Should You Wake Your Au Pair When You Leave For Work REALLY Early?

by cv harquail on February 19, 2012

ForMYDarling2 etsy.jpg

Hi AuPairMom,

We are welcoming our first au pair in about 3 weeks, and we are very excited.

Your blog really helped us decide that this was the right type of child care for our family. We need someone with scheduling flexibility, because we have an always-changing, somewhat odd work week.

I have to leave for work at 6:00 am to get to the hospital in time for the start of my shifts. My husband travels a couple days a week for work, so he is often not home overnight and thus not able to take on ‘early morning’ childcare.

It’s been very difficult to finding someone to come to our house in the early morning. It had come to the point where we were begging, bribbing, and hiring less skilled child care providers just to get someone to be in the house before I left for work in the morning.

A big reason for choosing an au pair as a caregiver is the flexibility of having a live-in person. It’s so much easier to be ‘on duty’ in the early morning if you can be ‘on duty’ in your pajamas.

My concern, though, is whether I should wake our au pair up before I leave for work.

In the past, I liked seeing the sitter’s (tired) face before I left for work. I could be sure that someone was there, and I could quickly go over what needed to be done that day.  Now that we will have someone living in our house, I am not sure if I really need to have her awake and ready for the children as early as 5:45 am. Our children (ages 6 and 8) don’t normally get out of bed until 7:15 am, so the only reason for the au pair to be awake that early is for me to confirm that she’s home and that’s she’s up.

I want to be respectful of the au pair’s needs — and I’m not sure she ‘needs’ to be up at 5:45.

But, if I don’t see her in the morning, how do I know she is actually home?

  • What if she stayed out all night and hasn’t made it back?
  • What if something hast happened to her?
  • What if she sleep through her alarm and the kids are late for school?

I know totally irrational thoughts probably, but I have heard a couple horror stories.

       – Should I just have her call/text me when she is awake and ready to start her day about 7:00am?

       – Should I make a curfew so I know she is in the house the night before?

       – Should I just make her get up at the crack of dawn and hope she doesn’t hate me?

I already made sure that our new aupair is a morning person. Of course, I hope I am getting a wonderful, responsible au pair, but I can’t help being a bit cautious before she gets here, and I get to know her better.

I would love to hear how other host moms and dads handle this situation. ~ EarlyBirdMom


Image: UpCycled Felted Wool Bird, by ForMyDarling, available on Etsy


Dorsi February 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

My children are younger than yours, but I have dealt with the same issue. I hand my Au Pair the baby monitor as I go out the door (in the super early hours.) This confirms to me that she is there, rousable and and that anything super important gets said. You may not have a baby monitor; this may be a good reason to get one (especially if Au Pair’s bedroom is at all remote from kids’).

I have found that some of my Au Pairs have been pretty unwilling to sleep while they are on duty. It can be difficult to wake up and be clear and appropriate in a hurry for many people — especially when you don’t have the years of experience that most parents do. I would not work with the assumption that the Au Pair wants to sleep in.

We don’t have a curfew for our Au Pair, though we expect them to be home a certain number of hours before early morning work. That provides the set-up for a rest Au Pair (though they don’t always choose to sleep). While there are certainly horror stories of Au Pairs out all night, that has never happened to us (and we are on #4)–knock on wood. There are far more common sources of conflict (don’t get me started on food….). Not being home for work would be a one-strike-you’re-out event at our house, unless there were extraordinary circumstances.

I think it is important to realize you are not asking the world of the Au Pair to be awake and functioning at 6. Don’t start out apologizing for being the worst family with the hardest schedule ever.

Dorsi February 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

Ooops — to be clear — We have agreed in advance that I knock on her door, go into her bedroom and hand her the monitor while she is still in bed (if she is not up). Sometimes she goes back to sleep, sometimes she is up before I leave the house.

Anna February 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

I would do #1 and #2 on your list (most host families have curfew for the days when the au pair works the next morning), but not #3.

good luck with your new au pair.

