Is it fair to schedule an Au Pair for Late Night baby feedings?

by cv harquail on August 31, 2011

The help we need is the help we need. Depending on your situation as a host parent, you might need driving, or cooking help, or child-minding on weekends, or flexibility when a child is sick. We each ask our au pairs to help us with different childcare tasks. As long as the tasks are within the set of approved activities for au pairs, we imagine that we’re okay in asking for this help.

This new host mom needs help, she thinks her expectations are reasonable, and yet her Au Pair is balking.

This particular au pair already seems like she won’t work out, since she has not demonstrated a ‘can do, will do, want to’ attitude about her schedule and her responsibilities. But the question here isn’t whether the au pair has the right attitude (indeed, she may not). The question is, rather: Is this request fair?


Hi Au Pair Mom,

I have had my au pair for only 2 weeks and already there are a lot of problems. She is 21, from Brazil and her English is very poor. I am a single mother who owns a business and thus I have a lot of responsibilities, and I had hoped that getting an au pair could help me manage everything better.

My only son is 10 months old and goes to daycare from 9-4 every day, leaving my AP to have time to herself. Her schedule is to watch him 5-9, help out for 2 hours each morning (7-9) to help get him dressed and fed, and then work occasionally on weekends. She already has two whole weekends off a month when my baby is at his father’s house.

(Her first weekend I had set a curfew of 2 am (very generous, I thought!) but she didn’t get home until 3:40 am! Her first week!)

My son still needs a bottle a middle of the night bottle. Because my AP does not use all of her hours each week, I’ve asked her to sleep with the baby monitor and get up with him, three nights during the week. She is only responsible for getting up from 2 am to 4 am, so that adds just another 2 hours, most of which she is asleep. Even with this extra 6 hours, she still is not reaching her full amount of hours, and she has more time off than any of the other APs I’ve ever heard of.

She was extremely rude when I asked her to do the late night feedings, and told me that she refused to do so. She can be very passive aggressive most of the time and impolite. I really resent the fact that she can stay out until 3:40 am, yet she refuses to listen for a baby from 2-4am 3 nights a week.

I wonder, am I out of line asking her to do these hours? I am a single mother and I don’t think I’ve had a full night’s sleep in 10 months. I’m exhausted and need to get enough rest to run my business. I’m at my wit’s end.

1st Time HM

Dear 1st Time HM –

In the grand scheme of things, I’d suggest you start looking for a new au pair. A passive-aggressive, unpleasant au pair who is more dedicated to going out that to caring for your child just won’t work out in the long run. You will find it hard to get from her any positive, kind, and helpful assistance with your child. You probably don’t want your child to spend his time with an au pair who is a sourpuss. And, who needs that at home? With just yourself as the head of household, it’s you against her in setting the tone in your family, and you are already playing defense. So keep this in mind as we address the scheduling issue.

Is it fair to ask her to feed the baby in the middle of the night, 3 times a week, for the next few months?

In my opinion, it’s right on the edge of reasonable.

Au pairs don’t necessarily have the same sense of selfless devotion to a child as a parent might– which is appropriate, really, since the AP isn’t the parent. A parent has no choice but to go the extra mile. But for an au pair, the personal sleep sacrifice of being ‘on call’ for a night feeding is a hard sell. Still, as you mention, it’s only 3 times a week, she still has time in her weekly schedule, and you really need the help.

Emotionally, while I understand that you see her partying late at night as an indication that she can be awakened for other things, these aren’t equivalent. We all make different choices when it’s a “want to” rather than a “have to”. Plus, it seems that you might be resenting your au pair’s freedom and energy, because right now you have neither. Each of us hose parents knows how hard it is to be pinned in at home, every night, knowing you won’t be able to stay asleep until morning.

Technically, though, the way you have the schedule set up, you are breaking the rules. While not every au pair agency has an explicit limit on the number of times you can ‘break up’ an au pair’s work day, three chunks of work time is pushing the limit. If the chunks of time were separated by an hour for dinner or two hours for the gym or some kind of break that your au pair really wanted, that would be one thing. But between 9 and 2am is just a five hour break. Between 4 and 7 is a three hour break, and between 9 and 4 is just 7 hours.

There is no span of time where your au pair can have 8 hours of sleep — and it’s unfair to expect that she will sleep during the day. (She didn’t come to your house with the clear agreement to be on the night shift and to sleep during the day, did she?)

  • You could try to eliminate the 7-9 am shift, three days a week, so that she could do the night feeding those three days and still get the chance to sleep in from 4 am to whenever…. This is still a rough schedule, but within the lines of reasonable.
  • You could also try shifting your son’s bottle schedule– maybe give him a bottle at midnight and then have your au pair (or you) get up at 5:00 for another bottle, and asking your son to manage a 5 hour span between feedings (Of course, this may not be appropriate for him — but this may change as he grows).

So, in my opinion I think you need to reconsider what kind of schedule is appropriate, considering not just the sheer number of hours but also the ways that they are arranged and the quality of the break/sleep time in between.

Parents and au pairs, what do you think? Is it fair to schedule an au pair for a middle of the night feeding?

If no, why not? If yes, how?

Image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by pfly


German Au-Pair August 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

Besides the fact that I also would rematch anyway, I’d say this is a no go.
If you ask your au pair to step in at night every once in a while when you have a special thing the next day and need to be rested, that’s one thing.
But I just wouldn’t do it on a regular basis. As CV said, the au pair does not have a reasonable time off during the day. And you have to consider that she has to squeez in her sleep, social life and college in this time. How is she supposed to do that? Go to College in die morning without having slept?
Even with the adjustments CV suggested -which are way better!- this would be a hard schedule. You have to notice that some people don’t just fall right back to sleep after they just forced themselves to be wide awake for the kid. So while you schedule her to work until 4am, to her it might be 5.30 before she gets to sleep and then she has to be up and ready at 7 am again? And what time would she have to go to bed to at least get some decent ammount of sleep before she has to get up at 2? 11pm? So time for a social life between 9pm and 11pm?
It just doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Yes, a mom has to struggle with this kind of stuff, too, but then again: she’s the mom!

Also one thing you might consider: what about the safety aspect? I would not put my child in the hands of a constantly sleep deprived 21 year old. Yes, it’s only three nights a week, but still there is no sleeping rythm whatsoever and if I had to do it, I couldn’t guarantee that I would be wide awake and up and running both at night and in the mornings.

I don’t know if you told her about that schedule before matching, I’m guessing no because otherwise she wouldn’t have been that surprised, but I’d strongly recommend to mention this one when you go into rematch or you will have to deal with more than one au pair refusing to do that.

Dorsi August 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

I want to lead the chorus (and it will become a chorus, I am sure) of voices saying rematch. Separate from the late night issue, it seems that this AP has some serious issues with your authority. Curfew, passive aggressive and impolite. Also, I would not keep around an Au Pair that “refuses” anything.

I have a lot of sympathy for you with the middle of the night feedings that go on forever (and ever). My first started sleeping through the night consistently when I was very pregnant with my second (so I couldn’t sleep through the night anyway). Now I am up with a newborn a few times a night. I know how grating long term sleep deprivation/disruption can be.

I don’t think it is fair to schedule the AP from 2a-4a. She has to wake up to be on duty (does she turn on a monitor?) and wake up to go off duty (if baby wakes at 4:30, what is to keep her from getting up. I do think it is entirely fair to schedule to AP for late night feeds, however, just do it differently (and with your new and improved Au Pair, who you will be very up front with about the schedule.) I rarely (1x per month) schedule my AP for non continuous hours (though she works a lot of late nights and early mornings and weekends).

I don’t know when you need AP coverage, versus when it is helpful, but what about something like this.
M: 7-9, 4-9. T: 11p-4a W: 4p-9p Th: 7a-9a 11p-7a F: 4p-9a
That’s 34 hours. You get two uninterrupted nights. It costs a lot (hours/money) to have someone else wake up with your baby.

It is not worth it for me — unless I have to have my AP work overnight cause there are no other adults in the house. I can get out of bed and feed a baby and get right back to bed (I breastfeed, but when I am working my husband can do that). It is hard for me to pay someone for the hours around that time, but unfair not to. I think the way you are doing it is kind of like the people who schedule the AP ‘off’ during an afternoon nap.

