


On the other hand,  she’s all privacy here privacy there don’t go in my bedroom.  I haven’t even seen her bedroom and I’ve been here for almost a year. I can’t even put a stupid basket with done laundry (you’re welcome) in her bedroom. Yet she can just wander in my bedroom, without asking me, when I’m not there, without even telling me about that later. (I had to ask her if somebody was in my room because the diffuser disappeared and my wardrobe is all messy).  I don’t think this is fair. She didn’t even say sorry or anything. She said it was emergency.


I consider HM as a passive aggressive person by the way.


But what was the last thing that has actually made me to write this request is what she’s told me in a past few days. Because I didn’t mind so so so so much that she went in my room. Though it seemed and still seems unfair to me. BUT. I didn’t used to have a laptop. I recently bought one. Until that I was using hers. I haven’t told her I bought my own. Simply because there wasn’t any occasion to tell her. I’ve had it for about a week when she went in my room as I’ve already described.


I’ve told myself to calm myself down that she had just went in my room, got the things and then went out. But it looks to me like she was, sorry about that, but sniffing around. Because the other day she told me to look for something on the Internet and she was like… “Oh, you have a laptop in your room. Look it up on the Internet.”The laptop was on my armchair on the other side of the room from the wardrobe where she looked for the blanket.   And if you’d heard the way she said it. It was just so mean.


hen, we were out of wipes for the children and she told me “Oh, you have one package in your room, bring it.” I was like… What? I mean. Yes. I have them in my room. But I have them BEHIND my bin. There is no way you can just happen to see them.


And to be honest another reason I don’t like her to “sniff” in my room is I have some books in my room about psychology, disorders, disabilities and things like that because I’m going to study psychology seen and I don’t want her to “sniff” around those and I don’t want her to thing I’m mentally ill (books about eating disorders, OCD, etc.). Maybe she’s already “sniffed” around them and she thinks I’m ill or something.
HD is not like her at all. I actually think he has done some serious talking with her after I had asked her if somebody was in my room. Is it just me? What is you opinion on this?       Thank you for your time.”


Momma Gadget February 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I can count the number of times we’ve entered any of our APs room with out him/her present on one hand-
to install the window air conditioner in the summer.
to remove the air conditioner in fall.
to fix the ceiling fixture that the AP told us was not working.
to upgrade the cable box
to close the window when the AP texted me that he left it open and it had started to down pour.
All with prior permission.
That’s it.

We are not supposed to store anything in the AP’s room, so there should be no reason to enter it for a blanket, or anything else.

Aside from a fire, I can’t imagine any reason for going into the APs room without at least receiving permission via text if necessary.

Maybe the HM is just one of those suspicious people. Maybe when you stopped using her computer, she felt you were hiding something… sneaky people are always suspicious of everyone else.

You could confront her with your LC. But if your year is almost up, I would grin and bear it and Lock anything you don’t want her to see in your suitcase.

Paula M March 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

Dear Au Pair,
I’m writing to you from Ireland and all I can say it is totally unacceptable behavior from your host family. I have had 2 Au Pairs in my home over the past 2 years and I would NEVER enter their bedroom. It was their private space. Also I would never say to my Au Pair not to enter my room – I have nothing to hide! They would sit with us for dinner in the evening and for breakfast, lunch and dinner at weekends as we were not working. You need to leave this family I think, there should be much better families out there that can include you as a member of their family as that is what families are supposed to do – make you part of the family!

Host Mom in the City February 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Wow, OP. That sounds absolutely unlivable. We’ve had three au pairs and I can’t even remember a single time that I’ve entered their room during the year. I would strongly recommend talking to your LCC to get some advice about how to talk to your host mom about this egregious behavior. How much longer do you have in your year?

TexasHM February 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm

OK I will admit, I have gone in the AP room a select few times when they were not there BUT it was not to snoop and I wasn’t being sneaky. Once was to grab her passport out of her closet to make a copy (she told me “second shelf in the closet” so I took that to mean I could go get it) and once or twice when our router needed to be reset (it is in the AP room and we have no choice it has to be there) once the AP was there so I knocked and apologized, the second time they were not there but I didn’t touch anything else and was in and out in a flash.

