What Size Bed for Your Au Pair (Poll)

by cv harquail on March 11, 2010

A host mom writes:

Do we need to get a bigger bed for our next au pair?

Our current au pair has a queen-size bed in her room, which used to be our guest room. We are moving to a larger home in a few months. The new house will have a guest room, and so we want to use this queen bed in the guest room once again.

When we move, our au pair would get a twin bed. It is a comfortable, clean, cosy bed.

_3445_3190622132_bc943bda41.jpgOur current au pair doesn’t care about downsizing to a twin bed for a short time. She will be completing her year soon. However, our current au pair is concerned about the bed for the new au pair. She suggested that that I should reconsider giving our next au pair a twin bed.

Our current au pair says that most au pairs have large beds. She worried that our new au pair will feel slighted when she sees the larger beds her friends get to sleep on.

So I’d like to know:

  • Is a twin bed really that small? (I’d sleep on one.)
  • Do most families provide a queen bed for their au pairs?
  • Have any other host families faced a similar situation?
  • Would other families consider buying a bigger bed for the au pair?

What size bed do you have for your au pair?

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If you were this Host Mom, would you buy a new Queen size bed?

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AnnaAuPair March 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

In both my hostfamilies I had a Twin. I didn’t really care what size my bed had. I mean, as long as it’s comfortable, it’s fine.

Should be working March 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Twin is fine. It’s what dormitories, hostels and even low-budget hotels offer. And in my own life, it’s what parents offer as well. I suppose if you have a very large au pair, height or girthwise, you might consider if a twin would be uncomfortable, but I still think it is absolutely appropriate.

We have a queen for our au pair, only because it’s the bed my husband and I used to use before we upgraded to a king.

(I suppose if you are one of the HFs that allow boyfriends to sleep over the AP would prefer a larger bed, but I have no sympathy for that argument!)

Should be working March 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm

P.S. CV, I love when your blog post first appears during normal PACIFIC zone hours! Otherwise when I wake up and check the blog on the day of a new ‘hot’ post, the list of comments is already so long I lose whatever might have been said early in the morning.

cv harquail March 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

You know that this is only happening right now because *I* should be working ! ;-)

Hula Gal March 11, 2010 at 3:33 pm

We deliberated on this but ended up with a twin because it provided more room for us to set the au pair’s room up like a studio apartment. None of our au pairs complain and in fact we asked the first au pair her opinion before she arrived and she said she would prefer a twin to have more room for other furniture.

I think you should consider what fits your needs before your au pair’s needs on this particular question because at the end of the day, it is your home and au pairs come and go (some pretty quick such as that first au pair who lasted with us for two days!). The fact that I had allowed so much input from our first au pair on how the room would look and then she only lasted for a few days and then went back to Germany has made me realize that some things should be my decision to make and not the au pair.

Elle March 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I had a twin when I was an au pair along with a big chair that folded out to a second twin for when friends/my boyfriend stayed the night. A double would have been more comfortable (I turn in the night and was afraid one day I’d fall off; never happened, but still something I thought about) but it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. More than a double bed I would have preferred a lock on my bedroom door.

Anonymous March 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Our agency requires a door that locks. However, once our APs lock themselves out, they rarely use it. Fortunately it’s the same lock that opens every door but the front door to our house.

MTR March 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Interesting. This is the first time I hear about agency requiring the lock on the door.

Our au pair’s door locks, but the lock was there before we moved into the house. If it wasn’t there and she asked for it, changing a door knob is not a big deal and we would’ve done that.

Anna March 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

We have a twin bed for our au pair, because that’s the bed that we had extra when our first au pair arrived.
This looks like another case of the “arms race” between families, flames fanned by your current au pair.
Do what you want, and don’t mention to the new au pair what kind of living arrangement your old au pair had.
We did that when we had to move an au pair to a smaller room – we made the move between the change between au pairs.
No, I wouldn’t buy a queen bed. Our au pair’s room is small, so a queen bed would not be a good idea for it anyway… nothing else would really fit.

We don’t have the fanciest accomodation for our au pair, but should we buy a new house just because most of her au pair friends probably have it nicer? I don’t think so. The right person for our family, will come to our house, and will share our values.

franzi March 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

queen in the first, twin in the second. you are not supposed to provide a certain sized bed as long as you do provide a real bed.

personally, i think a twin bed suffices, especially if it opens up more furniture opportunities for the AP room.

MTR March 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

We have a queen bed for our au pair. However, it was the bad that we had when we started hosting, so that’s what we used.

