In our earlier conversation about what chores are appropriate to ask an au pair to do, AussieAuPair raised an interesting question–
When an au pair is officially having a day off, should s/he still be expected to do household chores?
We need to make two sets of distinctions first, between
— family member household chores (e.g., emptying dishwasher) and childcare-related household chores (e.g., cleaning kitchen after kids’ meal) and
— having a day off and being ‘off duty’ on a day when you also have scheduled work hours.
On The Au Pair’s Full Day Off
On a day off, au pairs should not be expected to do any household chores that are childcare-related.
With family-related household chores, it depends. If the au pair is spending a day off outside the house, it’s insane (and kindof stingy, I think) to expect that an au pair should do family chores like empty the diswasher. However, I would hope that au pairs would still make their beds and clean up after themselves in the kitchen, and so on.
During the Au Pair’s Off Duty Time on a Work Day
If an au pair is ‘off duty’ on a work day, then I would expect the au pair to do her or his family household chores (e.g., empty the dishwasher) during their off-duty hours if they haven’t already done them when they were on duty.
The same is true with childcare-related chores. They should be done when the au pair is on-duty.
We host parents should be scheduling our au pairs and helping them organize their childcare-related chores (e.g., kid laundry) during their on-duty hours.
Have Realistic Expectations about Chores
If you find yourself in a situation where the childcare chores aren’t getting done during an au pair’s on-duty hours, then the au pair and host parent need to sit down and discuss expectations over the week and each work day, to make sure that it’s reasonable to ask these chores get done while an au pair is on-duty.
Au pairs who care for kids who nap can usually find time to do chores while the kids are asleep, and au pairs who care for kids who play with each other or by themselves can often fit childcare chores into the routine (e.g., fold laundry while watching kids in the playroom).
It’s important to remember, as AussieAuPair mentions, that we cannot expect our au pairs to continually clean up after kids, all day long, when the au pair is off-duty. Or for that matter, when the au pair is on duty.
When it comes to getting household chores done, keep your expectations sane. Not every chore needs to be done constantly, all day long.
If you expect every single mess to be cleaned up the minute it is made, you can drive yourself mad. You’ll literally find yourself walking behind your kids, picking up one thing after another. (Consider, we wait till we have a full load rather than washing each sock as it gets dirty. But, we throw each tissue away right after we use it.)
Learn how to ‘batch process’. Help your au pair learn when batch processing is sensible, and when immediate action is expected.
Parents, is this how you expect chores to happen? Let’s hear, below.