Out Overnight: Okay, or Not? (Poll)

by cv harquail on December 28, 2009

On New Year’s Eve, we can expect that our off-duty au pairs may want to be out all night celebrating. And for one night a year (especially, when everyone else seems go be out celebrating) you might not have a problem with your au pair being gone overnight, even if she has to be on-duty the following morning.

But, what about the other 364 nights of the year?


A host mom writes:

I am eager to hear how other host families handle an au pair who stays out overnight. My husband and I have opposing views on the subject.

Host Mom thinks: Out all night is okay

I think that my au pair is an adult ( sometimes :)) and can make her own decisions about staying out overnight but needs to be at work the next morning.

I just ask that she send me a text message and let me know where she is and that she will not be home.

Host Dad thinks: Maybe not a good idea

My husband thinks that she is living in our house and not on her own and expects that she sleep here and is not thrilled that she is staying at her boyfriend’s house. He thinks that if she is working the next morning she needs to sleep here.

What are your thoughts?

Let’s assume that you, the host parent, know where your au pair will be and have a way to get ahold of her, in case of some kind of emergency. And, let’s also assume that your au pair is scheduled to be on duty first thing in the morning so that you can work. With those two conditions, let’s take a poll:

If you Au Pair stays out overnight, is that okay with you?

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We’ve had very sensible au pairs and have never had the situation where a sleepover left us without childcare, but: I think that if I knew who my au pair was probably with (either girl friend or boy friend), and I knew that she was with someone sensible, I’d be okay with it, under one condition– and that would be if she were back at our house an hour before it was time to go on duty. I’d need her to plan to be at our house an hour early so that I would not have to freak out about whether she’d be there in time for us to leave for work. She could use that time for breakfast, changing her clothes, whatever, but I’d need that cushion.

What about you?

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JJ December 28, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I said no, but only because you specified that she was working the next day. If she’s working, I need to make sure that she has slept well and has the energy to do her job, which was a sore spot with our last au pair so I’m sensitive about it. I have no issues with her being gone all weekend as long as she’s not scheduled to work.

With the right au pair, and if I could be sure that she’s actually *sleeping* when she spends the night elsewhere and would come back rested, I wouldn’t have a problem with her spending the night away from home.

JJ December 28, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Sorry – add “on work nights” to that last sentence to make it more clear.

PA aupair mom December 28, 2009 at 3:25 pm

On weekends, when our AP is off duty she is able to stay overnight with friends. She must let us know in advance of leaving our house that she will be sleeping over somewhere and with whom.

If she is working the next day, then she needs to be in our home for bed…regular curfew applies. Of course there are exceptions, but this is the general rule.

Should be working December 28, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I wish I had been stricter from the start with our au pair–we have no curfew and she stays over at her boyfriend’s a LOT. And she comes home 5 min before work, smudged makeup and tired, and wearing last night’s glam outfit–or her boyfriend’s clothes.

Next time we’ll have a curfew.

anon December 29, 2009 at 10:52 am

Wow, I Can’t believe you tolerate that! There is no way I would, and simply because you did not start with a curfew does not mean you can’t now. Afterall, you are the BOSS, not her. We have always had a curfew from day one, and our LCC actually tells all the girls they have a curfew, which is actually an hour earlier than what we tell them.

TristateMom December 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

We just went through something very similar and my husband feels the same as yours, I am more relaxed with the AP staying away overnight. Anyway, in our case, we allowed the AP to stay away but the next day my husband told her that we have a curfew for work nights and expect her to sleep at home going forward. She went to the counselor and asked whether we can really enforce such a rule. The counselor did not help matters by telling her that as long as she doesn’t do it too often, it should be ok. I would have preferred if she had deferred to our home rules. Based on this, the AP did not want to agree to our rule. It has caused a bad taste in our mouths and a good relationship is more important than anything else imo.
Anyway, while our AP is very good overall, we seem to have reached a point now where she wants more from us while giving the same or less. It is stressful.

CV December 28, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Remember this one for a conversation about “what makes a great LCC”: A great Lcc supports the ‘house rules’ when these rules are appropriate (i.e., not mean, not uber-strict) rather than sharing her own personal preferences/rules. Or, she checks in with the family before offering an opinion….

Anonymous December 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm

My LCC told me that the agency rule is that everyone should be home
seven hours before work and in most cases that means midnight to one am on weeknights. I can set whatever rules I want for my car. And, no , I do not want my car to stay out overnight.

