The Saturday Night Situation: When your Au Pair doesn’t think it’s fair that s/he’s on duty

by cv harquail on May 21, 2011

There are two kinds of host family schedules

— those that use up all of their 45 hours during the host parents’ Mon – Fri work week, and

— those that don’t.

I can pretty much guarantee you that if your host family schedule is the second kind, and you try to use your au pair hours regularly to have an au pair on duty Saturday nights, you’re going it get a lot of crap for it.201105210841.jpg

I know that we did– in fact, this is the issue over which one of our two rematches occurred. That au pair “just couldn’t stand it any more” that she was being asked to work one or two Saturday nights a month. Our schedule was “ruining her social life”. yeah, right.

Even worse, our LCC told me that we were being unreasonable, asking our au pair to work on Saturday nights when “all the other au pairs” had Saturday nights off. She also told me that it didn’t matter that our au pair usually worked only 30 hours a week anyway– Saturday nights were still ‘not fair’.

(Insert string of expletives here )

I’m sure we have posts about this issue way back at the beginning of this blog, becuase I know that the Saturday Night Situation rankled me seriously. But the email below brings it up anew:

Hello – I’m a first time host mom and we just got an au pair last week. Because my husband and I work full-time, what works best for our family is an au pair who will handle mornings, evenings and weekends with the children (who are in school during the day). Unfortunately, our au pair went to a peer event and was told by other au pairs that they all have every weekend off. So now our au pair wants every weekend off.

One of the primary reasons we got an au pair was to give my husband and myself some downtime on the weekend. She only works about 5 hours a day during the week. She has every Friday off until mid afternoon on Saturday and of course, one full weekend once per month. I’m already irritated and she’s only been here a week. The au pair isn’t demanding that she be off but I sense this is going to be a problem because she’s requested it. I’m really hoping this doesn’t get contentious and unpleasant because I want this to work. Any thoughts?

Thanks,   Concerned Host Mom

What can you do to address the Saturday Night Situation?

I’ve tried very hard to make working on a Saturday night both “normal” and not such a big deal, by doing things like:

  • Stating up front in our family letter and during interviews that we scheduled our au pair to work one or two Saturday nights a month
  • Stating up front in our family letter and during interviews that at least one of these Saturday nights ended at 0:30, leaving plenty of time to get out and party.
  • Balancing our this ‘horrible’ demand with liberal use of an au pair car, a cosy room, and well-behaved host kids.
  • Scheduling our new au pairs to work on a Saturday night their first weeks here, so that it was already part of normal.
  • Asking my host mom friends to do the same, and trying to coordinate with them so i wasn’t alone with this.
  • Talking to my LCC and asking her to make it clear (to herself and) to the au pairs that Saturday nights were indeed fair times to ask an au pair to work.
  • Planning these Saturday nights out way ahead so our au pair could schedule around them.

The whole ‘on duty on Saturday Night’ thing is both a practical issue and a philosophical one for me.

Practically, one of the reasons to have an au pair is so that you and your dear partner can have a social life yourselves. Call me crazy, but I’m often too tired to go out on a weeknight/worknight, and I’m also too cash-constrained to pay an additional $60 to a babysitter so that my au pair can be off duty.

Philosophically, the Saturday Night Situation is one of those that surfaces a tension around au pairs and their motivations. Do they understand that the childcare part of their jobs takes priority over their leisure time, at least occasionally?

And, for host parents, do you feel comfortable asserting your own needs and saying- “Yes, we need you to work because we need to have time off ourselves”?

Let’s hear what you all think about the Saturday Night Situation…..

Image: id Saturday outing from kodomut


southern HM May 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

This is a tough one. I agree with all of CV’s suggestions regarding softening the blow of a saturday night shift. I think it is perfectly reasonable and appropriate to ask AP to work on a saturday night once a month or so, and/or a saturday morning or afternoon a few times a month. I would not ask my AP to work more than one Sat Night per month.. My DH and I only do our date nights on weekday evenings, say a Tuesday or Wednesday eve. It is the easiest gig in the world, because our kids are asleep, and AP just hangs out watching TV in her room- just has to listen to the monitor. Because we stick to weekdays, I have no qualms about having her do this as frequently as once per week. We are really fortunate to have the flexibility with hours (though we never manage to have a date night that frequently…) But, your comment about having an AP to give you the flexibility on weekends– I completely understand the desire; however, in our cluster, my sense is that few APs would respond well to it and it would probably create a lot of resentment. WHile I do not believe that “every AP has every weekend off”, I do believe that the majority have most weekends off, and most weekend nights off. I’m not sure that an AP working 3 out of 4 weekends is going to work, even though it should in theory, but would love to hear opinions of other HMs.

WestMom May 21, 2011 at 11:15 am

Our Au Pair works 5hrs/day during the week (and sometimes a weeknight when needed), and the expectation is that Saturday is a full 10hr day (usually ending at 5PM, occasionally a later start + Sat night). I never even questioned that it would ever be an issue (has not been with our 2 APs, then again I do give them the schedule *at least* one week in advance), but this post makes me wonder… maybe I should be more clear about this part of the deal with our candidates. Like you CV, Saturday hours are non-negotiable for us.

Europair May 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm

To be honest, I really am surprised at the amount of hours Au Pairs in the US are expected to work. The United States has the highest amount of hours expected out of every other country I have looked at: Au Pairs in Belgium and Austria work max. 20 hrs; in Sweden and the UK, 25 hrs; in Germany, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Spain, 30 hrs; in Australia, Ireland and NZ, 35 hrs. Thus, it’s important that host families in the US appreciate the loose rules and make sure not to take advantage of their Au Pairs.

I agree that no Au Pair should have every weekend off. I do think that it’s a good idea to give your Au Pair one weekend off a month, so they have freedom to travel and see the country. It’s also important that your Au Pair maintains her social life; that’s the key to her happiness and the key to keeping her job skills sharp. If she doesn’t have the opportunity to get out by herself and act like a young person, she is going to be resentful and her job skills will suffer. Perhaps you could compromise and give her 2 Saturday nights a month. Your willingness to compromise would make your Au Pair feel like her concerns are being heard, and will lessen any feelings of being ‘trapped’ in this situation. It’s not important that you give her everything she wants, just enough that she remains content and lessens her frustration. You could even have her do additional work during the week, to make up for the few hours lost on a Saturday night.

Dorsi May 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Realize that the other countries you cite have much better provisions for maternity leave and part-time work for parents. Most families in the Au Pair program in the U.S. have two parents that work outside the home. For many professionals, it is hard to work part time in a meaningful way. (In other countries, in may be mandated that parents may take a part-time positions). If the children are not in school, these families need more than the 5-7 hours per day that programs in other countries afford. Using the 45 hours that APs are contracted to work is not “taking advantage.”

Europair May 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I’m not saying it is “taking advantage”, rather that the workload is greater and that host families need to take care that they don’t take advantage. After all, the full-time work week in the US is 5 hrs less than what Au Pairs are asked to work. Thus, according to our standards, Au Pairs are working a 40 hr work week + 5 hours overtime.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

It’s a nice theory that Americans work a 40-hour week. Many work much more, either because overtime is mandated by their employer, because they are professionals who are not paid by the hour, or because of other conventions. While some of us are fortunate to have a 40-hour schedules, we play around with our hours (working a little more here and there) to permit us to be more flexible when we need to take time off to cover an au pair vacation, school activities, or take a child to a doctor’s appointment.

Before your comments lead other APs to think that families of school-age children “need to take that they don’t take advantage,” please understand that for many American families of school-age children there are much cheaper options than hosting an AP. Those of us who continue to host APs after our children start school do it because we want flexibility, APs offer a better model of care than other caregiving situations, or because we want our children exposed to different languages and cultures.

We pay for 45 hours of care every week, regardless of how many hours we ask the AP to work (American children have longer school days than many European children). Therefore, we aren’t “taking advantage” of APs by asking them to work 1, 2 or 3 weekend nights a month. APs in America are guaranteed one full weekend off every month (and many get more). My guess is that the majority of APs who care for school-age children rarely work 45-hour weeks, with the exception of Christmas break, spring break, and summer vacation.

Europair May 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I more was referring to some practices I have seen mentioned on this site, such as holding over unused hours and applying them the following week, or having the Au Pair do heavy housework to finish all 45 hours. Those sorts of practices (in my opinion) are taking advantage of the Au Pair. I did not intend to offend anyone, so if that’s what I did, I apologize. I just felt (since the topic being discussed is the 45 hr week) that the discussion might benefit from looking at other programs outside the US model. That said, regardless of what the average American actually works (the 40-hr workweek only applies to non-salaried workers), it still seems fair to apply that system to Au Pairs, since they are paid by the hour.

hOstCDmom May 22, 2011 at 12:21 am

TACL is correct; the 40 hr workweek is not only largely a myth in practice, but also according to US labor regulations.

The US Dept of Labor defines a standard work week as *up to 45 hrs”; an extended work week is 45+ hours/week.

Also, there is not a legal definition of full-time employment in the USA; only regulations about hourly wages pegged to certain weekly hour thresholds.

