Night Owl Au Pairs: Should You Give Them a Bedtime?

by cv harquail on May 19, 2015

Dear AuPair Mom,

 I am always delighted and relieved when my AP makes friends and starts spending time with them. I have never set a curfew since it seems to me that if I expect them to be responsible for my 4 children, I ought to reasonably expect them to be responsible for themselves; they are adults after all.

I make it clear at the beginning of the year however, that while they are welcome to go out with their friends, I expect them to show up for work well rested and able to take proper care of my children, reminding them of how hard it is to be patient and deal with kids when you are tired.

 As the year progresses though, they tend to stay out/up later and later, and often get tired, run down and frequently sick. And then they begin complaining about how tired they are, and how they don’t feel well. At this point, and despite my usual warmth and friendliness toward my AP, I find it almost impossible to muster any sympathy for them.

These are not always “party girls” either, so setting a curfew is not necessarily a solution.

I had an AP who routinely stayed up until 2-4am skyping with friends, browsing the internet or watching movies, and although she usually didn’t have to work until 11am, she frequently complained about how tired she was! She even told me that she stayed up late because otherwise she would wake up early and “have nothing to do”.     (I had plenty of things she could have done, but that’s a whole other issue.)

I myself have been woken up by my baby every few hours at night and would have just about killed for even 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, so despite seeing clearly that her behavior was the result of immaturity, I was still irritated by it.

On the other hand, I had a wonderful AP who disappeared Friday evening (to stay with friends) and reappeared at 6am on Monday morning looking a bit bleary eyed, but always smiling and ready for work.

How do other HP deal with these situations?

What do you think of internal ‘curfews’ aka bedtimes? 


Anon for this one May 19, 2015 at 10:18 am

Ha.. so funny because I am interviewing at the moment and I have three initial questions that I put to all hopeful candidates and this is No. 3 – that’s how important this is to us..

Are you an early bird.. this means going to bed early and getting up early.. naturally… ?

If they say yes.. cause they all say yes!! I then make it clear that our house shuts down for the night at about 10pm on weekends and a bit later on weekends.. – Wifi is set to turn off at 10:30pm every night (It is not acceptable in my house to have a conversation later that 10:30pm – my children are asleep and I’d like them to remain that way and yes this is also a weekend rule). During the week I am up at 5:30am – HD is up at 5am.. so somebody walking around the house.. or even watching tv after bedtime doesn’t work in our house.. so we need an early bird..

It’s never been a problem.. once you say that wifi is turned off at 10:30pm .. soon I get a whole load of rejections – that suits me fine – because I am left with “real” earlybirds… which is exactly what I am looking for..

And to be clear- I am not anti-party.. we’ve had APs disappear for the weekends, come home and done the walk of shame.. and it’s fun.. and that’s great .. but we have never had an exhausted AP .. because they can party all weekend… and then catch up on their sleep during the week..

And in my opinion there is very little advantage in real life to be gotten out of surfing the internet at 2 in the morning..

(my house / my rules – don’t like them – don’t live with me)

Seattle Mom May 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

Turning off the wifi at 10:30pm.. or at least threatening to.. is GENIUS!

RealityCheck May 19, 2015 at 12:18 pm


Anon for this one May 19, 2015 at 12:27 pm

It was a complete accident!! and it’s been the best weed out question ever for me..

The amount of “no thanks” we get when I put that question out is unreal.. but the girls I am left with are golden rock stars..

And yes I know there’s time differences .. yadda yadda yadda.. get over it.. strange that.. time differences apply to the morning too and the afternoon… when I travelled (back in the olden days!) it would not have been acceptable to be on the phone at that hour in a family home.. and it’s not..

Au Pair in France May 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

If anyone else is thinking of this, do make sure you make it very clear when matching that you’re going to do that. I was convinced the slightly unreliable wifi was just failing at random times for the first week or so, until I realised they were turning it off when they went to bed (between 10:30 and midnight) It doesn’t really bother me, (and it’s probably good for me to have any films turned off at midnight, I wake up much earlier now!) but I imagine it could come as a nasty shock to other people. (To be fair they may have told me when I first arrived, and I just didn’t know enough French to understand).

exaupair May 19, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Anon for this one, you have brought a ‘curfew’ to an entirely new level.
One might be an actual early bird who goes to bed early and gets up early, but you seem to be forgetting that APs in America usually come from outside the US and given the time difference between your country and their home countries, your ‘late at night’ might be the only acceptable time for their friends and families to have a skype or phone conversation. Unless you only host young people from countries from more less the same time zone, I honestly don’t know how do they cope with this rule.

Not that I agree with you, but at least you are honest about your house rules upon matching, instead of dropping the bomb after they’ve arrived…As long as everyone is happy with the rule, then all of you will have a great year.

The thing I’m actually curious about, is how you’d approach an AP who out of desperation for a late night skyping session with her boyfriend bought pay-as-you go data transfer with USB stick. The same with mobile phones, you might provide one, but if it’s forbidden to use it after a certain hour, then why not buy another phone for private conversations only. You wouldn’t really have grounds to call a rematch because they spent their own money the way they wanted. Just my 2 cents.

momo4 May 19, 2015 at 10:37 pm

The time zone argument for late night skyping sessions really on makes sense for some APs. The families of European AP’s in the US are typically 6-9 hours ahead, so unless they need to talk to want to skype in what is the morning for their families there isn’t much argument for AP skyping at 2am. Not that there couldn’t be some extenuating circumstances in which their families were only available at that time, but 7 of my 8 APs have been European, and it has been my experience that they always seemed to want to skype with their families in what for us here is the middle of the day, which was evening for their families. Obviously, for APs from further east the timing of when they can reach their families may be another matter.
I have always been extremely understanding of APs need to stay in touch with their families, but the *necessity* of much of the late night communications for European APs is certainly a matter of opinion.

Since we do not ever turn the wifi off, and also do not have any sort of curfew I am relying on my AP to be courteous and considerate of the rest of the family’s need for sleep, regardless of how desperately they need to talk to someone. Luckily I can sleep through all kinds of noise so that really hasn’t been an issue.

However, I would think that if a HF has a rule, any rule about anything, that an AP finds so intolerable that she feels the need to start sneaking around behind her HF back there is grounds for re-match from either side since clearly it is not a good fit.

Anon for this one May 20, 2015 at 5:25 am


I would counter your point by saying that timezones go both ways, i.e. it is just as easy (if not easier) to Skype someone early in the morning which will probably make it late afternoon in their home-country (or vice versa) and there are weekends if work hours don’t suit both side. This requires a bit of organisation (dare I say effort!) on the part of the APs/families/friends.

Re: boyfriends, we screen for boyfriends and will not accept an AP with a boyfriend.

Again, I don’t impose a bed time nor do I prohibit use of phones, books or even laptops – stay up and watch a movie if you want, but the rest of us and going to bed. Be respectful and quiet and don’t wake us – that’s not a big ask. Nor is I expect you to be up/showered/breakfasted/dressed AND smiling and ready to work at the designated hour.