CV December 28, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I’ve not heard of this agency rule before… but this (and ‘sota gal’s comment) makes sense to me… this way you’re making sure your ap has at least the opportunity to get a decent amount of sleep before working… b/c, let’s mention it delicately, she may not actually be ‘sleeping’ over at someone’s house. > ! <

'sota gal December 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Our house rule is home 8 hours before work if it is in the AM. We have 3 kids and know 1st hand how draining they can be, therefore we have a curfew. Thankfully our LCC states it for us at the initial orientation meeting that most HF’s have the same curfew (in her area). On days off, we ask to know before hand if she’ll be out all night, or a text if she decides to stay out after leaving. I have bent the rule on the curfew thing and it didn’t work out at all, so I don’t know that I’ll make any more exceptions….

We also explain that this is one of the draw backs to living with your employer. They know more about you, your comings and goings than most employers do. Would you go in to an office in last nights club outfit with smudged makeup?

AnotherCAMom December 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm

We have the “sleep at home when tomorrow’s a work day” rule. I have no issues at all with requiring this.

We also start with a “home 8 hours before the am start” at the beginning, but that tends to relax after a month or two when we all know each other better.

NJMom December 28, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Always have had a curfew of 11 p.m. weeknights with a 7:30 work call the next day. No curfew on weekends but car has to be in at “reasonable hour” depending on where they are going. This hasn’t been an issue as we’re a 5 minute walk to NYC train access. I cannot imagine trying to function w/o curfew, especially so close to NYC! I have always told them this upfront in the phone interview and it has not been a problem. It probably screened out a few bad apples but that is the point.

anon December 29, 2009 at 10:57 am

I, too, tell them about a curfew up front when speaking with candidates, and when one girl told me she would have a problem with it, well, then she was not going to match with my family. My children are far more important than an AP’s social life.

Jeana December 29, 2009 at 12:21 am

I’ve told my aupairs that they need to be home at least 8 hours prior to their next day of work. Thus, if scheduled to begin work at 6:30 a.m., they need to be home by 10:30p.m. the previous night. I want them to have an opportunity to relax and feel well rested before all the activity that surrounds our family.

Each of my aupairs have slept overnight at the homes of other aupair friends, and I am fine with that, as I’ve always known their friends. I had a problem with one aupair that abused this. She was removed from the program.

Should be working December 29, 2009 at 1:42 am

Can I ask if you all have younger au pairs? This is our first one, and she is 25, so I did not feel comfortable giving her a curfew–but as I said, I wish I had done so, or gotten a younger au pair. With a 19 yr old I would feel entirely comfortable with a midnight curfew before workdays.

NoVA Host Mom January 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Our first AP was 23, this one is 26. I have no problem giving house rules (to include curfews) to an AP regardless of age. Ultimately, she is an employee and responsible for our toddler. Yes, she will be in the house when I say prior to her shift.

Natt December 29, 2009 at 1:53 am

Just had a thought. What if your aupair is home, not out, but stays awake until 1-2am chatting on the internet?? We’ve had this a few times, and of course AP is tired the next morning (taking awhile to wake up too!)… no curfew issue, but still not well rested… how can you make somebody get some sleep? :D

franzi December 29, 2009 at 11:39 am

curfews do not mean that the AP is actually getting a good night’s rest at home – thank you for pointing that out Natt.

if you are unhappy with her performance you should talk to your AP about it. if things don’t improve and you know she is tired because she is online all the time then maybe you should talk about restricting her access to the internet. yes, this will be a harsh step to take but this is a job after all.

'sota gal December 29, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I agree. Talk about it. We’ve had this issue in the past because our AP was staying up late to talk to her friends/family back home when they were just waking up. I told her that I realized that it was a struggle with the 8-9 hour time difference but we needed her to be responsible enough to get a good nights rest. We gave her an opportunity to resolve the problem on her own, but after 2 warnings (and oversleeping the next AM) we had to resort to shutting down our wireless.

aussie mum December 29, 2009 at 7:28 am

I have always been strict with curfews and thus have been spared many a headache. APs have to be in by 11 pm on weeknights but their off duty is theirs to do as they please. If these girls are to be caring for our children, driving them around etc., it is essential that they are well rested to cope with the demands of childcare. In our house, this is not up for negotiation.