Other solutions: have the AP come on very early in the morning so you get some sleep in days (work 5-9a every morning and 5p-9p every evening). Schedule the AP for all nights 11p-9a 4 nights a week. Get rid of that middle of the night bottle (may be easier said than done, but you can’t plan all of your AP interaction around the middle of the night bottle — it won’t be there forever).

Good luck. Now bring on the “Why don’t you ever want to take care of you baby?” comments…

DarthaStewart August 31, 2011 at 10:14 am

I’d suggest changing the schedule to having the au-pair work nights- you’ll get more bang for your buck for the short term- 11 PM-9 AM, 4 nights/week.

mytwinsrgr8kids August 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

In my experience as a single mom of five-year-old twins (who’s on her 4th AP and has had APs since the twins were 3 months old), your expectations for your AP are unreasonable. Any schedule that requires an AP to work every early weekday morning, every weekday evening, hours on two weekends, AND in the middle of the night is not typical or (in my opinion) fair.

Can this match be saved? I think that it depends on whether you have treated your AP fairly so far. Was the AP informed about your schedule expectations before the match was finalized? Did you introduce her to this schedule from the day she arrived? If the answer to either question is ‘no’ then you probably don’t have the trust foundation needed to save the match. If she feel burned and taken advantage of, you want to start fresh with a new AP.

You’ve gotten good scheduled suggestions so far. I’ll also add that for a healthy and typically-developing baby the need for a feeding in the middle of the night is a short-term problem to solve. How much longer do you expect your 10-month old son to require a bottle between 2-4 am? My best suggestion is that you do the mid-night feeding yourself and have the AP work 2-3 early morning shifts each weekday/weekend to let you sleep in a few mornings a week.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 31, 2011 at 10:53 am

Attitude aside, the chorus seems to be that the schedule is unreasonable. As a parent who has slept with a baby monitor for over a decade (yup, that special needs child), I would say that your AP doesn’t get quality sleep on the nights she must keep it on and yet is only responsible for the child for a 2-hour window. That means if you get up with baby, she’s going to hear it. The good thing about infancy, no matter how endless it seems, is that toddlerhood comes.

I understand the desire to pack in a 45-hour-week for your au pair, but you are getting your money’s worth when your au pair is rested enough to interact with your child, especially since your baby spends a long day in day care as well (and quite frankly – my kids, when they were babies, always “woke up” for Mommy – even when they’re tiny they know who’s important in their lives).

Iron out a plan with which you both can live (including curfews) and see if her attitude doesn’t improve.

NoVa HostMom August 31, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I agree i do not think it is reasonable for an AP to do the night feeding unless she is on the entire night shift, which i don’t think is what you want.

When my twins were babies, my husband worked out of state…. this lasted for 3years and he only came home every other weekend or sometimes 1x month.

I used all 45hrs of help from our AP, but it was never for overnight hours. but if you do think it would help to wake the baby and feed around 11 or so, then have the AP stay up until then and do that feeding??? or even not, you could have the AP on duty until 11 a couple nights so you could go to bed early. And/or if the baby wakes up before 7, have her start at 6? that way you can get an extra hour or 2 of sleep in the am. and for the 2 weekends she does work, i would schedule her the full 6hrs or whatever so you have time for yourself – to sleep or soak in the bath…..

Hopefully your AP is (or your new one will) be helping with the baby laundry, bottles, straigtening up baby toys, etc. that should help with the time you were spending on that.

Lastly, as some others have eluded to, and my having learned the hard way, it is really imperative to lay out everything you expect, want, need upfront. here is a typical schedule, here are the childcare duties, here are the rules of the house/car use/curfews, etc. the more specific you can be, the better match you will be able to find (usually :-)

Good luck

Busy Mom August 31, 2011 at 7:23 pm

My memory of those early days is fuzzy, but I’m certain that our kids were sleeping long stretches by that age. You might want to consider that your 10 month old no longer needs a middle of the night feeding. It might now be a habit, rather than a nutritional need.

That being said, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect an au pair to do middle of the night feedings, even if this was commnicated in advance.

I also think that breaking curfew so early in a relationship is a red flag.

Good luck!

Dorsi September 1, 2011 at 3:33 am

I wonder why you think it is unreasonable to have an AP do middle of the night care?

One of the reasons we participate in the AP program is because we need a lot of odd hours coverage. While I agree that the way this was scheduled (2a-4a) was not fair to the AP, I don’t think there is anything unreasonable about using an AP for overnight coverage.

When I have travelled or worked overnight, I have had the AP provide care (and middle of the night feedings) for my small children (in conjuntion with my husband or mother) . It pains me to pay $100 (the cost for 10hours of AP care) for something I usually do with minimal effort and I can better use the hours elsewhere, so I rarely have the AP do overnight care. However, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this. (I do this within the bounds of the program rules).

We are very clear during the matching process that we have an irregular schedule that will involve night work, early morning work and weekend work. I think it makes us a fairly unattractive family, but it weeds out a lot of candidates (for better or for worse).

Should be working September 1, 2011 at 2:02 am

I agree with most posters here that it is not reasonable to schedule middle of the night feedings for your au pair. IF, however, you had a helpful, member-of-the-family au pair, you might use her as I used my husband to help wean the baby off those nighttime feedings for good (employing one of the fairer, all-night shifts suggested above). First the baby stopped seeing me between 11pm and 6am–only got dad with a bottle of milk, less attractive than mom’s breast. Then after a couple of days, baby got dad with a bottle of formula, and then later a bottle of WATER, even less of a reason to wake up. Then baby got my husband, no bottle. After about 8 nights total, and some crying it out, she was done waking up in the night and we were all happier. But people have many views about crying, weaning and sleep training, so this is really another topic altogether.

Former AP and current Nanny September 1, 2011 at 5:16 am

Since the tone of the match has gotten so bad I think a re-match is in order. What you might want to do if you’re planing on saving the match is having a long talk with the aupair about the rules and schedule you can both agree on (this should always be done before matching, I never even interview with a family that I have not gotten a schedule and rulebook from).

That being said, we can all agree on that the schedule that you’re asking from your AP is unreasonable, she needs to have time during the day when she can be off duty AND rested. But I don’t think there is anybody saying that it’s wrong to book your AP for late night feedings, just be prepared to book her for the whole time you expect her to have the monitor in her room and give her time to catch up on her sleep.

Many mom’s may not realize this but it can be nerve wrecking to be responsible for that monitor, my first assignment with a toddler left me unable to sleep when I had it in fear that I wouldn’t wake up if she needed me. Now as a seasoned maternity nurse your ears are honed to the sound, as I expect mom’s are too.

So my tip is, start over fresh with all the cards on the table; this is what I need these are the rules, etc. And don’t be afraid to have your AP do child-related chores even if the child isn’t home. If you say she has more time off then required have her do laundry, clean and prepare food so that you wont have to.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 1, 2011 at 6:58 am

I think that is sound advice for all Moms looking to maximize the 45 hours. While I rarely schedule my AP for more than 37 hours per week, I do ask that she cleans one child’s bed & bath during her “off” hours (I don’t dictate when – just ask that it be done once a week) and that she does 1-2 loads of the children’s laundry each week on her “own” time (usually done with her own laundry). It would take a slow AP to make this last 8 hours a week!

OB Mom September 2, 2011 at 10:29 am

Our last AP somehow managed to take 2-3days to do the laundry for her and the kids… Unengaged APs can be slower than molasses!

Newhostmom September 1, 2011 at 7:25 am

I think asking an AP to be awake from 2am to 4am three nights a week is pretty unreasonable; especially unreasonable if the AP didn’t know and accept this schedule prior to arriving. And yes, I guess you could say that she could sleep for those hours if the baby doesn’t wake up, but I think you have to presume that it’s not good sleep even if she is sleeping. She’s potentially being woken to feed the baby, potentially not sleeping soundly so that she will hear the baby, potentially having trouble getting back to sleep after being woken up – this schedule, especially if she didn’t know it going in, could cause her to feel extremely fatigued three days a week. Not safe for the baby, not safe for your older child.
And I’m I reading that she’ll need to be up again from 7-9am after those mornings too? And then you’ve schedule her every evening and occasional weekends? This is a really really tough schedule and it is imperative that you be absolutely upfront about her hours when you match, especially if it is atypical hours like these. I’m not saying there won’t be an AP who might do those hours, but you’ll have a much happier match if she knows that going in.
From your perspective, you’re seeing that she’s only been here two weeks and already she is being inflexible. What else is she going to be stubborn about? From her perspective, she’s thinking she has only been here two weeks and already you are drastically changing your “contract”. What else are you going to expect from her? And honestly, I’d have to side with the AP here. This is not just a “hey can you do Tuesday instead of Wednesday?” This is a total change in what you said you wanted.