I believe that APs need to take on board that they are expected to fit into the HF’s way of life. Yes HF’s will bend and make concessions as needed but this is our way of life so there must be a balance between the family’s needs (i.e. a decent night’s undisturbed sleep) and AP’s privileges

SKNY May 20, 2015 at 11:12 am

I wonder if turning off wifi during the day would be an option for au pairs who cant get off their computers/iphones….
Yes, the iphone has data, but it is only 1gb and will be gone fast.
Any other suggestion for keeping iphone use at the lowest level?
PS: we have a rematch ap starting on Friday, and I am training my kids to yell: NO PHONE, it is kids time, anytime they see one!!!! haha

PacNWHostMom May 20, 2015 at 12:04 pm

SKNY – We resorted to that for a short period of time during the day when we found our AP was online/phone nearly her entire work time, and our kids were off doing their own thing (all under age 5). The oldest could tell us. We also noticed she’d watch about 4-5 hours of TV all day. Our kids were telling us she only watched TV and was on her phone and wouldn’t take them to the park, play with them or anything.
We had a few “random outages” with the phone/internet” for a few days, and that helped. Can’t say it ever got perfect.
We also had a chat about the excessive TV watching while working.
A gentle “I’m paying you to watch and care for my children not catch up on your favorite shows, leave the house a mess, my children uncared for and Skype all day”.

UKAu Pair May 19, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Wifi turning off at 10:30 wouldn’t be for me. I’m not exactly an ‘early bird’ but I am in bed by 9:30/10 most nights and up by 6:30/7:30 most mornings, so although in reality I rarely use the internet past about 10pm, not having the possibility to do so would really make me chafe- I’m an adult, and I don’t want something which is essentially a personal decision to be made for me (especially having lived independently!). I also find that if I’m homesick or having a rough night when I’m au pairing then I’ll occasionally ‘block’ a day one weekend where I plan to stay up late (knowing that I can sleep in) and skype/watch films/browse the intenet as long as I want until late at night.
I don’t necessarily agree with your point about telephone calls ‘in the olden days’, either. I don’t have to ask permission every time I want to use the internet. And I might ask well go back even further and say that before telephones you wouldn’t be able to speak to family but would have to wait for letters (or cables, telegrams, whatever) to get from one side of the world to the other. They’re both unrealistic scenarios for the modern Western world.
I’m also one of these people who is fine with doing something if I’m asked nicely, or if it’s something I do anyway, but as soon as it’s made a RULE I have issues with it. For example, I tidy and hoover my room at least once a week because I want to, I need it clean and I don’t want to live in a pigsty. I would, however, have major issues with a family who made a rule that my room had to be tidy. Again, it comes down to choice.
I can see why you do it (and, as you say, au pairs like me will take themselves out of the equation fairly sharpish- I’d be fine if you were in Europe and it was only a couple of months but I couldn’t do a whole year) but it wouldn’t be for me.

Seattle Mom May 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm

I totally get that and it’s partly why we don’t have many rules in our house- for the kids or for the AP. If something becomes a problem we usually go on the assumption that we can deal with it.

On second thought I probably wouldn’t even suggest that we turn the wifi off because I don’t want to give the impression that we are big into rules. It won’t be necessary in our case, anyway. Now that I’m rowing again our au pair is working early morning hours (starting around 5am) a couple of days per week. I told her about this during matching. The next time we look for a new au pair I will probably prepare them for almost every morning starting at 5am, since with both kids in school every day we’ll have the hours to do that (and we both always want to row on the same days). That will weed out the night owls.

UKAu Pair May 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Question: what will you do if you get an au pair who also rows and wants to continue in the US? :D

My brother rows, and although I don’t go out on the river I go to gym sessions with him, and if he’s on the river I swim/run or spend an hour or so doing ballet, and I really rely on getting up early to be able to fit that in (although I know that with the 40 hour limit in the US realistically there is always time if you need it).

As an au pair in Italy I’d go out early partly because I don’t deal with heat very well, although I’m guessing that’s not a problem in Seattle.

Do your au pairs tend to be very active? How do they fit it in?

Seattle Mom May 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm

That would be interesting! Of course we’d love to have an au pair who rows, because it would be fun to have that in common. And we would work it out so that everyone gets to row. But I think we’d have to be careful to get an au pair who didn’t expect us to give up our early morning practices so that she could row. I mean, I would compromise, but not all the time.. and there’s an evening program at our boathouse (which the au pair would be free to join most evenings), and the au pair could conceivably row when the kids are in school- so we would help, and we could throw the au pair in the morning rotation but we’d try to figure out other times that work. We could probably include our au pair in our “family membership” at our boathouse, which would be kind of awesome.

I haven’t come across too many rowers in the applicant pool- I can only remember one, but her timing was too far off from ours (she wanted to arrive much later than we could consider). I did consider a couple of professional-level athletes (both French) but they both seemed kind of limited in their childcare experience because they were so busy with their sports.

We have a rowing machine in our basement and so far we’ve only had one au pair express any interest in using it- this was our super active martial artist au pair. She also set up a kick boxing bag in our garage, and actually lifted our weights and went running all the time when she wasn’t going to her dojo.

Aside from that one au pair the others haven’t been that active. One was just a step above couch potato but we loved her anyway. She was socially active, just never showed any interest in going to the gym or running. We had one au pair who went to the gym pretty often, but she wasn’t super athletic she just wanted to stay fit. And our current au pair is kind of like that, she goes to the gym less often but will run occasionally. It would be fun to have another athletic au pair- especially as the kids get older and they are more interested in doing sporty activities.

Old China Hand May 19, 2015 at 6:42 pm

I love the turning wifi off automatically rule, but would feel bad for our ap with a 12-13 hour time change and a young kid schedule (8-5 weekdays). Sometimes I can hear her talking when I go to bed. I did try to screen for daytime naps (common Chinese habit) and hours of sleep this time and found that all the girls take naps. Yikes. This one doesn’t nap if she is working, which is a nice change and means she goes to bed earlier.

I will consider the wifi shutoff for the future. My mom would dislike not being able to stream the baby monitor cam from Hong Kong, but she’d get over it. Sleeping babies don’t do much anyway. Auto wifi shut off seems like a good idea for teenagers and sleep too…

WarmStateMomma May 20, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I sometimes tell our APs that I’m napping during the kids’ nap but I secretly get on the laptop to pay bills, do real work, check up on this site, or just catch up on my latest Netflix binge without having to talk to anyone for 2 hours. They probably think napping is typical for American adults….

SwissAuPair May 20, 2015 at 6:41 am

I have had a family turning the Wi-Fi off at 10pm (Started again at 10 am!) and did not tell me that before I arrived! I don’t care on weekdays, but at least wanted them to not turn it off on weekends (Friday and Saturday) so that I could stay at home and watch movies all night or talk to my friends all over the world ( had my room in the basement, so no worry about the noise). I was also sad that it only started again at 10am, because I would have loved to check messages on facebook/whatsapp before I start working.

I also have to add that my shift ended every day at 9pm, so I barely had 1 hour of internet acces. I ended up using my phone during my shift and had short Skype calls with my mom when the kids did their 30-min-nap, and me doing laundry or cleaning while talking. I could not handle this anymore and ended up buying a internet accec-stick wich was surprisingly cheap. I did not cared anymore about the WiFi-Time the family gave me. I’ve left the family after two more months because of other issues that came up….

Since then I ask every family if i have 24 hour WiFi acces in their house. It is not the first question that I ask of course, but I tell the families why I ask the question. All the families were very understanding and in no way offended by this question.

Seattle Mom May 20, 2015 at 2:28 pm

That is definitely the kind of thing that should be disclosed up front!