Future Au Pair February 19, 2012 at 9:57 am

Just wanted to put my opinion in….I currently do childcare in the mornings for my Mom and I am not really a morning person. Mind you I am working with family however I start at 7am. I usually set my alarm for when my Mom leaves and stumble out in my PJ’s. I think that as long as your au pair isn’t expected to work long hours that having her day start at 6am as you go out the door would be fine. She can use that time to start getting lunches and children’s clothes together. If she wants she can always nap after the children have gone to school. I do that quite often and then get ready for my next job.

Good luck with your au pair.

lifestartsnow February 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

i would also suggest the baby monitor and opening the APs room door before you leave. you would have to go into her room anyways to leave the monitor and leaving the door open will enable your kids to feel OK to approach her if she isn’t up when they are.
OF COURSE this should only be done in accordance with your AP. but anyone with some sense of childcare should feel OK having a baby monitor and/or an open door to just hear when something is going on.

i would also make it clear to the kids that open door=it’s OK to come in but door closed means they have to knock. this will be important when your AP is off and in her room but the kids want sth from her. if the boundaries are respected then open doors shouldn’t be a problem.

if you feel more comfortable make her call you after she has dropped off the kids so you know everything is OK.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I have been in a similar situation. I get on the bus at 5:30 am to get to work by 6:30 (I am fortunate to have an employer that sets flexible arrival times for working families) while DH usually stays at home until 7:00 (and works from home 1-2 days a week). When DH travels, I have the AP start at 5:30, however I don’t expect my AP to be up that early. If she is the only adult in the house then she is working, regardless of whether or not she is asleep. She is the adult in charge. I do call in at home around 7:15 to say good morning to the boys (and to make sure everything is on track), but expect her to be reliable.

We’ve been hosting APs for 11 years now, and I must say DH or I have only had to wake up each AP only once or twice a year (and they’ve been very apologetic). We don’t hold it against them (after all there’s usually one day that I forget to set my alarm, too). We don’t set a curfew and in the 11 years even the APs who spend their nights at a boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) place have always returned and have been ready to work at the scheduled time.

We have set up a system for the AP’s to convey that they are home. We leave a set of exterior lights on that can be turned off from the AP’s bedroom as well as elsewhere in the house. The AP is told explicitly to turn off the lights when she returns home, that way we know she is in the house. If the lights are still on the morning, then we know she has not returned. (Some APs have had the car as well, but not all.)

If you are not going to set a curfew, then you need to have the AP in the house before you leave for work. (My guidelines state that my APs are adults and not children in my house and are expected to behave as adults – they have not let me down.)

If you feel that you need the AP up before you leave to communicate with her at the start of the day, then by all means, set her schedule to begin work at 5:45 or 5:50 so you have time for a 10-15 minute chat. You can have her use the time before the kids get up to make their lunches or do some chores. (Because I leave before my AP’s shift starts, I see her at the end of the day, and have the chat then. At the end of her Friday shift I point on what is coming the next week.

You will make your decisions based on your needs and your household. Whatever you decide, make it clear to the AP that she is the adult in charge from the moment you leave the house in the morning until you return and that you expect her to be responsible and reliable.

AFHostMom February 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

My advice is wake her up. At least until you figure out what kind of person she is. I work 9-6 but if I have an off-site event I am often leaving way earlier, and sometimes I travel for work so the AP has to be on duty when my husband leaves. With AP1, I commuted with my husband and allowed her to sleep in. She was, in a word, lazy–and not deserving of the trust. She got up with the kids but the days started slowly and they didn’t get much done in the morning because the AP was focused on getting herself ready for the day.
AP2 did fine with the early mornings and got everyone where they needed to be.
AP3 is, like me, not a morning person. She does get up on time when I have to leave early though, and never complains. I knock on her door when I am leaving. After one day of school-aged child almost missing the bus, she’s more together now (school-aged child has MASSIVE anxiety about missing the bus because AP hasn’t got a license yet, so no way to really get her to school).
I give the AP a weekly schedule on Friday for the following week, so she knows what to expect and when she will need to wake up earlier.
You can always become more relaxed with time. But it’s very difficult to start out letting her sleep in, and then change it.