I’m sorry if this sounds harsh. I have two kid’s and a full-time job myself – one of the kids didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost two and the other one is not quite two yet and still not sleeping through either. I get being exhausted. I get that you’re desperate for help and just want to make it through the next day (or the next hour!). I coslept with both of mine and nursed them on demand, so I also get wanting to listen to baby’s wants and not weaning them off eating at night too early, but at ten months it sounds like you can start thinking about your own needs (like the absolute fact that you may get very sick if you are at the point of exhaustion all the time). Can the baby wait a few hours to have a bottle? Can she sleep in your room? Can you nap at all during the day (I’ve napped in my car for 15 mins on a work break frequently)?

Anyway, it sounds like you need to rematch with this one for sure. And then try again, and if you dondecide to keep that schedule, absolutely be clear upfront abot your needs before you match (about the curfew too – did she know about that before matching? We are a no-curfew family and it’s worked great for us).

I wish you all the best.

AFHostMom September 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm

fully agree with this. We haven’t had or needed a curfew, and I wouldn’t implement one unless and until my AP broke my trust by being unable to work from staying out late (and this includes being inattentive to the kids).
I don’t think the AP doing late night feedings is reasonable, and it’s something I would never consider as a mom.
Dorsi, your situation is wholly distinctive; it’s both occasional and not broken up into a few hours here and there.

Au pair - Brazil September 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

I’m gonna be very simple and honest with my words…

I totaly agree that this is not a health schedule. I think this is terrible.

Schedule: You can ask an au pair to work the time you need but you should be coherent and you need to think about her health, her sleep and her social life. How can she be happy in your house if you ask her about this crazy schedule?

OVERNIGHT: I’m au pair and I always heard that we CAN’T do overnight (??????????????)

If she is with the monitor SHE IS WORKING! Doesn’t matter if the baby is sleeping or not. If she stays with the monitor all night long (9-5 making this way 8 hours of sleeping time) you should count this hours in her schedule. BUT she wont have 8 hours of sleep time because she needs to wake up to feed your baby.

You want your life to be easier giving a poor life for an au pair?
This not fair!!!

Curfew: Is this for her weekend too? Or is just for the days that she needs to work? If she has a curfew during the days that she needs to work she won’t have social life. Poor AP.

You are asking for too much.

STUDIES: When she will study?

Don’t forget you are the baby’s mom not her.

POOR ENGLISH: How can she improve her English without social life and with out studies?

Do you live in NYC? The city that never sleeps?

About her mood: How do you want that she has a good mood talking to you if you ask her these things? If she can’t sleep good? If she can’t have a social life?

You CAN’T just think about your side. This is selfish.

I think you didn’t understand the AU PAIR PROGRAM.

The au pairs don’t came to your house just to WORK.
We have desires and goals.

Excuse me if I also look rude… but this is how the au pairs will think about this schedule and about this way of life.

Don’t expect anything diferent…

The au pairs will agree with it just if you compense her in otherwise but I can’t see a way or a free time that your au pair can have it.

Former au pair September 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I can’t believe what I’m reading!! It’s hilarious!!! I hope the au pair gets a better family!!!
The mom has only ONE child and she’s already refusing to take care of him!!! Because SHE needs to sleep! If it is that easy to go on and off sleep, why don’t you do it?? She needs to sleep at 10ish KNOWING she’ll be up in 3 or 4 hours (who does that?? sleep privation is a kind of torture, did you know??) and after spending two whole hours awake, she’s expected to be back in bed, fall asleep imediately (cause yeah, that’s easy!) and be up before 7am!

So she broke curfew, bad for her, of course (besides the fact you rubbed on her face that she’s not adult enough to mind her own business, for a start, cause that’s what curfew is). You could and should rematch for this. But BE HONEST WITH THE NEXT AU PAIR, DON’T HIDE THIS TORTURE YOU’RE DOING, and good lucky getting some crazy-starving-need-to-send-money-home Mexican to work/slave for you.

Brazilians need to pay around one thousand dollars to be an au pair; she’s probably been to college, has a car and a nice family home. She’s not your type of au pair. You need an idiot.

[[Sorry readers- I’d have edited this comment out but I missed it. cvh]]

Should be working September 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

This comment does not meet this blog’s guidelines for respectful language.

NJMom September 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Agreed, particulary the comment about the Mexican needing to be a slave. Very insulting and degrading.

4 ever mom September 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Absolutely uncalled for! regardless of the question posted or topic at hand! and I would like to add one comment, families pay an extrodinary amount of money to host and AP. Fee’s to the agencies, additional insurances, school stipened, increased utility and food bills, gifts, outings and so forth in addition to the weekly stipened! It is NOT a one time fee for families, and these fee’s are paid each year!

used to be an AP September 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm

@ Former Au Pair: as you can gues from my name, I was an AP once too. While I agree with you basic opinion that the schedule suggested by the HM is less than ideal, I’d really like to ask you to think about what you are writing and how you are expressing yourself. I am sure that parts of your post are meant to be a little ironic but they are still rather degrading. I doubt very much that anyone on this site would think it was ok to hire a – qoute – “Mexican … slave”. Neither would the HM who posted the question and she certainly doesn’t need “an idiot”. She asked for advice which is what this blog is for.

OP September 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm

@used to be an AP, thank you. I am not looking to break the rules or be unkind, rather I’m trying to sort through this jumble of information (some of which is not always readily available) and I don’t appreciate the way that @Former Au Pair phrased things.

nabi September 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

OMG, this post is way to offensive, Im an aupair who is about to be done and im mexican, im in no way a crazy starving need to send money home mexican work/slave for my hf. and sorry if i say this btut there are way too many brazilians in my area and NONE of them have a personal car back in Brazil, seriously u can expect discrimination sometimes from americans but not from other aupairs that is just plain wrong, seriously saying that HM needs an idiot and you pick mexicans as those idiots, and then u ask why this world is so wrong.

Former au pair September 1, 2011 at 10:24 am


[[Note: Readers, overnight care is not against the law. It is legal. The biggest issue is counting all the hours– even the hours when the au pair is asleep. cvh]]

Anna September 1, 2011 at 10:27 am

Actually au pairs can work overnight (the au pair program is advertised here as flexible for shift workers like nurses etc., who have to work overnight and need childcare), BUT it has to be within the rules of the program (i.e if she works night, it counts towards her no more than 10 hours a day, etc.)
Maybe some agencies have put in additional rules not allowing overnight work, but I don’t know about that.
The au pair cannot be left alone with children overnight if the parents are traveling and are not in town, but she can work overnight.

mouse September 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

First of all: REMATCH – you shouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior!

And then to my opinion. Personally I’m waiting for a family again – since the family I had needed to cancel my stay before I even got to the States. (Well that’s another very sad story) So my point of view is as an au-pair-to-come

I would not do the shift you have set up. No regular sleep 3 times weekly. That is not fair! Then I rather go have shift like 8pm – 4 or 6 am those 3 nights. And no work the rest of the day.

But then again personally I’m no party girl – and my body doesn’t “like” to stay up after midnight. My brain simply shuts down. And I hardly never wake up in the middle of the night. My body has its own rhythm which is semi-early up in the morning and bed time around 10-11pm. My body wouldn’t be able to get used to another rhythm. (I know because I have tried several times!) So I wouldn’t be the one who could take a schedule like that.

And then just a little thing: (many would probably hate me for saying this) Choosing to be a parent also includes sleepless night! It’s a part of having a baby. I really hope people know that before having a baby. It’s not a doll you can turn of when YOU want sleep. That’s a part of it – it will be better some day. But I always say that the nighttimes are parent’s time! Not anyone else’s. That’s a part of the job sleep or no sleep. (sorry if any gets offended but that’s my truth)

julie September 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

I am a host mom and now work for one of the agencies. au pairs absolutely can work over night according to State Department rules. They can also be alone with the children overnight so long as they are not the responsible person for more than 10 hours. Someone must work and take care of the children before and after those 10.