Also the point of doing it is to be able to weed out au pairs who must stay up late on the internet- if you don’t tell them during the matching process then you don’t weed them out, you just end up with an unhappy au pair.

But I agree with the point made that some au pairs will just use data or get dvd’s or whatever… so it’s not really an effective way to force them to sleep. You can’t really force people to sleep, which is why if you need someone who doesn’t stay up all night you have to find ways to figure out the au pair’s sleep habits ahead of time.

Susannah May 21, 2015 at 7:36 pm

I do think that the point about only having 1 hour of internet access is pretty important. especially if you consider academic, familial, social, and leisure commitments, one hour can be eaten up pretty quickly

Taking a Computer Lunch May 20, 2015 at 7:14 am

While we don’t turn off the wifi in our house (at least not on purpose – it does go down from time to time and no one chafes more than DH and child #2), I do control the time that the shared computer (which is in the study next to my bedroom) will work for various family members. For child #2, his profile shuts down an hour before his bedtime (which, now that he’s a teenager, is late enough!) and for the “guest” profile (since most APs bring their own laptops but used the shared computer to print), the shutoff is 9 pm. Our APs work a split shift with a 6 1/2 break in the middle of the day and usually their day ends at 6 pm, so there is plenty of time to print before we go to bed.

While our APs are in the basement, they are right below the Camel, so from time to time, we can hear sounds from their room through her baby monitor. When that happens, we remind our APs to control the noise level (the Chinese AP we hosted seemed to shout at her family in the middle of the night – her parents worked in factories so there were only a few hours in the day when she could Skype with them – I got that – I just didn’t want to hear it).

This whole conversation has been interesting, but I always assume that my APs are adults – because I wouldn’t hire a child to look after my kids. I put it in the handbook – because some of them have a fast transition from being a child without a lot of responsibility in their parents’ home to an adult with a lot of responsibility in mine. As long as they are dynamic and engaged in the morning (and faking it counts), then I don’t care when they go to bed at night. Now, I have two teenagers, so while the AP works hard in the morning to get The Camel ready for school, she does have a chance to go back to bed immediately after the school bus whisks the Camel away. (It’s not how I’d want to live a special year in the U.S., but so be it.)

I don’t impose a curfew unless the AP is a) failing to show up for shift on a routine basis – if we have to wake her up, then we’re not happy, or b) sick all the time because she can’t take care of herself.

I’ve only hosted a couple of immature APs who wanted to be a child in my house, but the mere threat of a 10 pm weeknight curfew was enough to make them act like responsible adults.

AuPair Paris May 20, 2015 at 8:02 am

“I wouldn’t hire a child to look after my kids.”

Perfect. Exactly. If my host parents didn’t trust me to make sensible decisions about my bedtimes and internet use, etc, I would really wonder how they trusted me to make decisions on a day to day basis about the safety of the kids.

Schmetterfink May 22, 2015 at 4:35 am

My host family in Norway turned the wifi off any time they left the house. They were gone for the weekend? Wifi was turned off. They went shopping? Wifi was turned off. It took me a week to find the router in the basement to turn it back on again. While I agree to “my house / my rules”… rules like that need to be clearly communicated (as you seem to do, Anon for this one) because if they are not, you end up with an extremely unhappy au pair. And frankly, not being able to check emails, do homework (I was enroled in a long-distance class at university), chat with family and friends during my time off sucked.

About the night time conversations… even with a minor time difference (6 hours), contacting my mom was easiest for me when she got up at 6 am, so around midnight for me. I worked from 7 am (her 1 pm, when she was at work) to 5 pm (her 11 pm, when she was already asleep) and with caring for a toddler who only napped once a day and three older children who returned from school at different times in the afternoon the only hour I had to contact family and friends during the day was between 1 pm and 2 pm, which often meant that my mom would not be at home. Also that hour would have included me having lunch, checking emails, ‘talking’ to my boyfriend, making plans for the evening with my local friends… without those midnight/early-morning phone calls I’d have talked to my mother even less frequently. I am not an early bird, while she is, so it was much easier for me to stay up that late (especially as I’d usually return home around 10 /10.30 pm). As a quick remark, even though I am not an early bird I still manage to be at work by 6.45 am every morning and I at least try to be chirpy.

Today, turning of the wifi at home for us would also mean no telephone and no tv as we cannot turn the wifi off separately but would need to pull the plug on the whole box… if we had an au pair that would mean possibly cutting her internet connection in the middle of a movie which I would find rude so would never do it.

BearCo Momma May 19, 2015 at 10:33 am

We have a “work night” curfew of 11pm (shift starts 6-6:30am depending on my work schedule that week). This was put in place about 3/4 of the year through with AP#1 when she started coming home around 3-4am, would be completely exhausted, then inevitably get sick a few days later (she was an unhealthy person in general). When I told her she needed to be home by midnight , she sulked massively and gave general attitude, but she didn’t have any more sick days after that.
For subsequent more responsible/mature APs, I have argued to remove the curfew to treat them like responsible adults, but my DH feels strongly about keeping it. He thinks it’s BS to tell them they don’t have a curfew, but then reserving the right to instill one later or rematching if they “break” the rule that we have only in our heads. From his perspective, if we want them home in bed by time X, we should say that upfront, not say they have the freedom to choose and then hold it against them when they choose wrong.
I don’t feel strongly enough to argue against it especially because we have a non-verbal child and another young child, both of whom the AP drives around quite a lot, and since I am away all day I would not see if her late nights were seriously affecting her work/abilities and care of them. So it’s one less thing for me to worry about. Our reasoning is that the ‘right’ AP for us would find this just something they would follow on their own anyway and it will weed out the others in the matching process. (Note that we have no curfew for either person or car on the weekends)

HRHM May 19, 2015 at 12:33 pm

I like your husband! He’s so right. It’s much easier to start out with strictness and slack off for the Golden AP then it is to start out light handed then try to reign it in when you figure out your AP is an immature flake.

Seattle Mom May 19, 2015 at 10:56 am

I haven’t had this exact problem since my APs have all been rested enough to do their jobs- without a curfew, and with the occasional late night out (or in). Once in a while someone has made a bad judgment call, they pay the price, and they don’t do it again for a while.

But my current AP is causing me a similar issue in that she stays up late at home a lot. And all of her physical movements seem LOUD. Loud footsteps in her bedroom above us. And she seems to have the habit of putting away her clothes (loudly opening & closing drawers) right before she goes to sleep. She turns the water on in the bathroom full throttle (bathroom is next to our room), opens & closes doors LOUDLY. Not exactly banging, it’s more of a problem with clumsily handling the handle. Nothing that I can really say anything about without causing embarrassment.

Our last 3 APs also stayed up late but none were this loud, so I know it’s not just me.

Otherwise I love this AP, so I am not making a big stink about it. Also DH & kids seem to sleep fine through all of it, I am the only one who gets woken up and can’t fall back asleep. My babies are finally sleeping through the night and I still can’t sleep… terrible dilemma (and they are probably the reason I have become such a light sleeper- I recognize that it’s not entirely AP’s fault). I’ve started wearing ear plugs to bed, which has helped me a lot. I still wake up but not at the slightest thing. The only problem with the ear plugs is that if my daughter wakes up from a nightmare it takes me a lot longer to hear her yelling, so she is harder to calm down etc. My husband sleeps more soundly than me… so I still wake up before him.