AFHostMom February 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

and one more point–I’ll echo what Dorsi says about putting what we’re asking in perspective. Having to work at 6 AM is not abnormal. Being able to start work at 6 AM without a commute, and still in PJs (or yoga pants, or what have you) IS abnormal, and a benefit of working where you live. If I have to be at work at 6, I have to leave at 5. If AP has to be at work at 6, her commute is a 30 second walk across the hall. Aren’t we all attracted to the AP program because it’s flexible?

hOstCDmom February 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

We expect our AP to be up, dressed, personL hygiene (whatever that is for her- shoer or no, teeth brushed, hair combed, makeup or what have you – basically her personal toilette whatever that consists of) breakfast eaten if she eats breakfast and coffee done BEFORE her shift starts. So when she is on at 6am all that must be done prior to 6.00 am, on her personal time. We state this up front in our handbook – when you start work you must be ready to walk out the door at that time. AP walks some kids to their school at 6.45AM (2/3 mile walk) I walk others to another school at the same time. And we walk every day, no matter the weather.(We are in the Northeast). Our motto is their is no bad weather, just the wrong clothes! We explain that the kids must be at school on time and she needs to get them there on time, and driving them if she is late is NOT an option.

Basically we want our AP ready to go, ready to focus on the kids and their needs when she starts, just like any other job. When she is on duty through lunch and dinner she is welcome to join the kids for that meal, of course. We expect our kids to come to breakfast on school days dressed, hairbrushed, bed made, room tidy, shades up, lights off ready to start the day. We expect the same of our AP – she is a role model for them and lounging in PJs isn’t how our house works and with 6 kids there is too much going on in the AM for the AP to be distracted by or focused on getting herself ready at the same time.

So my perspective is to tell your AP when she is on duty and tell her you want her down in the kitchen by X time so that you can brief her for the day, and then just expect her to be there – she is an adult and I don’t think you should wake her up – getting up is her responsibility. Buy an alarm clock and put it in her room for her use.

AFHostMom February 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Oh yeah, to clarify–I also expect the AP to be awake and ready. In our house, we’re fine with AP spending her before-work time in her room. The day starts for the kids and AP when they drift downstirs and start breakfast. When I knock on her door, it’s a “goodbye, have a nice day” thing. I’m not keen on an AP who needs to shower or otherwise spend an extended period of time on herself in the mornings after I’ve left and when the kids are up. Obviously everyone has their own rules and preferences. When our younger 2 start preschool in the fall, the schedule will be more regimented.

Emma March 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

It seems unfair that you expect her showered and dressed by that time. If you were home looking after the children yourself, would YOU be ready so early?

hOstCDmom March 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm

My boss expects me to be awake, showered and dressed when I start work.

AFHostMom March 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Mine too, and that is the end of the inquiry for me. Working hours are for working. Parenting a child 24/7 is not the same as caring for a child (or children) 45 hrs a week. Like many other jobs, au pairing, if done well, is often very demanding.

HRHM March 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm


There is one sure-fire way to develop a horrible, animosity-filled relationship with your Host Parents (otherwise known as employers) and that is to expect that they will not ask you to do things that they routinely don’t do. Does your HM read a magazine and drink her coffee while the kids eat breakfast? Yes, but she will likely expect you to spend that time paying attention to the kids and cleaning up the breakfast mess. Does she take a shower while the kids play? Yes, but she will likely expect you to play with them and save your personal hygeine for you personal time. As much as you are a part of the “family” and “on par” don’t make the mistake of forgetting that this is your job and we are paying you to do as we ask, rightfully so within the limits of the State Department laws. NOTHING chafes a HM more than being told by her AP that “You don’t do it that way, why should I?” As Hostcdmom notes, we don’t get paid to take care of our kids and the AP does.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

My answer to you, Emma, is it depends. On the days when my AP is on vacation and I’ve got to get the kids out the door and to school before heading to work, yes, I have showered and dressed for work (and crossing my fingers that The Camel doesn’t spit out her breakfast onto my good clothes). My rhythm requires me to get The Camel up by 6:00 on weekdays – so no, I don’t ask my AP to do anything I wouldn’t do. On weekends, no I’m not ready to roll when I get her up, but I’m also tag-team parenting with DH (and if he’s traveling for work I set my alarm clock to get up early).