Working through the night does happen for working new moms in the program. The critical issue is to tell any potential au pair of the expected. This match can likely not be saved and while it is not “torture” or unreasonable to expect an au pair to work late nights/early mornings, this schedule sounds exhausting. Neither party would be happy.

good luck!

German Au-Pair September 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm

So just to get this right, even if an au pair only has to be up for 2 hours to feed the baby, the whole time she is in charge of the baby monitor is counted as work time? (Which makes sense, because she cannot leave or focus on anything else).
Therefore the OP’s au pair has to work 6 hours every day + the whole night for three deays which would be let’s say from 10 to 6 every morning = 8 hours. So her au pair has to work 14 hours every day which is against the law and the whole discussion about whether she shift is reasonable or not is just not important because it’s against the law, right?
So that’s an information she can consider and work with trying to set up a new schedule for the new au pair.

julie September 6, 2011 at 12:48 am

I am not talking about the baby monitor and this specific situation, which I would tend to agree with you. Several au pairs had commented that it is illegal for an au pair to work overnight, which is not true. Just correcting the wrong information.

Former Brazilian Au pair September 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

Ok about the curfew, I do agree that she has to understand the rules of your house but I DO disagree about your schedule. You have to understand your au pair need to get rest to take care of your son and she is an adult that might not have a habit to take nap between 9 am to 4 pm… besides she needs to go to school too!

one thing is having a helper at home for $200 per week and another thing is when you really pay to worth this kind of service you’re asking for… and about her english, I’m sorry to say but I bet you guys have talked on skype, phone, whatever…so now isnt a excuse to talk bad about her english. If you two didn’t, its not her problem not being fluent but ONLY yours as a mother who cares about your kid and need someone who gonna understand your directions to do it.

Any au pair goes to the USA dreaming to clean pee forever. If we leave our country speakin’ bad english, is because we wanna improve it. And I bet she said it on her letter too :) we don’t go to the USA bcoz we are starving to death in our home country but because we do wanna improve our language, skills and learn culture, live with a host family who make us feel like a member of it … a lot of au pairs are not poors, desperate to immigrate to the USA. They are journalists like me, publicist, lawyers..

And which time do you really see ur kid? I mean, kids need mothers more then overnight feeding. They need a kid of love that your au pair arent able to give to him through a bottle of milk :)

My mom is single mother too since I was 3 yrs old. AND i never went to bed before she come back to help me out with my homework, have dinner with me and put me in bed… and she was a full-time government worker :) and I always had a nanny..but my mom didn’t put her responsabilities as a mother on Maria’s hands.

I think what you guys dont have in this professional relationship is respect. She didn’t respect her curfew and you arent respecting her biologic clock either, bcoz your $200 has to worth until the last 1 cent coin :) she has to accept bcoz she doesnt have other place to stay, right? She is not doing you a favor… just you’re: proving a bed, a food, a job….

respect, respect, respect people!!!

MommyMia September 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Good points, but I’d like to respond to one of Former…’s comments (even though it’s not on topic here) that one thing that really ticks me off as a host parent is the APs who state one of their main goals is “improving their English” but don’t want to spend any of their time conversing with our family or attend events or gatherings with us to meet a variety of Americans, but prefer to party and socialize with friends from their native country, conversing ONLY in Portuguese (just a real-life example from my experience), even to the exclusion of other au pairs in the group, who feel they are being talked about/laughed at. Just sayin’! (And journalists, especially, should take care to use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling, IMHO – LOL!)

Anna September 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm

If you hate Americans so much, and if you don’t like taking care of the autistic boy who doesn’t speak, what were you doing here, matched with a family with this particular child? Another opportunist pretending to just LOOOOOVE kids, to dupe an unsuspecting host family into welcoming somebody who is just using them….as a way to spend some fun time in USA? I’ve had a few of those land in my home, that’s what gives au pair program a bad name, and turns families away from it, even after having good experience with it before.

some au pair September 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm

this is so out of place it’s not even funny……first off, I just guess is so wrong to generalize….both, au pairs and host families. Every family is different, every au pair is too….it doesn’t matter the nationality really. all in all, really inappropriate comment. If I were a host family and were to generalize, based on this girl alone I wouldn’t even think to get an au pair. But hey, thankfully not all au pairs are/think like you do so yeah, we are all different thank God :)

DarthaStewart September 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Actually- I find Brasil to be an interesting country- grew up there myself. Speak Portuguese and Spanish Fluently. AND we invite our au-pair to do everything with us- genuinely. And if we go to a party, she is invited to come (and even many times bring a friend so she’s comfy too). Many, many of our friends like to talk to the au-pairs and ask about their home countries, and what they’re studying, and what they want to do in life- it is totally fascinating. So, please don’t generalize about host families, and what we are or are not like.

AFHostMom September 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Get the chip off your shoulder–it’s very unbecoming.

anon September 2, 2011 at 2:36 am

* Pounds chest * And I caught a bigger fish than Caveman Bob today. Everybody relax, au pairs and host mothers alike. If an au pair posts a ridiculous comment, let her strangle herself with her own words, just ignore it. No need to get into a p*ssing contest.

nabi September 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

totally get this i seriously hate when in our meetings they start talking their native language, hello speak english we are in US, the language here is english i dont understand your language,didnt u want to improve it, well this is your chance.
and about gatherings with your HF that sometimes can be so boring and they sometimes expect u to take care of the children necessities even if your not working which is totally not fair and then they talk about school, girl scouts, soccer team, which u dont really care that much because you are not a parent. so i pass on that one all the time. in my experience i like to spend my time with people my age cause we have things in common. I have a bf he is not mexican like me, he is american and so all his friends, I spend most of my free time hanging with them because we have things in common rather than go to my HF celebration with people I have no talk at all

DJs Mom September 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

I agree with what was stated above. I have an 11 month old and some nights he sleeps through and some nights he’s up twice. I think having her keep the monitor overnight is fine if you count the hours from the time you hand it to her to the time you pick it back up from her, you have set the expectation prior to her arrival, and you don’t do it more than twice per week.

I don’t blame her for being upset and I personally think it’s unfair to give a young woman a curfew unless she is working the next day, she’s not your child. I think you need a good sit down and conversation about your expectations and hers. If they don’t match, then rematch.

Claire September 2, 2011 at 6:56 am

DJs Mom is completely right.

nabi September 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

bout the curfew i dont have one expect from working days 12 am but when im actually partying i dont like to be later than 3 just to be nice and dont even set the tiny bip of the alarm to people who is not nice at all to put a curfew they are grown ups and you are not her mom

Amelie ex au pair September 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Maybe the fact that she broke the curfew is because her English is weak and didn’t know she had to be home at 2? (not trying to take her side, just trying to maybe find an explanation…) And I know this is a excuse for breaking it either, but did you discuss the curfew with her before she arrived?

And, as much as you feel she’s not being flexible, if you didn’t tell her how the schedule would work before she arrived, or agreed on something and then changed your mind, she’s probably feeling like you hid things from her, or lied to her. Her attitude is probably an by-product of the crazy – possibly unanticipated schedule.

If the rules allow you to assign an overnight shift for your au pair, maybe that’s a way to go… but TELL HER BEFORE SHE ARRIVES! I don’t know if I would take a regular night shift, so I’d decline any family with this kind of need. But I’m sure some au pairs would be glad to work and night and have a free day!

But sleeping with a monitor… NEVER! Not only she wouldn’t be able to have a good rest because she has to pay attention to it… but also, consider that the baby could wake up before or after fer scheduled two hours… she would wake up anyway with the noise!

The first two weeks are SOOOO hard for an au pair… she must be feeling horrible, tired and taken advantage of. Of course she has an attitude… I’m sorry to say that, but she probably dislikes you a lot, and she’s probably considering rematch as well.

I am not saying you are a bad mother or a bad host mother nor that you’re torturing or slaving your au pair… but I think you should get to know more about the au pair program, at set new expectations… and probably you’re going to find that yes, having an au pair is a lot of help!!!

PS. I’m Brazilian and I agree Brazilian au pairs don’t interact much with americans or people from different nationalities… But you probably knew her English was poor… so now it’s to late… next time be sure of what you want!!!!