US Dept of Labor:

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. This is a matter generally to be determined by the employer.”

Furthermore, there is no maximum number of hours an employee may work in the USA; nor is there a work week defined by days of the week, i.e. weekends are not different from weekdays; workers are not entitled to weekends off.

US Dept of Labor
Wage and Hour Division (WHD):
“There is no limit in the Act on the number of hours employees aged 16 and older may work in any workweek. The Act does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime is worked on such days.

The Act applies on a workweek basis. An employee’s workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It need not coincide with the calendar week, but may begin on any day and at any hour of the day. Different workweeks may be established for different employees or groups of employees.”

hOstCDmom May 22, 2011 at 12:45 am

Also, for the sake of pedantic clarity, and to answer the question that my information above begs — namely, “why are APs not paid overtime for the 5 hours above 40hrs/week that they work?” Because, while 40hrs/week is not defined as a full-time work week, nor is it a maximum work week, it is a threshold above which overtime must be paid for most, *but NOT all* employees.

To wit – According to federal law, household employees are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a 7-day workweek **unless they are Live-In Employees ** Live-In Employees (i.e. nannies or au pairs) do not have to be paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours, but they are entitled to the regular wage for every hour worked.

This is why the AP stipend is calculated, per federal formula, as:
60% of [45 x [current minimum wage; in 2011 = 7.25/hr]]. The remaining 40% of [45 x [current minimum wage]] is allocated for room and board, and as such is not required to be paid to the AP but rather may be retained by the HP to cover said room and board.

Dorsi May 22, 2011 at 1:07 am

hOstCDMom — some of us appreciate the pedantic (honest!) Thanks for the clarification (I had always wondered about the overtime).

Europair May 22, 2011 at 1:16 am

hOstCDmom, thanks for the clarification. Next time, why not just post a link? I actually have some additional questions about labor laws, I’ll definitely look up those documents later. Still, though, my opinion on this matter remains unchanged.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

My current AP has several friends who are caring for school-age children and not one has complained about heavy cleaning responsibilities (actually most of the complaints in this regard tend to come from APs working in Europe from what I have seen). Many do complain of supercilious hours – being made to work in the evening while the HPs are around and the children want nothing to do with the AP, or to be told to wait around and see if they are needed on a weekend day.

As for myself – I ask for a couple of loads of laundry and some light cleaning in The Camel’s area (my son is supposed to keep his areas clean himself with adult supervision).

I expect my APs to be dynamic with my kids (rather than waiting for my kids to need them).

MommyMia May 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm

APs are not “paid by the hour.” They are paid the same weekly stipend required by law, regardless of how many hours they are scheduled.

CaliHostMom May 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I know the topic here is supposed to be about Saturday nights and I generally agree with the strategies and attitudes of CV. I like AnnaAupair’s comments. I would also add that another strategy I use is that I tell our AP when she has to work a Saturday night that she is welcome to make it a movie night with her friends at our house and I’ll buy the popcorn and treats. The more advance planning the better. Like others here, we’re a 2-job family and my DH and I are often so exhausted on Friday night that date nights just weren’t working. I can’t tell you how many Friday date nights I scheduled primarily so the AP could have Saturday off…and then DH and I just couldn’t muster the energy to go out at all. So there we were “wasting” the AP hours on a Friday night. I finally decided I can’t do this any more out of deference to the AP’s social life. We need the occasional Saturday.

There hasn’t been too much tension with our AP, fortunately. I’ve reminded her to warn me well in advance when plans start brewing among the APs for a road trip or other special weekend event.

Regarding the secondary discussion here about whether 45 hours of duty time is reasonable or not, particularly when compared with typical duty hours for APs in Europe, I think it would be interesting to compare the European AP experience against the American AP experience based on the *whole* picture by examining other compensation and program parameters. For example, maybe European APs make less money per week. Maybe they are bound by different rules. Maybe the cost of living is higher there. Are European APs allowed to hold other jobs while they are APs? Etc. Europair brings up an interesting idea to compare AP jobs culturally.

hOstCDmom May 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Agree – but their stipend is pegged to an hourly wage rate of minimum wage x 45 hours.

hOstCDmom May 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm

sorry, my comment above “agree…” was directed at Mommy Mia’s note about how au pairs are not paid by the hour.

Indi Au Pair to be May 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Encouraging movie nights, ahhh so nice :D I’m more a homebudy and that sounds almost idilic to me haha.

kat May 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

i can speak only for the uk and germany.
uk – when aps had to get visas, they couldnt legally have a job and could only work up to 25 hours. the latest recommended pocket money was i think 65 or perhaps 70 pounds. now there’s now regulations apart from aps from romania and bulgaria. aps tend to earn anything between 65 to 100 pounds for 25 to 40 hours. most aps are allowed to take up other jobs , many do babysitting or cleaning and a few get a proper part time job like waiteressing. they usually worke between monday and friday, a few have an occasional babysitting on a weekend night on their day off ( which i personally dont think is ok). i had many jobs when my days off were not on the weekend and never minded at all. on the other hand i think it might be easier to spend your time on your own in the uk as you can easily travel and explore on your own. many aupairs also have access to cars, get a mobile phone, gym memberships or london travel card.

in germany the pocket money is now 260 euor a months and i dont think the hours are anyhow limited. the family can pay more if they want. i think the regulations say one and a half day a week as time off but not sure.

kat May 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm

perhaps also worth adding to this – in the uk the live in nannies, to which the us aupairs are more similar in hours, only usually babysit on mondays- thursdays as part of their contract.

Profah June 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Let’s say you do work a 40 hr work week – um, do you snap your fingers and magically appear there? It takes my husband a min of 30 min to get to work and another 30 home. So there is his 45 hrs. I typically work 9hrs/day at my job. Many Americans work much longer hrs. APs know that they are receiving a stipend each wk in exchange for 45hrs of work. It shouldn’t be a suprise if they have to work 45 hrs. When my daughter naps and my son has quite time (other son is at school) I tell her she can have a break and use her computer, etc. This is usually about 45-60 min. I get a 25 min lunch break at my job.
You are comparing apples to oranges. If it was such a good gig to be an AP in Europe I am sure there wouldn’t be tons of APs in the US right now.

Sock June 16, 2011 at 5:34 am

People come to the States to au pair because they want to learn English, not because it’s such a good gig. I’m not saying it’s a BAD gig, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that people chose the States over Europe because of the amazing benefits.

emmiejane May 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I sympathize with you, as a I am also a first time host mom. I did not realize the weekend dynamic with the busy social lives that au pairs quickly develop before I had an au pair living with me. I definitely feel the unspoken pressure to give her the weekends completely off, and I didn’t realize I would feel this before having an au pair.

We tend to do what Southern HM does and go out during the week or Friday nights rather than Saturday night. Sometimes even slightly breaking the 10 hour rule on Friday because our au pair would prefer that and then having an unbroken weekend.

That said, we sometimes have an event on Saturday night and if this is the case, we do ask our au pair to work. I try to do what CV says and give her lots of advance warning. We also ask her to work during the day on Saturday sometimes.

I think what I will do differently next time around is be clearer about weekend expectations in the match process. Second, I will take CV’s suggestion of making sure to start scheduling Saturday nights like once a month early on in the year.

So none of that really helps you. I think I would probably try to talk to her and tell her that one of the reasons you need got an au pair is for help on the weekends. You are sorry that the other au pairs have a different schedule, but this is what her work schedule is going to consistently be like and see what she says.

I do worry a bit about it, since she has only been with you a week and is already asking you to change her schedule. I would think she would still be in the trying to impress stage of the relationship.

Maybe for a future au pair try to pick someone who seems like she enjoys spending time alone and would plan to spend a lot of her down time by herself, reading or exploring or whatever. Honestly, I do kind of agree with Southern HM that having an au pair work 3 out of 4 weekends is going to be hard to pull off and you need a certain kind of person who can handle the fact that when most of her friends or potential friends have free time and are out, she will need to be working.

NewHM January 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I am glad to hear that we weren’t the only ones who broke the 10 hr rule in order to accommodate AP’s weekend social life (we actually gave our AP every weekend off). Until one day she refused to work Thursday evening by stating the 10 hr rule. That was especially devious since she already made plans to go away for the weekend and therefore leaving us no time to go out and use 45 hrs. That was also her last day of work for us and I definitely learned a lesson. With next APs I will schedule our dates for Saturday nights and stick to 10 hr rule unless emergency happens.

AFHostMom January 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

We’re in that bucket too. As I posted below, current AP gets every weekend off, starting Friday when one of us relieves her. When we interviewed for her replacement, we stated explicitly that she would work her 45 hours almost exclusively during the week, and would have weekends free. It’s written in our host family intro letter and we discuss it in interviews. We have done a terrible job of having time together-alone the past several months, though, because of work commitments. We’d be happy to switch up when we ask the AP to work for “fun” time if she indicated she wanted us too, but we’ll revisit that after the new one settles in.