Another solution I have implemented is to not let the AP sleep in during the week, even if it is possible because my husband doesn’t usually need to leave for work until later. He is happy to get a jump on some work in our home office, and I need to have her working no later than 7:30am or she’ll be up past midnight and ruin my sleep.

She also seems to be staying up less late lately, I think because the weather is better and she’s more active. She’s been going for runs and going to the gym more frequently. So maybe that helps her be tired at night.

I always look for active au pairs but I haven’t prioritized it- I just look for people who seem reasonably fit and healthy, but not necessarily super athletes or gym rats. I avoid the ones who seem overly concerned with appearances, which is a certain kind of gym rat. I’ve had one super active AP and she had the most energy of all- so maybe I should stick to athletes. But it’s hard to screen for, because our one super athlete had nothing about it in her profile and she seemed like just another nice quiet Thai girl until we met her…

Au Pair in France May 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm

My HD actually has complained to me about making noises similar to those you’re AP is making, and I don’t see that there was any problem in saying things like don’t move your chair around or use the toilet on the first floor next to HP bedroom (there’s one on the ground floor) after 10pm. If he had mentioned it then that was it that would have seemed reasonable.
However, later repeatedly complaining that he was woken by me walking did seem unreasonable, as there wasn’t really anything I could do about it (I was already consciously trying to be quiet, and am normally in bed by 11, but my floorboards are really creaky and there’s no rug or anything to absorb the sound). As I wasn’t waking the kids, and he goes to bed anywhere between 9pm and 1am, I’m still not entirely sure what he wants me to do (I did ask, and he didn’t clarify further than ‘don’t wake me’).
Anyway, my point was, if there’s a simple solution ( careful when opening/ closing doors and draws) it seems fine to me to just mention it, as she might well not be aware that she’s waking you up.

Susannah May 21, 2015 at 8:39 pm

As a sleepaway camp counselor, I can tell you that sometimes this is VERY TRUE! We always had to be up by 7:30, but being 8-10 they were up much earlier, and boy, even with all of the guidelines (keep a book by your bed, use your flashlight, don’t pick this moment to dig through your duffel, make your bed, etc) some kids were just pretty unable to be quiet

BearCo Momma May 19, 2015 at 4:14 pm

We had this issue with the same AP that was staying out late. Not only was she unable to do her job properly the next few days (in our opinion, she didn’t agree!), but we also would be woken up every time she would come home late because she was generally a “loud walker/door slammer” and seemingly would barrel up the stairs, down the hall, into her room, back into the bathroom, back into her room, etc. It was almost comical to me because it was SO over the top, but DH – who values his sleep immensely – was much less amused.

He would straight up tell her the next day that she woke him up (“again”), and she would look at me in disbelief and I would have to do the sheepish “good cop” shrug/nod, “yeahhhhh, ya did…..”

Maybe you can get a vibrating baby monitor that you can wear to bed while having your ear plugs in! (If this doesn’t exist, I’m calling the patent office….)

Seattle Mom May 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Vibrating baby monitor sounds like an awesome idea! Though now that my youngest is 4 I’m of the mind that she can just wait until I finally hear her screaming.. it only wakes up big sister occasionally (she could sleep through a truck driving through the house). Minor nuisance that I’m learning to live with… If I really disliked my AP I’d make an issue of it. Funny how these things work.

NoVA Twin Mom May 19, 2015 at 11:59 am

I think this is something that would have to be communicated upfront during matching – Anon for this one has the right idea. I can only imagine the pushback you’d get trying to impose a bedtime (though I get the temptation).

A curfew before workhours, yes. Even a suggested bedtime or suggested “lights out” if you see her struggling the next morning.

But I envision an au pair with her smartphone running on data hiding under her covers after the wifi stops working or watching a DVD on her laptop with headphones with a towel blocking the light under her door (the modern version of reading with a flashlight under the covers, I guess) – and what are you going to do then? You can make her be quiet, you can make her lay in a dark room, but you can’t mandate that your au pair go to sleep any more than I can mandate that my four year old go to sleep (and if you do know how, PLEASE tell me. I’ll pay you. Seriously.)

Somehow, you want to make her see reason – that staying up until all hours when you need to work the next day isn’t viable in the long run, and that if you don’t feel like she’s awake enough during the day to safely care for your child, you’ll have to rematch.

If it’s just annoying because you’d sleep during that time if you could – and I *totally* get that – you have to just swallow your annoyance and get over it. If she can manage to function on that little bit of sleep, there’s nothing you can really do about it. It’s when she can’t function that it becomes a problem, and then you bring in the LCC and show how it’s becoming a performance issue. Once it’s a performance issue, then it becomes actionable, and she has to decide what kind of change she wants to make – a change in sleeping habits to make you happy, or perhaps rematch if you’re unhappy enough to push it that far.

I can’t tell if your au pairs are “just” complaining about being tired and sick – which is annoying enough on its own – or if they’re too tired or sick to work. If they’re too tired or sick to work, the LCC needs to know the first time it happens, and probably ought to hear about it when they start to complain so that she can send out a cluster-wide “you may start feeling run down if you pull too many late nights skyping in a row, consider going to bed earlier” email that doesn’t call out anyone in particular.

Night Owls' HM May 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm

NoVa Twin Mom: If it were just sleep opportunity envy I wouldn’t complain. Different people need different amounts of sleep, so I as long as the AP is functioning fine during the day I don’t really care how much she has slept, it’s her business. It’s also not that the AP ever says she is too tired to work at all. I am admittedly a very lenient HM who tends to put up with a lot (probably too much) but even I would draw the line at that and get the CC involved or even rematch. It’s more that the AP gets cranky and starts yelling at the kids more than usual, being even less patient than usual, the kids start falling apart (especially if they are tired) and the atmosphere in the house gets ugly. Unfortunately, telling a tired cranky 19 y/o that they need more sleep often doesn’t go over well, since they see the problem as being external to themselves (“The kids are SO wild today!”) rather than realizing that their perception of the situation is variable depending on how well rested they are.

Ultimately their behavior toward the children and the potential safety issues (driving, inattention to the kids) are what worry me.

The complaining “I’m SO tired!” is simply irritating given that their fatigue is the direct result of their own choices, whereas my fatigue is usually the result forces beyond my control.

NoVA Twin Mom May 20, 2015 at 1:46 pm

In your case, this:

“Ultimately their behavior toward the children and the potential safety issues (driving, inattention to the kids) are what worry me.”

Is what I would take to your LCC. THESE are your performance issues. If your LCC has been around the block a few times (and my hope for *everyone* in the au pair program is that their LCC has been around the block a few times :)) she’ll have some suggestions for you. Either a way for one of you to suggest more sleep, or a way for you to approach the conversation that may have worked the past.

If nothing else, you need to get these concerns “on the record” now so that when you do finally “blow your stack” and can’t take it anymore and decide to rematch, it doesn’t look to your LCC like it’s coming out of nowhere.

DCBurbTwinMomma May 20, 2015 at 5:31 am

the wifi off at x time is not for me, but I do have a rule that the au pair must normally be home 6 hours before a shift starts. I see forced media silence as control over the au pairs free time when she/he can easily get around the no media rule. Gasp–she/he could even read. We focus on performance in this house. If our au pair stays up until 2am yet performs her duties well–then I don’t care (as is the case now). Ahhhh youth (smile). My husband traditionally is up past midnight and can function well the next day. Our au pairs have been high functioning smart adults without micro managing and a volume of extensive regulations.

