Should Au Pairs be expected to do chores on their Day Off?

by cv harquail on March 12, 2013

In our earlier conversation about what chores are appropriate to ask an au pair to do, AussieAuPair raised an interesting question–

au pair chores

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.


See also: Child Care Chores Quiz: Are any chores on this list off limits?

Image: Bulldog & broom AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by bulldog1 on Flickr


Taking a Computer Lunch March 12, 2013 at 7:18 am

As I wrote elsewhere, because we schedule our AP to work directly with the children between 25 and 35 hours a week (usually closer to 30), we ask her to do some light cleaning and laundry in her “off” time. We do not ask her to do it on her 1.5 days off each week.

Because we have school-aged kids, our AP works a split shift – a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon. She usually has a 6-hour break in the middle of the day and is off by 6:00 each evening. There is plenty of time to do the few chores that we ask of her – some light cleaning in The Camel’s bed & bath, and a couple of loads of laundry each week. We don’t dictate when, just that it be done. Out of the 8 APs we have hosted thus far, only one has complained and given us a lot of push-back on this.

When an AP works 45 hours in a week, we don’t ask that she spend extra time doing chores.

We have done the same thing for APs whose driving skills and English were not up to snuff. We asked them to acquire the skills and counted them toward their 45 hours a week. (In our community there are plenty of free English classes that don’t count toward the State Dept. education requirement but do suffice for practice speaking and listening.)

HRHM March 12, 2013 at 9:20 am

We too have a “split-shift” AP and never officially use the 45 hours during the school year. I have had to pointedly tell her that she must do the “household” portion of her duties during the day while the kids are at school (mainly laundry and changing sheets once per week, plus minor tidying). This after my 4 year old told me one sunny afternoon that they couldn’t go outside to play because AP had to fold the laundry! Once summer rolls around, she will be working full 45 hour days but there is no reason why she can’t get this done while the kids are around – if she’s smart, she’ll get them to help! :)

HRHM March 12, 2013 at 9:25 am

I have a related question – Is it ok to ask AP to do chores that were “deferred” from the previous week because she was on vacation?

Last week was our Spring Break and the family went on one vacation while the AP went on another. (her choice). When we got back there was of course, a ton of laundry which I happily did (kids stuff included) but it’s not yet all folded and put away. I think I am going to ask her to do it today while I’m at work, especially since she will work less than 30 hours this week and this will probably add only an hour to her work week. On one hand, I feel a little guilty, like I just saved last week’s work and added it to this week. On the other hand, when I get back from vacation, all the crap that has piled up while I’m gone is sitting there waiting for me too. It’s just part of adult reality and having a job. Any thoughts?

Taking a Computer Lunch March 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking her to fold & put away kids’ laundry as long as it doesn’t bring her above 45 hours. You’re not asking her to do all the chores she would have done last week this week, you’re asking her to pitch in and help you bring the household back under control after a week of vacation.

cv harquail March 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I agree– It’s not like leaving a sink full of dishes, or a full dishwasher. Plus if it’s washed you’ve already done the worst part — emptying the pockets. ;-)

Au pair candidate March 23, 2013 at 3:13 am

If you ask it as a favour, and she wants to do it, I guess it is ok. But if you expect her to do it, well that is up to her. But let me ask you, would you stop feeding your kid for a week because your AP is on vacations? No, right, returning with tons of cloth to fold is your problem too, it is unfair to expect her to do it, if she decides to help you is out of kindness.

hOstCDmom March 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Kids’ laundry isn’t a favor; kids’ laundry = job requirement. HP can have AP spend 45h/wk on childcare and child related chores. Kids’ laundry = child related chore. If one week it is 3hrs of kids’ laundry and the next week it is 5hrs of kids’ laundry, so be it. It is a task HP can expect an AP to do. Kids’ laundry doesn’t mean that the AP only washes kids clothes that the kids wore/got dirty while AP was on duty.

Busy Mom March 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Totally agree with hOstCDmom! Au Pair Candidate, in this and your other posts you come across as not having a complete understanding of the role of an au pair. You may want to reconsider and opt out of the program before you are miserable & resentful for a year.

For the record, not only do our APs wash clothes that were worn on vacations they didn’t come on, but they also help the kids pack for those same vacations.

Momma Gadget March 12, 2013 at 10:17 am

We feel in general, if our AP is doing chores for us than he is not off duty. Our children are school age, so there is a large block of free time every day. We figure into the schedule 2 hours a day, plus a 30 min dog walk. It adds up to about an 8 hour day. As long as the chores are done by the end of the week: laundry and general tidying, we are pretty flexible and trust that AP can figure it out.I don’t like to be micro managed at work, so I try not to do it to my AP. If he doesn’t get to the chores one day, I trust he will make it up by the end of the week. Our current au pair has been great with this and does an extra tidy-tidy on Fridays before he goes off duty. We truly appreciate his initiative.

The only time we really expect that he pitch in on his off time is if he joins us on family outings- If he is sunbathing by the lake I have no issue asking him to make sure our raucous boys don’t drown each other-so that we can get the barbecue started.
If he joins us for dinner, he helps clear the table and put away leftovers while we do the dishes.
We don’t expect him to empty the dishwasher (though he often does!) or other chores on his off time.

Should be working March 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Momma Gadget, how does the dogwalk fit in? Did your AP know at matching that he would walk the dog as part of his responsibilities? We pay the AP extra to walk the dog. (I know there is a post on this elsewhere on this website.)

Momma Gadget March 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm

We have a lot of pets so our au pairs must be animal lovers.
Not just kinda be ok with a goldfish. The dog is the only animal they have anything to do with, and we absolutely discuss this aspect with any candidate. Our dog is better behaved and mellower than my kids and I have had no issues with APs taking her for a walk. Once the dog becomes familiar with the au pair they can just let her out in the yard off lead if the weather is bad.
Our current au pair has dogs that he misses back home, so he actually enjoys spending time with our pooch and pampers her.
FTR the kids feed, water and brush the dog. So it is only making sure she gets out once, before the kids get home.

Juju March 13, 2013 at 7:42 am

This is my first post and I will be a first time host mom (starting next month). We specifically addressed the dog walking issue (while on duty vs while off duty) in our family letter. We told our Aupair that while she is on duty, she would be responsible for taking the dog to the bathroom whenever she needs to go. She is not responsible for this when she is off duty. This is not to say that she needs to take the dog for an extensive walk- just a quick trip to the bathroom. We consider this to be appropriate when she is on duty- a small expectation that we expect from all family members. Just like helping clear the table after a family meal.