Jeana December 29, 2009 at 7:52 am

My problem with an aupair that consistently stayed out during the night was with a 25 year old young woman. I, too, felt she was old enough to make wise decisions, and I was wrong. This aupair was removed from the program.

Sara Duke December 29, 2009 at 8:51 am

We do not have a curfew for either our au pair or the car. My boss doesn’t tell me how many hours of sleep to get or how to live my private life and I tell my au pairs that as long as they treat my children well and are ready for work on time, I rarely say anything about how they live their private lives. All have risen to the occasion and I have never felt “abused.” Most of my au pairs who have not wanted to be the “designated driver” have been sensible enough to hire a taxi.

Many of my au pairs have had boyfriends and have returned home — but know enough to do it early enough to shower and get changed before they take over. All have all been tender and and energetic for my children (and they know they will get no sympathy from me if they complain that they are tired). My house tends to be the place where other au pairs come to stay on their off days because I don’t comment about how they dress or how they behave as long as they’re respectful to my family.

My au pairs have to handle my handicapped child who has no self-help skills (they must diaper her, change her and feed her) and I have never felt that any of them ever put her life in danger from lack of sleep (in fact all have alerted me to an important change in her health at least once in their stay).

My current au pair is a home-body, but I know for a fact that she stays up late to use Skype and the Internet because occasionally she talks loudly enough that I can hear her voice on my daughter’s baby monitor (the au pair suite is right below my daughter’s handicapped accessible suite).

Rafaela(au pair) January 8, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Owww. you sound a great host mom!!!!!!

Anna December 29, 2009 at 9:08 am

I have a curfew on nights when they are working the next day. On weekends they can sleep elsewhere, as long as they tell me they are not coming home that night (to spare my worry and for their safety). I am responsible for them when they live in my home, so I have to know.

The only au pair who consistently broke my curfew was a bad au pair, and had little respect for me, and it made me feel like my house is a hotel for her, and her intentions for being in the country are to find a husband (which was actually true). This program assumes that an au pair LIVES WITH a host family. If I didn’t have the curfew, she would live with her boyfriend. That’s not the situation I signed up for. I am stunned at the LCC mentioned above who said it is ok to stay out overnight regularly.

NoVA Host Mom December 29, 2009 at 9:38 am

We do have curfews and rules about staying out all night, etc. Our first AP, regardless of our rules or our repeated warnings, would not only stay out all night, but walk in literally at the exact start of her “shift”. Due to poor planning and missed buses, etc., more than a few times I would have to bundle my then-infant and drive to the local subway station (20 minutes from the house) to pick her up when I should have been getting ready for my own shift at work. It was a disaster. This and outright missing 2 shifts (among other things) lead to us rematching. And I was far too generous in letting it go on as long as it did. She was our first, so never again.

And while I understand what Sara Duke is saying, yes, my job does in fact dictate what is appropriate conduct and responsible behavior in my off duty time. There are rules on alcohol consumption, conduct, rest (not being allowed to work more than a certain number of hours in a 24-hr period), etc. So I have no problem mandating the same for someone who becomes fully responsible for my most precious items – my children.

Her weekend off? Sure, have fun and leave a forwarding number. But better be home no later than 10pm on Sunday night. There’s work to be done in the morning.

Anonymous December 29, 2009 at 9:54 am

I agree with NoVA…I’m a surgeon, would you be ok if I showed up to the holding area for your gastric bypass in last night’s clothes, smudged makeup and a stamp from the club on my hand? The care of my children is no less important as far as I’m concerned. AND having trained for my job in a sleep deprived state for 6 years makes me WAY more capable on doing your surgery after being up all night. LOL. She just learned to drive in the past year (and not so well) and she needs all her faculties to do so without getting into an accident.

CCDCMom December 29, 2009 at 10:54 am

A lot about curfews really depends on the individual au pair, and it’s sometimes hard to determine at first the level of her maturity and responsibility.

For our first 9 au pairs, I had a curfew of 11 pm on nights before work, and otherwise they could do as they pleased. I just asked that they let me know they’d be gone and where, in case of an emergency. It was never a problem, never abused, though sometimes they’d ask in advance to bend the rule for whatever reason. I was always happy to do so because I felt comfortable that they understood the general reason for the rule and they’d respect it going forward.