To be honest, should we be in a position to get a new bed for the next AP, considering our au pair’s room, I would get another queen. That is b/c our au pair’s room is huge. That room is more then half our our full basement in our house. So her room is the size our living and dining rooms combined. A twin bed would look tiny in there.

However, if our au pair had a regular room in the house, I would not hesitate to give her a twin bed if that is what we had/decided to buy. We do not play the “keeping up with the Johnes’s” game and I don’t care what other au pairs in our cluster have. We provide to our au pair what we consider to be necessary, sufficient, and can afford. If it comes out to be less or more then others provide, then so be it.

Au Pair in CO March 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I have a queen bed, but I would have liked a twin bed and a chair even better, as I don’t really like having to lay in bed to watch tv:P

Taking a computer lunch March 11, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Our APs have slept on the same full-sized mattress that for the last 9 years (is that too long? – the last AP we had said it was comfortable), because it was what we had in the guest room. Our first AP’s room was miniscule (it’s my son’s now) – 8 x 11, and the double bed, dresser and bookshelf took up the entire room. The AP room is now in our basement in the new addition we built to make a handicapped accessible bed & bath for our daughter (the AP is ensuite below her). It’s now big enough for a desk too.

My reasoning for the full-sized bed is that we permit APs to have friends over. Most have shared their beds over the years with other young women with whom they have gone clubbing, and an occasional boyfriend. We permit spillover on to the basement futon in our playroom, preferably with advance notice. Although the room is new, it is furnished rather simply, with old family cast-offs (like the dresser and mattress) or IKEA furniture (the bedframe and desk). We give APs, when they arrive, an empty picture frame to insert family photos.

PA au pair mom March 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Our AP has a queen size bed. It’s what was in the room prior to her arrival and it fits perfectly in there. It also matches the dresser. the room is fairly large and a twin would look painfully inadequate in there.

Amelie ex au pair March 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

When I was an au pair, I used to sleep in a queen bed… But really, I couldn’t care less about the size of my bed. When I was on vacation with my HF, I slept in a bunk bed for a week, and it was fine for me.

Honestly, if you’re a good host family, don’t worry about it!

Amelie ex au pair March 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm

BTW, since I have a twin bed in my house here in Brazil, when I had the queen bed in host family’s house, I used to sleep every night on the same side of the bed.

But it was good to have a queen bed when I had friends sleeping over.

Chev March 11, 2010 at 10:46 pm

She’ll be fine with a twin, i had twins with my host families during my first au pair year and was fine with it. i have a double now and it’s great for when my mates stay over but i’d be fine if i’d gotten here and had a twin too :)

LH March 12, 2010 at 12:01 am

I had this SAME situation. Honestly I just asked my au pair. I said we gave our last au pair queen bed but the room looks better and fits more stuff (we got a new desk and chair, and added another chair and side table) with a twin. Is this ok? Both au pairs said no problem they had twins in their own countries.

Dorsi March 12, 2010 at 12:58 am

As a side note, American college students typically sleep in twin beds. Our AP has a queen, but only because we used to have a guest bedroom. I hadn’t really thought about down grading to a twin, but we probably will when we move and go back to having a guest bedroom + au pair room.

NannyKelly March 12, 2010 at 7:03 am

I think more than anything its important that the bed is comfortable! An au pair who gets little sleep in an uncomfortable bed is way off than one who gets good sleep in a little bed.

Ann AP March 12, 2010 at 7:43 am

I agree, a small but comfortable bed is better than a uncomfortable big one.

StephinBoston March 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

We have a queen, that’s what we had so that’s what we put in the room, it fits well in the room so it’s going to stay that way. Personally as an adult I hate sleeping in a twin so I probably at least would do a double if we had to buy a new one. But I do think it’s your personal choice and most au pairs won’t care.

Mom23 March 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

We have a Queen bed for our au pair. It used to be the guest room bed. Our au pair has the largest bedroom in our house with an attached bath. We had a desk set up and a T.V. Unfortunately, our current au pair has moved a lot of her stuff — including the desk into the play room and now the kids are not using the play room as much. Were I doing it again, I might consider a twin just so that the au pair feels like the room is more like a studio apartment rather than a bedroom and we can get our space back.

Darthastewart March 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

I would make sure to move that stuff back. I don’t mind sharing the spaces in my home as they currently are, but when the AP starts moving furniture outside of their room, etc, I am a bit leary.