Good luck to you and your au pair!

used to be an AP September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I think Amelie might have point whth saying that there is a possibility that the AP did not know that she had to be back at a certain time. She just may not have known the word “curfew” and because she is 21 never thought that there might be a certain time that she is expected to be home.

OP September 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I had very clearly told her that she needed to be back at 2 and she had communicated to me that she understood. It was in the original rules that I had laid out.

Jill September 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I think this HM has little understanding of the AP program. I can’t imagine asking someone else to care for my child in the middle of the night. I understand she is a single mom, but taking care of your child is part of being a mom. If she wants to “utilize” her 45 hours, maybe she can save some money on the daycare she is paying for 5 days a week and have her AP take care of her child during the day several days a week. Yes, an AP can work overnight but it is part of her 10 hours. If she has the monitor in her room, then she is on duty during that time. What if the baby decides to wake up at 1am and who’s to say that the AP can fall back asleep right away. I remember many a night waking up with my son and having difficulty going back to sleep.
Maybe you could have the AP work some of her hours from 8-11pm or from 7-9am and the HM could get to sleep earlier at night or sleep late a few days a week and have that extra rest to get up at night.
I agree with some of the other moms that your son is not needing the bottle for nutrition at 10 months old; it is more out of habit. Everyone would be happier (you, an AP and your son), if you worked through weaning him now.
I think you will need to rematch because I don’t think that even if you did get rid of the night feeding, that you will have respect for her and I don’t think she will have respect for you. You both have too many bad feelings.
As a parent, it would be nice to ask someone else to do the things that we don’t want to do, such as night feedings, but I look at this request from your AP similar to asking the AP to always change a poopy diaper cause you don’t want to do it. You are a mom and you have certain responsiblities. This is above and beyond an AP’s responsiblilties.

C. brazilian au pair September 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

As a future au pair, I disagree with this kind of schedule IF the au pair wasn’t informed about it before match. I also disagree with this kind of behavior from au pair side. But even so, before a rematch I think you should sit and try to put all cards on the table.

I also would like to say that not all brazilians are party girls and disrepecful (about curfew, way of talk or whatever). Also, if the au pair really wants to improve her English, she will not be limited by talking only with people from her own country. Yes, we want to be part of family but we can’t forget that we are there to work.

GemelliFratelli September 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I would like to offer a gentle suggestion to 1st time HM to help with the feeding schedule. And maybe she has already tried this, I’m not sure of the “big picture” schedule. As the mom of twins born prematurely (and very small) calories and nutrition were paramount and middle of the night feedings were required until we devised another plan. After the boys went to bed around 8pm, we gently fed them another bottle again at 11 or 11:30pm. They did not wake on their own at that time, rather we were able to feed them consistantly without “awakening” them completely. This 11pm feeding held them over through the night and we were able to sleep until almost 7am. We started this practice at 3 months of age and continued it until they were almost a year (now they are 16 months) and it was a LIFESAVER.

OP September 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Thanks for all of the advice! I have decided that a rematch is best in this situation. Since I’m a first time HM, I wasn’t aware of the rules about breaking up shifts, but I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when scheduling my new AP. Unfortunately, my AP has been so disrespectful and lazy in so many other aspects (even after we scrapped the night feedings) that there is no chance of reconciliation.

Her English is so poor that she can’t understand even the most basic directions I give her, yet she insists on acting like she does. Even when I ask her “Do you understand?”, she always replies yes, and then often times does the opposite of what I ask. I did Skype with her before, so I knew that her English wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t realize the extent of it until she actually got here. Her LCC said that she thinks my AP will have difficulty finding a new family because her English is possibly the worst she’s seen of any au pair.

Despite what some have suggested, my AP does not want to rematch as I think she knows she won’t be able to find a new family. I know that some of you have also suggested that having a curfew is unreasonable, but I feel responsible for my AP, and I don’t feel comfortable with her staying out as late as she chose to during her first weeks. She is only 21, and she is new to the area. Additionally, the bars close at 2, so it seemed like a reasonable time. It’s not like she was just at a friends house, she was at an after hours club on her third night here. With my next match I hope to have a relationship where we can trust each other and hopefully extend that curfew.

I’m not going to say that she’s a terrible person or anything, but her attitude suggests that she had expected her year in the US to be a party, instead of a year of work. I know that I, too, misunderstood some of the guidelines of AP program so I can’t be too hard on her.

I also would like to address the fact that some of these people have called me a terrible person. I am a business owning, single mother and I do as much as I possibly can to balance all aspects of my life. Perhaps you are able to balance raising twins and working full time and maintaining a perfect home, but I am not superwoman and I do the best I can.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I have found it useful, rather than asking if the AP understood me, to ask, “What did I just tell you? Or what did I ask you to do today?” That way, you instantly know what is understood and what is not. Another useful tool, is to put information in writing, as many new language learners pick up reading skills before they pick up speaking skills (especially if they have learned English from a non-native speaker).

I realize that I cannot understand how difficult it is to have an infant and own a business (I work full-time outside the home as does DH, but there are 3-caregiving adults in our household with the AP). If you really need to work that many hours, then it may come to pass that the AP program, while cheaper than a full-time nanny, may not meet your needs.

I don’t think there is a problem in splitting schedules, but I do think there is a problem in assigning a curfew on one hand, but then scheduling your AP for less than 8 hours of sleep. (Actually, I think it’s criminal to assign less than 8 hours of sleep – that’s for us parents!)

Finally, skills of APs vary greatly. It’s very hard to ask them to “parent.” They can caregive, they can maintain a routine, most (even the imperfect ones) fall in love with their host children, and most can discipline (more or less), but you cannot ask them to be parents. At the end of the day, no matter how tired we are, that’s our job. (And believe me, even though my ‘tween doesn’t “need” me, I hear it when I have to work longer hours – he may not talk to me, but he wants me around.)

Newhostmom September 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm

OP – I’m very glad you have come to a resolution that will work for you. She does not sound like someone who would have been a successful AP regardless of the night feedings issue. I wish you all the best with your next choice. We just got through our first AP year which was actually wonderful. The absolute best thing I did prior to choosing an AP was interview the heck out of the girls we were looking at. There is a ton of information on this site that was incredibly helpful in terms of helping you weed through to get the kind of AP you want (and make sure the AP is getting, in you, the kind of family she wants). Good luck to you.

Melissa September 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Wow, I am just amazed at the meanness and self-righteousness of some of these comments. I fully agree that the OP’s schedule was unreasonable and not in the spirit of the au pair program (not the part about scheduling the AP overnight, but only counting the two hours when the child wakes up and breaking up the schedule into so many chunks without meaningful time to rest). However, to be honest, I am soooo sick of the patronizing “that is what being a mother is all about” type comments and helping to enlighten us host moms with the brilliant observation that having a baby is not like having a doll that we can turn off when we want to sleep. Really?!!

Give your opinion and offer your input — after all, this host mom was genuinely looking for advice and that is what this blog is all about, as one commentor pointed out. But please do so respectfully. And we really don’t need advice from young women in their late teens/early twenties, who do not have children of their own, about what being a mother is all about.

My 2 cents September 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Amen to that.

NJnanny September 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm

There’s no way that the girl knew (or understood) the schedule before agreeing to match… No aupair would agree to such a schedule! I sure as heck wouldn’t, and I make 3 times what an aupair makes. If I agreed to leave my home to work for a woman who pulled a “bait and switch” on me, I’d be pissy too.

As a nanny who has aupair friends, I often have people asking me what the differences between the two are. This is what I tell them: Aupairing is supposed to be more about cultural exchange, learning/improving language, and working a little as a way to facilitate that. In the US, however, it hardly ever works out that way. Most families who would hire me or an aupair are going to require the same amount of work regardless; it usually becomes a matter of money. I always felt like being an aupair was supposed to be somewhere between being a nanny and a foreign exchange student, but it rarely pans out that way. It makes me sad to report that I don’t personally know a single aupair who’s had a positive experience with her American HF. In fact, the overwhelming majority of them have been over-worked and mistreated by their HF.