That said–if you advertise this up front it’s legit for your home. im just learning that I am on the low end of the spectrum with house rules.

Anon for this one May 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm


I have to say most of you have sooo much more patience than I have because IF and I do mean IF (after 6 years of Au Pairing) an AP told me she was too tired or too sick (due to staying up late) to do her job, she would not get any understanding or leeway from me whatsoever.

Great idea to get the LCC to send out an email to the APs.

To be clear, I don’t impose a bedtime but our APs have all been aware that our house shuts down early and they know the reasons why.. I think that’s the key..

And whilst I didn’t do it to an AP, I did have a teenage who kept me a wake or woke me up a few times (many moons ago) After a couple of instances of interrupted sleep I decided to repay her in kind and gave her a wake-up call at 5:30am together with a list of silent chores to do .. this worked wonders..

And yes we did have an AP at the time who thought this very funny.. but I bet she realised that she could just as easily be folding laundry or preparing the day’s dinner at 5:30 if she too chose to keep me awake..

Not kidding..

Mimi May 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm

I’m a night owl in a house of early birds. It’s rough. I only get things done because they go to bed and I can catch up on chores and everything else I don’t get done day to day. After going to bed at 12 or 1 am, HD is up at 4:30 every morning for work (not quietly) and then I’m up at 6 to get kids up and out the door. AP comes on duty at 8 and she better be ready to go, because I’m out the door ten minutes later for work. :)

We share this info during matching when we talk about our daily schedule. Our handbook talks about this and we make every effort to keep the children quiet until 9am on the weekends (and during mornings, but there’s always a tantrum here and there or a morning where something goes wrong…). We don’t have a curfew or limit wifi, but if they aren’t ready to go or rested when on duty, they will get no quarter from my hooligans.

Lessons from my oma include 1) physical activity will tire out even the most staunch night owl and 2) vacuuming to the 1812 overture motivates teens to abandon their beds.

AuPair Paris May 19, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Adults have to do their jobs. You can’t set a bedtime for another adult. If the au pair can’t do her job, you need to talk to her and tell her to make sure she’s able to do her job (and offer advice if you think she *needs* it). If she still doesn’t do her job, maybe you need to rematch. Adulthood has real life consequences, like losing a job, but you can’t treat an adult like a child and expect them not to be resentful.

Now, if the au pair is just complaining about being tired… This reminds me of another thread we had I think. I can’t remember what it was about, but it was very much “my au pair is complaining about X which bothers me. Can I [make a rule designed to curb the cause of her woes without addressing the actual complaining].” I just don’t understand this. HFs (and APs) have the right to address behaviour which directly affects them. If the au pair *can* do her job, but is complaining about tiredness, it’s not her tiredness that’s affecting you – it’s her complaining. Depending on how confrontational you are, you can put up with it, or tell her that if you were her, you’d get more sleep, but that in any case, you don’t want to hear about her tiredness any longer. But I don’t get the impulse to go *around* the thing that’s bothering you (the complaints, or even the incompetence if it comes to that), to try and *force* the au pair to live a lifestyle that you think might make her happier. You can’t *make* someone be happy. You can make them do their job, and you can ask them to not talk/complain about certain things around you (or your kids), but you can’t dictate their mood!

I know au pairs are live-in, and young and everything, but there really is a limit to what you can control about your employees.

momo4 May 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm

AuPair Paris: I agree with everything you just said about APs being adults, etc., but I think that it it precisely this reality that make these sorts of issues so interesting and potentially complex. Of course you can’t “control” another adult, but you do have to figure out how you are going to live with them, where your limits are, what is worth making an issue over and what you should just let go of or put up with…
There is such a spectrum of relationships that APs and HFs can have with each other, from a completely employer-employee type relationship at one end, to a close friend/family relationship at the other. And of course you have to add the particular personalities and communications styles into the mix.
My APs have almost always been quite adamant that they want to be “part of the family” and seem to have a horror of being treated as “just employees”. But the reality is that they are somewhere in between, and while I would without any hesitation tell my daughter that I didn’t want to hear any complaining from her about X Y or Z, I’m pretty sure many of my APs would be offended if I just came out and said the same thing to them. Or maybe some of them wouldn’t be, but it feels rude to me, because they are an independent adult whom I have known for less than a year. And if my AP is angry/offended/hurt, no matter how “right” I may be, I am going to have to live with her reactions, which may turn something that was annoying (complaining) into something that is miserable for everyone.
I think that if APs were merely employees, and the situation less personal, it might be simpler, but they’re not. What you describe as “the impulse to go *around* the thing that’s bothering you” is actually often a fear of hurting the other person’s feelings or offending them.
It’s not about trying to indirectly force them into anything, but rather an attempt to find a solution that avoids the need for direct confrontation, often by preventing a problematic situation from arising in the first place. This is obviously a question of personality. Some people have no issue at all with direct confrontation, other people are made uncomfortable by it.
But no one likes listening to complaining, from anyone :)

AuPair Paris May 20, 2015 at 1:57 am

I know, I’m not saying the response is automatically to confront, demand, etc etc… I just mean, I think in housemate situations (which this is, really), you have to be clear about what you want, and what you have a right to ask. As an employer, you have the right to tell me to do my job properly and not to talk about certain things. As a housemate, you have the right to ask me not to overly-disturb you, and again, not to talk about certain things to you. But as neither do you have the right to tell me what time to go to bed, or what to cook for myself and so on.

I don’t say “you must confront AP about complaints”! Just that it’s important to be aware that the complaining is the problem that you have the right to address, or not. I came to au pairing from a houseshare, and a lot of my logic comes from that. If it’s about the job, I think: “is it reasonable to ask this of an employee?”. If it’s about getting along, etc, I think: “is it reasonable to ask this of a housemate?”. And what’s it’s reasonable to speak to a housemate about, are things that affect you directly. Complaining to you is one of those things (though I certainly wouldn’t choose it as a hill to die on! I’d put up with it! But each to their own…).

I know that sometimes the two roles overlap, and that’s why people talk about an AP being “part of the family”. But I think when the authority of the employer role, crosses over into the housemate role, that’s when things start to get unfair and go south. When you use your authority as “the boss” to make it clear that the au pair is not actually an equal member of the household, with equal rights to choose her own actions in her own free time, that’s an abuse of authority I think. I understand that people don’t like confrontation, but that’s why I think “going around” is a problem. In the same way that it would be a problem if I’d tried to manipulate my housemates into behaving the way I wanted them to, rather than speaking to them about what was bothering me.

Seattle Mom May 20, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Very well said. Also making me think that I should talk to my AP about the little things afterall. I’ve lived in shared housing situations, so I need to approach it that way.

AuPair Paris May 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm

I obviously give this advice constantly – my baby* sister just emailed me to tell me that she’d “maturely and reasonably” brought an issue up with her housemate *on my advice*! So very proud. :P

*She never needs to find out that I called her that.

WarmStateMomma May 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

No bedtimes for adults in my house but we have a rule regarding the baby: you wake her, you take her.

Seattle Mom May 19, 2015 at 6:54 pm

You break you buy!

We had the same rule. :)

PacNWHostMom May 20, 2015 at 10:20 am

Exactly! We have that same rule :)
Just letting the AP know that if they wake the kids they are responsible for getting them back to sleep is enough to keep them very aware of their noise level when they come home late. So far it’s never been a problem. :)

exaupair May 19, 2015 at 6:58 pm

A note on the ‘stomper/ door slammer’ issue.
I wouldn’t mind someone staying up late if they wanted or needed to, they are young adults after all. The thing that would drive me nuts would be making all the additional noise, like opening drawers, walking up and down the stairs ect.