TX Mom March 12, 2010 at 1:51 pm

It’s a slippery slope. We’ve had AP’s who overflowed into our playroom and consider it their own room shortly. We found ourselves locked out of the playroom whenever the AP was off duty and new curtains installed in the playroom. After the curtain incident I vowed to nip the issue in the bud pretty quickly with following AP’s.
We also had AP’s who fell asleep regularly on the couch in the play room and spend the night there but never exclude the family from the space.

Anne March 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

Having lived in the US, I know that beds are bigger in the US than anywhere else (just like sizes of most houses up to the size of soda-cups, icecream cones etc.). But meaby -because this is also a cultural experience- an au pair should have a kingsize bed :-).

Dorsi March 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Love it !

Reggie March 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

Our AP has a queen size bed in a room that also has a computer desk and chair. We gave her a queen sized bed because that was our spare bed. But, it comes in really handy when she has AP friends over for overnight visits.

AZ HM March 12, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Our AP’s room is small…all the bedrooms in our house are on the smaller size. We furnished the room when our 1st AP arrived and bought a second hand day bed (twin) that had barely been used, all new linens, a new dresser/mirror, a small open shelving unit and a comfy chair with small laptop table (we provide a laptop). I think our APs have liked their room, though I’m certain it is smaller than some of their AP friends’ rooms.

For me it was more important that the room seem inviting and that it fit with the rest of the home (not more sparsely furnished and not the storage place for all the old furniture). I don’t think the bed size, at least for our family and our APs, has made a big difference in our APs happiness.

ExAP March 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm

At home I had a queen bed for several years.
At my HF’s, the room was small (but absolutely efficient) and I had a twin bed.
At first I was like uhm I want my space ;) But after some nights I got used to it and it was perfectly fine. :)
If you already have the bed, it’s fine, don’t buy a special bed!

Anonymous March 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I don’t think it matters, as long as it’s comfortable. I have a king sized bed at home, but I’d be fine with a twin bed. In my previous host family I had a queen sized bed, but it was on a futon base and the mattress was rock hard so I found it extremely difficult to get to sleep at night. I only had one really flat pillow which I ended up stuffing with clothes just so I wasn’t lying totally flat on the bed. It sounds like a petty thing to complain about, but I ended up finding it so hard to get a decent night’s sleep that I had to take three hour naps in the morning (while the kid was at preschool). So pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaase, make sure the mattress is comfortable and it would be great to provide at least two pillows/one thicker pillow!

Darthastewart March 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm

And to add- a decent selection of blankets too. Not just one.

HostMomSeattle March 13, 2010 at 12:55 am

Our AP has a twin, but she has the newest, most comfortable bed in the house :)

HostMomSeattle March 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

I always worry about blankets and pillows too– I know I like a bunch of feather pillows (I would be miserable without a good feather pillow for a whole year); I do provide a selection but then ask frequently about whether it’s still okay. We have so many different pillows and blankets around the house it’s easy to accomodate someone’s preferences as it changes throughout the year (for example, flannel sheets in the winter), but I do like to make it clear.

Italian Au Pair March 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I have a huge bed in my room. (and its a fantastic and very comfortable bed)
But to be honest, if I had the choice I would not the a superbig bed, but a room with a small bed and a DESK!

southbayaupairs March 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Our au pair has a twin bed. Our au pairs have always had a twin bed. I know our current au pair would love a bigger bed, she has said so, and in a very nice, is it possible when we move sort of way. It is the only thing she has asked us for, and she is fantastic, so when we move we will dig the queen out of storage. I find these comments here fascinating, as I am both an LCC and a host mom. I have never had size of bed come up as an issue, but I guess it is. Very interesting feedback here, especially from some of the former au pairs…

Jem March 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

I must say that this discussion strikes me as ridiculous. In my early 20s I was lucky to have a twin size bed. I studied abroad in Spain and had a room the size of a closet with a bed that was certainly smaller than a twin. Guess what? I can’t remember anything about that bed because I had so much fun meeting people and going out. These young au pairs need to get out and see the world- not sit on their big queen sized beds……….If they need a queen bed at age 20, what will their “needs” be at age 50? I, for one, do not wish to know……

Nicola aupair May 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I know that the last post for this was ages ago, but I must say, I would die for a queen sized or even a twin bed. I get to sleep on the sofa in the kid’s playroom. I have the luxury of removing the pillows from the side before I go to sleep. I don’t have the luxury of napping on weekends as my 5 year old child is always in my room playing with his toys. One sunday I had had enough (having stayed up too late the night before) and yelled at him to get out. I regret that, but still, just be grateful for what you get! I’m in Europe, so I guess my own room isn’t a requirement or “rule”.