AnnaAuPair May 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I guess this is one of the many issues, where some (or maybe quiet a few?) AuPairs just don’t get that being an AuPair is a JOB and that they came to the US to WORK and not just to have a good time and do some Babysitting on the side.
It really makes me angry when I hear these stories because apparently the Agencies create wrong expectations about what is required or they are don’t emphasize it strongly enough.
Anyways. I would recommend talking to her and making clear to her that this is her schedule and that it’s NOT that unusual. I know quiet a lot of AuPairs (including me) who worked the occasional Weekend or even regular hours.
Do you expect her to work the whole Saturday? What would you do if there was an event all her friends would attend and that she really wants to go to – would you give her this extra Saturday off and let her work the hours another day?
I think the whole AuPair-thing is a lot about giving and taking. Maybe point out to her what the advantages of her schedule are (like having time during the day to get to know other people or go to the gym or things (which AuPairs like me who work 8-9 every day can’t do). And tell her (if that’s the case) that this doesn’t mean she won’t be able to do fun things, that if she wants to do something she could talk to you and you would find a solution and that maybe the schedule will be more flexible the longer she is with you but that she kind of has to “earn” that?

Hearing from other AuPairs how much “better” their situation is isn’t easy, when you just came to the US and I guess it’s just part of the growing process. She has to realize that every situation is different and has pros and cons.

Penn AP Mom (had been 'PA') May 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Our AP works from 7 am to noon every Saturday except her 1 weekend off per month, this allows me to sleep in (I’m out of the house by 6 am during the week) and run to the grocery store sans children. I make it very clear during the interview process that this is a job and the Saturday hours are non-negotiable. With the exception of our first AP (before I realized that we needed those Saturday hours, and with whom we did go into transition but because of personality conflict) this has never been a problem, although I’m sure that no one loves working on the weekend!

I agree with AnnaAuPair that the agencies often set up expectations that are unrealistic and do my best to ensure that the AP that matches with us understand what will be expected of her during her year. I have found that AP’s who are a bit older and have more life/job experience understand that this is a job and as such they are responsible to complete their end of the bargain. For our family an AP is a necessity, not a luxury and my husband and I don’t get date nights or time to ourselves – all of our hours are used up while we work and for Saturday mornings.

PA AP mom May 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I am not sure who posted the above comment. I have been PA AP mom on this board for over 2 years now. That was not posted by me. I am kindly asking if whoever posted this would consider selecting another moniker instead of using the a nickname/ screen name that’s already “taken”.



Penn AP Mom May 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Sorry about using your name, I’ll be Penn AP Mom in the future!

PA AP mom May 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm

No problem. Where in PA are you?????

Penn AP Mom May 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Ambler (suburb of Philadelphia). You?

DC Hill Mom May 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I grew up in Ambler!!! Butler Pike….

PA AP mom May 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

An hour south of Harrisburg, near the Maryland border.

Seasoned Host Mom May 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Put me in the minority on this one, in that I routinely schedule our AP for Sat. night hours. My husband travels every week, and we feel that it is a priority that we have some time each week to relax from our busy and overloaded lives and reconnect with each other. So we are in the 2-3 times per month category, and I tell potential APs this and tell them why in the interview process. So they know, and it hasn’t been a problem. I should note, however, that for the truly partying AP, we are in almost every Sat. night between 11-12, so we have had a couple of our APs head out for the night then.

This month, for example, we have had date night the last two weekends, and tonight we have a party to attend. So next weekend will be the requisite weekend off, though it will be nice for our AP, as it will be a long holiday weekend. I usually do one less weekend per month than this, but I know that for the next 2-3 months of summer vacation, we won’t have very many date nights due to the kids being at home all day almost every day, so in a sense, we’re trying to pack it all in this last school month! I should also note that, even with this schedule, we have stayed well under 45 hrs. per week, as both of my kids are in full-day school now.

An AP who complained about this, especially after being told in the interview of this schedule, would probably be in re-match soon. But the first thing I would tell an AP who comes home saying that “every other AP has the weekend off” would to reply that (1) they may not be telling the whole truth, and/or (2) that they probably have to work many more hours per week than she does Monday-Friday.

CrunchyMom May 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I work a rotating shift and usually work 2 weekends/month. Some of that time my husband takes the kids, some times we expect the AP to. Additionally, we like to go out on the weekends. I am impressed that many of you are out until 11 or 12 — we rarely make it past 9! We are very clear about this during the match process and it has not been a problem.

AP1 and AP2 had very anemic social lives, so I truly don’t think the hours bothered them at all. AP3 (current) is from a country typically associated with “party-girls.” I have been worried that the weekends were going to be a big problem for her — but she is taking full advantage of the irregular schedule. She will go out on a Tuesday if she starts late on Wednesday. She will go out when we come home at 9. She goes out a lot – which I find great. It makes me believe that a good AP will work around the host family. (And we, being a great host family, work around her as much as possible).

Taking a Computer Lunch May 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

The appropriate reaction when your AP tells you that “all” her friends have the weekends off, is to ask, “Oh, are they working 45-hour weeks because they’re caring for infants, toddlers or preschoolers? Our first APs had that schedule, too, before our kids were in school, so they had to squeeze in going to the gym, studying, being with their friends, in less free time than you have now.” Eventually, they connect with other APs caring for school-age children, and find friends with whom to have lunch, go to the gym, tour our city, etc. during the time they are free (8:30 am to 3:00 pm in our house). Keep it light, but be firm.

A way to mitigate the AP that chafes at her Saturday schedule is to schedule those days in advance, and to be flexible enough to switch the weekend she has off if there is something special she would like to do with friends. For example, I let my AP write in trips she has planned (and to which DH and I have agreed), special concerts for which she and her friends have tickets, friends’ birthday parties, and goodbye parties for other APs.

I find that by scheduling the following month by the 20th of the previous month, the AP knows up front what is expected. There are times when I have to work on weekends and the kids are going in two different directions. We have the AP take the child that has the easiest activity and DH takes the harder one (usually The Camel’s special swimming class) and then watch the kids while DH does the weekly shopping. One Saturday a month we schedule the AP to work 5 hours while DH and I go out (and if we want a longer outing, then DH covers one of her morning shifts on the days he works from home). We also try to schedule a monthly activity with our typically developing child that we can’t do with The Camel in tow (the AP gets the vehicle that holds The Camel’s car seat). DH and I have taken to scheduling a weekend now and then when the AP has both kids during the day and we head into town to a museum (an exhibition without eye-rolling is worth every minute). We do the museum thing in part because it’s a free activity in our city and much cheaper than a dinner and movie combo, and yet gives us time to be a couple together doing adult things (and our AP has an unfettered evening).

Our APs have run the gamut from party girls who went out every night possible (and slept during their long time off during the days) and were happy enough to cover Saturdays because it wasn’t worth going to the clubs before 11:00 (we’d come home to a bevy of young women ready to go clubbing) to those who preferred going to the movies with friends (and therefore felt cut-off from their chosen entertainment on our Saturday nights). We only had one AP who rarely left her room on Saturday nights.

I think it is the nature of the job that APs push back at the scheduling. My game plan is to hold firm, and then when she’s shown her stuff and proven to be reliable, to be extremely flexible in scheduling. Most of my APs have felt free to ask for time off when they wanted it, and unless it’s a special event, nothing is written in stone on my calendar.

Indi Au Pair to be May 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I think this is a great approach, it probably takes a little more effort to plan in advance but I’m sure it’s well worth it.

Seasoned Host Mom May 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

You bring up some great points. Since DH and I just do a date night, usually with no specific agenda other than dinner and maybe a movie, I am extremely flexible with regard to which weekends our AP can have off. If I know she has plans, I don’t schedule her. I think only once in 3 years have our non-flexible plans (like a wedding) conflicted with an AP’s non-flexible plans (a concert to which she has already purchased an expensive ticket). In that case, we asked AP if she knew of a friend who might be willing to make a little extra money that weekend. Against the rules, I know, but it seemed like the most fair thing to do under that rare circumstance.

We have also been willing to go out less in any month during which our AP has a lot planned on the weekends. In such a case, we might only ask for one weekend night the whole month, and would be willing to make it either Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday as AP’s schedule permitted. We usually have a lot of catching up to do on our DVR at home anyway! :)

Should be working May 23, 2011 at 1:48 am

Google calendar is great for this–the AP can input way in advance important events like concerts or parties, and then I know those Sat nights won’t work. Likewise I can input (usually further in advance, since grownups with kids are better about advance planning) the nonnegotiable Saturday events that we have planned and for which we’ll need au pair coverage.

Calif Mom May 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

that’s exactly how we handle it. Google calendar is fabulous tool for managing child-related activities and the au pair’s schedule.

We also are flexible about “date night” — we don’t usually plan it (unless we have tickets for an event of some sort) and we are *always* home early enough that an au pair who really wants to party can head out after we get back.

One more way I love our new, rematch au pair? She reminded me yesterday after work–while she was helping me fix dinner!–that we need to schedule a date night because we have been so busy lately “and it’s important for you two to have time together”.

(Rematch au pairs rock.)

Anna May 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm

The ones who rock didn’t want to come to me, LOL. Maybe you got her.