Seattle Au pair March 13, 2013 at 8:06 am

Juju, let me ask you. How many kids do you have and what ages are they? How many times does your dog need to go to the bathroom?
I´m asking this because it can be hard to get the kids ready (put on winter clothes, shoes…) every time the dog feels like peeing. It can be a bit stressful after a while since she will have to do it every day.
Unless the kids are school age, I don´t think it should be the au pair´s responsability to take the dog out.

Juju March 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

I have a newborn baby – who will be three months old shortly. During my maternity leave, I found there was plenty of time to take to dog out while the baby naps. The Aupair can even monitor the baby on the iPad while she is in the in the back yard with the dog. Literally, she will take the dog out – let her pee – then come back inside. The whole process can take less than 2 minutes.

HP will take the dog out in the morning, after work and in the evening so the dog only needs to use the bathroom generally once (perhaps on rare occasion twice a day).

Prior to hiring the Aupair we had a dog walker but, we couldn’t justify having both.

Additionally, we trained our dog (instead of barking) to go to the front door and ring a bell when she needs to use the bathroom. She knows that when she rings the bell, someone will come shortly to take her outside. I am not sure how she would adjust if our Aupair is home all day and ignored the bell.

We also recommed in our family handbook that the Aupair may want to make a preemptive strike and take the dog out to pee before she rings the bell during one of the baby’s naps. This would help elevate any potential stress of having a crying baby and a dog ringing the bell at the same time. Of, course the priority is the baby and the dog can wait to go out if necessary.

I do see your point though…it may not be feasible for all Aupairs to take the dog outside depending on number of children in the house and the needs of the dog.

We are hoping our situation works out well this year.

Momma Gadget March 13, 2013 at 10:41 am

Juju- Congratulations on your new baby and joining the AP program! I hope your family has a great experience with your new AP.
It sounds like your dog is very well trained! I posted before somewhere, though I really don’t think it is a big deal to ask an AP to do this as part of their on duty chores;I would absolutely feel differently if our dog were unruly or difficult to handle. We have also seen, that for animal loving APs, a family dog can be a big stress reliever.

spanishaupair March 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I think while you tell the aupair in advance that is her responsibility to take care of dogs or any other pet and she agrees there is no problem :)

Au pair candidate March 23, 2013 at 3:19 am

What if something happens to the baby while your AP is walking the dog? If anything happens to your baby don’t blame the AP, she was just doing what you told her to do, so be ready to take full responsability for your baby’s safety while the AP is out with the dog.

Anon this time March 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I’m posting anonymously this time because this comment will uniquely identify us.

I think it’s unfair to ask an au pair to do chores in her “off time.” We have a split shift and use < 45 hours a week for childcare, so I deliberately build a block of time into the schedule for chores.

I format our weekly schedule so this is a separate "box" across the middle with 7 hours in it. These 7 hours are for laundry, beds, straightening. Thse 7 add into the weekly totaly, but not the individual day total. I tell our au pairs that it's up to them when they do these tasks. Could be all in one day or spread out. I don't care as long as they're done at the end of the week. I am also explicit that they don't have to do those tasks on the same day that I ask them to work a full 10 hours (rare). It's a win for them because they get the flexibility, and I don't get any flak about doing chores in 'off time.'

Truth be told, most of our APs quickly learn that they can fit most of the laundry in during their morning "officially on" hours. They throw in a load while kids are getting ready for school and it's done when they return from school drop off.

HRHM, since you're not using the full 45 hours, you might try explicitly adding the chore hours to the schedule. And, it's perfectly reasonable to ask your AP to help with the catch up laundry.

Momma Gadget March 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Exactly! It’s scheduled so it’s not “extra work”, and it’s flexible. If on one particular day the AP needs more time to meet with some friends for lunch, go shopping, or work on a school project at the library etc.. they can work that in. It’s a win/win , happy/happy arrangement.

Seattle Mom March 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm

If I had much extra time in our schedule I think this is how I would do it too. Though we don’t have many chores that we expect our AP to do, and typically she just does stuff that we don’t even ask her to do (while she’s on duty with the kids).

My AP announced to us that she was going to wash all the towels in the bathroom every Monday. Normally we would do it maybe once a month (unless they were getting really grungy- we tend to shower at the gym so it’s not a huge issue for us). I am ecstatic, and my husband is actually annoyed- he thinks it’s a waste of water + energy. OH welll…. :)

PhillyMom March 13, 2013 at 11:29 am

I would not ask my AuPair to do any chores on her day off. I think that would be a violation of our contract and simply not fair. Our kids are at school, and she has plenty of time to do them during day time. Usually I program washer on delayed cycle the night before, so you can simply move washed clothes from washer to dryer at 7.30 am, and they’ll be ready for folding once AuPair comes home from dropping kids at school. I do expect my AuPair to empty dishwasher even on her day off in the morning, because it is minor thing that takes no more than 5 minutes.

HRHM March 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

I don’t know that the dishwasher thing is fair in all circumstances, although it may be in yours. On the weekend (our AP’s day off) our AP is MIA the entire time, unless of course she is needed for a couple hours to work on date-night. She doesn’t so much as drink a glass of water at home! So to ask her to continue to empty the dishwasher when she isn’t cooking or eating at home, just because it’s her “family” chore seems pretty petty. Not only that, but I’d be waiting until 3pm for her to do it, since she doesn’t get out of bed on Sat and Sun until then! LOL

A Host Mom March 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

During the week, my au pair empties the dishwasher and keeps the house generally tidy (we both work full-time). However, on the weekends, she kinda acts like a guest and doesn’t do anything unless we ask her to (i.e. help set the table, help with kids, etc.) It’s kinda annoying, since she joins us for both breakfast (which is always a big to-do) and dinner each day of the weekend.

A Host Mom March 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

Correction: help us with kids at the table (i.e., pour juice, etc.) We don’t ask her to do any child-related chores when she is off duty.

PhillyMom March 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I started to think how does this “dishwasher ” thing became so important:))))))))). It takes me 3-4 minutes to empty it!!!
Also, laundry is not done by hand :)))) . Maximum so 15 minutes to fold it.

kat March 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm

omg, absolutely not ok to ask ap to empty dishwasher on a day off. do you expect your ap to get up just to empty the diswasher for you? i can imagine all sorts of situations when that simply wouldnt fit into the aps day plans. be it getting up at 5. 30 to get a train or sleeping in until noon.