Also, I think it depends on the HF and AP. Our first AP shut her door all the time so I don’t think I ever went in. Our second AP didn’t care and her door was always open so I didn’t think anything of it the couple times I went in. Our current AP leaves her door open most of the time, shuts it occasionally I can only assume to Skype with family or because she wants privacy either way we leave her alone if its shut. Seeing as you like privacy (and your HF has to know that) and you brought up the concern that she had been in there I can see how this would be a big issue. If you were our AP I would never enter your room without you there or getting your permission first as its obviously important to you (and thats fine by the way).

I almost wish CV would pull the dinner comments into a separate thread as I am hearing this more and more lately from the APs. Host family says they want a member of the family but then says AP needs to go away at dinner time. I know a HF that doesn’t ALLOW the AP to eat during her working hours (10 hour shifts people) even though she cooks for and feeds the kids two meals during that time and when she does eat she is not to do it with them or the kids. I don’t get it. Hey, if you want a more employee relationship and you mention that and set the expectation upfront and the AP wants that as well, its all good and I am not talking about you.

But the ones like in this instance that are told one thing and then arrive or during their term it changes to you need to go away from what I would consider to be “public” areas of the home (kitchen, living room, etc) I really want to tell them that maybe the AP program is not for them and they should get a live-out childcare provider. Just my rant of the day – sorry everyone! ;)

Julie February 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

That’s illegal not to allow an au pair to eat. She needs to file a complaint. The State Department is getting tougher on families now and with compliance in general. As a host mom and an LCC, I would never allow a host family in the program who did not allow their allow to eat while on duty. It’s absurd. Contact me if they are with CCAP please.

TexasHM February 20, 2014 at 1:04 am

They are CCAP and I already told a director but the AP wouldn’t come forward, she wanted to finish her education requirement so she could extend and go to a different family year two. Super frustrating but if the AP will not escalate the LCs (and my) hands are tied. Ironically the director I told asked me if this host family was a certain ethnicity and she was right on. Apparently she says they have this issue regularly with this ethnicity because of their home country’s caste culture.

Should be working February 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Posting AP: I think you are not so upset about the invasions of privacy per se, but about the passive-aggressive, mean behavior of the HM–excluding the AP from the kitchen at any conceivable eating hour; snide references to laptop and wipes; et al. It might be helpful to focus on what is bothering you and not pick out what might seem like the more “objective” problem (privacy invasion). It sounds like if the HM were friendly and welcoming, the blanket-searching and so forth might not bother you as much. Or it sounds like they might not even happen at all. You feel (and it sounds correct) like the privacy-invasion incidents are a sign of disrespect and end up in snide comments.

And the HM sounds like a problematic personality from your description. If that’s true, the open-honest discussions aren’t necessarily going to help much, I’m afraid to say. Passive-aggressive, snide people don’t easily wake up to the problem their behaviors cause.

Two choices that I see: 1. Focus on the concrete stuff that, if it changed, would make your life better: You can eat dinner and use the kitchen as you like. Your stuff and room stay private. Focus on the actual, concrete stuff. 2. Focus on the feelings. Try to explain (with LCC?) how you feel like the HM is excluding you from eating, and demanding privacy on her end while not respecting yours.

Actually I don’t see this second option working. You could try bundling it with the first option, but in my view that might lead to bigger conflict. If you are just trying to get by and feel like the concrete changes would satisfy you, I’d stick with option 1.

What I told our previous au pair was that her communication with me was most effective when she first told me what she “sees” (i.e. describe events/situation in neutral terms, just the facts); told me what she wants (to eat when you want, not have room inspected); and came up with suggestions (you can empty your room of anything not specifically yours; you can eat quietly in the kitchen if they are in the dining room; etc.)