Indi Au Pair to be May 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm

As an AP (to be) I don’t think you should somehow “reward” your AP when asking her to work on weekends, after all it’s a JOB, I think rewarding them might actually cause more conflicts as she would feel that if she does so she’s giving you a priviledge and not a right. Yes, it may be that agancies are not stressing enought one little word: FLEXIBILITY. I think most of your ways to adress the “Saturday Night situation” are good ways; I think it’s KEY to plan in advance when possible, but if it’s something you know you expect her to call it for date nights or for work reasons, it MUST be definetely adressed and stressed several times in your HF letter right upfront and also during the interview process. The “scheduling a new Ap to work on weekends for ther first weeks in the States” is a GREAT option. That way they don’t feel entitled to have all weekends off and may be more willing to compromise missing a few social events because or work. I’m not sure about askig your HM friends to do the same, would they really tag alone? I think this might also leave some AP resentful, specially if they find it were your AP complains who lead to that meassure. I’d expect an LCC to make it clear, even if I (as a HP) don’t ask her to.
I have to say I’m not a party girl and I often stay at home on weekends and go out to grab dinner with my friends during weekdays, something like a coffee or a movie, so I can’t see it being a BIG issue at least there’s some trip or a concer/event I have planned in advance and already notified to my HP but then they just decidde to change plans with no further advice OR if I’ve proben flexibility and then I’d see they had none towards me, specially for classes!!. I agree with AnnaAuPair about the Au Pair thing being a lot about giving and taking. I think the BEST way to avoid this issue is to make sure of your AP’s intentions on coming to America and also getting a good sense of her typical social life at home, even if that might change in the States because freedom might be an intoxicating scent, specially for those younger AP’s who have never left home.

Indi Au Pair to be May 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Just wanted to add: if she changed her plans last minute just to acomodate your last minute plans it’d be nice a little reward, call it more car use or a little thank you card or even a gift card. But otherwise I would not recommend it. And in my comment above my tagging alone I meant along*

used to be an AP May 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I had to work three out of four Saturday nights per months. I usually started to work around 5pm and was off duty whenever my host parents came home, somtimes as early as 9pm somtimes as late 1am. I never minded working on Saturdays, actually I enjoyed it. One of the perks of working on Saturday afternoons/evenings/nights for me was that it was a lot less rushed than during the week when the kids had homework and at least one aditional activity per day. On Saturdays we just were on a different schedule and we could do things that took a lot of time (treasure hunts, board games etc.). Because of the more relaxed schedule the kids were less likely to fight with each other, so that was definitely a plus.

Steff May 22, 2011 at 12:19 am

To be honest, I think it all comes down actually to the matching process. If you know you are gonna work on Saturdays beforehand, then there isn’t much complaining you can do after you arrived to your HF.

At least with CC, in the hostparent’s applications AuPairs get to see, there is in the last page this “Example Schedule” the AP will be supposed to follow when/if she is to match with said family. (I guess it’s important to have in mind that –at least for me, schedule varies a lot through the weeks, and the seasons- summer as opposed to spring and so forth) but still…I guess that “preview-schedule” indeed showed to me how in occasions my host-family would ask me to “babysit” on Saturday evenings so that they could have a night out. That was discussed a little further during the interviews, and in the end I matched with them knowing that *at least* one Saturday a month I’d be babysitting and staying in with the baby.

I would never go “against” this since I knew it before we matched, and I agreed upon it. If eventually it bothers me or I dunno…’interferes’ with my plans or something, I guess I’d just have to suck it up…once again, because I knew I would have to work sometimes on Saturdays beforehand. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in order to ‘avoid’ as best as a hf can this situation, things should be told upfront from the very start in the matching process :) That seems as only fair in my opinion.

AliMom May 22, 2011 at 1:41 am

As a host family outside the US it is true that the standard hours worked here are lower but babysitting on weekend evenings is actually very common. We have quite often (maybe every second weekend) asked our au pairs to babysit on a Friday or Saturday night. This has never been a problem. Most au pairs here do not go out until 11pm by which time we would definitly be back from dinner (sad but true!). To be honest our most recent au pair has actually encouraged us to go out if she is having a weekend night in, probably so she can enjoy the main tv and a take out dinner in peace! Some au pairs have had friends over to watch DVDs which I am happy with as long as I know the friend. I am sure they felt that watching a DVD with a friend while the children sleep is a much easier way to fufil some hours than looking after two wide awake and active boys. :-)

Carlos May 22, 2011 at 3:17 am

This is good!
I really think au pairs shouldn’t be weeping about their saturday nights… I totally agree with the 1 or 2 saturday nights of duty per month…
I still don’t have a match but I have babysat kids late night on saturday nights missing a lot of fun, but I got my payment and that’s my reward, although I couldn’t stand either any weekend off for the WHOLE year… I mean, host parents are not dumb, they know what is correct and I really think that 1 or 2 saturday night of duty won’t kill your au pair and will restore your marriage, social life, workaholichness (LOL)

Long Island Host Mom May 22, 2011 at 5:01 am

We are required at CCAP to display the typical work schedule and I think that this is one thing that should also be explained in your profile as well as explained by phone when you speak to an AP candidate and followed up in an email. FULL disclosure os necessary before a match is made. if the AP knows in advance that they will be working 1-2 Sat nites per month – then they knew what they were getting into. If they had a problem with it then they shouldnt take the Host Family as their own and continue to search for a better match if this is a big enough issue for them. My AP knows that for the most part she is off on weekends but she knows if I need her – that is the priority. Luckily we havent had an issue if there is a conflict in what she wants to do and what we need her for. There always needs to be give and take and we both agree that it works for us and neither assumes that their free time is never the same nor that I can ask her the last minute – we plan the month in advance and she gets my monthly schedule – so she knows what she can and cannot plan with friends and she always asks if its ok… it just works for us since neither of us take the others time for granted !

Current au-pair May 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

How about host family asking to babysit every Saturday and sometimes Saturday and Sunday? and when au-pair says that it’s not fair the family says that “we do everything for you and you do nothing for us”…what woud you think about that? do you think it’s fair? because I personally don’t think it is…that’s why I changed the family. it wasn’t only because of the babysitting in the weekend, there were may other problems, but I think that a family who asks for babysitting every single Saturday is taking advantage of the au-pair and expects that if they have someone living with them she should be always available for them and do everyting for them and if she is not, they are disappointed and so the problems begin…

MsA May 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

Makes me wonder if you have read the agency regulations. They state that the Au Pair has one full weekend off in a month and 1.5 days off a week. So the family has every right to ask the Au Pair to work on a saturday if she hasn’t reached the max of 45 hrs a week.

Personally I think it is selfish of the au pair to demand every weekend off if she works less during the week. Of course it is great to have a flexible family who may not need childcare on the weekends but I also think it is reasonable to give the hostparents a night out since they work a lot and don’t have much time together.
Sometimes I was the one offering to my hostparents to babysit when I wasn’t planning to go out anyway.

Calif Mom May 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Yes, the au pair has time off during the week, but for us, the au pair doesn’t have her own car to use during the week, because the cars are both with parents at their offices. (Except in summer. Summer is different so au pair can schlep kids around and have more fun.)

So I don’t really think that time off during the week–with no easy way to go do anything meaningful except run to the drugstore or starbucks before you have to be back in time for school pick up — isn’t really the same as time off with the car and friends who have cars available on the weekends.

hostmom May 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

not much new to add, just agree that this is all critical in the matching process and communication, communication before and while she is here.

I work West Coast hrs (live East Coast), so all of our APs know they work until 8-9pm on wknts (even Friday and she still goes out). I also freely admit upfront that we are probably not the best HF – ie our APs still do work close to 45hrs even though my kids started school this year, we don’t generally take fancy trips, and she does share a bathroom with the kids. However, she does have use of car pretty much whenever she wants (as long as she puts gas in it :-), a unlimited talk/text cell phone, a laptop computer; and I am very careful to make sure i respect all the rules and am as flexible as i can be with any of her requests. And for me, our AP works every Sunday evening so we have consistent bed time routine on all school nights. She has worked on a very rare Saturday when we had an event with notice. It is absolutely the flexibility of scheduling that keeps me in the AP program.

And to Europair poster – honestly it did come across as offensive. Americans do tend to work much longer hours than other countries and to equate that with taking advantage of someone is ridiculous. A 40hr-week job means being at the job – it does take a few minutes to acutally get there – and if it takes you more than 30min to get there and back (9hrs per day) you have exceeded your 45hrs. Absolutely not one minute of downtime, slack…. nothing. Also, APs who want to come to this country do know the hour limit so it is not like they show up expecting to work 20hrs a week and the HF all of sudden ups it to 45.

Europair May 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I sincerely apologize if I offended you; that was not my intention. I merely wanted to add a different point of view to the discussion. And you are right, many European families have their children in daycare/school as young as 3, so the ‘school-age’ is extended. That probably accounts for much of the difference.