PhillyMom March 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

No Kat, I do not expect my Au Pair to get up in order to empty disherwasher:). And before you make the statement “it is absolutely not ok” please, realize that families are different and that my AuPair may work less than 30 hours each week, have paid vacation more than 2 weeks per year, neve has to clean her bedroom or bathroom – we have cleaning lady, I cook and bake for the whole family (she may make pancakes or soup for kids mostly). So, please do not generalize, but look at each situation individually:))).

ireallycouldcare less June 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm

It doesn’t matter if she is reaching her “hours” for a week… if it’s her “free time” it is just that! No household chores, no “family chores.”

Anonomomma June 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Unless she has not completed her “chores” during her on duty time – then yes she will be asked to complete them on her off duty time, i.e. Friday evening and play room is not tidied up. My AP will be asked to tidy it up BEFORE she heads out for the night. (because she should have made sure it was done earlier). If she misses her ride or misses the bus – that’s not my fault – that’s hers – for not completing her tasks during the time she had to complete them.

And family chores are just that – chores that you do as a member of the family or say as another adult in the house – just like if you were living with a roomy and you just had dinner together – your roomy wouldn’t be too happy if you just got up after you ate and went to your room leaving the kitchen for her to tidy – would she – well? same difference ladies – you are now adults not children and it is not up to your HF to clear up after you – or wash your plates for you. Being an AP means being an adult.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I don’t live in a household that assigns emptying the dishwasher as an AP “chore” (she does have set chores on the days she works that we do when she is on vacation – and we certainly clean up after ourselves at the weekend). However, I would expect that my AP would empty the dishwasher if, after finishing breakfast or lunch, noticed that it had been run, emptied it and put her dirty dishes in it, rather than leaving her dirty dishes in the sink and walking away.

Now, my AP do wash up the stray wine glass or container of leftovers that I leave by the sink when I make my lunch at 5:30 am (not for them – I’d happily do them in the evening), so if she were to leave her dirty dishes in the sink and not empty the dishwasher, then I would not hold it against her.

Host Mom in the City March 25, 2013 at 8:40 am

Another family here that doesn’t assign “empty the dishwasher” chore exclusively to the au pair. Are there actually any of us host parents that have said that? So no need to get worked up.

Like TaCL, we have a family rule – if you use a dish, it goes in the dishwasher (not on the counter). If the dishwasher is full, you run put your dish in and run it. If the dishwasher is clean, you empty it and then put your dish in. Same rule for all family members (kids included, although mine are young, so they let me know and then they help).

With exceptions of course if you’re running out the door or have your arms full with cranky kids or whatever – in which case, we all help each other out and/or ignore the single dirty dish that was left for a few hours as long as the guilty party cleans it eventually (again, this goes for all family members – host parents included).

I think that’s a fairly typical “living with roommates” rule whether you’re living with your spouse, a roommate, an au pair, whoever.

WestMom March 25, 2013 at 10:39 am

I actually have it as part of the morning chores to empty the dishwasher. We have recently started to run the dishwasher each night after dinner, so the sink is not filled with evening dishes in the morning. And all we have to do all day is refill. It works really well…
That being said, our AP does not work every morning, so whoever is on ‘lunch-makings’ duty is usually the one emptying.

Host Mom in the City March 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

Sure, part of the morning chores on the days your au pair is working. I don’t think anyone said it is the AP’s exclusive chore.

Emerald City HM March 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm

We have in our handbook for our au pair to finish her chores before she considers herself “off duty” for the day, even if that eats into her time, but we schedule 43-44 hours a week to allow for chore time if she doesn’t get around to it during the day. Would I ask her to do child related chores on her day off? No.

Honestly, her daily chores should take all of 10 minutes if she picks up after the girls during the day. If she doesn’t, well then it might take longer. However, we don’t have our au pair do the girls’ laundry, mostly becasue I’m pretty OCD about where things are put away and it’s just easier to do it myself than to explain my methods.

The only things we ask her to wait on until we get home are things that involve her going outside (like taking diapers to the trash), unless she takes the girls with her.

Emerald City HM March 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

So looking back at the original question about household chores, I realized I didn’t answer the question.

Our household “chores” for the au pair are also very quick. It doesn’t take that long to either start or empty the dishwasher. It’s also not a chore specifically for the au pair. It’s whomever puts the last dish in to fill it, or needs to put a dish in after it’s done with the wash cycle. If the au pair goes into the kitchen on her day off and the situation presents itself, as a member of the household, I would prefer it be done. If she’s on her way out the door and notices the trash needs to be taken out, just take it out.

Can I require she does these things? No. Does it make for a better relationship? Yes. So I guess for our house the answer is, it depends on what kind of relationship the au pair wants to have with us.

spanishaupair March 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I think that in days off depends if the aupair spends time with the HF or vanished and dont come more than for sleeping or not even that. If she is not home more than just go out the door and dont do anything with you even meals or whatever is not nice to ask for her doing that things because she is not really involved in them.
If she spends time with you i think it should be just her initiative to help in I mean if she eats with you and you cook get ready table and tidy after, empty dishwasher and that things; or for example i dont do housework (HF idea and agreement) and they dont usually let me tidy up even after myself so i take care of kids (a baby of 15 months specially) while they do the tidying.
I think is not fair to ask for child related if its their day off, its their job so its kind of working, the same with taking care of your kids.
And in off duty time in working days, depends on how you schedule and if you agree that you dont schedule specific hours for housework but the time that takes doing them counts on the working hours a week

Host Mom in the City March 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm

This whole chore thing is always confusing to me. I thought we can’t ask an au pair to do household tasks that aren’t relating to her? Our au pair apparently has it pretty easy – her “chores” amount to cleaning up after herself and helping the kids pick up their toys and clean up after eating during her shift. Other than that, we haven’t asked her to do anything. I guess sometimes she’ll sweep the floor or something after I make dinner and we eat together (which we do probably 5-6 days a week).

Are we mostly talking about laundry here? I can completely see scheduling an hour or two a week for kid’s laundry and letting your au pair pick when she’s going to do it as long as it gets done. But I don’t get what else your he asking her to do on her unscheduled time?

hOstCDmom March 14, 2013 at 12:13 am

I have 6 kids, stay at home, work very part time from home, and homeschool all 6 kids. I use every minute of the 45 hours, and I am at home or tag teaming with the AP for perhaps 2/3 of them.