This year we have our oldest au pair (22) and I, like some others above, felt that I should permit her to make her own decisions on curfew. I was 22 once too. It turns out that this au pair is one of our least mature (most of the others have been 19). She can barely function when she gets out of bed, and is monosyllabic. She also frequently stays out very late, and I sometimes need to wake her up. Mornings aren’t tough–breakfast, make lunch and get the kids to school, about an hour and 15 minutes total–and once up she gets the job done, so I have decided not to push this particular issue.

But next year I am reverting back to the old plan. I think in theory it’s logical to say that our employers don’t tell us what to do, so we should allow the au pairs to make their own judgment calls as well; however, in practice it doesn’t always work. These young women are titular adults, but in many cases they still need to learn a few things about how to behave as actual adults. I think it can only help them (and let’s face it, us as well) to encourage responsibility in a way that’s supportive and flexible.

Darthastewart December 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

With most house rules and guidelines concerning the au-pairs, it is far easier to start off strict- tell them that they have a curfew to start with, and once they’ve proven themselves relax it. Or relax most rules. But if you start with few to no rules, then try to tighten up, it is nearly impossible to do. Resentment starts to breed in the au-pair because suddenly there are many rules being imposed.
Another thing to remember here is that au-pairs are taking care of very small children, usually under little to no supervision. Those very small children have no way of easily communicating that they are being neglected by an au-pair. It behooves us as host parents to keep an ear out and try to prevent a bad situation in the first place.

franzi December 29, 2009 at 11:54 am

i had curfews on weeknights (when i was usually scheduled to work). the more my hostfamily came to trust me, the more the relaxed on these rules.

they knew my friends, so when i told them “i would like to stay over at XY” they knew who i was talking about. also, whenever i left the house (eg to pick up the kids or run errands), i left a note in case someone was coming home earlier. i did not have a cell phone at that time, so you could argue that writing notes is dated now.

my point is though, if you feel uncomfortable in giving a curfew, still start off strict. make an effort to get to know the people your AP would be hanging out with. if you approve of them, it will be easier for you to allow her to be out longer. if she makes no effort to open herself up to you, if she is not willing to leave notes when she is leaving the house, then why should you allow her to do something that deep down inside, you feel uncomfortable with?

a sleep deprived AP (no matter why she is sleep deprived) is more likely to make mistakes and to pay less attention to your kids. and she will continue her habits if you don’t say anything against it.

Former French Au Pair December 29, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I think it is absolutely reasonable to expect your au pair to spend the night at home when she is working the next day, and give her some slack on week-ends when she starts later in the day (afternoon only for example) or is off. To me it is just like having an earlier curfew during the week versus on week-ends…
Also, your au pair will be very understanding of more stringent rules during the week if she can spend the night with a friend or stay out late on the week-ends or on special occasions like her birthday, and she communicates that with you.
My HF had a curfew of midnight for me on week-ends because the alarm would automatically be set at that time, it was very stressful to be Cinderella when I entered a serious relationship with my now husband… I would recommend giving a later curfew on WE and allowing her to spend the night with a friend if she is going to be back much later.

Anonymous December 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Our AP handbook states an 11pm curfew on worknights and no curfew on the weekends. For the first 16 months or so with our current AP, we never had to enforce this. But then she got a boyfriend and everything changed drastically. She didn’t often abuse the curfew, but would occasionally be out later. Once in awhile she would ask if she could stay at a friend’s house and come home before her shift the next morning.

Fast forward to the boyfriend who has turned her completely irresponsible. She now is out well past curfew, stays at his place regularly, and more than once has been late getting home. He is trying to convince her to move in with him, and we’ve had to put our foot down. The nights she was staying at his house, she would come home completely hung over and exhausted – NO WAY, when you’re driving my kids to school on the interstate that morning.

It is so frustrating because she had been such an intelligent, responsible young woman prior to this. :-((

Former French Au Pair December 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

As long as she is part of the au pair program and works for your family, she is living with you and her childcare responsibilities are the most important thing. She needs to communicate those responsibilities with her boyfriend. If he really loves her, he can wait until her year is over to plan their life together…
How many more months does your au pair have? Hopefully your coordinator or other au pairs can help you talk some sense into her and help her rework her priorities.

Aupair January 10, 2010 at 11:26 am

You seem to be giving really good advice, I am a current au pair in France who tends to stay at home on the weekend, I do then get approached to help do homework or play. While it is not tiring I do feel that this is my time alone. Any advice?