MD May 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

As an MD who has worked in both systems, US and Europe I have found that Europeans do their work faster and way more work concentrated. I found that while in Germany I was working constantly and had everything done by the end of the day. Here people small-talk, eat, socialize and check their private computer accounts constantly. After 2 months in an American hospital we three German doctors were actually told to not work so much, so good, so fast as others felt that they could not keep up with the pace and felt seriously outperformed and we were even taking it “easy”. Its a cultural thing, here its slow and long days with more social contact, in Europe it was fast and shorter days with more focus on work. It all comes down to the same result, AND in Europe people have more time left and children are home with their parents earlier.
So even if we had a lot of overtime due to understaffed personal, still a lot more got done in less time. So its also the fact that work is very social here that takes up more time…I do enjoy it, but I had to slow down my workpace to a tenth of the speed. Now I have more contact with my colleagues and its more fun to work. Speaking as a physician in an ICU/emergency setting, still there is WAY more downtime and people do not frown on people walking slow or having a chat. In Germany if you slowed down, an attending would accuse you to take private time at work or say that you walked so slow that they could put new soles on your shoes while you were wearing them.
This long rant…I apologize, its just that a lot of people think that shorter days equal less work when I have experienced that people here tend to fill their long days with a lot BUT work and get less done in more time.

kat May 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

haha, that reminds me of beeing called ‘too efficient’ by my british hostfamily ( i come from what the brits call an eastern europian country)

WestMom May 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

I would like to flag Raquel’s post as unnecessarily inflammatory. Is there a ‘button’ for that?

Gianna May 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Former aupair Raquel is a joke. I hit the purple title and found a website that is purportedly written by a comic . It suffers in translation. Best to ignore it

NoVA Host Mom February 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm

I send cv an email on those. Otherwise someone might try to flag us. ;)

Europair May 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I wasn’t planning on it; as an American citizen, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to, anyways. The one great thing that the US has going for them is that their AP program is well set up and makes a point to encourage cross-cultural exchange. Back when I was looking for families, I was offered jobs in both Switzerland and Luxembourg, only to have to turn them down, because of visa regulations. European countries aren’t too keen on non-EU citizens coming to work, which is unfortunate.

Amanda May 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I worked as an aupair in Switzerland and I am an American citizen. I didn’t have any difficulty obtaining a visa. Interesting that you did. And for those who compare working as an AP in Europe vs. the U.S., it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Completely different laws, attitudes, etc. Not to mention the laws vary by country.

Europair May 23, 2011 at 2:29 am

The laws changed in 2008, when they instated a limit on the amount of Non-EU Au Pairs who could receive residence permits. The HM was surprised too, as she had hosted another American AP prior to 2008 and had no problem. At the time, she was told by the reps in her canton that the issue had something to do with the UBS affair, which doesn’t seem very fair. I guess that’s bureaucracy for you. :)

Amanda May 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I got my visa in 2009. That is very strange!

MsA May 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Having kids doesn’t mean to be locked away from social life and not being able to go out until the kids are 18 or old enough to live alone etc.

Indi Au Pair to be May 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Hahaha, going out twice a month, scandalous NOT!!! My parents have a mivie date EVERY Wednesday and I LOVE they make time to being just a “couple”. I’d rather have parents that are happy with each other than having parents fighting because they never make time for each other!! There’s a little word that I’m sure was expressed to everyone that ever went tru an AP agency…flexibility.

Seasoned Host Mom May 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Um, yeah, when my husband and I go out alone on Saturday nights, we aren’t part of “a social network.” Please leave the “mommy wars” I-parent-better-than-you stuff to yourself.

German Au-Pair May 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I think Raqueal actually meant, that American families have *children* to be part of a social networkn (like with other parents).
The going out part would be just a prove for that in her opinion because if you had your children because you *loved* them, you wouldn’t need to go out. I guess that’s what she’s trying to say.
To Raquel going out every other month seems to be normal, but going out twice a months means you are satanic parents who just got their kids to be able to connect with other parents.
Don’t even try to make sense out of that.

1st time HM May 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm

see below…I commented in general reply :)

cv harquail May 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm

(Just fyi, I deleted the comment to which this one is a reply… cvh)

Mom23 May 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I think it is important to include in the sample schedule that you go out 2 or 3 Saturday nights/month. If it is less it is a bonus to the au pair. My husband and I also sit down with our au pair before the start of the month and decide which Saturday nights to go out. If the au pair has something important we can usually manage to reschedule our night. If we have a benefit or party to attend, we usually have more than a week notice and will email the date as soon as we know so that she doesn’t schedule that date.

I also try to give at least one three day weekend/month so that the au pair can plan short trips.

German Au-Pair May 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

1st time Hm, I odn’t know what you actually want other APs to share here, but I’m guessing you’re refering to other culture’s view on this?
Yes, from what I read American families do have a very different way of raising kids, starting with all the activities most Americans kids have every day. ( I am not an au pair yet but do have some friends who are au pairing and I also read a *lot* about other au pairs’ experiences.
Here in Europe the kids don’t usually have that many activities in the afternoons and Raquel is also right about many mothers staying at home to take care of their children. The idea of a caregiver is really not that common here.
However, I totally disagree with Raquel’s view on choosing between being a person with a social life and being a full time mother. When both parents work here in Europe people are always like “wow…how can she neglect her child like that?” (it’s always the fault of the mother…) and when told you’re going to be an au pair people always say things like “Why don’t they take care of their children by theirselves?”
However, I know almost *no* mother who is actually happy with that arrangement, So many people are unhappy with being reduced to being a mother and “houshold staff”.
So yes, it *is* different here in Europe but why on earth would someone, who chose to be an au pair for *two* years judge the people who were having her as an au pair?

If that is indeed *not* what you asked…then I’m sorry, just ignore my monologue.

1st time HM May 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Sorry if I was not clear. I was just taken back by the comments. I was looking for a different cultural view as I am new to being a HM and would be super, super upset if I ever had an AP with this mind set. I work 36 hrs a week (by choice) as a counselor for children. I have 4 children who are very active in many activities. But I also have friends, and dates with HD. I love my children and care for the well being of any child I encounter. If one were to view me as “not” a good mother because I have activities, dates and friends they would be grossly over-generalizing. IMO I am sure the backlash is due to the topic intended here…..weekend obligations. As an American, growing up and living the experience I would hope that my interest in higher education and hard work is actualy an example or role modeled behavior for my own children. I wish them to be independent thinkers and doers. Not to discount stay-at-home-moms, because they too have a tremendous job of holding down the household and raising children too. It is all in the approach. I am hoping that any inspiring AP’s understand that this is how *our* culutre generally is. Isn’t the point of being an AP is to experience different culture? to have a job valuable to you and the family? and yes, I say job (not a paid vacation) because it is. With that said, I will reflect on the topic of discussion…jobs require us when we are needed within reasonable limits. Communication, negotiations, planning and respect is what will make it work. No one should ever abuse any priviledge, meaing HF or AP on either end.

1st time HM May 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm

meant to reply to German AP…sorry:)

German Au-Pair May 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Okay, so my monologue was actually what you wanted to hear?
Yes, I agree with you that everyone entering another culture -especially to do a *job*- should not be judgemental over this different culture.
I’m always amazed how many people judge the American culture and want to become au pairs anyhow.
I guess many au pairs are a little irritated about the way, hostfamilies raise their children as in our culture the attitude “decide between having a carreer and and being a mother” is really common. Also date nights with your husband are very unusual here.

So yes, Raquel’s point of view is pretty common and no, you should not feel offended by that. Those are the people who don’t see, that most American parents probably cannot understand how German mothers -for example- very often stop being a person when becoming a mother.
To every story there a two sides and someone who thinks that the way their culture works is the one and only way, should not be the one whose opinion should matter to you.

Noelle May 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Great, this site has a troll. CV – can you IP block Raquel?

cv harquail May 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Done. Thanks for the heads up Noelle.

Carlos May 31, 2011 at 12:04 am

oww… :( I wanted to see what did she say…

Reb May 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Just had a thought as I was reading the answers to many posts. Why are people generalising and refering to Europe rather than the country in question? Countries in Euroupe do NOT share the same views and beliefs… (trying not to sound too negative:))

Steff May 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I think AP-Raquel is generalizing far too much. (Whoa!) – and I mean…yes, different cultures are certainly different cultures. In my home-country isn’t either so common to have nannies or APs, or people different from (extended) family to take care of the kids while mom & dad work. But still…at least in Latin America, I don’t think it’s uncommon to have both parents working fulltime. I myself was pretty much raised by my grandma- and in preschool as soon as I turned 3. Do my mom loved me less because she worked? Nope.

Quantity of time VS Quality of time. As a family, growing up Sundays were always our “family days” – Saturday nights, mom & dad almost always had night outs. They had time for themselves, forget about the week & then on Sundays we’ll spend it all together. & honestly, I grew up just fine, thank you very much.

IMO; not because you become a parent you gotta forget of living a live of your own. If you have a person who’s trustworthy and loves your kids at home, then I suppose it’s ok to go out & have fun without little ears.