And Brazilians are notorious among the AP community for having the worst English. I have AP friends who are Brazilian, whom I love, but my friend Vanessa’s English only started to improve after she started hanging out with the nannies more. I’ve met friends of hers who have been here for almost 2 years whose English isn’t even close to what I’d call functional. It’s largely because they all hang out together, speaking Portugese and engaging in the outside world in Portugese-speaking settings (easy to do in and around NYC).

4 ever mom September 2, 2011 at 12:01 am

I do think families have different expectations from a Nanny as they would an Au Pair, at least that is what my husband and I feel. We interviewed both Nannies and Au Pairs at the same time and decided to give an Au Pair a chance. We gave more flexibility in her schedule than a nanny, more room for error, and great ammenaties that we would not have provided for a nanny. A regulare employee would not get ever a fraction of what I give my AP in non monetary provisions (car, place to entertain friends, special foods, outings with family, family vacations, money for school and many more) I do know that if I had hired a nanny and she did the things my Au Pair did she would have been fired. Our Au Pair is still with us and this is a learning opportunity for her. If I were paying three times the amount (as American nannies want) I would expect three times more in work. I do not want to hijack the thread here, however I think it is an important distinction to make and there may be other HF’s that agree with me.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 2, 2011 at 7:21 am

I don’t think it’s highjacking the thread. I think many American families have unreasonable expectations of what they can expect from an AP. (Aside here – my Brazilian APs may not have had perfect English skills, but they were used to working hard and were among the most physically loving of my APs – they were exactly what my kids needed when they were babies. And yes, I let a lot go based on the strength of the relationship they had with my kids.)

We’ve discussed endlessly about how the AP program in the US is sold to prospective APs versus how it is sold to HF. We want different things from the program, and in a way the State Dept. mediates with some rules that allow for a compromise of sorts, if everyone follows the guidelines (HFs and APs).

I think the basic difference between APs and nannies is that many APs view it as a “year off” from the “rest of their lives,” while for nannies, it’s a career. The pay is comensurate with those expectations. I am not saying that APs don’t work hard and that are not excellent caregivers. Not at all. I have had 6 fantastic APs who worked their tails off caring for a special needs child and my 7th (who promises to be equally wonderful) just arrived. 5 of the 7 have been APIA “Extraordinnaires” who receive extra pay due to extra experience – but all 7 came with real working experience.

However, what I often see, as a HM, are families that truly need more than 45 hours a week, mixing day-care with a full-time AP. In my experience, the child loses because it’s spending minutes in its waking day with a parent. An AP is not a parent and cannot replace a parent. It’s an unreasonable expectation (although I’ve watched many APs try to initiate routine and discipline for children of overworked parents, but varying degrees of success – the problem is that the parent cannot guarantee that the next AP will be willing to make that much effort). A nanny probably comes closer – because caring for kids is her career.

I think many commenters are reacting to a situation in which a parent who obviously needs assistance, is asking too much of an AP. And while the AP comments may be attacks that border on the abusive, if you cut away the vitriol and read the underlying text, they have legitimate concerns about the well-being of a young woman whose day is cut into pieces so much that she doesn’t get a block of time to meet the requirements of the AP program and her personal goals. (And yes, socializing is a legitimate need for APs.)

OP – while you go into rematch, you need to figure out how to make a schedule that works best for you and your baby, while still permitting an AP to meet some of her goals.

Busy Mom September 3, 2011 at 12:09 am

Totally agree with 4 ever mom on the fact that I expected our nannies to do far more work than I do our au pairs, so it’s not quite so simplistic as saying that it all comes down to money as NJNanny posits. We’ve had both nannies and au pairs. Our nannies did the full family laundry, grocery shopped, did random errands for us (e.g., picked up dry cleaning, post office) without the added costs required to “be part of the family.” Although we have had terrific au pairs, our nannies were infinitely better at discipline and carrying through with the nuances of our child-rearing preferences. Ultimately, we made the switch because when the youngest reached 1st grade. We needed more evening hours (sports practices, dance classes, etc.) It’s about 25-30% less expensive for us to have an au pair, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison in terms of services provided.

nabi September 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm

as an aupair i do that, i can count with my hands how many times have i done the laundry for my HP because i need more fingers, seriously i love my HF but i really do believe the work i have done here for almost 11 months is worth more than almost $200 a week, I mean we AP practically play moms the entire day. I go to the groceries, and believe I know what it feels going with a toddler there who can’t stay still for 30 minutes, who wants everything that she sees on the shelves. for me has been an experience of growing up, of really understanding job can be a b*tch sometimes, that while many can say nobody prepare them to be parents, I am I can be a mom of 4 kids, by myself cause I did it, every sigle day I had the laundry done, lunches done, dishes done, bed and rooms done, the baby entertained and no once did she watch the tv while she was with me on weekdays cause its a rule. I truly do believe that HF expects way too much of aupairs, and Im really worried as Im about to leave that the next one wont live to the expectations, I hope they she will be good cause i love them i want the best for them.

anonamomma September 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

Nabi – if you factor in the cost of your room and board, food, educational fund, agency fees, and extras, i.e. Starbucks vouchers, welcome basket, car insurance, gas money, small presents and tokens along the way and of course the biggie – the mobile phone, etc – you will soon see that you are “paid” ALOT more than $200 a week!

HRHM September 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

I have done the math (over and over trying to justify keeping an AP) and have found that with JUST the agency fees, stipend and room & board (as calculated by the State Dept, probably actually costs us more) that it costs us $469.59 per week to host an AP. That is before I pay for their cell phone, give them a car to use, pay for their classes and include them in family outings. This certainly doesn’t take into account the money we spent on car deductibles, replacing towels ruined by hair color, vacation expenses when they are included (guests, not working btw) etc. At 10 dollars per hour, I could get a nanny for 45 hours per week for 19.59 less, she could do MY wash and keep the whole house straight, would speak perfect English and would come with her own car and cell phone. And she would live in her own home and not come on out to eat with us. So, while you APs may feel you are underpaid, it’s not because we are cheap and not spending the money. Last year, we spent around $33000.00 for our AP (including car payments for the 3rd car) If you think as a foreign high school graduate you can match that for pay, and then drive a decent car, live in a nice neighborhood and still have spending money, good luck! LOL

Taking a Computer Lunch September 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I guess that depends on where you live. Where I live nannies make way more than APs, unless you share them with other families. In my area, nannies require that families pay 100% of taxes and social security on top of their salaries. Most also negotiate 2 weeks paid vacation at their discretion, and it goes without saying that you pay them their salary when you go on vacation. In my area, even babysitters who come to your house are more expensive than APs (teenagers with a driver’s license start at $10 an hour). APs are not cheap, but depending on your community they may be cheaper than other forms of childcare.

But for me the bottom line has not been the dollar figure, it’s the quality of the care that is offered. With a great, engaging AP, who does not need to be told what to do, she’s cheap at any price!

If all you can do is think about the money (and that goes for APs, too) – then you need to ask yourself “What do I need to do to make this better?”

used to be an AP September 2, 2011 at 11:02 am

I had a great AP experience. I really liked my HF (well, I still do as I am still in contact with them) and they never would have considered to mistreat one of their APs. The same goes for most of my AP friends.
But I do agree with you on the language point. The week I arrived in the US my English was better than that of the AP leaving the HF. She only had German speaking friends and needed to speak English only when working or going shopping. The second week we worked togehter she asked me to make a phone call to the bank for her. But I guess there is not much the HF can do about that. I had an international group of friends (including Americans), so we always spoke English and I did talk to my HM for at least an hour every day. (I mean talking as in chatting, so not work related). That turned out to be very helpful (I also asked her to correct me every time I made a mistake), but I guess you can’t force your AP to talk to you or to anyone else who doesn’t speak her native language.

PA Nanny September 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

I really think that this host mom isn’t look of her AP she said that she is worry about her because of curfew right? and what about the night that she will be wake taking care of YOUR baby! do you really think that its looks sincere?
You said that she is rude and inpolite, but the way that you talk here I can guess that she doesn’t have the best treatment at home! I have this same problem in my host family, she talk to me like a trash! Do you think that a person with a good life in Brazil leave everything to have a new experience would like to hear this? I’m sorry but your really need to realise what exactly do you want!!
About her English, if YOU have no time to spend for try to help her, how you can say that she will not find other family because her poor english? She is here to improve it!
Have a good lukcy with your new au pair! and please says the TRUE! this will be easy for both of you!