Sota Gal January 10, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Can you talk to your host family about this? Perhaps that you could suggest that you can be available to help with homework on Fridays after school while you are already working, or even during a short (say 30 minutes?) period of time on Saturday or Sunday. Are you being sought out in your room or is it when you are in main living areas of the house. The host parents may not even realize this is happening, or if they do, they aren’t thinking it’s a problem because nothing has been said otherwise. I think an honest talk with host parents is in order, it would be awful to let this build up inside you to the point where it DOES become a big deal. Trust me, I let something tiny slide with our au pair for months, to the point of feeling resentful, and what should have been a quick discussion/solution, turned into a big fight with hurt feelings. It all worked out in the end, but it was rocky for a while. Let us know who it works out….

CV January 11, 2010 at 12:41 am

‘Sota — I’ll set this up as its own post… cv

Jennifer December 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I think the maturity level of the AP and nature of the AP’s activities neeed to be taken into account. For instance , if staying over with a friend or boyfriend ( on a weekend) would prevent middle of the night travel, I’d be all for it.

But to a certain extent a curfew protects the AP. We had a 19 year old AP who went to an all ages club and ended up 100 miles away at a hotel room party. The “friend’s” mother tracked them down and brought them home the next day. (AP had left cell phone behind so there was no way to reach her.) A discussion afterward revealed AP felt there was no problem with her choices and we had no say about her activities off-duty. She had really poor safety awareness and even poorer choices in friends, and since the LCC backed her on the no weekend curfew rule, we had no leverage . We saw a pattern of immaturity and poor judgment emerge and for our family’s well being had to let her go into rematch.

We wished we would have explicitly discussed safety issues from the beginning and at least set up parameters . Unfortunately our LCC was hands off about discussing dangers. She herself, who had been an AP, stated she would not have an AP under 25 due to the immaturity factor and dangers inherent in living near a large urban center.

Darthastewart December 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

It sounds like your LCC was pretty clueless. I’ve run up against that kind of cluelessness once, and it is mindboggling to deal with. There simply is no reasoning with that kind of thinking- or lack thereof. It doesn’t matter whether someone is 18 or 25, they need to be careful in their surroundings, and age doesn’t always equate with maturity.

Nicole December 29, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Our house rule is home 8 hours prior to start of workday. We have no curfew on days off, however we always expect good communication so that we don’t worry when she doesn’t come home. We also make sure to communicate with her when we go somewhere and when to expect us back, especially if it is late. We feel it is just a matter of mutual respect.
We had some similar experiences to those posted, and have found that stricter rules make for a happier home. Of course, our current Au Pair is amazing and should she ask, I would probably bend the rules for her!

NoVA Host Mom December 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Exactly! Our current AP is so responsible about telling us where she is going, who she will be with, and when to expect her home, that on the occasion she asks for a bend of the rules, we give it (as much as we possibly can). She has earned our trust and shown her maturity. She has now taken several weekend trips with her church group and we just make sure she has her cell phone and a house key. She is diligent about her duties and goes above and beyond all the time.

Like Jennifer’s AP, our first (short-lived) AP was 23 and also seemed to not grasp the “living under our roof, your body is our responsibility” theory and left the state without telling us, nearly getting stranded there due to a snowstorm (husband and I still have to work, snowday or not). She then lied about where she had been. Of course, she also used to complain that she did not get “sick days” like she had at a “real job” in her home country. It was the last conversation we had before the “pack your bags” one. We take it very seriously that we are responsible for this young lady’s welfare and safety while she is living under our roof. Your roof, your rules. Our roof? Most definately, our rules.

Should be working December 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm

I am so grateful for this thread. I needed the backup on the smudged-makeup-7am-return being unacceptable. And next time there will be a strict start, with relaxing of rules after AP proves her reliability AND morning cheerfulness.

Perhaps, CV, you could organize a topic head for “Things you wish you had known when you had your FIRST au pair.” And I would also love to read more about the misconceptions regarding older vs. younger au pairs. For instance, are the younger au pairs more enthusiastic but less ? Is a 25 yr old who decides to become an au pair possibly LESS mature because s/he has not yet developed an adult life on her/his own?

A final question: is there a spot on this website (I’m clearly new) where members introduce themselves?