Here is an outline of some of the chore type responsibilities my au pair has, noting that these are separate from the times when she is directly responsible for the kids and supervising them, (and to be clear, supervising/caring for the kids is the majority of her time *and this chore type work (plus direct childcare) only fills her 45 hours* — it isn’t that she has to do all of this no matter how long it takes, rather I schedule so that her time is filled, and eliminate or add tasks as appropriate.

specific daily kid related chores –
Monday, clean, organize and vacuum playroom and kids laundry; Tuesday – wash kids sheets;
Wednesday – clean childrens bathroom and tidy all children’s closets;
Thursday – tidy childrens items in mudroom, wash out lunchboxes, prepare non-perishable snack bags for school lunches for the week, children’s laundry again;
Friday – grocery shop for children’s (or family’s) food; vacuum/clean out areas of car under/on carseats, toys out of car or “car toys” organized, organize/tidy all children’s bookshelves and art supplies.

General List of chores I would ask the AP to do:

make children’s lunches the night before. Even for toddlers – great to have lunch prepped the night before and not have to deal with it in the middle of busy days.

AP is in charge of all library books. Checking new ones out with kids 2-3x/week. Keeping track of them, returning them.

shop for school supplies

take older kids shopping for specific things they need that you don’t need to be there for (project supplies, uniform pieces, birthday presents for friends.)

pre-buy, wrap and label presents for kid birthday parties so that you can grap and go on the day (important in large families with many elem. schoolers)

Prepare children’s dinners or breakfasts or whichever meal(s) you need help with. Pre-preapare and freeze one afternoon per week per recipes.

tidy children’s rooms, make younger children’s beds and tidy rooms, supervise older children making beds and tidying their rooms

children’s laundry – wash, dry, fold, put away. This = about 6 loads of clothes per week, plus 2 loads of sheets, plus one load of towels. There is *always* kid laundry in our house!

clean au pair bathroom once/week

clean kids’ bathroom once/week

tidy playroom, vacuum, dust, wipe furniture, once per week

tidy homework room, wipe down chairs and tables, vacuum once/week

keep track of and return library books (kids check out over 100 per week, so this actually something that takes time)

ensure children do their pet related chores and help the younger ones to do so (we have about a dozen pets, so, again, this is more than a 5 minute task)

ensure *kids* do their daily household chores (such as wiping out sinks, sweeping kitchen floor after meals, cleaning up toys, books etc.)

vacuum kids rooms once per week

launder 3 beds’ worth of sheets each week

keep tidy and cleaned children’s lockers in mudroom

ensure older children load their breakfast dishes in diswasher, do so for the toddlers who cannot

keep bookshelves organized – books organized by series, author, subject etc.

shop for kid related supplies as needed, with $ from HM

occasional grocery or drugstore shopping/errands for kids, with $ from HM

keep suburban and station wagon cleaned out with respect to kid stuff, toys, books, litter

lay out clothes and equipment for next days sports practices (or direct older ones to do so and ensure that they do)

clean out cabinets with art supplies, make lists and purchase any needed supplies

These are all things I use my AP time for in addition to standard – “please care for children X, Y and Z ” and things that I think of as “chores”.

HRHM March 14, 2013 at 10:16 am

Bully for you if you actually find an AP organized and energetic enough to do all of this while still caring for 6 kids, even with your help. Honestly, I have 2 kids, both in school and I can’t get an AP to do half that! My current AP is the best I’ve ever had and she has the benefit of not having to do any “cleaning” (every other week cleaning service even does her room) and I still have to remind her to tidy up or get laundry done. Is she looking for a new family for a second year? LOL

hOstCDmom March 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

I am a structured, organized individual and translate that in to how I manage my AP (and make that very clear in matching). We’ve had 8 APs so far, and all but one managed the chores decently to excellently. For some, it was a natural extension of their personality/tidiness, for others it was a new, learned skill. But I am explicit in the how and when of what needs to be done, and I always assume it will take an AP twice as long as me to do anything (and build that into the timing/schedule) so the AP doesn’t need to intuitively manage all the tasks; really she needs to follow the schedule.

Re the 6 kids – she almost never has sole charge of all 6, pretty much only if at least half of them are sleeping (such as a Sat night out where we go out after having already put the younger 3 to bed, and all she has to do is let the older ones read/watch a film and then get them into bed and then be present while we are out). I am a SAHM/PT-WAHM, so our guiding principle for all our APs is DIVIDE AND CONQUER! So, while I think all our APs work hard for each and every one of their 45 hours, it isn’t quite the same as having sole charge of 6 kids plus chores — that would be much more work and much more overwhelming (which is, in fact, why *I* have an AP! LOL!)

Host Mom in the City March 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

I am very impressed with your organization! When you list it all out like that, it’s all stuff I do myself too (I am a very clean, organized, and pre-preparing person myself). But I’ve never made a list/schedule of it all. I just do it without thinking. Maybe I need to add some rigor into my personal house-running and make it more of a routine!

hOstCDmom March 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

HRHM- to be clear, my AP doesn’t do ALL of the above list each abd every week (!); approx. half to 2/3 is weekly, every single week, the rest are, per Host Mom in the City’s question, the kind of “chores” I would, and do, ask my AP to do, as and when I schedule time for them.

Should be working March 14, 2013 at 8:24 pm

HostOCDMom, you are my new hero. It’s a great chore list. And you have 6 kids and a dozen or so pets.

Question: how does your AP *get* the kids to do their own chores, including petcare? Does she have to ‘hound’ the kids (get the joke)?

CanadeseAuPair March 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I’m an au pair living in the Netherlands. My host parents made it clear in their handbook what my chores are and have also mentioned thet they appreciate my help as a third adult in the house. Officially, my time off is from Friday after the older kids go to school until Monday morning. Usually I’m away for at least one full day in the weekend as we live in a remote area and it’s a hassle to get to and from the nearest cities to spend only a few hours there, but while I am around I consider doing simple things like changing the baby, emptying and loading the dishwasher, tidying the kitchen, making snacks for the kids etc. a small price to pay for maintaining a good relationship with my host family.

Should be working March 14, 2013 at 8:27 pm

It never occurred to me to assign the AP ‘part of the family’ chores apart from child-related and keeping her own stuff in order. I guess I do have on our list that she should vacuum the living room and kitchen once a week, but to me that’s child-related because they make the most crumbs and stuff.