TexasHM February 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

And can I give CV a quick shout out for the wicked awesome site changes?! The content here has always been fantastic and now the site can show it off! Bravo!!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 18, 2014 at 11:11 pm

How much time do you have left in your year? Is it just days? (Then suck it up, box up everything that’s private and personal that you won’t need for the rest of the year and mail it home now.) Is it weeks? (Time to call for a family meeting – with your LCC – and work out a resolution as to when you may take your meals and how much privacy you may expect to have – APIA says the door should be able to lock). Is it a couple of months? (Then definitely chat with your LCC first, and book a family meeting.)

Are you the first AP the family has hosted? I will say that the first time a HF says goodbye to an AP, tensions rise (they rise for the rest, too, it’s just HF start to see a pattern and are able to mitigate it). I will say, from personal experience, it is much easier to say goodbye when you’re mad at someone (it works both ways here – AP/HF), but it’s not good for a long-term relationship.

And finally, ick. I was in a homestay situation in another country, and realized that the HM went through my room thoroughly – my journals, my creative writing, and what I owned. I let it roll. It came in handy when I returned one summer and my belongings started disappearing – she find them in another foreign student’s room. She knew what was mine.

The only time DH and I enter an AP room: 1) windows have been left open and it’s raining, 2) the alarm clock is sounding and she’s gone for the weekend, and 3) a candle has been left burning and she’s out for the evening. Otherwise, I wait until I’m invited. Usually I only see the room in-between APs. (And then I roll my eyes at the 3-day miracle I must perform to make it look newish for the new women coming into our lives.)

Seattle Mom February 19, 2014 at 2:05 am

I have no additional advice to offer, but this situation makes me sad. How can they say you are not allowed to be in the kitchen with them? Wah. My first AP had a friend who had her own little apartment, within the house. She had her own kitchen, so she wasn’t allowed to eat with the family. It was really cool in a way, because she always hosted the big AP parties. Her family was rich in a big house on the lake, with a boat and water skis and everything. But she felt lonely and didn’t like having no relationship with the parents, only with the kids. At least she could eat!

Our situation is kind of the opposite- we’re all on top of each other in our house, one bathroom, smallish kitchen, we all eat together. We do make a big deal out of our AP’s privacy. We don’t go in her room unless it’s REALLY important. Like our first AP used to leave the space heater on when she went out, sometimes. So I got into the habit of checking in the winter. But I didn’t linger and look at her stuff, and she knew I was checking the heater occasionally. Now we actually have heat vents upstairs in the AP room so the space heater doesn’t get much use, and I haven’t been in the AP room in well over a year except between APs.

I do agree with Should Be Working though… figure out what you need to change in order for this situation to be livable. Something that might actually be possible to change- unfortunately people’s bad attitudes are not that malleable. And then see how you can change it and do something about it. Talk to your LCC. If you have a lot of time left and you can’t make it better then you might need to consider rematch.

Darthastewart February 19, 2014 at 9:28 am

I think that you’ve gotten some great advice, and it may be time to talk to your LCC about some of the issues.

I’d figure out the dinner thing first, because to me, that would be difficult.

I will disclose that I do go in the au-pair’s room every once in a while (a couple of times a year), because we’ve had other au-pairs in the past who have kept the room really poorly, and I’d like to avoid a repeat. I can stay on top of it, if I know about it. I also check for burned out light bulbs, trash being taken out, and anything that needs maintenance. I have found that both my kids and my au-pairs are lousy at actually saying they need new light bulbs, and the only way we usually find out is we go up and the room is dark.

WarmStateHM February 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

I’m 11 months into hosting my first AP. The only time my husband has been in the AP’s room since she arrived was to hang a picture for her. I told our AP that our bedroom/bath were off limits but gave her the full tour of our house when she arrived to satisfy any curiosity. The only times I’ve gone into the AP’s room without her there were on the two occasions that she was out of town.