My guess is that if your HP require you to be up and ready to roll, it’s because they had an AP who left their young children to play alone while she took a shower in the morning, or was in some other way unprepared to start her day. I know that my AP is going to have a 6-hour break within 2 1/2 hours of the start of her morning shift, so I don’t care if she hasn’t showered or eaten breakfast, as long as she is capable of getting my kids out the door on time, which may mean driving them to school if their bus doesn’t show.

However, if I still had two young children at home all day, I would want her to be able to hit the ground running and not leave them alone to step into the shower.

Emma March 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm

@HRHM- I am a host parent myself, I don’t know why you assume I am an au pair.

@Taking a Computer Lunch- That makes a lot of sense, I didn’t think of that.

germanchickx February 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

It seems to me that your children are old enough to wake her up whenever they wake up as well.
I would think it’s ok to have them wake her up if she isn’t already up or to have her wake up around 6:30ish just to be on the safe side. If she thinks it’s gonna be a problem, talk to her about waking her up before you leave.
I definitely think this is a case where a conversation about it will go a long way. Just ask her what she would prefer, either to wake up herself in time, being woken up by you or by your children.

I wouldn’t be afraid to wake her though as you need her to work early and I’m sure she won’t hate you for it. I assume is was mentioned in the matching process that she is needed early, right?
So instead of being a mean person who makes her wake up early, present yourself as host mom who wants to find a solution that helps everyone get the day started right.
I’m sure she will be happy that you’re willing to help her get started the right way instead of letting her fail first.

My Au pair hours always started early, around 6am, and I liked to be up before and get ready a bit before the kids woke up. I just didn’t want to spend most of my mornings in PJ’s before I got a chance to change. But maybe she won’t mind.

So, communication is key. I wish you all the best. It sounds like you’re trying to make it work for everyone and I’m sure she will appreciate this.
Good Luck!

DCMomof3 February 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I agree with everyone who has said that the au pair needs to be up and ready. Don’t start out the relationship by waking her up. You are not her mother, she should not be a child, and you don’t want to get into that type of pattern. I work from home for a company headquartered overseas and the time difference means that I am on my most challenging conference calls from 7-9 am. This coincides with the time that my kids are getting up and ready for school. Even if the kids are not awake at 7, the au pair has to be in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher from the night before, packing lunches and backpacks, making breakfast, laying out the clothes for the day and ensuring that when the kids do get up, that everything will go smoothly to get them to school on time. Once this precedent is firmly established, I then loosen up so that on days when I don’t have back-to-back calls, I can be present for the kids or even give her a later start time. My current au pair appreciates her late start mornings so much that she packs all the lunches and backpacks the night before so that I can just enjoy the time with the kids in the morning. But, I think its better to make her understand that leeway is leeway, its not a guaranteed privilege.
On the occassional days when I do need to meet people at our local office and I need to leave before 7, I tell the au pair that she does not have to be downstairs, but she does need to be awake and getting herself ready (not awake and lying in bed) in case the kids need her. I make sure that I see her doing so in her bathroom or dressed and ready in her room before I head out the door.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 19, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I agree. She’s an adult. Provide her with an alarm clock and tell her to be up, dressed for the day, and ready to deal with anything when her shift starts (I would allow for leeway if your kids don’t NEED to be up until 7:15 – but warn her that the kids will wake her up if they are up earlier and need her on those days when your DH is not available to pitch in).

emilia saravia February 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Hi! Im an au pair, and I think its not really necesary to wake her up, just plann the schedwele for the day and make her know that she has to be up at 5:45, if by the time you leave she is not up, becausse she overslept or whatever, just knock on her door and let her know youre leaving and you need her to be up.
About beeing partying, if she is still partying at 5:45 on a day she has to work, she is not as responsible as you need her to be, she will be tired and cranky… If she knows she has to work, she should be home early enough to be up on time

singlevillagemum February 20, 2012 at 6:48 am

My AP starts at 6.30am, admittedly still in pjs and a robe having just rolled out of bed. We have a quick minute to highlight anything different about the day and then I’m out the door.
Sometimes my son is up at this time, sometimes she will just veg on the sofa with the tv for an hour having breakfast.
Then they both get ready for the day and leave for school.
I stated it clearly in the ad, so that way anyone applying knew that they were only working around 2 hours most days BUT that was when the hours start.
On the flip side, when she’s babysitting in the evening, we use the feel free to go to bed and he’ll wake you if he needs you approach, for the specific reason that I don’t want her too tired.
I set a curfew for the first few weeks, but then relaxed it as soon as I could see she was very sensible. To date she’s never once been late for a morning even if she’s out before. She just does the school run and then goes back to bed afterwards.