I would love to ask APs to take out the garbage when the kitchen garbage is full. They all act like this is nothing to do with them.

Busy Mom March 14, 2013 at 10:09 pm

We include taking out the kitchen trash in the list of AP responsibilities because it’s a natural part of sharing a house.

It reads: “Take out the kitchen trash when full (we all do this)”

All 5 of our APs have done this without issue. They also help with the dishwasher if one of our kids is ill/runs out of time. I think those two tasks are fine to include even though they’re not exclusively ‘child related.’

Taking a Computer Lunch March 15, 2013 at 6:45 am

In my opinion, there are some chores that are fair game because everyone contributes to them – dishwasher, recycling, garbage are tops. We have rarely had an AP throw garbage out – usually they tell us that The Camel’s diaper pail is full. Most APs have willingly dumped the recycling bin in the kitchen into the larger one outside (although my current one does not – to the point that stuff starts falling out).

I’ll tell you what drives me nuts – coming home early and seeing an AP sitting on the living room coach texting while waiting for a child’s bus to arrive, ankle deep in chaos from the kids. Because my APs have worked a split shift for years, we have them on the clock about 10-15 minutes before we anticipate the kids’ return from school. Almost all have implicitly understood that those minutes were perfect for little chores, like tidying.

Host Mom in the City March 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

Both of my au pairs have emptied the dishwasher when it was full or at least washed their dishes if it is full rather than leaving them on the sink. Neither have ever taken out the trash or recycling and I haven’t asked them to. My first actually cleaned our shared bathroom and vacuumed the living room a couple of times during the year without being asked, which was awesome.

I really like the approach in the handbook that was recently posted and I think I will add that for next year and emphasize it more in training – an au pair should be asking him/herself “is this a household chore I would be doing if I were a roommate?” So all roommates in a living situation would do things like take out the trash, take turns cleaning a shared bathroom, dusting common living spaces, emptying the dishwasher when it is full, etc. I think the best au pairs are the ones who say to themselves “even though this is not entirely my mess, I benefited from it (e.g., used the trash can, sat in the living room, put some dishes in this dishwasher), so I will help.” The worst will say “not my job” and ignoring an overflowing trash can not geting that even though not all of that trash is theirs, some of it probably is.

Of course I’m not advocating for these kinds of chores to be entirely up to an au pair or be assigned to an au pair as one of their duties, but an au pair who really wants to earn goodwill with their host parent will recognize that pitching in even every once in a while will go a long way, particularly when (like my au pair) you’re not working the full 45 hours anyway.

Aussieupair March 15, 2013 at 6:11 am

I am an AP for a family with 6 kids and a single HM. She works (understandably) but i feel like I do more chores – all the laundry, tidying kitchen/family area endlessly – as soon as I do it it gets trashed again, taking the not yet trained puppy out, sweeping and other things – than child care. The 2 youngest get put in child care 3 days a week and I still have to do a list of jobs on those days. Am I unfair for feeling more like a housekeeper/second parent than an AP?

HRHM March 15, 2013 at 6:54 am

First of all, are you in the US? If you aren’t then nothing I have to say is valid. If you are in the US, then do all the chores you do relate to child care and/or are things YOU agreed to in advance of taking the job ( I have repeatedly seen APs who agree “under the table” to do things that are not really within regs in order to secure a match, then complain to their LCC once they are here – not fair) If they do/are, are you staying within your 45 hours per week? If you have answered yer to this point, then despite the fact that you may be working your butt off, it’s all fair. It’s at the HPs discretion how she “uses” her AP’s time as long as it’s within the SD regs. So if a host Mom hires an AP to cook baby food, clean bottles, wash baby laundry, clean baby’s room, etc, all so HM can spend that time playing with baby instead, that would be ok per the SD.
For the life of me, I don’t understand APs who take a gig with a family of 3, 4, 5 or 6 kids and then complain that it’s hard work! What were you expecting, especially with a single parent household?

Rachel March 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Remember APs are someone’s child too.
They are often 18 and 19 years old and it’s the first time they have been away from THEIR mothers.
These young women and their MOTHERS are relying on the host family not to take advantage of the AP and to be sympathetic.

I’m surprised at your response.

AussieAuPair March 15, 2013 at 8:09 am

Things have changed in the family since I came, things I didn’t agree to. Off topic, but for example, I especially wanted a non-smoking household and now the HM has started smoking again (she’d quit before I came, which I wasn’t aware of). And she wasn’t working when I came either, so we agreed on 30 hours. I’m not afraid of hard work!!
Also, I’m in Australia, not the US

Host Mom in the City March 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

AussieAuPair – I certainly sympathize with you, but it’s hard to say what’s “fair” or not in a non-US au pair situation. In the US, being an au pair is a very specific job with very specific rules and requirements. Outside of the US, being an “au pair” can mean many different things.

My advice to you would be not as an au pair, but as an employee – if you feel you are being asked to do more than you were hired for, then you should approach your employer in a professional manner and request a clarification of duties and/or a commensurate raise. But be prepared for your employer to offer a range of reactions – from firing you on the spot, to apologizing that she didn’t realize, to accepting your request for clarification, to disagreeing that you are doing something other than you were hired for, etc.

Unfortunately, your question isn’t really an au pair question as it would be if you were a true au pair in the US.

another Aussie AP March 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Situations can change, but I definitely sympathise. Similar thing happened to me (I’m finishing up my year in germany atm) and I found myself doing things I hadn’t agreed to do.

Talking to your Host Mum will probably help. Just ask for some clarification about what exactly your job is. See if she’ll write a list of all the things she wants you to do. In detail. Ie, (make beds, do kids washing, kids ironing, lunch boxes etc). If there’s anything on that list that you explicitly did not agree to, or that has suddenly cropped up and you’re not cool with, query it. Just do it nicely. If she’s a single mum with six kids, it could just be that she hasn’t noticed because she’s flat out all the time.

Also, not sure what the max hours in Aus are. What do you consider “on duty” time? I had some issues with my HF about that earlier in my AP year and clarifying that really helped.

But heads up, there’s more to being an AP than playing with the kids. No, you’re not a housekeeper, but you’re not just a playmate and a taxi either. Be prepared to have to bite the bullet and do the sweeping and puppy-pee mopping.