Cutting the wi-fi off after 10pm probably wouldn’t make the AP fall asleep…if they wanted to stay up, they could do so many different things to stay awake. Keeping the wi-fi on however, would most certainly keep the AP in their room in front of the laptop, so at least I would minimize the ‘risk’ of them stomping around the house at 2am!

Anon for this one May 20, 2015 at 6:03 am


I fear you have missed my point entirely and you seem to be completely focused on what you see as an unfair restriction/imposition on an AP.

To recap; I screen for early birds and as part of the screening process I tell all applicants that the wifi turns off at 10:30pm. The APs that I am screening for do not want to stay up late “doing many different things to stay awake” because they are naturally “early birds (early to bed and early to rise) so to them the wifi going off at 10:30pm is not an issue at all.

A real early bird would not be on a laptop at 2am, they would be halfway through their sleep cycle, recharging their batteries for the day ahead.

exaupair May 20, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Anon, you read my response how you want to read it.
In all honesty I would only be willing to match with HF imposing this house rule out of some sort of desperation, but I never said the rule itself is unfair or abusive to your APs. As long as you’re clear about it and candidates accept it there’s nothing unfair about it.
You were hosting for a while, and you say you’ve had some great au pairs, so clearly there are people who are happy with the way you live in your home. Your family attracts certain type of people, who I believe would feel miserable living with a family that is activeand noisy until late hours. I don’t argue with the fact that there’s a lid to every pot.

As someone above said different people have different needs in regards of how much they sleep. Someone can go to bed well before midnight and be up at 5am, others stay up until 2 am, and still get up at 5 fresh and ready to go. Whether you agree or not both are ‘early birds’.

Susannah May 21, 2015 at 9:34 pm

Yeah, I completely get what you mean, I generally don’t have a problem in the mornings, but I also tend not to get sleepy until past midnight, and have gotten in the habit of doing internet/other leisure things then, as i’m not sleept, and I do other more social things earlier in the day when otehr people are awake. I wouldn’t want to have that rule, but definitely for the right person it wouldn’t be a problem.

Host Mom in the City May 20, 2015 at 6:31 am

I 100% support the poster who turns off the wifi at 10:30 because she is explicitly clear on this at matching. For me personally, I have just a totally different approach to hosting. We literally have no rules whatsoever about our au pairs’ free time, and I personally would feel really uncomfortable putting on and monitoring any restrictions. We are also a do your job, and I don’t care what you do when you’re not working (and if you’re not doing your job, give feedback and then rematch rather than starting to restrict) host family. But to each their own – IF they are totally clear on that at matching.

We have a pretty “loud” house and our bedrooms are all right near each other. I’ve said previously I’m woken up a few times a week by our au pairs. But unfortunately I just don’t think I’m going to be able to totally eliminate that problem. I’m sure we wake her up in the mornings on weekends too! But if someone was being particularly loud, I think it would be fine to say “hey after about 10pm, do you mind trying to be quiet? We can hear drawer slamming and stuff pretty consistently at night.” Maybe out better sliders or little pads on the drawers too? And carpet can work wonders.

Otherwise, another annoying thing about have an au pair that we put up with for the benefits.

German Host Mom May 20, 2015 at 7:58 am

Our Wifi is off at 22.30 too. Goes back on at 9 (when the kids are in school and the au pair has free time – she is on duty from 7 to 9) shuts off again from 15 to 18 o’clock (because I want her to interact with my children on duty and not park herself or them before the screen) and then turns on again. It’s on an automatic timer. We communicate this upfront and it has never come up as an issue (though there is probably covert resentment, which doesn’t bother me). On the other hand, we don’t have any curfews or bedtimes. If she wants to watch a DVD or be out with their friends, fine.
Our aupairs are normally from the same time zone or only have 1 to 2 hours difference, and I don’t consider it unreasonable for them to adjust to this schedule. If they are totally desperate to communicate in the night time, they have to do it on their data plan.

And call me old-fashioned, but I personally think all this interminable daily skyping with their families very odd (we had an AP who talked to her parents and grandparents daily, for up to 2 hours). When I was abroad for a year as a student, I talked to my parents maybe once a week. I believe a year abroad is to develop independence and get to know new people, not be forever on the phone with your parents….

Anon for this one May 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

German Host Mom, it’s so nice to know there is someone else who thinks like myself..

As I add on – and I was actually afraid to say this earlier because I can just imagine the throwbacks I’m going to get..

Is it really necessary for APs to communicate every night or indeed every other night or even every week with people back home?

Surely the point of the experience is to have just that.. an experience and if your head (and heart) are still very strongly linked to home ties, then are you really allowing yourself the freedom (both with your time and emotionally) to have a full experience?

And while this is not directly linked to do with the wifi issue – but it is connected (excuse the pun!)

Anon for this one May 20, 2015 at 8:31 am

sorry about all the typos.. in work and should be working!

UKAu Pair May 20, 2015 at 10:32 am

I see your point, but actually I don’t think that that’s your decision to make. Au pairs are adults, and if they choose to spend their year clinging on to ties back home rather than going out and exploring and being independent then that’s their choice. I wouldn’t do it, personally- I email my grandparents once a week and I text my parents occasionally but that’s about it- but I went through a really rough couple of weeks last time I was au pairing and I needed- yes, needed, because being an adult doesn’t mean that I don’t need support in a foreign country- to speak to my parents every night for support, advice and reassurance. My host family weren’t interested, and I was working 7:30am-9pm (Europe, not breaking any rules), which meant that all communication had to happen late in the evening. I was still in bed by 11-ish every night because I was so exhausted but if my host family had started switching the internet off in the evening in addition to expecting me to work 60+ hours a week then we would have had a problem.

I would also use the wifi while I was looking after the children if I needed to- to find a recipe, to translate a word, to double-check some obscure chess rule. Nothing major, and of course I’d manage without internet while I was working if I needed to, but it was useful to have (I do recognise that more immature/lazier au pairs might be tempted to sit around on the internet all day when they’re supposed to be working, and that you have to be flexible about that).

I also think that living in a foreign country should make you independent and help you grow up, and I don’t think that nightly skype conversations are particularly conducive to that, but I maintain that it’s the au pair, and not the host parents, who should be making that decision.

Anon for this one May 20, 2015 at 11:52 am

exaupair, I completely disagree with you, it is absolutely my decision.

I get to decide who I allow in my home, to care for my children and I treat that person the same way I treat every member of my family. This is my way of life, this is how I live, and I ask would you like to live with me?

And the AP gets to choose whether or not she would be happy and comfortable living with me, it’s really very simple.

I want an independent, self-sufficient young lady, who can recognise a good decision to a bad one, i.e. in my opinion and in my house: staying up to the early hours of the morning, then being tired/drained (or becoming ill – if this is a continuing issue) and consequently being unable to perform the very duties you are there to do, is not a good decision.

Seattle Mom May 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm

I agree with this completely, but I feel that society has swung so far in the opposite direction that there is little I can do, except try to find the most independent minded au pairs who are able and willing to find a local support network rather than lean on the people back home for regular support.