JJ December 29, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Ha! I wish I’d known everything on this website before I had my first au pair!

Our first au pair was older too. A 25-year-old who still lived at home with mom prior to coming here, and hadn’t yet figured out what she wanted to do with her life, should have been a red flag for me. Our new au pair is 22 but has lived on her own, has held fulltime jobs, has a clear life plan, and is much more mature.

CV December 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Hi Slacking off mom (aka should be working)…. we don’t have an “introduce yourself” place, but I can set one up! In the meantime, I’ll schedule those other two ideas ::-) cv

Should be working December 29, 2009 at 4:22 pm

I like the idea of setting a curfew based on hours-before-start-of-work. I’m surprised that no one here reports that the au pairs are unhappy with this rule. It would certainly hinder their party-ability.

Another question for y’all: Do you tell the au pair before you match of your curfew requirements, or after?

franzi December 30, 2009 at 6:05 am

if you communicate the curfew in the matching process then there is really no reason for the AP to complain.
and yes, this is something you should talk about very clearly (if you want to prevent a part-au pair). rules are rules, and just like there can be a rule about no food in the good living room, there can be a curfew. if you have a reason for the rule (eg previous experience) then this helps the AP-to be to understand why you take this stand.

most weekends i was off and that’s when i was out with friends longer than usual so the curfew did not hinder my social life. also, if you set an 8-hours before limit, it depends on when she will start to work in the morning. so a curfew does not necessarily mean that the AP “suffers” a loss in life quality or freedom

My 2 cents December 29, 2009 at 4:45 pm

You absolutely tell them — if not SHOUT — those rules before you match. It’s really only fair. I do it as early as our first conversation and then email them our handbook where there is an entire section on curfews, no male overnight guests, car restrictions, and all the other rules than are intended to weed out the next day, mascara-smudged, Gilda Radner “hey you!” girls. I also ask them what they think about our curfew rules AGAIN in at least one additional conversation just to make sure it all sank in. I also ask what rules their parents have — tells me a lot on what they will be comparing me too. I’ve also found the word “curfew” doesn’t translate well and you really need to define it very clearly.

Anonymous December 29, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I don’t really know what I think about curfews but I do know that
my car has to be in at a certain time. I realize that young people can stay up and party all night and then go to work the next day but I myself am not capable ( or enthused ) about at the thought of picking someone up in the middle of the night God knows where.
I have a job and I cannot go to work looking like the wrath of God.
I want to save all of my excess energy for my kids.
Athletes have to go to bed early, abstain from certain lifestyle choices and train. Same for aupairs , doctors and schoolteachers.
So, I make rules about my car and the aupair is free to do what she feels she can do. If she comes home intoxicated, if she cannot do her work, and if she gets into any nasty situations, she will have to live with the consequences which include losing her placement with us.

A December 29, 2009 at 6:04 pm

It’s in our written rules: no “curfew,” but “we expect you to be home at least 8 hours before you start taking care of our *young* children.”
Also, this isn’t a rule but we ask our AP to check in when she’s staying out late or traveling. Usually she just texts us to say “Am OK with friends.” I’ve told her that she’s a young woman in a foreign country, and someone needs to know when to expect her home! Our (independent and responsible) AP was very receptive to this.

OB Mom December 29, 2009 at 7:36 pm

We have a 1 pm curfew on weeknights (Sun-Th), but the AP is free to do what she wishes the other nights. Near the end of each AP’s year, they tended to break the curfew more often than during the rest of the year. I just needed to say “you’ve been coming home awfully late, these past few nights” and they suddenly realized that their pushing the limits had been noticed and would come home on time after that.

We did have an AP that often did the “walk of shame” on weekend AM’s. Surprisingly my kids never seemed to notice that she and her girlfriends came home wearing the same clothes as the night before. I remember being in my early 20’s and having fun, so can’t admonish them too much. I guess I also want to make sure they don’t feel pressured to drive home after drinking which would be even worse. I tell them they are welcome to call me any time and I would arrange a cab or pick them up. I ask them to text me if they will be staying out, just so I know they are “safe” somewhere. Beyond that, I am not their mother, but also know that while I remember being in my early 20’s, I certainly would not have wanted a 20 year old ME looking after my kids.

For that reason I think it is our responsibility as HF’s to set limits for them when your children’s safety and well being under consideration.