Didis February 20, 2012 at 7:02 am

On my opinion, you will see in first few days what kind of person she is, and since I’m soon to be aupair I would love that my HM ask me what I think. What would be better and what I think about it. Maybe she won’t mind you waking her because she need some time for her self before your kid is up, and maybe she can be up and ready for work in 5minutes and there is no need for her to sit and wait for hour just for you to see she is at home.

Jeana February 20, 2012 at 7:35 am

I was concerned in your post, when you wondered about the possibility of your aupair having been out all night prior to working. I would encourage you to establish in your family book, which you will go over with your aupair, that this is not to happen. An experienced family shared their family book with me, and established a rule that their aupair needed to be home at least 8 hours prior to any time she was scheduled to work during the day. If she was scheduled to begin working at 6 a.m., she needed to be home by 10 p.m. the previous night. This gave her the opportunity for rest prior to needing to be ready to care for their children. I incorporated this. With our wonderful aupairs it was not an issue. With one of our aupairs who ended up being dismissed from the program, it was.

I always slept better when I knew our aupairs were home for the night, and safe. I took my responsibility as host parent to heart, and always thought about their own parents and how difficult it must be to know their daughters were in another country. I treated them as I would want my daughters to be treated if they chose to be an aupair in another country. I know some host families could sleep just fine, if their aupairs were not home, but I couldn’t.

I would encourage you to ask your cluster leader if you may review the family books that experienced families have created. I was given three, and all were very different. I took parts from each to create our own family book. I was surprised by some of the topics that were included in a family book written by a family that had hosted aupairs for 11 years. I also thought that if they had addressed the topic, with 11 years of experience, it was a topic I had best address in our own family book. Creating the family book takes time, but it will help you give thought to what your family needs. An aupair that might be ideal for one family might drive another family to despair…

Now is the time to be thinking about how you want your aupair to function in your home. It is so much easier to be clear with expectations prior to her arrival, than realize you should have communicated an expectation and are now dealing with some type of “issue”. Prior to matching I would send a PDF of our family book. It helped our good aupairs decide to match with us, I learned each time. They had a very realistic view of our family, warts and all…They understood our schedule and their responsibilities.

Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful experience!

a_aupair February 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

When I’ve been an AP, I usually had to start working at 6 or 6.30am. Most days I didn’t have to bring the kids to school, so I just prepared their lunches and backpacks in sportclothes (but otherwise “ready for the day”) until they woke up and then got them ready for the parents to take them to school. Twice it happened that my hostparents needed me to bring the kids to school without knowing it before, so I just had to change my pants and shirt which takes less than 5mins…
On days when I had to start at 4.30 or 5am, I had to be up in the living room, dressed and ready to take the kids to school, but my hostparents told me to feel free to sleep on the couch in the living room (my room was in the basement) until 6/6.30/when the kids had to get up (7.15am).
Sometimes it also happened that the kids woke up before my shift started, and since the parents were two levels above the kids level and my room under the kitchen, they were allowed to wake me up which meant I was either getting them ready for the parents to take them to school in my PJs or got myself ready with them when I took them to school…

I think it’s nice to be awake when the parents leave to talk about what will happen that day and then sleep/relax/prepare stuff depending on how much time you have until the kids have to wake up.

For an adult working with kids it should be no problem at all to wake up at any time (with an alarm clock).

ReturnAupair February 20, 2012 at 8:14 am

Iam understanding that your AuPair should be awake. When i was an AuPair i startet work at 6.15 every day. But it was fine if i just where awake and in my room (if my light was on, hostmother was leaving the house). I opend my doors and so i could see when the kids woke up. I never overslept at all. But i do eat breakfest with my hostchildren together. So we had a nice start in the morning and talked about the up comming things on this day. Then they got ready for school and i helped the little one.