Our AP is super sloppy – to the point of leaving sticky food wrappers on the floor almost daily in the main living areas – and I needed to assess/mitigate the damage to my home. She doesn’t understand the purpose or the process of cleaning or sanitizing your living space (the utility of those Lysol wipes completely eludes her!) and I assume it’s a cultural difference. So I cleaned her room and bathroom on those two occasions and it was obvious that happened. I felt bad about entering her private space, but not bad enough to keep me out of it. If she respected her host family enough to take care of her corner of their home, then we wouldn’t have to enter it.

I agree with the other posters that the passive-aggressive behavior is probably your real problem. I’m surprised that she lets you know that she’s snooping and would also lock your private things in your luggage. Something is bothering her to keep you out of the kitchen but she might be snooping through your room just because she’s nosy. I wouldn’t trust HM in your shoes, but she probably trusts you since you are still caring for her kids. (You mentioned wipes, so it sounds like you are caring for someone pretty young and vulnerable.) She may not change her behavior, but it’s worth talking to her about it. You may want to consider talking to her about the kitchen issue without HD or the LCC if you think she’s more likely to agree with you instead of trying to look “right” in front of other people. I’d give the LCC a phone call first to see if he/she has any suggestions or other info about this HF.

WarmStateHM February 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm

To clarify, I’m not a clean freak and don’t hold the AP to unreasonable standards. Our AP leaves dirty diapers on my dining room floor and in the play pen for us to find when we come home from work! That’s what she expects us to see, so imagine her private bathroom….

Seattle Mom February 20, 2014 at 2:22 am

Ew that is gross… I am pretty laid back about things, but dirty diapers cannot be left on the floor- YICK. Did you have a talk with her about that?

We’ve had to have conversations about cleaning up after our children with 2 of our 4 APs.. usually about putting toys away, wiping down the table before dinner.. and after the talk they got much better. So far no one has left diapers lying around, though now my kids only wear them to bed so it’s much easier.

Old China Hand February 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Ick. I dislike the dirty cloth diapers in the toilet when I get home and our AP always deals with them before going off duty. She takes a nap when our son naps, so I don’t stop her from working an extra 20-30 min to clean up from his dinner when I get home. My husband wants me to stop her from napping, but this seems easier. :)

DC Twins Mom February 19, 2014 at 11:26 am

The HM sounds like she is not the right woman for an AP. She needs a nanny – one that goes home/away when the job is done. She sounds incredibly insecure — and the AP is paying the price. I agree with the PP- talk to your LCC and figure out the best solution for the remaining time.

I suspect when confronted the HM will come up with some criticisms as to why she needed to snoop. The AP should be prepared for that. (The answer is, “Then you should have talked directly to me about the problem, not invaded my privacy.)

Best of luck.

Should be working February 19, 2014 at 11:49 am

Fessing up: I’ve snooped a few times, esp. early on. It is, after all, a stranger in my house, taking care of kids. I just want to see that there are no out-of-the-ordinary items around (didn’t one HM here find a CRACK PIPE??) or any clues to something I should know.

And I would not be horrified if the AP did some snooping of her own. She’s in a more vulnerable position than I am, so I would actually understand–snooping makes sense to me. I just like to know vaguely what’s going on, no judgments (except for BAD, ILLEGAL things). To be fair, I’ve always been a snoop–raised in a house with lots of secrets, some of them not good. Wanted to be “Harriet the Spy”. And if the AP seems unhappy I want to have an idea if there’s anything going on I should be aware of.

Host Mom in the City February 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm

In the interest of respectful discussion, of course, this just seems very wrong to me. We are a very open family actually – there is nowhere in our house that is off-limits to our au pair. I’m not a private person and I have nothing to hide. She’s even been in our bedroom a few times when she needed something that was in there when I wasn’t home (she texted me to ask, I told her to please feel free to go grab whatever it was in there).