Dorsi December 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm

We have a “home 8 hours before you work” rule (though it is never an issue– our AP rarely goes out.)

There are jobs in the world that have clear outputs. For example, physicians and surgeons. If you are too tired from being out all night (or decide to spend your workday on the internet) than you don’t have any output and you don’t make money. There is also a lot of ownership of the results. These people typically do not clock in and out of their job and may be able to use the internet, sleep or watch TV while they are at work.

There are other jobs whose results cannot easily be measured. A nurse would be an example. There are good nurses who work hard, and others that chat the entire time and get very little done. Hospitals have policies to try to maximize the amount of work nurses do (highly regulated breaks, no internet or cell phones while working, etc).

My AP is much more like a nurse than a doctor. It is possible for her to lay on the floor after a long night out, dozing, not interacting with my child for most of the day. She could provide adequate care (clean diapers, food, etc) but poor quality care and it would be difficult for me to figure this out (my child doesn’t talk). So, I set rules to maximize the chance of high quality care — no social cell phone (or internet) use while working, opportunity for good sleep, etc.

I think this issue (Can a sleep deprived AP provide good care?) is hard to measure. Maybe if I had school aged children and more feedback about how the AP was doing, then I wouldn’t mind.

Calif Mom December 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Take heart, Dorsi! Starting about 3 years old, you will get a LOT more information about what happens during the day, even from kids who aren’t born reporters. Our eldest doesn’t share much about her days, but even from her we got much more info about caregivers from her directly. And yes indeed, it was very credible.

Mel January 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm

My Gosh! Everyone on this site is far more generous with their curfews! We have a strict 11 pm curfew. If you are not in the door by 11 pm you are late. Find somewhere else to sleep and we’ll talk about remedying this in the morning.

At 11 pm my husband and I swing the bolt lock and turn on the alarm before going to sleep. We had one incident (one too many) where our au pair strung us along until 1 am. We were both miserable at our jobs the next day. Honestly, regardless of weekday or weekend, if we aren’t in bed by 11 pm then we are miserable people the next day so we don’t differentiate between – it is a very strict 11 pm rule. We let the girls know before matching too and it hasn’t been a problem.

anon January 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm

For the most part, my rule has been “I’m not going to worry about curfew, unless it becomes a problem. I reserve the right to change rules if I feel something isn’t working well”. This was my approach for many rules, especially with our first AP, simply because we weren’t sure what things would be problematic or not. Our second AP was a nightmare and would have required stronger rule enforcement if we hadn’t rematched as soon as possible. All of my APs have been over 21 though, and I do think age might play a role.

zanon January 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I guess I’m one of the few here that doesn’t set a curfew. To me, it’s a trust issue. I have to be able to trust my AP to effectively take care of my children for the majority of the day. I feel that knowing how to care for others is a higher level of responsibility than knowing how to care for self. If the AP is not responsible enough to take care of themselves then they are not remotely responsible enough to take care of my children. Part of that responsibility is to know how much sleep they need before reporting for duty the next day and thus knowing when is the appropriate time to return home the night before. If I have to set a curfew then the AP has not demonstrated enough responsibility for self care and thus has not graduated to the higher level of responsibility of child care. This type of person would not be my AP for long. I have had many many APs and only one I had to let go because of this problem.

Rafaela(au pair) January 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

Great!!!!! i think you are right!

Lola January 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I think as with everything it depends on the person. My case might be a little different because I decided to be an au-pair after having job positions that required extreme responsibility, thus forming me to be responsible and detail oriented. My host parents never enforced a curfew on me, also given the fact that I was 25. After having established a good relationship with a guy in Germany, I spent many weekdays at his house. Since his house was walking distance to the places I frequently visited, I would stay over at his place. My host family lived approximately 30 mins train ride, and I would get up extremely early allowing me to arrive at least 1.5 hours before my shift. I never once allowed myself to arrive any later than that time and if I ever felt exhausted I made sure to nap in my free time after the children were in school, but then again my host mom once told me that I was to be on call 24/5 because that was what I was there for, if not she would’ve hired a maid.

JS March 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I truly think it depends on the girl – if she can cope well with it and it doesn’t affect her job then it really should be fine for her to stay out at night. I’ve done some of my best work on a hangover! On the other hand, an Au Pair who is still drunk from the night before is clearly overstepping boundaries and there is no excuse for that sort of behaviour

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