Just have a chat with your HM about her expectations and about yours. Just be nice and hopefully she’ll be nice and you guys will get it sorted to a point where you’re both satisfied.

You’ll be right mate. :)

Mother of an AP March 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm

See this as a learning experience.
If you decide to be an AP in future, you will know exactly what questions to ask and what limits to set yourself.
My daughter is from the UK and seeking an AP position in the USA next year.
She is our pride and joy, and I am worried about her being over worked and not having the confidence that often comes with age to deal with it. I also worry about inappropriate behaviour from host fathers.
This whole thing can be stressful for the AP’s mother left behind.

Momma Gadget March 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Dear Mother Of an AP-
First of all, thank you for supporting your daughter’s choice to join the au pair program. I am so grateful to all the parents of my APs for putting aside their own reservations, and sacrificing time with their children so that they can come and make some pretty amazing contributions to our family. I have seen such incredible growth in my children directly due to the interest my AP has taken in them. I’ve seen My eldest really start taking care of his health- eating right and and exercising. I’ve seen my younger usually timid son become much more open and willing to try new things, that he would have been previously too shy to attempt ( like Zip Lining, & Fencing). I am grateful to him that every day we HPs return from a hard day at the office, We come in to a happy, no-stress home.
I am also very proud of the growth I have seen in my AP himself-
He came to us as a wide eyed, overwhelmed kid, and now I am (tearfully) sending him home as an independent, confident focused young man.
I hope your daughter finds a wonderful family. Make sure she asks them all her questions. Even after she has skyped, If she has other questions that come to her when not under the pressure of the interview, she should email them to the family too. Communication is the key to finding the right family, and having a great year.
Yes it is hard work, but the experience as a whole can be very rewarding.
Good Luck to her!

HRHM March 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

Mother of an AP – I’d also beg you to encourage your daughter to be as honest as possible with her potential host families! I’ve had contact with all but one of my APs parents and am surprised by the lies they saw their daughters telling and that they kept mute about them. One AP had NEVER even babysat before and another had zero driving experience, yet their applications were like a fiction novel. In retrospect, I can’t help but be a little pissed off that their Moms didn’t even a little bit put themselves in my shoes and think “My daughter is duping this poor Mom just because she wants to spend a year in the US”.

Host Mom in the City March 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

Momma Gadget – what a nice post! Mother of an AP – I hope you’ll stick around and provide input. What an interesting perspective!

Helping hand March 16, 2013 at 1:12 am

Aussieaupair rules and regulations are nearly identical for Australia and USA in regards to Au Pairs.
Fortunately as an aupair in Australia there are actually a few more rules and regulations to protect the aupair then what the USA offers. I’d talk to your agency as they will help you.

person March 17, 2013 at 6:58 am

Of course… Just because your au pair uses the trash bin and dishwashing machine, like all of your family members does, it means that ONLY she should empty these things. Bear in mind that au pairs do these things monday to friday, so on weekends it should be your turn and don’t complain. Lazy hostparents.

Host Mom in the City March 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

No one said that an au pair should be the only one doing those chores. Please read more closely and then make some suggestions or add your own experiences if you want your opinion to be considered.

person March 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

As an au pair who empties the trash and washing machine monday to friday, I think it is fair that the host family empties these things on weekends. If you want your au pair to do choirs it is fair to put time for it on the schedule. Au pairs do not only clean after themselves but also after all the family, so it is nice if host family moves their asses to clean up after themselves too when the au pair is free. You have hands too, and so do your kids.

A Host Mom March 18, 2013 at 11:15 am

I truly wish the au pairs that post here would refrain from using the words “cheap” and “lazy.” If it is a language barrier thing, then please know that those words are very rude.

Now, moving on to the point, do you think it is acceptable for an au pair to expect to be treated like a guest when she is “off duty?” And, when I say a “guest,” having all meals prepared for her without offering to help prepare before or clean up after the meals, or assist with the children at the table (for example, fill a juice cup, cut up some meat, etc.) and then not even be expected to empty the dishwasher that includes her own dishes).

Under your scenario, perhaps we host families should just exclude the au pair from all family activities (including meals) on the weekend? IMO, that would not be acceptable to anyone and, if the au pair expects to enjoy prepared meals, etc., she should be expected to pitch in.

person March 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm

It’s not rude when it’s true.

Sharing meal, cutting meat for kids and pouring juice into anyone’s glass is just being polite and it’s a normal thing. You really consider it a chore? I collect and wash dirty dishes after my host parents very often in the morning, although I don’t eat supper with them… I care about their household and kids monday to friends. On weekends I wash my own dishes if they aren’t suppsed to go to the machine.
Cleaning up together after the meal is just a proper culture and way faster when each person brings their own plate to the kitchen… But do you also expect your own kids to help you prepare dinners, because they are not guests? Americans are truly peculiar. And now I see you’re not lazy. You just have this strong need of giving tasks to others. Power makes people crazy.

Host Mom in the City March 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

debating over whether to engage on this or not. I think this poster is having trouble seeing past her own personal experience and assumptions, and I’m not sure pointing out where she’s wrong is going to help.

Mother of an AP March 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm

When I was in my early 20s, I knew 2 APs living locally to me.
Both enjoyed the children and the work, but both were getting hassle and sexual harassment from the host fathers.
Some men find it hard to “behave well” when they have nubile teenaged AP living with them, vulnerable 1000s of miles from home and family.

Host Mom in the City March 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

But also know that the vast majority of fathers are not going to take advantage of their au pairs, no matter how attractive they may be. I’m certainly sorry that your friends had trouble and I do personally know once instance where an AP dealt with a similar issue, so it definitely happens. But we tend to be a house where other au pairs congregate and I hear them complain about their host families sometimes or hear stories from my au pair along with the many au pair families I know myself, and I’ve never heard of anyone else having an issue. Young women have to be in close situations with men all the time of course (not just as APs) and usually it’s completely fine.

I’m sure you’ve guided your daughter on what to do if she feels threatened and that’s exactly the kind of thing an LCC could assist with.

Momma Gadget March 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Person- I’ll bite-
You sound very angry, agressive and antagonistic about this subject. (Actually you sound a lot like someone else who used to post here)
Is it from your own personal experience that you’ve come to these conclusions that Americans are lazy power hungry ogres,or are you formulating your judgement from your own interpretations of the other posts on this thread?