But if I found out our au pair was just poking around in our bedroom just to see what was in there, I would be very put off. And I would expect that she would feel very put off if I had done that to her, even more so because that is literally her only private space in the whole house. It seems like a basic respect issue to me. I get that her room is technically in my house, and is therefore not really hers, but it’s sort of part of her compensation – in exchange for watching my kids, I am paying her stipend, feeding her, etc., but also letting her that room for her own private space for the year. It’s not really still mine.

If I suspected she was doing drugs in there or something, jeez, I think I would handle that issue immediately and wouldn’t need to be snooping. But if you’re going in her room just to see what she’s doing based on no suspicions at all, that seems very disrespectful. Even as a very open person, I’m trying to imagine moving to someone’s house (especially if I’ve just arrived and don’t know them very well yet either) and finding out they have been poking around in my stuff and not being furious.

Should be working February 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

No offense taken, HMitC, and I know I’m in a tiny minority here, and perhaps even the cheese stands alone on this one. Just being honest that snooping doesn’t seem that bad or disrespectful to me. A little naughty maybe, but not deeply or morally wrong. I wouldn’t want to actually FIND my AP snooping around, but the IDEA of it doesn’t much bother me. She might find some relics of, um, a racier time. So I think of it in mildly amused and slightly irritated terms, but with a kind of understanding that snooping happens. I am a tad surprised if I am the only one with this sensibility, but it may be.

German Au-Pair February 19, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Here’s my take as an au pair: As long as everything is equal, I don’t mind.
If I was constantly told I had to respect privacy and then found someone snooping in my room, I’d freak out. But I didn’t care if someone went in my room just like they didn’t care if I went into theirs. But there are some boundaries I wouldn’t cross and would expect not be crossed. I was home alone for a week at a time and all morning almost every day. But I NEVER looked into drawers that weren’t mine to look in. And I would expect that from my HP as well.
When they were out of town I asked my HM if I could use her amazing bathtub even though I knew she didn’t mind (and even after I had done that once before) just because I don’t think I have the right to JUST do it.
As for the room itself…I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think it’s okay for HP to enter the room and take not of what’s in there but not to look in and behind things. Honestly, what can you have in your room out in the open that is so private that it’s horrible for them to see? If you are stupid enough to put your crackpipe on your desk, you really don’t deserve any better.

Seattle Mom February 20, 2014 at 2:32 am

I can understand this.. I do understand the temptation to snoop. In some contexts I have been more snoopy, though not with my AP. I guess I feel like there’s a power differential that makes it more important for me to treat our APs well. It’s not a morality thing, more of a comfort and respect thing. I want this person to treat my children with respect, so I show her all the respect I can. I’m buying moral authority too… I want APs to want to please me, and I feel like I can’t have that and do anything unnecessary and disrespectful at the same time.

At the same time I would not be angry or surprised to learn that an AP looked through my things. I would rather not know, though. Plausible deniability is always good in these things. I do know that my kids are looking through my things all the time and it’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to come up with better hiding places for some stuff. Nothing too bad, just stuff I would be embarrassed to be questioned about :).

It does sound to me though like the OPs HM is going beyond mild snoopiness.. she is being intrusive & controlling at the same time.

TexasHM February 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Should be working, I tend to agree with HMiTC but can I just say that I really admire you for being honest and brave enough to volunteer your opinion on this! I think it takes a special blog and special people to not only give someone the confidence to admit this but also to not have it immediately blow up. I talked to our current AP about this exact post last night and we both agreed that there definitely is a level of variance based on the personality of the AP and HF (if privacy is valued then the other party should respect and honor that on the same level) but that outright snooping was definitely out of bounds for both sides. If I had enough just cause (suspected drug use?) I would like to think I would get the LCC involved and get her permission to search the room or even have her here if that was necessary but again, if things eroded to that point or I was that confident then the relationship is likely unsalvageable at that point anyway. We have not had an intensely private AP, maybe it would change my opinion. Would I think she was hiding something and get more curious if her door was closed all the time and she was secretive? Maybe. But I don’t know that my resolution would be to snoop. The guilt would bury me even if I found something!