I chose my current au pair because she was a volunteer in a small African country for 2 years (like Peace Corps), so she knows how to adjust and live independently. And it was a good choice. I was also a Peace Corps Volunteer, and I called home about once every 2-3 weeks and my peers thought that was too much. It was a huge inconvenience too- I had to bicycle 10 miles into town and use a pay phone in a sweltering wooden box. And it cost my parents about $40 per call, but they really wanted it so I did it. I would have loved to have internet and wifi but it really would have allowed me to not reach out to the people around me and find my own way. It would have made the experience harder.

At the same time, when I had cheap long distance calling in college I still only called home once every week or two. I was close with my mom at the time, but that was enough. I was busy living my life. I get the impression that some people are still like that, but it’s not the expectation anymore.

The technology is a blessing and a curse.

NewAPMom May 20, 2015 at 6:27 pm

How about every hour?? Mine can’t put the phone down, and we’ve finally got her to stop looking at it when on duty. It’s crazy. They live in a virtual world instead of where they are!

Anon for this one May 21, 2015 at 4:54 am

Ladies, I’m with you on this.. and I screen for all of it..

I let it be known that I am particularly anti-social media – and if an AP wants to share her experience with the rest of the world that’s fine.. but it will not include me, my house, my children or my life.. tell the world about your adventure.. not my life..

I tailor my handbook for each au pair and send them links to the various interests that they have expressed which are available in our local community. Before they arrive I ask them to make contact with said groups.. every single one of them has contacted some group and then when they arrive I ensure that they make it to a social event at least once.. (I’ll accompany them if they feel overwhelmed). I also ensure that we do a few 5ks walks or runs during the first week to orientate the AP and get her confident about the area she is now a part of…

Yes the first few weeks are hard on them but I encourage my APs to develop a strong support system for themselves (outside of on-line time) by making new friends (ideally from their interest groups and of course fellow APs). We have some brilliant walking/hiking/running groups available to us – all free.. and all you have to do is show up on the day and you can join in.. it’s a wonderful way to orientate, build confidence and meet people..

And then I have happy, independent, socially rooted Au Pairs who come home on any given Saturday and tell me how awesome a hike was, etc.

Schmetterfink May 22, 2015 at 4:55 am

I haven’t lived with my mom for 15+ years. I talk to her at least twice a week. We just like to chat, keep up with each others lives, talk about what we did, what we are planning, make sure the other one is doing well… we are not extremely close (never have been) and still find it important to stay in touch. There have been weeks where we talk daily.

This has never limited my freedom to fully live my life and make experiences. I travel extensively (and still inform her about when I will be where and how to get in touch in case of an emergency), I make my own decisions, I have built my own home and my own family, life, career… but she is still part of all this.

My MIL… calls my husband twice (!) a day. Every day. Once during his lunch break and once at night. Talk about excessive. That still doesn’t mean he is not independent (she is not, but that’s a whole different story *sigh*).

WarmStateMomma May 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

It seems to be a Western idea that time abroad develops independence – the Asians we’ve hosted (5 APs and exchange students from 3 countries) don’t see it that way at all. It’s primarily viewed as an opportunity to practice their English but they don’t try too hard to make the most of it. We tell them that immersion is the most effective way to learn the language but none have done it. The exchange students never skyped with friends or family but spent their time on other social media, or watching movies in their native languages. The APs stay up late skyping and watching tv/movies in Chinese, wondering why it’s hard to make American friends. I think they’re making a mistake, but it’s theirs to make.

I’m involved in an organization that sends high school kids to rural communities abroad each summer – with only one opportunity to contact their families in the middle of the summer. A few kids find a way to stay in touch daily with their families and those kids are at the highest risk of coming home early. The parents are usually causing or enabling the problem and have to be coached to support this opportunity for their kids.

There are so few ways to go abroad now and truly immerse yourself that I feel so sad that my daughters probably won’t get to have the same experiences I did.

German Host Mom May 21, 2015 at 8:44 am

Just for the record – it’s my private opinion that it’s better to be out and do things than be constantly skyping with the family. If my au pair wants to use her free time to skype, I am not going to tell her she can’t :-)

And if somebody can give me a rationale that she has to skype at night for a specific reason, I’ll be happy to switch the Wifi on. Just not every night ;-)

Apart from that, we show them all the things they can do locally. In addition to sports, I urge them to them to take a course at our adult education center in any craft or topic of interest they are interested in, so that they can get to know some local people. They usually get a voucher for a course as a welcome present.

Dutch AuPair May 20, 2015 at 10:11 am

This is a difficult issue for me as an au pair myself. I am currently hosted by a family in the USA and weve been together for about 4 months now after both being in rematch. We love each other and its literally a rematch from heaven for both sides (as they often tell me) and in June I will start applying for my extension. The only, one and only true problem I have with my situation is that I am on a curfew. My shift is every M-F: 7.00-8.30 and 2.45-8.30, then on Saturday 8-12 with a full free weekend off every month, so its completely following the ‘rules’. The curfew they have me on forces me to be home the nights before I work at 11 pm. Notice though, that I work EVERY morning except sunday so this gives me only 1 night out later then 11! Also since I work untill 8.30 each night in only have 2,5 hours per night to be out. Considering we live about a 20 minute drive away from down town where my friends are living, I have 1 hour and 45 minutes to spend with them on a night, which is not much in my opinion.
Because I came out of a really really bad situation before I am immensly grateful for what this family has given me, I have a low work load (1 child that Goes to school), I am 100% part of the family and they always help to make me feel that way, I have a great relationship with parents and child, we talk about everything, and they dont mind bending their rules Every now and then when i ask (eg. Las week my boyfriend 4 hrs away got in a bad car accident and instead of me leaving on friday night 6 pm to see him HM let me go thursday 5 pm to go, even if it meant she had to throw around her own schedule completely for friday. She also sent him a care package because his accident was so bad he wasnt able to leave the house anymore, even though she had only met him once, she is a great and generous woman). Because my sitation is so nice right now and we agreed upon extending, I am scared to talk about my issues with the curfew with them. I have asked her before, (eg. My birthday was on a weeknight and I was out with my friends) to extend the curfew with about an hour in special occasions, and she didnt have a problem with that – her response one time was even ‘of course, no problem, we have the curfew because ‘ex-aupair’ used to be up till late and we have had to wake her up on work days sometimes, so as long as you are fresh and ready to work tomorrow I dont mind!’ But then another time shes been apprehensive about it ‘uhm- till what time? Yeah I guess thats ok’ which makes me scared to ask them to remove the curfew. Up untill now I have been holding pretty strictly to it except for exceptions for which I got their permissions, and I am fresh and ready to go Every morning at 7. They have never had to wake me up or anything like that, so I feel like I proved myself and ‘deserve’ more freedom. If I were to have no curfew, I would not be going out untill 3 am Every night, I would most probably be home by 12 most days and maybe sometimes 1, because I am an adult and I *want* to be fresh and ready to work in the morning!
My advice; dont have a curfew on your au pair- it leads to resentment. Or if you do; if she prooves to be responsible enough, get rid of it!
My question: HOW do I have this conversation about dropping the curfew with my host parents without offending them????

WarmStateMomma May 20, 2015 at 10:59 am

Describe the limits the curfew places on you (as you have done here) and remind them that you could catch up on sleep during the day if needed since you work such a short time in the morning Monday-Friday. Tell the HPs how much you enjoy being with the family and that this is the one thing you would like to change.