What you call a “normal thing” or being “polite” , does not always occur to all Au pairs. I commend you for recognizing common courtesy as just that. I had one au pair,that even when everyone else in the family including 80 year old Grandma,was helping clear the Christmas dinner dishes, sat there like a princess at court.

Personally I see it as a two way street- I don’t expect my au pair to clean the kitchen on his day off- but I cannot tell you how much I appreciated that last night, after sitting with the kids for a bit, I went down stairs to clean up our dinner dishes, and found he had already finished them.
Likewise on the rare occasion I make it home in time to have dinner with the kids- I will send him off to the gym early, while I take care of the dishes…
Isn’t really the unexpected contributions that make the difference between a good relationship and an outstanding one?

spanishaupair March 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I agree with you that the unexpected contributions are the clue for making the aupair year from both side the best ever (or one of the best if lucky families found lots of aupairs like that).
and something that should be 2 ways :)
I feel lucky with my HF because they do that kind of things unexpected ones that make the year easier or funier like an extra day off on easter for going to London. And in regard I always try to pitch in when Im home when Im not working like minding the baby when they have family over so they can enjoy them.
For both sides making the others live easier and giving unexpected things when possible makes the biggest difference in the year(s) together :)

LCC March 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Just an FYI- asking an au pair to walk your dog is against US Regulations.

person March 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Perhaps my current family is making me that way. I contribute a lot, and in return all I get are extra unpaid hours, unannounced babysittings and working on my holidays…

Momma Gadget March 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Person- that sounds like you are really frustrated, exhausted and feeling taken advantage of.
Everyone needs time to recharge.
I don’t know what your situation is…Maybe it is just an oversight in response to some new challenge the HPs are facing?…or maybe not.
Do you have a good relationship with the HPs that you Could talk to them about it – reminds them that in order to be at your best when you are on duty, you need some down time too?
If not you should speak with your LC- She should help you clarify any grey areas your HF has on the rules.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Are you in the United States or elsewhere. If you are, and you feel like your HF is taking advantage of you, then contact your LCC. It’s time for a mediated session with your HF and a re-reading of the guidelines. If you’re not in the U.S., then do you have access to an agency to help you?

CA Host Mom March 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I agree with Momma Gadget and TaCL –

You sound like you are incredibly burdened in your situation with your HF and it has completely clouded your outlook because in your comments above you are pretty combative and seem very rude.

I think it sounds like you need to engage your LCC if you are struggling. Not much good will come from having such a terrible attitude – you should have the opportunity to experience a fulfilling AP year, and most certainly not be taken advantage of. Taking your anger and frustration out on people here who are just trying to help each other won’t get you anywhere.

Many HPs on this site have provided great advice for how to initiate discussions with your HPs when things are not going well. Try to read some of that feedback, and get your LCC involved. Good luck.

ExperiencedAuPair April 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I have previously spoken to an LCC about this kind of thing and I was told that when an Au Pair is not scheduled to work then you cannot expect them to do jobs for you. When an Au Pair is “off duty” and is not scheduled to work then they should be free to do whatever that want. If they finish at 6pm then they should be able to walk out of the house at 6:05pm.
If you were working at an office, would you appreciate it if you were supposed to work til 5pm but your boss called you back in because he wanted his office cleaned or simply wanted you to do some extra work?
Also, an LCC once told me that Au Pairs are responsible to clean up after the children but a host family cannot expect or at least it is not wise for a the host family to let the children make a huge mess while the Au pair is off duty and then expect the Au pair to clean it up when they are working. Yes, an Au pair is supposed to watch the children and clean up but as a parent the host parents are also responsible for looking after their children as well!

A Host Mom April 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm

This is off-topic, but related topics were closed. Has anyone had to parental control their internet because their au pair is on the computer/tv too much during the day? A couple of weeks ago, we talked to the au pair about Netflix after seeing her watch several shows when she was supposed to be watching the kids. Now, I have been on Skype today because we are interviewing future au pairs and I see her hopping on and off Skype all morning long (while she should be watching my toddler). My plan is put parental controls in place and shut down the wireless for most of the day with a small window when the baby is sleeping. My plan was to just do it and address it if she complains. My LCC says that I should talk to her first and explain why we are putting these controls in place. Any insight on this situation?

CA Host Mom April 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

YES!! Oh My Goodness … have we ever had this issue!!! I just quickly searched for the posts where I discussed this with other HMs and APs here when we were going through it last year so I could share them with you, but I can’t find them. Other HMs gave me some great advice —

First, some questions:
Do you have rules in your handbook, or have you discussed what is appropriate with your AP when it comes to TV and the Internet during working hours?
Did she stop watching Netflix shows during the day after you asked her to?
How long has this AP been with you?

Without knowing too more about your situation, I would say I agree with your LCC. You should tell your AP what you are going to do and why. Though, believe me, I can understand the temptation to just shut it down — it got to that point for us with AP#2.

The main reason I suggest talking to your AP about it is that there is a chance that she doesn’t realize that it is wrong. (Or perhaps, more likely, she is testing boundaries?)

An example, I came home early a couple weeks ago to our lovely AP (we really do love her!) drinking a glass of wine at 3:00 in the afternoon. One of my 2 kids was asleep. I was so shocked (we share wine with her at dinner, she is over 21) at the sight of her sitting there drinking wine that I had to take a minute to get my thoughts together before I approached her her about it. Because for me, it’s ABSURD to think that it would be acceptable to drink on the job … especially when your job is taking care of a 3 y/o and a 1 y/o.

So I calmly asked her if what she was drinking was wine. She said yes. I then said that I don’t mind sharing with her (that’s wasn’t the point), but that I just don’t want her drinking during work hours. She was mortified. It was sincere. She really did not think that there was anything wrong with having wine while working. (?!?!?)

So I guess my point is that there could be a huge disconnect, and the fact that you communicate this (assuming you haven’t already) to her might alleviate your problem. In my case, drinking wine while watching toddlers might be perfectly acceptable where she is from, but it sure isn’t in my house. In your case, perhaps she doesn’t realize the distraction that Skype and TV and Internet pose from her actual job, which is keeping your toddler safe and well-cared for.

I just pulled up the emails that we sent to our AP#2 about this, I spent hours on them (several exchanges) trying to be clear and fair and understanding. I don’t have time to make them generic enough to post here, but am happy to forward them offline if you want to see them. Maybe it would help you … acahostmom(at)gmail(dot)com is an email address that you can use to reach me if you’d like.