Should be working February 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

For the OP in this current post, I view the snooping as low on the list of genuine problems. The HF excludes her, she can’t eat when/where she wants, the HM is snide and unkind, passive aggressive, and so on. If ending the snooping and the eating issues were enough to make things liveable for the AP, then that’s what she should focus on, I totally agree. For me it would not be enough, I would need a friendly attitude from the HF (but then again, I would never become an AP–I’m too inflexible and needy!). Is the AP really going to be satisfied if the HM simply stops snooping, but all the other stuff continues?

Julie February 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I totally agree. It’s hard to have a family leave the program if they are not breaking the rules, but I know with my agency, we are starting to look at how people follow the “spirit of the program.” We have suggested to families that the program might not be the right program for them because there is an element and foundation of cultural exchange. If au pairs keep arriving to the family and they leave because the family excludes them, it can be very costly to keep flying au pairs in. Not everyone is right for the au pair program and I’m glad to see my organization really start to focus on that.

Host Mom in the City February 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm

This is wonderful to hear. I feel strongly that a large number of au pairs and host families should be discouraged from or removed from the program for not acting in the spirit of the program. More accurate advertising by the agencies would solve this considerably, I think. But, the agencies would be making less money because there would be fewer host families and au pairs.

Seattle Mom February 20, 2014 at 2:37 am


I wonder if they would really make less money, in the end. The reduction in # of HFs and APs might be offset by the reduction in rematches… And everyone would be happier, which would be great for word of mouth, bring in more families, and then before you know it- you’ve got more HFs and APs and fewer rematches- BOOM! Business is better than ever.

TexasHM February 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Couldn’t agree more.

Host Mom X February 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

We haven’t had any APs on whom we’ve felt the need to snoop, so I can’t weigh on whether I’d actually do it if I felt “justified.” (Even with our rematch APs, I haven’t felt that I needed to snoop in their bedroom.) Like other posters, I can count on one hand the times we’ve gone into APs’ rooms uninvited, and the incidents were along the lines of we could hear the rain water pouring in the open window and a really loud alarm clock wouldn’t turn off, both when the AP was away for the weekend. After one of those situations, the AP returned home and I could tell that she noticed we had entered her room before we got the chance to tell her, and I just felt so guilty and bad about it, I kept apologizing and for a few weeks felt that I had completely destroyed her trust in us. And she of course reacted like it was no big deal, so I’m not sure why I felt so badly about it. But I think it’s because we really do want our APs to trust us, and hope that if they feel they can trust us and that we work really hard to earn that trust, they will do the same in turn.

We are not very private people (in fact, I often have to point out to DH that he MAY want to, e.g., close his laptop or tablet when he’s out so that his email isn’t visible all the time), and the AP goes in and out of our bedroom all the time because we often have her put one of the kids down for a nap in there. Of our five APs, only one has been really protective of her own privacy. Even so, we always tell our APs that we think they should keep their door closed because we think it is important that they keep a quiet spot in the house all for themselves, and that our children understand that this is the AP’s private, quiet space that they cannot enter. Some APs have done that, others have liked to keep their doors open because it makes them feel more a part of the household.

Host Mom X February 21, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Somewhat on this topic, I was curious about whether host families ever ask their APs if guests may stay in their rooms when the AP is out of town? We don’t have any extra bedrooms in our home when we have APs living with us, and our guests usually have to sleep on an uncomfortable pull-out in the basement, or we put them in our kids’ bedroom and have the kids sleep in our room.

We asked one AP if we could do this when she was away for a longer vacation time (2.5 weeks) and we had HD’s parents staying with us to help with the childcare while the AP was gone. She happily agreed (the vacation was extra – she had already used her two weeks), and cleaned up the room a bit in preparation. And we felt like that was not an imposition, especially because we were housing HD’s parents in order to cover for the AP while she took extra vacation. But – it is still an invasion of her private space. (Though of course since it was agreed to, she had the opportunity to stow away anything that she might not have wanted others to see.)