CEO-Mom September 3, 2011 at 5:55 am

So it’s the host Mom’s responsibility to help your English?

HostDadinNJ September 2, 2011 at 11:48 am

I will not add anything to the comments here regarding scheduling and whether this is appropriate, I will say though that what may help your sanity is taking a long weekend and accept it will be 2 or 3 horrible nights, but get your little one to get over his middle of the night meals. Unless a child has some underlying health issues, a 10 month old should easily sleep 8-12 hours at night uninterruped.

Then the night scheduling issues can resove themselves, with this or any other Au pair.

My 2 cents September 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

To answer the question posted: “is it fair to schedule an au pair for late night feedings?” — yes, it is. An au pair can be a night nurse. But like most said above, it’s the way the schedule is broken up throughout the rest of the day that makes it cross into unreasonable.

OP – you need to decide whether it’s more important to have essentially a night nurse or care when the baby is not in daycare. But you can’t have both even if the hours don’t total the 45 max. No au pair will be happy with you (although I think your au pair needs to go anyway — breaking curfew that early and the attitude to boot are bad, bad signs).

I know it’s off-topic and I hope I don’t sound too presumptious when I ask: Have you tried sleep training? The baby is 10 months old and so should be able to make it without that middle of the night feed. If you haven’t tried sleep training I recommend that. I used the Baby Whisperer method if that’s any help to you. Good Luck.

Eastcoastmom September 2, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Regarding sleep training, some people actually prefer baby-led weaning and don’t want to do dream feeds or CIO.

Good luck, OP. My DH travels all the time and I work so I have a taste of the single mom life. It’s hard. I end up getting nothing done and never taking time for myself. I hope you can figure out a schedule that works well for you, and keeps your AP happy and healthy.

CA Au Pair September 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

The question is about middle of the night feedings. Why did you mention about her poor English? First of all, you’re supposed to know that! You interviewed your Au Pair, didn’t you? I can’t imagine you just realized how poor is her English when she got your home.

‘… only 2 weeks and already there are a lot of problems.’ The first 2 weeks are so damn hard for an Au Pair! Did you ever talk to her about all those problems? Maybe she doesn’t have any idea about them. If you did talk to her… Were you nice or rude? It doesn’t make sense to me that she is being rude ‘for nothing’. Did you tell her about the curfew before the match? Did she really understand that she had to get home until 2 am?

Why do you think she refuses to do the late night feedings? Maybe if she knew about it before she wouldn’t refuse it, right? You’ve should tell her about the schedule and these nights you expected her to work before the match. I think you’re out of line asking her to do these hours because you just asked her when she got in the U.S and it’s not ok. Not fair at all. It’s not her fault you’re exhausted and you haven’t had a full night’s sleep in 10 months. You need to get enough rest, so does she. You should keep in mind that you’re the mom and she’s the Au Pair!

I think that a rematch is the best you guys can do at this point. Tip: Just be honest with your next Au Pair and tell her everything about the schedule BEFORE the match :)

CEO-Mom September 3, 2011 at 5:57 am

I don’t think 2 conversations via skype are adequate to know how poor someone’s understanding of the English language is. Speaking English is different than understanding it.

CEO-Mom September 3, 2011 at 5:53 am

I think people missed the “2 weeks” part. It was still time for corrective action by both parties. HF invest a lot to bring AP’s into their home so it would have been in the Mom’s best interest to make it work. I find that some AP’s want to be treated like family and think that is a one way street.

The judgement of HM by some AP’s (who aren’t mothers themselves) is shocking and insulting.

HostmomAngie September 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Sounds like host mom actually needs to rethink the custody arrangement if she has day care or an au pair from 7AM til 9PM M-F and additional au pair working on weekends she doesn’t have the baby. Sounds like work never ends. Maybe she should alternate weeks with the father, a lot of au pairs are ok with exceeding 45 hours in one week if they have the next off.

Talya September 6, 2011 at 5:44 am

As a mother, business owner, and former au pair, I believe expecting an au pair to do night-time feedings is unreasonable – unless, of course, it is something she was aware of and agreed to before starting her job. And I agree with Au Pair Mom that going out at night to party and staying up to feed a baby are two completely different things.

Of course, the au pair in question should not be disagreeable or rude, and if there are other problems a rematch should be in order. But feeding a baby during the night on a regular basis should be the responsibility of the parent. Sorry, but this one seems pretty black-and-white. I don’t think au pairs get paid enough to do the graveyard shift.

massaupairmom September 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Having dreamt of a “baby nurse” myself during those early, sleep-deprived months, I can sympathize with this mother’s desire for relief. However, I have myself done what she is asking for a short period of time, and after that experience, I would never ask an au pair to take on this role. After my sister had her (second set of!) twins, her husband was traveling quite a bit. I was living for free in their home, so it seemed only fair to ask me to help by taking over the night feedings for one of the babies while my brother in law traveled. By day, I sincerely LOVED this little girl, but by night, she looked like a hideous little monster to me. I had SUCH a difficult time waking up with her. I would stagger around like a drunk person trying to make a bottle, and I’d keep dozing off while trying to feed her. The next morning, I was a basket case, unable to wake up while my sister was awake and alert and caring for her four children. This put me off having kids of my own for years! Fortunately, as a mother, I did not have these problems with night feedings. I can only conclude that something happens biologically/emotionally when we become mothers. Maybe it’s an endorphin rush I get from caring for my child in the quiet of the night? I don’t know, but because of my own experience caring for my niece, I would not ask an au pair to wake at night. And who are we kidding, anyway – you’ll still wake up! Who can sleep through their baby crying? All in all, you’re likely to end up with a tired, unhappy au pair, and you’ll still be waking up at night!

any au pair September 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm

It is not fair that you schedule late at night!!! first of all the baby is yours not your au pair’s…. you are the mother, the one who have to get up late to assist YOUR CHILD!!!, it is fine for the au pair to do that when you are not home but being you at home why she should do that????

anonymous for this post September 9, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Many au pairs care for the children when the parents are home. Some because the parents work from home; others because there are multiple children/large families; and still others because the parents have determined that they want the assistance of an au pair even if a parent does not work or if it is so the mother and/or father can sleep/read/socialize/play tennis/go running/do charity work/scrapbook/clean the home/watch television — it really doesn’t matter why the parents have an au pair, the official/formal au pair job description/parameters don’t change and are NOT predicated on the parent(s) not being at home.

confused au pair September 10, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Ok this is the situaton tonight, I am off all the weekends and I was away from home today with my friends. My host mom is 48 and she fell down today and broke his arm because she was ON A SKATE BOARD trying to be cool in front of the boys!!..she is going to have surgery tonight and she just called me to be with the kids while she is at hospital. The point is that my host dad, her best friend, her mom, her in laws and one cousin are with the children and I have plans for now (not party) travelling to one of my dreams cities…what should I do??? I would love to help her because she is so nice with me but the kids are not alone!!! Am I being mean and selfish?… I said yes tho but my au pair friends said that I am so stupid to let them get my busy in my off time !!! help

anonamomma September 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

@confused au pair
Just so you are absolutely clear on this if I had an emergency and called my AP to help me and if she said “sorry I made plans” – I would be most unimpressed and in fact I would call a rematch there and then. You say your HM is nice to you and this is the way you repay her – in her hour of need.

Also think about it – if you are off for the weekend and you posted on Saturday – then your “trip” is hardly a huge one that cannot be done again is it?

Seriously – your HM is in the middle of an emergency and is probably thinking of 101 things such as can she work with a busted arm? how is her family income going to be affected by this?, will her health insurance cover the entire bill? etc, etc, and your first reaction is to think “is this fair onme” (which is normal to be fair) but your second reaction is to judge her – not good!

And just to be very clear – your role in your HM’s family is to provide support. YOU ARE NOT THERE TO JUDGE HER i.e. “she was… trying to be cool”. Just who do you think you are?

Yes – you are being selfish and you should be ashamed of your response. Take this is your chance to shine – to show your HF why they selected you. There will be other trips on other weekedns but your HF will really need your help now.

Take it as a huge compliment that your HM wants to rely on you to take care of the children and try to make the children one less thing on her list to worry about over the next few days.

My advice – stop moaning, step up and shine.