So yes, while AP-Raquel has her opinion, I don’t think she’s in any position to judge parents in that way either….you can’t possibly say parents don’t love their kids because they like to go out as a couple…but okay… that’s just me I guess… lol

HMinWI May 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Until this year, we’ve used our 45 hours during the week, and have rarely gone out as a couple. Our first au pair would actually ask us if we would “please go out for dinner sometime.” She was the best! Although we only took her up on it about 4 times the whole year, it was so great to have an AP who understood that happy HPs = happy families. Now that our youngest is in preschool we have a few hours to play with. So, we don’t feel at all guilty scheduling a Saturday night here and there. Our AP does not seem to mind either. We’re usually home early enough that she can catch the late movie or meet up with friends. As I always say, “the kids don’t care if it’s the weekend. 0700 comes at the same time as every other day.” No need for us to stay out late.

We have always allowed our APs to invite their friends over for movie night at our house after the kids go to bed. Some of them actually appreciate a night in…especially when they realize that they’ve been spending too much money at the mall. I guess I feel lucky that the occasional Saturday night has never been an issue for my APs.

Caligirl May 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

This drives me crazy. An au-pair is here to help you first and foremost. A social life should not triumph that ever. The way our family works is we need help on weekends and same type of schedule as the women who wrote the question. I would tell concerned host mom to rematch, it will only get worse with the au-pair and resentment will build. Was she told prior that her schedule would include weekends? We are very careful about making sure potential au-pairs are made fully aware of that fact. It’s in our family letter from the get-go. And retold several times to make sure that is understood. Of course she always gets her one weekend off a month and never goes over 45 hours. There’s still plenty of time to hang out and if she asks ahead that something special is going on with friends, and we are able to not use her on that Saturday, of course we oblidge. I do not feel I need to compensate with unlimited use of car, etc( though she has that anyway). I feel if they are told upfront what the schedule will be and agree, that’s it. Host families shouldn’t feel they need to pay 60 dollars for a babysitter on top of an au-pair. That to me is a waste of money. It really adds up. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh. It works for us. As long as everyone knows upfront.

Indi Au Pair to be May 23, 2011 at 12:16 am

Exactly!! I think that compensating with more car use to an AP that’s not very willing to work on Saturdays to beging with would only make things worst as she’d start feeling entitled to have the car whenever and for whatever she wants!! I think my work as an AP is to have flexibility!! I don’t expect to be compensated about it, maybe a little sympaty back in ocasions as the one you mentioned like special events that are discussed in advance and don’t interfer with some big plans you might already had! But I’d feel terribly if my HP would have to get a nanny and pay $60 dollars to have a nice date out while I go catch a movie with friends, forget about the movie, it’ll most likelly be in screens for weeks!!

ap May 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Indi Au Pair to be, if after 6 months of being an au pair you still keep the same opinion, please come here and share it with us. Things ch-ch-change.

Indi Au Pair to be May 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Sure I will, I just think that if I take a job in wich those subjects are adresses upfront and I take it and sing to commit, I have no right to complain about it, ask for an ease yes, but if it’s not given, i should move on either by accepthing things as they are or just going back home, being an Au Pair is a hard job. There’s the good, the bad and the ugly in every job you take.

Steff May 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I agree with ap. One thing is the mentality you have way before arrival, before even being matched, and other (a whole lot different) once you get there and face the actual reality. I guess that’s also part of preparing yourself to be an aupair, setting realistic expectations and realize that it doesn’t matter how ready and prepared you ‘think’ you are, things aren’t always going to be as you pictured them– regardless of good intentions and positive thinking. The job is always so much harder done than just said. :)

Steff May 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm

PS : I so do agree with IndiAP though about knowing things upfront and how then you are actually with no right whatsoever to complain of the deal you knew about from the start :D

Should be working May 26, 2011 at 3:42 am

I wish Steff’s comment about how it will never be what you imagined, and the mentality before arrival is VERY different from the mentality during the year, could be PLASTERED across all au pair materials. The in-advance idea of the whole thing just does not match the reality–even the good parts.

Anonamomma May 26, 2011 at 4:42 am

Ha – just while we’re on this note my current AP just asked me if she could be paid extra for babysitting (nearly always on a Friday as well!) and well inside the hourly allowance & fully disclosed before matching, handbook, discussed, etc – just goes to show you!

Why? because some of her friends are paid extra for babysitting (but they are working much longer hours than she is). Her answer is “it’s still a weekend night”

Indi Au Pair to be May 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I agree with you all, as well. I’m only talking from outside as I’ve not lived the full experience yet. But I hope to gaing knowledge and wisdom to come back to his forum and aport how things are from the other side of the fence.

ap May 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm

“PS : I so do agree with IndiAP though about knowing things upfront and how then you are actually with no right whatsoever to complain of the deal you knew about from the start ”

Much agreed. I’m just saying that cause I had a completely different vision of things before becoming an au pair, and Steff is right, no matter how prepared you are, being in the position, working day by day, omg, it’s completely different. My only advice is to do not set your expectations super high, and to do not compromise with a situation that you’d not be a 100% comfortable with in your home country. I used to work on weekend back in my home country, and that experience made me realize that I didn’t want to do it on my year abroad. Same thing about curfew (I never had one at home, I’d not like one in my host family), use of the car, etc. One year outside of your comfort zone is a lot of time, you’ve gotta make yourself as comfortable as you can before even starting it, otherwise you may regret your decisions.

AFHostMom May 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm

We are among the minority here, the HFs that bug other HFs, and give our AP every weekend off. ;) The reason is compelling though: we have 2 preschoolers who she watches 10 hrs a day, and there is a large ex-pat community from her home country in DC, where many of her hometown friends live (this was just a happy coincidence–she didn’t realize how close they’d be till we matched). She leaves on the train Friday night (2 minutes from our house) and I pick her up at the metro station on Sunday (or Monday if I have my day off that week)evening. She doesn’t drive either. But she is so amazing that I’d drive her to downtown DC if she asked. Anyway, everything has pretty much been said. She has, numerous times, told us that she is ok spending the weekend here if we need her, but we know she treasures her time with friends and currently she’s in English classes in DC (the ones in our area are not convenient for an AP’s schedule–esp a non-driving one).
In any case, we make it work. We don’t particularly enjoy going out on weekend nights and most of our friends have young kids also so our weekend outings almost always include the kids. We still manage to have date night about twice a month, on Thursdays usually, but she would be OK with us switching it to Friday. Actually we are all very happy with the arrangement–although we love her, it IS nice to have our cramped house to “ourselves” on the weekends too.
However, original poster, if it’s already an issue, I predict it will continue. Our last, 19 y.o. partier-kind-of-disaster-needed-a-reality-check AP, who we ended up terminating with early, resented weekend work. It was always a battle with her, and even though we rarely asked and at the time I wasn’t working and her hours during the week were fewer, the stress leading up to asking her sucked. Good luck to you.
And finally–ditto to the “40 hr work week.” I work 9 hr days to get a day off every other week, and my commute is between 70-90 min total. Husband is in the Air Force so we stagger, juggle, and pray every week. Luckily our AP is super and if we go over or mess up, she is ok with it (we compensate her of course). It’s all about trade-off and mutual respect.

HRHM May 23, 2011 at 3:21 am

All I really have to add is this: APs, if you want to have every weekend off, don’t choose a family with all school aged children. I guarentee you that if you choose a family with kids under the age of 2 and parents that work full-time, you will end up working all your hours during the week and have every weekend off. The trade off is that you will work your a$$ of with diaper changing, feeding, chasing and entertaining for the full 45 hours. Our AP had 2 kids gone all day, she only worked 2 hours in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. They could feed themselves and walk and entertain themselves and each other. It was an extremely easy gig, so there is no way that I felt bad asking her to work 3/4 saturdays for 4-5 hours. She was still working less than 30 hours most weeks and getting paid for 45.

Also be aware, the SD rules state that you have to have 1.5 days off per week, they don’t HAVE to be on the weekend except for once per month. So if your HPs work on the weekend, your days off may be Tuesday and Thursday and this is completely within the rules.

AFHostMom May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

exactly, but I wouldn’t just say kids under 2–mine are 2 and 3, and not in preschool. It’s all about balance, and I KNOW our AP works her tail off 4-5 days a week, 10 hrs a day. I don’t envy her job, so I am certainly happy that she gets to enjoy her weekends off.

ap May 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

When I applied to be an au pair, I had it clear in my head that I’d like to work with little kids AND have all my weekends off. You’re right, I work my a$$ out with diapers and entertainment, and I don’t have time during the week to run simple errands like the post office, cause it’s open from 9-5, unless I take the kids with me. BUT from friday evening to monday morning I have 100% of the time to myself. I can sleep in, go out and come back whenever I want and make my own schedule. I prefer that than having broken free hours during the week in which all of my friends are working. There’s a limited number of time in which I need a post office, but there are thousands of things that I can only do on weekends.

Anyway, that’s how I prefer it, and I must say my schedule was never an issue. I’m pretty sure some people would chose their regular morning naps while the kids are in school, but I’m happy with what I’ve got and I wouldn’t have accepted a family with weekend hours (cause for sure I’d dislike it a lot).

PA AP mom May 26, 2011 at 8:11 am


I totally understand what you are saying. I appreciate your input about how different the actual experience and the “imagined” experience are. We, as host families, sometimes don’t get the au pair’s perspective on these things.

That said, we have school aged kids (10 and 7). Our au pair has every weekday from 830-4pm to herself to skype family, run errands, go to the gym, etc. Her friend C, has smaller children and works a full 10 hour day/45 hour week EVERY week.