So i actually dont understand why some host parents tell there aupair to eat before start working. I know you paying your aupair but would you do this to a family member, like grandparentes too?

a_aupair February 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

My hostfamily asked me to eat earlier/later than the kids during the school year because getting 4 kids (under 6) ready and eat your own breakfast isn’t easy especially when you’re getting one child a second helping while dressing another one and the two others are fighting about the toothpaste :D

No school usally meant eating breakfast with the first child up.

But I always had lunch and dinner with the kids so not having breakfast with them had nothing to do with not treating me like a family member…

NJ Host Mom February 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

This one seems pretty obvious to me. If she is on-duty, meaning 6 am starts her hours for the day and she is solely responsible for the children, she needs to be up, awake and fully alert…and making sure she is dressed before you leave probably isn’t a bad idea either. As long as you have made her aware that these are the hours ahead of time and she agreed to it, she made the decision to accept the position. Yes, we are expected to treat our au pairs as “family members” but the bottom line is that you have hired this young woman to care for YOUR CHILDREN. How can she be expected to be the “responsible adult” in charge of your house and your children in your absence if she is asleep? To me this is absolutely a no-brainer.

Julie February 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

My addition to this is it’s important that when you are matching with au pairs that you communicate to them that the job starts early–at 6 am. As long as you are telling them of your expectations and they accept the job, I think you’re good. The problems often come when the families don’t tell the au pairs of their true expectations because they don’t want to scare them off. Honesty is truly the best option here.

In terms of curfew, I think you can go two ways: tell her you expect her to be rested in the morning and to make the decision of when she needs to be home by herself, or set curfew 8 hours before she works. It’s also a lot easier to start stricter and loosen up the rules rather than see what “rules” are broken and rein someone in.

good luck!

OpinionatedHM February 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Earlybirdmom, don’t apologize for your work schedule. You are not alone. My husband leaves for work at 5am and i often work evening and night hours. This is one of the reasons we have an aupair.
Just as you have to get up and be ready to work, so does your aupair. We were very upfront about our family schedule during the interview process. I’m sure you were too.
While reading this blog, i have often seen the advice to start out with a strong set of rules as you can always relax them later when you get to know your aupairs strengths and weaknesses. This is great advice.
When it comes to scheduling your aupair, try to be as matter-of-fact about it as your boss would be with you. I have not yet had a boss apologize to me for scheduling me on a Christmas Eve, but they have let me leave early when they can, and I appreciate that. That’s how things should work with your aupair, you tell her when you need her to work, and she should be happy to do it. If she’s doing a great job and you have a chance to cut her some slack, go for it. It’s a balance.
I ask my aupair to be up and ready to work when her schedule starts. How productive you want her to be during that time is up to you. You might want to start with a list of things she could be doing while waiting for the kids to wake up and see how she gets on with that. You have a whole year to relax the rules but it really is hard to tighten things up later, it can cause resentment.
We also started out by asking our aupair to be home 8hours before the start of her work hours. If we were asleep she would text us when she was in. Once we realized how responsible she was about being on time, we stopped enforcing this rule.
Start with the ideal situation for you and work your compromises from there when you really get to know your aupair.
Good luck, I hope you have a great year.

FormerAuPairIreland February 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I guess I would do this (now that I am re-reading the post I am slightly worried that it sounds to straightforward… esp. as everything is written in bulletpoints.. I am sure there are better ways than what I am suggesting, I am only trying to point out a solution that I would have liked as an au-pair) :

BEFORE you match:
-tell her that you will need her up early (5.45)
– make sure she really understand what this means (e.g. curfew?!)

ONCE she arrived:
– get her to get up –> with her OWN alarm clock (why would any adult want s.o. to wake them up ?!… )
-talk about the day with her
-make sure she knows what she has to do
– write down EVERYTHING for the first two or three weeks (have kids ready at XX, have lunch packed (pack XX and XX for lunch, Child1 likes XX, Child2 likes XX) –> it is hard to remember everything anyway, esp. in the beginning and this IS an early start ;)

WHEN you know her better:
– let her “sleep in”
– but tell her to be up at 6.45/ 7 and text you, so you know she is up
– make sure your kids know that they are allowed to wake her up (Here is what I used to do: when I was on babysitting duty I left my door slightly ajar and the parents closed the door when they came home. You could do the opposite: Open her door when you leave and make sure the kids know that they are allowed in once the door is opened. The au-pair will know she is on duty and the kids will know not to wake her up if the door is closed (e.g weekends). )
-talk about the next day in the evening (or once a week)
– if there is something special that you did not talk about, write it down

LoveYourActivity February 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Hello EarlyBirdMom,

I’m an AP candidate. I think if an AP is competent and well aware of her duties that you have scheduled for her, there would be no problem at all.