It’s a reasonable request and they shouldn’t be offended that you’ve asked. I’d try not to get emotional or make this into a big dramatic moment – you’re going to get a better result. I do think it’s better to get the curfew removed rather than modified or have to ask for permission to stay out late for certain occasions.

HRHM May 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm

You know them best, but in my case, with a fabulous AP who I loved, I would not be upset by her inquiring about loosening a curfew. One possibility would be to suggest that they extend the weeknight curfew to midnight and get rid of the weekend one altogether (including friday night) and give it a two month trial period. If they (or you) find that it’s not working out the way you anticipate, it can be put back the way it was. I think if you phrase it that way, it’s a reasonable approach and compromise…

TexasHM May 20, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I agree, you sound like a very grateful and appreciative AP and if you were my AP (we don’t have an AP curfew just a car one) that was considering extending and I thought you were awesome I would not be phased by this conversation in the least. Especially if you came to me with some of the options others have recommended here like a “trial period” and made it clear that you understood my concerns (you being 100% in the mornings to get kids off to school).

I would also say that if they say no or if they say yes to a trial period and then it doesn’t work out you need to be ready to accept that 100%. Don’t make it sound like you won’t extend if they don’t remove the curfew (unless that’s true in which case be honest but respectful) but be honest with them that you are hesitant to extend for only that reason (and I will tell them all the things you mentioned above – how much you love them, recognizing their efforts and appreciating them should go a long way in showing them you understand you have a great situation and aren’t complaining). This isn’t to say that all APs should ask for changes year two but if you are a rockstar and have earned trust and gone above and beyond and you have a minor request that won’t really impact the household I think it’s completely ok to have a conversation about it. There is one AP we had that did not end up extending (we pushed her to seize oppty to go to NZ instead) but if she had come to us with a conversation like this on just about anything we would have likely agreed to whatever it was! Good luck!

Dutch Aupair May 20, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Thanks for the replies everybody!
WarmStateMomma: yeah this family is not that much about big emotional moments anyways, more sort of practical so I think that’s a good idea.
HRHM: yes I was thinking about something of a trial period myself! If I would ask them though I think I would def. ask them to get rid of the curfew as a whole, just because I am telling them all about how responsible I am and then asking them for another curfew just seems kind of counterintuitive to me, does that make sense? I think I would tell them though that if they want to put a curfew on the car (they’ve already asked me not to take it some nearby big cities, so I know they care about that a lot) then that would be totally fine. I kind of feel like they don’t really realize this option yet so I think that might make them more comfortable.
TexasHM: you (all of the moms on here actually, I’ve been a lurker for a while) sound like a very good HM! The curfew would def. not be a dealbreaker for me, as I just have so much more to gain here and don’t care too much about being out late nights anyways. It’s more so about the feeling of independence and being respected, I guess. I feel like if these people trust me to be responsible enough take care of their child (which they do, they often call me one of the best Au pairs they’ve had) then they should trust me to be responsible enough to take care of myself and take my job seriously. I am 22 now, have finished my bachelors degree in Psychology back home, have had many jobs and have lived and taken care of myself for over 3 years. Going back to living with a family is something I very much enjoy but going back to living with a curfew sometimes feels a little ‘insulting’ of my adulthood, if that makes sense? (I mean that in the nicest way possible by the way, I am completely aware that the reason they insisted the curfew is for the safety of the child which is also my highest priority, and I know they don’t mean it to insult me at all, but that’s sometimes what it feels like- I wouldn’t word it to them in that way.)

WarmStateMomma May 20, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Please let us know what happens! There’s nothing wrong with making a reasonable request (just think about how you might respond if they say no). Good luck to you.

TexasHM May 21, 2015 at 8:11 am

DutchAP – so that’s exactly why we have a car curfew and not AP curfew (they are adults and I trust them with my kids after all) but I do suggest during matching and after arrival that they be home 8 hours before shift and tell them as long as they have the energy to do their job 100% I’ll stay out of their business but if it starts to impact us (I make that determination) we would have a chat and if not remedied, institute a policy or get the LC involved. It’s never been an issue. Yes, we’ve had the occasional tired AP in the morning but they’ve powered through.
I appreciate the compliment, it’s funny though the APs here feel sorry for my AP because we are Christian (got this one again last night!) have a car curfew, limit driving radius until they are proven (without GPS) and because our APs take vacation days and cover some of their expenses for any family vacations that are more expensive than we can cover if they want to go! ????. Lid for every pot! You sound like a great AP, just be positive and honest with them. If they’ve had issues in an area in the past it can be hard to step out in faith again (I’m dealing with this right now!) so you may need to be patient with them and give them time to think it all over as well. Keep in mind it’s not personal (though right now it feels that way) and as you well know it could definitely be worse! Please let us know how it goes!

Host Mom in the City May 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Agree with the other host moms – DutchAP, you sound amazingly mature and responsible and like you’re really thinking about this situation in the right way. We don’t have au pair curfews (because we want au pairs like you!), but if we did and our au pair maturely approached us about it and requested that she be given more responsibility, we would be all for it. Best of luck and let us know how it goes!

Multitasking Host Mom May 20, 2015 at 11:27 am

I do have a statement in my handbook that the APs have to be home eight hours before their shift. I leave early in the morning for work and need them to be ready to start their day well before the sun rises. That said if after a month or so they prove to me that they have no problem being ready for work, I let that requirement go. We had one AP who went to a night club once a week when they played music from her country. She would come home in the wee hours of the morning, stay awake and get the kids off to school, and then sleep during the day. She never gave me any reason to worry about her job performance and was also responsible and mature, so I never had a problem with this.

Brooklyn_HP May 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm

I do not believe in curfews. Maybe it’s because I’m a total night owl myself, and when I was in my early 20s I was able to hold down a very demanding job on not a lot of sleep (um, I do it now too just not as much). I think it’s part of being that age. I also don’t like being a micro-manager. That said, if I made it a habit of hosting teenage APs I might feel the need to “encourage” more sleep as they aren’t adults yet. Not judging others, just saying it’s not my style.

Momlife May 20, 2015 at 7:30 pm

I think turning off the wifi or setting a bed time for the au pair is ridiculous and controlling. After working a 9/10 hour day they have 2 hours to relax before “lights out”. Most girls aren’t allowed their phones when working so the only time they can communicate with their families is during the night. Especially girls with a 6-9 hour time difference. How do you expect these girls to love and care for your children if you control them and set bedtimes? They also have a family and they’ve given them self to your family for a year, at least let them have a social life.

HRHM May 22, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Are you a HM? You obviously have little to no idea what you’re talking about. Many of us are “split shift” families with kids in school. Many an AP works a couple hours in the am and a couple hours after school. She has all day to herself to skype (noon at my house is 8 pm at her original home, perfect timing) go to the gym, go to the mall with friends, go for a hike, etc) . She has all weekend to go clubbing, sleepover, travel, etc. My AP has a great social life, it just doesn’t occur at 2 am on Wednesday when she has to care for my kids 4 hours later.

The APs who have a “9/10 hour day” would be done pretty early or only be working 4 days a week and have 2-3 free days to travel or socialize a week. That means they would have from 6pm to midnight at worst on work days if they needed to be home 8 hours before start time (assuming a 8am to 6pm day)

Either way, it’s perfectly manageable.

Most of the APs in my cluster (certainly the ones that my AP hangs out with) have a similar schedule to one of the above and none seem to find it curtails their life.

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