When the weekend comes, it is always a struggle to get an “adult” night because C doesn’t have to work and it’s “not fair” for our AP to have to work.

It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Our host family situations are very different and our childcare needs are also different.

DC/MD Mom May 23, 2011 at 11:33 am

Not much new to add here. We have school aged kids and welcome the opportunity to go out on Saturday nights. During our most recent matching, we have said we go out 2-3 times/month. In reality it is usually more like 1-2, but I think it’s better to set expectations on the higher end. As others have mentioned, we send a sample schedule and make this explicit early on in the interview process. The OP’s comments from the LCC make me angry though, and I wonder about the role of specific agencies or communities in this. Our experience, with two successful APs was that they generally seemed fine with Saturday nights. Usually their friends worked too, and then they went out when everyone got off. If it was a night that ours was working and the others were off, we would come home to find them watching a movie together, which was fine. We never got the complaint that everyone else had every weekend off. Our last AP had great times with our kids when we went out — they had a special routine for a dinner she made from her home country that they all looked forward to. We have a new AP now and I have encouraged her to let us know if she wants to make particular travel plans for a given weekend so we can be flexible — but that being said, we occasionally have plans that are long-scheduled and non-negotiable. We hope that she will understand it’s just part of the job, as her predecessors have…

Melissa May 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I’m coming into this a bit late and would echo what has already been said about proactive communication about the schedule and trying to find some type of a balance (not requiring the AP to work every Saturday night except the 1 weekend off). However, the big concern for me here would be that the au pair is voicing some issues with this so early on. I certainly encourage my au pairs to be open with me and want them to feel free to share any frustrations or problems, however, this is a pretty self-focused concern (very different than my new AP coming to me with something along the lines of, “I feel like I’m not bonding with Child A as much as I’d like. Do you have any ideas that might help me?”) and her feeling comfortable enough to bring it up after only 1 week would be a big red flag of possible resentment/entitlement issues to come.

azmom May 24, 2011 at 9:59 am

what i find the most frustrating is the lack of empathy from the LCC. The program is advertised to host families as:
– flexible (um wouldn’t saturday night availability be part of that?)
– cultural exchange (i’ve heard of stories and posts here where the host families have no contact with the AP because the AP is out the door the moment the HP are home)
– a third adult family member (yet so often we either hear that they aren’t like a third ADULT member when it comes to many areas, but more like a “welcome to the teenaged years”)

If we don’t have the benefit of ANY of the three, for most families this program isn’t giving any benefit over a nanny, or for those with school-aged kids, a college-aged helper to drive and supervise homework.

And regarding loving our children and still wanting 3 hours a month withn our significant other… well… if we don’t do something with them, then they become our insignificant other, right?

massaupairmom May 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

We use all our hours during the week, and so have never asked our au pairs to work on the weekend (to the point that both have suggested my husband and I might like a night out together!). We have a small cluster and, until recently, were the only family with non-school aged children. There have actually been many occasions when our au pairs have had nothing to do on the weekend because the other au pairs in our cluster were all working! From what I have observed, the other families in our cluster who have the ability to do so ALL use au pair hours on the weekend so the host parents can go out. On a side note, query whether there is any correlation between the desire to match with families with school aged children (ie, generally fewer hours required and less labor intensive) and the prioritization of the ability to go out with friends every weekend. I have a few years before I can test this hypothesis in my own family!

JennyWren May 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I am a HM in England and usually just lurk (I find a lot of interesting conversations but as the AP system in the US is so different to ours, I usually feel that I can’t offer much to contribute), but this is a conversation that I definitely can add to!

In the UK we no longer have an AP visa as such, so there are no regulations about the hours an AP can work. In the main, though, the old conventions still apply: an AP is expected to work 25 hours each week, with at least 2 full days off (not necessarily the weekend) and up to 2 evenings’ babysitting each week, one of which may be at the weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday night).

In practice, we use about 25 hours and 1 evening every week during term time, with up to 3 evenings on a really bad (rare) week. But school holidays can mean as few as 10 hours or less. We don’t ask for weekend daytime hours as we use all our time during the week and we usually offer one weekday free and one day free after school drop-off (I work 3.5 days each week).

In exchange, we offer £70 pocket money each week (about $114) and the usual bed and board. We don’t offer use of a car, but do offer a bike, and there are good bus services from our village and trains from the town nearby, and we are happy to offer our AP a lift in our car when possible – either we are heading in the same direction or she is heading off to catch a train before the buses have started/after they have finished. We say upfront that this offer ends at 10.30pm and they should take a cab after that, but in practise I have offered later pick-ups (and earlier than I am normally up and about) for special occasions – both our APs so far have gone above and beyond when needed, so it feels natural to do the same.

Obviously, part of our success in having APs happy to work weekend evenings is because that is the norm here, but I believe that another part is because we make it clear upfront that we live in a village – this is a lovely place to live but it definitely isn’t party central, so we don’t match with true party-goers on that basis. Instead, our APs have tended to get together with the other AP in our village at home for snack/DVDs/chat (and I am happy for our APs to have the other AP visit when they are babysitting), and meet up with college friends in other towns during the daytime.

We are only 2 APs in and we’ve had 2 really fantastic girls :) – we’ve been very lucky. But the expectations of APs in the UK are very different to those of APs in the US in many subtle ways, so it feels as though you would be comparing apples and oranges to say that APs are treated ‘better’ under one system WRT weekend working.

Cupcake Day May 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Hi everyone,
I’m an au pair and I just want to give my input about the whole saturday night situation. I don’t agree with the Au Pair! When we sign up to be an Au Pair, we have to know that one of the first and very important requirement is to be flexible. Of course, we also expect that all the rules about our time-off is going to be followed and we need to have our own downtime. Once the HF is respecting the rules, we need to open our minds about working on saturday night and be flexible. My way of working this out with the HF’s I’ve worked with, I’ve always made them my priority, on the other hand, they always respected me as a human being, that also need to have some time with friends, going out on satuarday night, and we tried to plan ahead of time the schedule, this way I could tell them if I had a important party on a saturday night that I’d like to attend, so they could go out on the next saturday. However, in case they really need me to work on that same saturday, OF COURSE, my plans would be put aside because they are my priority.

Carlos May 30, 2011 at 8:48 pm

What did raquel said?

3rd time HM June 2, 2011 at 12:37 am

We have toddlers who are in daycare about 3 hours per day with the exception of Wednesdays. Our au pair usually begins at 8 and ends her day at 5:30 which means she works approximately 35 hours per week and “owes” us about 10 hours. We don’t actually ask for the full 10 hours back but we do have a scheduled date night (every other Saturday which means that some months we go out three times:). The date nights are on a pre-done and are laid out for the whole year upon the au pair’s arrival. Some of the date nights have to be moved on the fly because our plans change (family coming from out of town or we need the AP on a different night). Some of the date nights have to change due to the AP’s social plans. We rarely have to compromise on having the dates on Saturday because if the AP cannot do one Saturday, she can usually do the next one and then we simply swap weekends. I think the most important part of this is flexibility on the part of the family and the au pair and having clear expectations with a posted calendar. Most of our AP’s friends do similar weekend babysitting for the HF so it is really fairly standard in our area. Typically our au pair invites friends over on such evenings and has an enjoyable time. For those who posted that they prefer a work-free weekend every time, it will be hard to get sympathy around here as many of us are professionals who have spent years busting our butts during weekdays, weekends, nights, whenever to advance our studies and careers. Ultimately, if you love what you do and you have a positive attitude and good work ethic, what you put in is likely to pay off.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I always laugh when I head out the door on a Friday night and one of my childless colleagues wishes me a relaxing weekend. I’m not complaining – I love my kids – but DH and I often find ourselves going in opposite directions with kids with conflicting activities. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s life. But DH and I learned a long time ago, it’s absolutely essential to grab a little down time for being a couple — we can’t maintain our relationship if our schedule is that of two parents who live together in the same house.

That being said, I’m flexible. Recently, my AP asked for a weekend off that all of her friends had, and I agreed. DH and I will find our downtime some other evening.

Jeana June 4, 2011 at 8:20 am

When looking for an aupair, I would supply a copy of our “family book”. This includes everything about our home, family, routine, work schedules, what makes us shine as a host family and what we’re unable to provide. For example, most aupairs in our cluster have their own cars. We have one car and our aupair will not have access to that car. I make sure the aupair knows most of her friends will have a car and she will not. I also explain that many of her friends will work during the day Monday through Friday and then be free the entire weekend. Our aupairs had the daytime free, and therefore, I would need help on Saturdays in the morning and occasionally later. I encouraged our aupairs to let me know as soon as they became aware of special activities through their cluster. I would tell them I could do amazing things with schedules when I know in advance, but last minute notification was tough…I also began scheduling Saturdays from the very beginning to get into the routine. This worked well, with the exception of one aupair. She was free during the day, I transported her to and from school on Monday and Wednesday evening, then she left every Friday afternoon and didn’t return until Sunday night. So, she didn’t work during the day, and was unavailable on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, for work. If I scheduled her for Tuesday and/or Thursday evening, she was upset because it interfered with her social life. She didn’t remain with us for long.