She’s there to give a hand to you and if she loves her work(which made you choose her), then I’m sure there will be no problem make her get up at the crack of dawn.

May you get a best arrangement with you AP.

LuvCheetos February 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

My AP doesn’t have to be up until 7:30, when I leave, yet she is often late (I guess the 30 second commute is killing her). We provided an alram clock form the start. Didn’t help. To let her know we are serious, we instituted a curfew and have recently had to make it earlier. I guess some people are just not morning people. Because my AP has a tendency to oversleep, I would make sure she was up before I left to ensure that my kids made it to school on time. If your AP is able to get up on time with an alarm and you feel comfortable that your kids are either old enough to roam the house alone or would wake up the AP, then it wouldn’t be a big deal to let her sleep.

Host Mommy Dearest February 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

It is not unreasonable for her to be up. I would start her at 5:50am and let her know she can meet you in the kitchen in PJs with hair a mess if she wants. I would not offer to wake her, she can use an alarm clock, but if she is not there by 5:55 and you don’t hear footsteps, I would have a plan. I usually call my AP’s cell phone rather than knocking on her door – I feel it is less obtrusive and works for us instead of visiting each other’s bedrooms. She can use the time before the kids are up to empty the dishwasher, eat her own breakfast in peace if she wants, make lunches, brush her own teeth/hair and get dressed. This is far from mean so don’t feel that way or present it that way.

TiredDad February 22, 2012 at 12:09 am

Here’s a host dad’s view. I think you are missing a couple of key points. You and your husband are the grown-ups in this equation. The first thing you are missing is yes, a curfew is not out of the ordinary for an au pair. It goes into the household rules at the beginning of your time with the au pair. It is NOT at all unreasonable to enforce a curfew on week nights, and it is not a bad idea to pre-communicate the processes required if, on a non-work night, the au pair calls you to say she’s staying out overnight, for whatever reason. It will happen.

Second, I got the impression that you both know with plenty of notice, a) when you need to be in early, and b) when your husband is travelling. If this is the case, simply communicating with the au pair what the upcoming week looks like, and that she needs to be up and about before you leave.

In general, you need to be more forceful, deliberate, and communicative. It sounds like you are more concerned about being the au pair’s friend than their employer. Most people are very accommodating once they know what is expected of them.

Julia February 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

So I was one of those Au pairs that had to get up at 4.45am when my hostmom left. The first two weeks I had to get up so she knew I was there and up. After I proved to her two weeks in a row that I was up and ready to work, she decided that it was ok to let me sleep. I think it had to do with a trust issue. The previous au pair had to get up all year long at 4.45 am. I earned her trust to be up and ready to work when ever her son woke up

NoVA Host Mom February 28, 2012 at 1:50 am

In our house, because of recent schedule changes to my job, we have a two-pronged approach. HD leaves for work about 4:30am, but because of the change, I do not get home until (on a good day)5:15am or so. So the AP is scheduled for an hour (or more if my night has gone badly and I’m still at work) of on-duty time, however I stress to her that she is to stay in bed, in pj’s, and sleep (since waking for an hour would suck, especially if she is not be able to fall back to sleep after). She opens her own door at 4:30am to be able to hear the kids, and in reality seems to only half-sleep during that time. I know she hears me when I come home no matter how quiet I am.

On days when I don’t have that schedule but have, say, training and have to leave the house at 7am, then yes, she needs to be up, dressed, had breakfast and ready to start her day. If the kids are still asleep then she can work on their laundry or get the lunches ready, etc.

We do have a curfew for work nights (mostly because it is absolutely so critical). Usually it is 12midnight, however this AP has shown herself to be very reliable and trustworthy so we bumped it back to 1am (she also has to work every other weekend, like us, so this way she can at least go see that cool band with her friends from time to time). Since DH needs the car she drives to go to work, it’s kinda important we know she is home anyway.