We have also have asked APs who were going away for weekends (this happened maybe twice) on the same weekend as we were having other guests if the guests could sleep in her room for the weekend. These APs agreed as well, but for some reason I feel less comfortable with this – I have the uncomfortable feeling that we shouldn’t have asked for this, and that this was an invasion of privacy. (Not that we or our guests did any snooping or went through the APs’ stuff or anything like that; we just used the bedroom for them to sleep in.)

What do you all think?

OpinionatedHM February 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I think this topic was addressed in another post, although I can’t remember the heading. I think it’s possible your AP was okay with it because she felt like it was a fair trade for the extra vacation time. In most circumstances, I would feel it was wrong for me to ask to use the room as it is supposed to be the APs personal space. I think it would be hard for an AP to feel comfortable saying no to the request and it could lead to resentment. Of our three APs so far, two would have offered without being asked and one would have been offended by the idea of someone staying in her room when she was away. Our visiting family members have sometimes found it difficult to understand this and have resented having not so great accommodation when a perfectly good room is available. It’s hard to resist the pressure of this seemingly logical argument. We try our best to explain that it’s her space, not ours, while she is living in our home. Consider the reverse. If you were out of town, would it be okay for her friends to sleep in your room?

Host Mom X February 25, 2014 at 4:58 pm

That is an interesting question and way of looking at it, that I hadn’t thought of. But come to think of it, yes – we did actually offer our room to one AP to host her friends when she was having a big night-out-on-the-town-plus-slumber-party when we were away one weekend. (We aren’t very private about our bedroom.) Her friends were very respectful, washed the sheets, made the bed up again, etc.

But I think you identify perfectly the reasons why I felt uncomfortable asking the AP if we could use her room (except for the parents-visiting-for-childcare time); it IS her private space for the year, and if she wants to offer it, that is one thing, but if she does not offer it, I probably should not ask. I am actually now remembering that on one of the weekends I was referring to, the AP offered the room herself (she knew that a former AP was visiting, and that the room had once been that AP’s room and thought she’d feel good to be able to sleep there again).

Taking a Computer Lunch February 22, 2014 at 12:19 am

I think it’s hard for APs to feel it’s okay to say “no.” When is a trade-off okay? In my opinion, if you house friends or family for an extended period of time (a week, more?) then it’s okay to ask an AP to reciprocate (when she’s already going away that weekend). I’ve never done it. However, when we have an extended break between APs (due to family vacation – because we learned fast not to take an AP on vacation in the first month!), we let family stay in the AP room. However, I have a cleaning routine that includes washing everything, so I don’t want them in there too close the next arrival.

DH and I have been known to give up our own bed and crash on the playroom futon to give out-of-town family a bit of privacy. We’ve also made child #2 give up his bed. We’ve never asked an AP.

Host Mom X February 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm

We certainly would never ask an AP to give up her room and sleep elsewhere if she were home!

TexasHM February 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Great question. So, we have only had this happen twice and honestly both times the AP offered it up, we didn’t ask. First time our AP was finishing right before Christmas and when she found out we had a full house coming she offered to “move out” (she was engaged and about to marry an american) to his house a few days early so that my parents could have her room. She loved my parents and we told her she didn’t have to do that but she insisted.
Second time similar circumstance but AP was going to be gone for the weekend and knew we had family visiting so when they arrived she offered her room and insisted they take it.
I’m not sure that I personally would ask an AP to use her room for the reasons you already mentioned but we did allow it to happen in both scenarios where the AP offered it up herself and it wasn’t an issue. I think some of it depends on your HF-AP relationship. Our last AP was very very open and I am 100% sure if I had asked her to use her room she would not have flinched and would have said of course anytime. So if I was in a pinch maybe I would have asked her. Now the first AP was more private and sensitive so I don’t see any way that I would have asked her. We also made sure with second AP that we changed the sheets before and after and did that laundry so she wasn’t impacted, it was a non-issue.

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