Susie June 8, 2011 at 7:00 am

I think its important to state up front the hours you expect the aupair to work… if you have fully informed her of what hours are expected to work and she has accepted these. Then she must take responsibility for her hours otherwise she shouldnt have agreed in the first place.

J June 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Not Fair when is your last weekend of your au pair year!!!
I work this coming Saturday, my last one :( and Im not gonna get to say bye to some friends bc of that. Anyway, you gotta do what you gotta do :(

Taking a Computer Lunch June 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I know you’re disappointed, but surely your opportunities to say goodbye to your friends were not limited to one night! And yes, while you might want them all in one place, I’m sure they would prefer to have one-on-one time to say goodbye, too.

My APs tend to get weekends off during their last weeks because they’re working 45-hour weeks during those last summer weeks. Most years I try to balance their need to pack and say goodbye by taking extra time off, but that isn’t always possible for me and my DH, given various work loads.

I would say to APs – if you really want time off, just ask. The worst that can happen is that your HP say no (but don’t pout when they do say no – they have their own reasons).

AuPair20 July 3, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I am an Au Pair right now. Iam here fpor 9 Month already. I get barely 30 hours per week together. I usually just work 1 or 2 Days a month and I do not have a problem to work on these weekends, but I need to know it early. Au Pairs also want to make plans. I think it depends on how you gonna communicate with your Au Pair. If you definetly want your Au Pair to work every weekend than you need to make it clear, even when you are interviewing a person. The other thing is that I am allowed to go asleep, whe the kids are sleeping. I am also allowed to just invite a friend over for a movienight , if the kids are asleep. So I don’t see where the problem is. By the way, after the hostparents come home, the au pair usually has the chance to go out too (if he/she do not have a curfew) I have met a lot of Au Pairs who are even working for more than 45 hours a week and still gonna work on the weekends to get some extra money. But do not let your au pair work on every holiday. There are a lot of au pairs i met who had to work on new years eve and christmas. I think you need to give the au pair to feel home, so you need to give her/him a chance to celebrate it with their friends.

AnnaAuPair October 13, 2011 at 10:33 am

I have been an au pair for a year now and I still remember the first conversation I had with my host family. Even though I am the first exchanger they’ve had, they made it clear then that I will be asked to work weekends.
90% of my Au Pair friends have weekends off and they travel mostly every other weekend. I cannot count how many times I had to swallow my tears and tell them I couldn’t go with them. However, as many of you pointed out, childcare and host family cannot be less important than trips and partying. If an Au Pair agreed to work on weekends before accepting the family, there is no way around it.
What is very helpful from my perspective- my schedule is discussed every Sunday evening after the kids go to bed. I know if I can plan anything with my friends on Saturday or if I should try to get together with them during the week.
Another thing- since I am trying to be really flexible for the family, I expect them to try as well. If there is an important event I just couldn’t miss, I do not hesitate to ask my Hosts to reschedule their date night for another day or next week. Everything is about timing, giving other person a few days of warning.
I miss some great opportunities sometimes but I am proud to say my Host Parents are my friends and compromising is the best we can do for each other.

OMG!! October 14, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I came as an au pair because i thought it was going to be a rewarding job in terms of helping people and giving my best. Also, to improve english and make friend for life… Everything sounded perfect…UNTIL I BECAME AN AU PAIR…..I was not even a need, I was a luxury for the familY… they didnt even care about me. ” dont get my kids sick”.
I worked every weekend and week day and they barely remembered my days off. It was the worst experience in my life. How come a mother who does not work (and does nothing at all) appart of going to the gym and lunch with the friends and spend her husband’s money can say that I had to work because she was so tired of her mom role of 2 kids. (and they were sweet ) with me of course not with that awful mother they have. MY CONCLUCION IS… I AM HAPPY TO LEAVE SOON. AND my advice is girls who wants to be au pairs if you really like to be the maid then come, but if you wanna have a nice experience dont be an au pair. WHY do we have to do everything that those people are not able to do due to their lazyness??………

azmom October 15, 2011 at 2:24 am

Sometimes there is a fine line between using up the 45 hours and overworking an au pair. Having said that, if you were working every weekend, then the family was not falling within the guidelines. Whether or not the mom works has nothing to do with it. You likely knew that going in. If the family broke the rules, then you need to talk to them and especially your LCC.

All families are different, just as all au pairs are different! Just because I felt “duped” with my first au pair, it doesn’t mean I assume all au pairs are like that and tell everyone to stay away from au pairs. I could have left the program but I believe in the meaning of the program. For our family, having an au pair works, even though it isn’t the best financially.

AnnaAuPair October 16, 2011 at 7:01 am

Dear AuPair (and other AuPairs who read this),
I’m really sorry that your experience as an AuPair wasn’t the way you dreamed it to be. My year didn’t start out the way I wanted it to be either. But I rematched with another family that I still love dearly and if I had to choose again, I would ALWAYS do it again.
Just because SOME families think they can abuse AuPairs doesn’t mean the rest of them does – just as SOME AuPairs aren’t cut out to be an AuPair and just want a cheap way to come to the US, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of really good AuPairs out there!

AnnaAuPair October 16, 2011 at 7:05 am

ups, sorry for the double post – CV, can you delete this one?

AnnaAuPair October 16, 2011 at 7:03 am

Dear AuPair (and other AuPairs who read this),
I’m really sorry that your experience as an AuPair wasn’t the way you dreamed it to be. My year didn’t start out the way I wanted it to be either. But I rematched with another family that I still love dearly and if I had to choose again, I would ALWAYS do it again.
Just because SOME families think they can abuse AuPairs doesn’t mean the rest of them does – just as SOME AuPairs aren’t cut out to be an AuPair and just want a cheap way to come to the US, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of really good AuPairs out there!
Please don’t generalize!

hostmomalittlecrazy November 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

I thought host parents were required to give their AuPairs 1.5 days off every weekend??? Meaning Fri eve and all of Saturday or Sat eve and all day Sunday. How do you work it that your aupair works Saturday night? Are they off all day Sunday and Monday morning??

HRHM November 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

So the rule is “one and one half days off each WEEK” which means it could be all day Wednesday and half a day on Friday. The days don’t have to be on the weekend (except once per month when the rules require she get a whole weekend free) nor do they need to be consecutive. Many families have APs for the very reason that they need care on a crazy schedule and traditional American care givers don’t offer the flexibility that the AP system does.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’ve always interpreted the rules to mean that I may schedule my AP to work 5 hours on either weekend day, could be in the middle of the day, could be on a Saturday night (but that’s because DH and I work full-time and usually want our APs to work a Mon-Fri schedule). When I want her to work more than 5 hours on a weekend day/evening, then I try to give her a morning or evening shift off during the week (even though she usually only works 5 hours a day, but in two split shifts). I’ve not had an AP complain about it, but then again, I rarely ask an AP to work more than 2 weekends a month.

Should be working November 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I thought we covered this at some length somewhere else on this site…but in any case CCAP interprets this rule as meaning 1.5 CONSECUTIVE days off. Not necessarily on the weekend, although APs do get one weekend a month entirely off.

What a half day counts as is a source of debate. Is it half of the usual number of hours (e.g. 2-6pm if AP usually works 2-10pm), or half of a standard waking day (e.g. 1-6pm), or half of the shift she would ‘usually’ work (e.g. 12-4 for an AP that would otherwise work 8-4).

Consecutive, for CCAP families, is clearer. Many families have a school/workweek schedule for the AP, which means the 1.5 days are somewhere over the weekend. But for us, as a family with schoolkids and a corresponding AP workweek that revolves around school dropoffs/pickups, for us to have the AP babysit on Saturday night, that means we give her off Fri after school dropoff to Sat 7pm and HPs arrange to pick up kids ourselves on Friday; or we give her Sunday am through Monday 3pm off, which means I get the kids up, ready and to school myself where that is normally her job. Either way it means HPs need to pick up a shift, either MOn morning dropoff or Fri afternoon pickup.

azmom November 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

right it depends on agency – CCAP is the only one that requires the days be consecutive. it isn’t a state department requirement. interexchange indicates the half day means no more than 5 hours. also, they can have wednesday and thursday off if you needed it scheduled that way, as long as they had a weekend off every month.

Au Pair in Italy February 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

The solution to the problem is simple. Be very upfront about working hours in the interview process. If you state that the Au Pair is expected to work 1 saturday a month, stick to that. If the Au Pair will be expected to work every weekend, then be sure to state it.

The bottom line is that if the Au Pair knows the complete situation going in, then she is unlikely to be upset by it, but if what was stated as “an occasional saturday night” of work turns out to be every Saturday, do not be shocked when your Au Pair becomes resentful.

Personally, I would have never accepted a position that made me work during the weekends. Part of the reason why Au Pairing is so attractive is because us Au Pairs want to travel and without two full days off a week, it is kind of difficult to do that. Having said that, if my family asked me to help them out for a few hours every so often (asking in advance…not the day before or day of, unless there is a real emergency) I would gladly do so.

Remember, respect is a two way street.

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