I think the real answer here is, you need to do what you feel is comfortable for your own household. We all have a different approach to it, and none of us are wrong. We have APs in large part for the flexibility it provides. Any AP applicant who balks at this fact is not going to be the AP for us anyway. Do what is right for your family and what you feel comfortable doing. Talk to your AP and tell her why you are considering the options you are, and let her understand it’s not you being mean HM, but her knowing how seriously you take her responsibilities to your household and children.

Good luck!

happyaupair March 3, 2012 at 3:15 am

why waking up so early in the mornings when the kids (old enough) are still sleeping ?? Im an aupair and my hp usually leave for work earlier than me coming down, but i can hear them leaving. There are some times when they have to go even earlier so they let me know the night before so i just fix my alarm clock by that time and “make myself conscious of the time” and sleep more until its time to get the kids ready. I brush my teeth, wash my face and fix my hair and wake up the kids. If there’s something special to do that day my hm leave me some notes in the kitchen or text me. The kids also know that mom and dad are going earlier so if by any chance they wake up earlier they just come up to my room and stay there with me or both come down to have an early breakfast :)
If u are an aupair means u are a responsible adult so no need the hp to wake u up and see you ready in the mornings. U know what to do.
This is just my experience but things might change from families to families.

toocute March 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I face this same issue. Here is how I deal with it. First, I do have a rule that my AP be in the night before no less than 7.5 hours before she goes on duty. I also have a rule that they must be up and ready 15 minutes before their scheduled work time. This is to ensure she is well rested and ready to work. On-duty hours start as soon as I leave the house at 5:00am; however, I don’t make her get up that early. I open her door before I leave so she can hear my daughter get up which is normally at 7:00am. I ask the AP to be up at 6:30am to make sure she is awake before my daughter’s alarm goes off. This works well. In the beginning, I am home to make sure the AP actually gets up. The first few times I leave the house early, I ask the AP to text me so I am sure they are awake and don’t fret about it. After a few weeks, I don’t need the txts anymore because I feel like we are in a routine. Similarly, if I go out at night, I ask the AP to make sure my daughter is asleep before she goes to bed. I have her leave her door open and I close it when I get home.

It’s normal in their first few weeks for APs to oversleep. They are adjusting to a lot of new stimuli. After that, there is no excuse.

My 2 cents March 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Personally, I would not be comfortable just leaving her the baby monitor or keeping room doors open and allowing her to continue to sleep. I had an au pair we allowed to do that and she slept through the kids crying and one walking around the house at age 3.

My view is that if they are on duty they are up, dressed, fed. They can play on their lap top or text friends if kids are still asleep and chores are done, but they must be awake. We do not pay for people to sleep and, after my experience with the one au pair, it’s just not safe in my view.

As long as in matching you explained she would “on” early, there should not be a problem. They are work hours and count toward her 45 hour max.

And yes, I would have a reasonably curfew where she has to be at least home for more than 5 hours before coming on duty.

My 2 cents March 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Also, I’ve got to say, that you definitely have that “new host mom” insecurity when you say things like “I hope she doesn’t hate me” if you wake her up.

While you want to be considerate, this is her job. These are your kids. Most first time host parents (self included!) are far too nice at the outset and too interested in pleasing their au pairs to the point that they may get taken advantage of by an au pair that is either not the best intentioned or clueless and used to being babied at home. This is how I got into the whole fix of letting her sleep with her door open and a baby monitor and she slept through them walking around and crying and me coming home to that. Not her fault. Mine. She was tired and in a deep sleep. It stopped that day.

LSfutureaupair March 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I agree with My 2 cents, this is our job and that is the reason why we traveled to USA. Au pairs have to be responsible and reliable enough to wake up early if HF require it, as long as they respect the working hours. If there is a good communication between HF and au pair, should be easy to solve these problems. Just talk with your au pair and reach an agreement on working hours, but don´t forget that you put the rules.

SingleHM March 29, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I’ve had to leave a few times really early, and my AP has me text her phone if I need to tell her that I’ve left or that I’m leaving. She keeps her phone on and by her bed, so she’ll see/hear it.

anon March 29, 2012 at 10:49 pm


Comments on this entry are closed.