Gianna September 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Confused aupair:
I think you are a nice person with good instincts and that is why you agreed to help
your host mom. I think you got off track when you started listening to your friends.
Let’s look at it this way – if you were acting cool with the kids and fell and broke your arm and your host mom said ” gee, I would stay home and watch tv with you and make you herbal tea and give you time to sleep when the pain killers kick in but my girlfriends told me that you are just an aupair, after all , and your aupair friends can come over and talk to you online and I really want to go away for the weekend with my girlfriend ” what would you think ? Your host family pays your stipend and education costs as well food and shelter. How about the car and the cell phone ? Your initial instinct was kind and mature. Do not listen to your friends. You need to protect your relationship with your host family.

Returning HM September 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Like Anonamomma and Gianna, I feel that this is your chance to show the kind of AP you are. And this will determine not only what you do THIS WEEKEND but also how the rest of your AP experience will likely go.

Your initial instincts were right, but then you got led off-track by friends. Contrast the reluctance you shared with us about helping your HM in her time of need with what our AP did last night: HD and I both were both not feeling well, having spent the last two weeks taking care of our children who had pneumonia. AP had the weekend off, having used all of her hours last week with the children home from school sick. When she came home from her day’s outing yesterday, she found HD sick in bed and me doing my pathetic bit to get the children their dinner. She immediately jumped in, ordered me to the couch with a blanket, fed the children their dinners, offered to make dinner for us (though we didn’t want to eat), oversaw the baths of the children, got them into their pajamas, and got them settled for bed. She then came downstairs and announced she was cancelling her night’s plans and cancelling her plans for today as well, so she could help take care of us, her host parents, and help with the children today. Fortunately, we didn’t need her to do either, as my MIL was able to take the children, but the point was, she OFFERED to give up her free time to help. I didn’t have to ask “Will you please help me,” which I was reluctant to do. She just jumped in and helped. (unsurprisingly, HD and I got our pneumonia diagnoses this morning).

You can imagine, I think, how I felt in response to our AP’s eagerness to help – and how appreciative I felt (and feel) in return. And you can also imagine, I think, how this appreciation will affect all of my interactions with the AP from here on out. She is new to us, been here only three weeks, but she already has shown who she is and how much she is going to be one of those “all for one and one for all” APs. This attitude will pay off for her over and over and over again — not that she did what she did for any “payback,” but I cannot imagine a host family that would not want to shower extra kindness, extra generosity, extra understanding, and extra good will on an AP who so puts herself out for the good of her family.

What kind of an AP do you want to be? Do you want to be the one who helps when asked (or even when not asked) and who is there for her family as a member of the family? Or do you want to be an AP who puts a night’s fun ahead of being there when you’re needed? Now is your chance to decide.

anonamomma September 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

@ Gianna & Returning HM – you both put it so well! I felt it is also important to stress the consequences of refusing to help or doing so in a less than enthusiastic manner and the effect that will take on the HF/AP relationship.

@Confused AP – lots of good advice here – I hope you shine

Good luck and let us know how it turns out for you.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I once changed a flat tire in the rain when I had pneumonia and the AP had a fit when I told her to to drive the car the tire place because the tire was still under warranty and get it fixed. Not cool, and it was one of the last straws in a dying relationship. I think she had thought I would just give her the other car to go off with friends and struggle with the car on my own.

How you react to family emergencies does color how the family reacts to you for the rest of the year. The AP who cancels her plans during a crisis in our house (which happens frequently with a medically fragile child), gets rewarded when the dust clears.

kat September 18, 2011 at 4:42 am

i have to disagree with this. if the family expects the aupair to do them a favoure of this kind, then the relationship is wrong. where is the respect for her plans? as it was a dream trip i believe the family knew about it and cant imagine how they can EXPECT to drop her plans, she might loose her one and only chance to go on this trip. sure they can ask and be grateful if she cancels the trip but to expect her to do this and be pissed off if she doesnt, is imho wrong. also the op said family were around so dont understand why they couldnt help.

some au pair September 18, 2011 at 11:37 am

I think it is a simple matter of caring for the well being of this person who is your boss but also the person who gives you a roof and feeds you, and in fact, will also be “expected” to “care” if something happened to happen to you at some point of your stay in the US. And really, I don’t think this situation comes down to the AP\HF relationship, but to the kind of person one is. Wouldn’t you really help someone who’s been good to you, who is in need, only because you already had plans?

kat September 30, 2011 at 7:36 am

of course i would. but i dont work for people who would expect me to.

Anonamomma September 30, 2011 at 7:40 am

@ kat

So glad you are not my au pair

Because it is fair for a host family to EXPECT an au pair to drop her plans in the case of an emergency – just like an au pair can EXPECT a family to help her out in her our of need.

I hope your family don’t ever need your help – for your sake – because if your actions are like your words – you are in for a short ride home.

confused au pair September 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I was not judging her I was just describing what she did. I completely agree that I have to be considered with my HM and even more when she introduces me as her oldest daughter!! I said yes and I helped her I called the travel agency and postponed my trip for next month, I worked 13 hours without sleeping (saturday night and sunday morning) and not only took care of my 3 kids but also of the 2 cousins and their parents were with my host mom. I was tired after that but I did it because they are my family here and they are just great with me. Even if I don’t have a car ..

anonamomma September 12, 2011 at 2:38 am

And you just ruined it with “Even if I don’t have a car”

Aand yes you were judging her – be honest (at least with yourself) – describing what she did would be – she fell off a skateboard goofing around – judging her is “trying to act cool” – see the difference.

Calif Mom September 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm


When you step up and shine, good things follow. Karma.

If my AP had a trip cancelled because I fell off a skateboard (it could happen!) I would appreciate her staying home because *relatives are not always acceptable supervisors of children but I KNOW my AP knows what I want done, and the kids feel comfortable with her, giving me one less thing to worry about after surgery* and I would likely pay for a trip for her later on. Or at least pay any cancellation fees from her weekend trip.

Even if I don’t let you have your own car.

azmom September 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

i’ll add to the chorus, but recommend maybe moving baby into your room so you have to wake less when baby wakes at night – have the bottle ready at around midnight so it is still fresh when he wakes at night and you don’t have to even leave the room. my 15 month old wakes to nurse at night and my now 3 year old did for quite a while as well. Sleep studies and anthropolgical studies across cultures indicate that the mostly American thinking on sleep through the night isn’t typical. A luxury at most – but for an AP to do this with two other shifts during the day is just too much.

kat September 16, 2011 at 7:27 am

i personally cant help it but feel the way op scheduled her ap is cheaky. i know the expectations in the us are different but i this very unreasonable. a/ she needs a proper break inbetween the shifts ( british contracts usually say 11 hours), b/ when she has the monitor, then that is working time as she might not be able to sleep at all, c/ i have a feeling this schedule isnt even something she knew about upfront which makes it all even worse (cant imagine anyone to agree such a schedule). in the uk you would have (expensive) night nannies doing night care.
i understand life of a single mother is not easy, but you still need to be fair to your employees/whateveryoucalltheap. its her job, not looking after her own children.

kat September 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Daily rest – a break between working days

If you are an adult worker you have the right to a break of at least 11 hours between working days. This means as an adult worker, if you finish work at 8.00 pm on Monday you should not start work until 7.00 am on Tuesday.

Dorsi September 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Most of the parents here are from the US and there are no such regulations.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm

While I agree with you, Dorsi, my guess is that most HP allow at least 8 hours – if not more – between shifts. Very rarely would I ask an AP to work past 10:00 pm on a weeknight followed by a 6:00 am start (of course, it goes without saying, that I would be getting even LESS sleep), but it does happen. 90% of the time, my APs have 12 hours between evening and morning shifts. When my kids were infants and toddlers, it was even greater (and understood that it was absolutely necessary for the AP to recharge herself). Now my APs get almost 7 hours between the short AM shift and the longer PM shift at least 3 days a week.

However, the only time an AP has worked overnight – once a week when The Camel was hospitalized for several weeks – she worked less than 8 hours in hospital and absolutely no more that day. (And it was godsend to us, her parents, to get uninterrupted sleep once a week – it kept us going for the tag-team parenting the rest of the week.)

The bottom line – if you want the AP to be in charge of baby overnight, then in my opinion, that’s her shift and the rest of the day is yours. You get a good night’s sleep, the AP doesn’t, but you get one night a week to recharge your batteries.

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