Good luck!

German Au-Pair April 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

If you already have rules about this in place then just do it. If she is smart she will not ask why the prohibited thing is not working, she’ll just have to deal.
If you do NOT have any rules, talk to her first, see if she adjusts and then put the control in place.

CA Host Mom April 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

The problem with not talking about it, in my experience, is that it creates this “sneaky” passive aggressive vibe. And I felt like, again – in my case, if I treated our AP like a child (even though it was warranted) that might encourage her to act like a child.

So even if you have rules and have previously discussed it, I still say you should tell her that you are shutting it off, and why (because you know that she uses it even though you have asked her not to).

HRHM April 25, 2013 at 8:47 am

I also think that you should talk to her first. I would turn it off regardless of the tone/results of the conversation, but I would want her to have a chance to explain herself and also to see that I am very much paying attention. In the past, I tried to avoid these “confrontations” because they make me feel awful – it’s not in my nature. But what I’ve found, now that I force myself to do it every time, earlier rather than later, is – it gets results! No one wants to be called out by their boss for doing things that they know they shouldn’t be doing and got caught doing. Once she realizes that yes, you are observing her performance and expecting her to live up to expectation and follow rules, she’s more likely to do it without being prompted. If not, then you have bigger problems! LOL

Taking a Computer Lunch April 26, 2013 at 7:03 am

When my kids were toddlers I had a problem with APs who wanted to be on their cellphones or computer too much. (I could tell when my AP spent too much time on the computer because child #2 trashed my study while she ignored him.) Our handbook, after AP #1 states that APs may make brief contact with friends to affirm evening plans, but that we are paying them to take care of our children. I check the cell phone log from time to time. Now that my kids are school-aged and the AP has two concentrated shifts that require almost constant work, this is not a problem.

I have, with almost every single AP, said at one point or another, “I am not paying you to do ….” Now that my AP works two 2 1/2 shifts a day with a 6-hour gap in between, I feel she has plenty of time to Skype, check her email, text, and hang out with her friends. While I don’t mind friends hanging out while she works, I expect her to be doing her job.

Chances are, this is the first time your AP has had real concentrated responsibility. For the first time this past year, I have experienced living with a young AP who has never had any real responsibility prior to coming into my household. Job coaching is an enormous task, but it is important to sit down and explain to a young AP what is required of her and how important it is that she follow through. You may need to sign her up for a “Mommy and Me class,” tell her to take your kids to story time at the Library, or encourage her to invite AP friends over with HK of a similar age – and take them to the playground, museum, etc. Talk about what is appropriate for her work time and what is appropriate for free time. And then, if you suspect that she hasn’t followed through or changed her behavior, pop in home unexpectedly.

Tristatemom April 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

Wow to both of your posts (the HMs). Drinking wine while watching little kids?? Skyping and Netflix while supposed to be engaged with a toddler?? These girls are nuts.
Anyway, if you have an honest and open relationship with your AP, I would say we are shutting the internet off from this time to this time because we are concerned about the kids’ safety. (always make this about the kids and safety is a big buzz word that will help you later to get rid of the AP). I say this because the AP just doesn’t have enough common sense and is probably bored with the job. Maybe a different age group would work better for her? You need an AP that really likes to be with little kids, get on the floor and be silly. Also, one more thing, based on my experience, APs like that will go “underground” with their activities so check when she goes to the library is she playing with the kids or using that time to be on the internet. Is she getting a phone with data service that you don’t know about??
Drinking on the job – don’t know what to say and I love a glass of wine but it is my treat AFTER MY KIDS are in bed. Is this the way she copes?? This may be a completely different situation but I would investigate how much she “needs” alcohol.

hOstCDmom April 25, 2013 at 8:15 am

I think this could also very well be cultural – and not the sign of a drinking problem. I grew up elsewhere and alcohol has a very different role in society, meals, daily use etc. Americans are somewhat Puritan about alcohol — which is completely OK! – I just wanted to toss into the mix that you may simply have a mis-match of cultural parameters for alcohol use. Of course, she should follow your rules re alcohol use 110%, but you do need to state them explicitly. (And, it may help to make clear why you don’t want her to use alcohol — i.e. you won’t be fit to drive child to doctor or ER if necessary, your reflexes aren’t as quick, your judgment may be skewed etc. because you don’t want an AP who only hears “my HP are uptight about alcohol”, given the risk that young people ignore “Uptight parents/HP parents”, even though OF COURSE you don’t have to justify it – your house, your children, your safety rules — but this might be one area where you want to “convert” rather than just lay down the law. Just my $.02)

CA Host Mom April 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Absolutely – and I think that explains my particular experience with this AP.

It had never occurred to me to make a specific rule about not drinking wine while working (this is AP #3, we have never had an issue, but we have never had an AP from this particular country either) as it always seems completely obvious that it is on the list of “unacceptables”. So, this was an eye opener for me – and I updated our handbook immediatly. She’s never done it again, and she was truly embarrassed and surprised that it wasn’t OK to sit and have a small glass of wine while she fed the 1 y/o his snacks in his high chair. She didn’t argue, but tried to assure me that “it was just a little bit” and I told her that it didn’t matter. That my concerns were around the kids’ safety if something did happen and she needed to drive them, or even just make sound decisions around the house. I didn’t want there to be any chance that she was the least bit impaired. She understood, and remains to be a really great AP.

And hOstCDmom, the point you make about explaining the rules is so key! I know we are all justified in coming up with and enforcing our rules, but in my experience, if our APs understand why we have the rules we do they seem more willing to accept, abide by, and even be good stewards when teaching our children. Obviously not the alcohol rule (thank goodness!!), but others like picking up after ourselves, etc. It takes a bit more time, but the payoff in mutual respect has been worth it for us.

HRHM April 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm

FWIW, in our home we frequently have beer or wine with dinner or even earlier in the day, while we are responsible for the care of our kids. So without being explicity told it wasn’t ok, I can see how an AP might have no compunction about drinking wine in moderation while she was caring for her HC. We have never had this problem because we specifically choose under 21 APs so there is never any drinking, but if we had an older AP, we’d add the rule. After all, it’s always after 5pm somewhere! :)

Au Pairs in Australia May 30, 2013 at 2:39 am

The au pair as any family member should give a hand to clean up the kitchen, empty rubbish bin, etc even out of her working hours, I would advise to have a look as well of what happens during family outings and curfew

Annis Schau May 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

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