The funny thing is, my host mum asked me to type up their old profile on the computer to find a new au-pair (I’m leaving earlier than planned). Discreetly, I deleted the part that said “you will get your own room and a space.” It may mean that I have to stay here a little longer and wait for an au-pair that doesn’t mind this arrangement, but I really wish my host family had just been honest about this and I couldn’t in good faith type up the same lie. Anyway, I don’t really mind (I just have to gently but firmly eject my child from the room about 10 times a day) but seriously, a twin bed with your own room sounds like heaven.

Sorry I may have ranted a little longer than I planned :)

Az. May 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I’m pretty sure at least having a BED is a rule?! That’s insane. I’m glad you’re getting out there soon, but I wouldn’t have stayed longer than a week.

Nicola aupair May 9, 2010 at 5:09 am

Haha, yeah I’ve been here since February and I get to stay until July at the very earliest, but most probably September is when I’ll actually leave… At least I’m not staying until next March like orginally planned!

Darthastewart May 9, 2010 at 8:53 am

I would think that a bed would be a minimum requirement.

Aria May 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Yes, but (i don’t know if this is nicola’s situation as well) in europe not everyone uses an agency, and without an agency, well, there aren’t really any rules to break, and who are you going to complain to?

Nicola aupair May 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Yup, that’s exactly it. :(

However, even if you don’t have an agency, you still have to follow the hours worked rule, but when that gets broken, there’s nobody to complain to there either, so…

Anyway, I don’t really mind anymore, I’m not hard done by or anything, I just don’t have a bed :o

Previous au pair May 10, 2010 at 3:51 am

I would mind..not having your own space for a whole year and living in a play room would get on my nerves..true you dont have an agency to complain to but you also dont have to be a pushover andif you express your concern with the family and they dont listen to you whatsoever then you have the option of leaving and finding a new family and are not obligated to stay there while they find a new au pair which they could drag out.

Nicola aupair May 10, 2010 at 8:27 am

Well, I did tell them I was leaving early, but my father has been pressuring me to do things the “right way” and not leave them in the lurch, I guess I can only sit tight and hope that they find another au pair soon :(

FormerSwissAupair May 10, 2010 at 8:45 am

Nicola, what country are you in?

Previous au pair May 10, 2010 at 8:44 am

well it depends really.. if they are dragging it on forever though you cant be expected to stay there if your unhappy. If you give them 2 weeks notice I think thats appropriate. You cant just keep your life on hold for when it suits them
just curious as to how long you’ve been waiting for them to get a new au pair?
I know its difficult talking to your host parents about that your unhappy especially if your not comfortable with them hence why after you have the talk its good for both sides to move on as soon as possible otherwise things get weird and awkward (I have been through this situation)

Nicola aupair May 10, 2010 at 9:16 am

I’m in the north of Italy… and I announced to my host parents in April that I wanted to leave in July. Before I had spoken to them about giving a month’s notice… they conviniently “forgot” this arrangement and pressured me to stay until September (claiming that we wouldn’t be able to find many au pairs who wanted to start work in July). Luckily they’re in the process of interviewing 2 au pairs, one of whom wants to start in June and the other in July, so there’s still hope! Anyway, I sent an email to cv about this (not this particular bed issue, but what I’m going to do about leaving in September), so I don’t really know how much of this is going to be repeated later but… I really want to leave as soon as possible, because there aren’t many aupairs around here or anyone my age that I can speak to, etc. etc…

But aside from the bed thing, they’ve been a pretty good family, and they’re nice people so I really would feel bad about leaving them, I hate confrontation and I am a bit of a pushover.

Actually, last Friday I broke down in tears and told them that they shouldn’t get an aupair for a year, that in such an isolated place it was too lonely and they couldn’t expect anybody to survive like that for a year… all that got was a lecture on how antisocial I am and how I wasn’t trying hard enough to make friends, how I never initiated contact with people (so completely untrue!) so I feel like no matter what I say, it’s going to fall on stubbornly deaf ears. Oh well. Lesson learned- next time, smuggle your friend in a suitcase! Or go where there’s lots of au pairs!

Previous au pair May 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

well although they might be nice people if they are bullying you into staying longer when you are already miserable and just want to leave they arent listening to you and thats not what a host family is supposed to do.
I know what you mean I went through a few similar situations as you and you know what you have to speak up for yourself and be brave :)
cuz as you said no one else is going to do it for you
thats one of the reasons what this year away is about being learning to be independant and brave and growing as a person
Think about it whats the worst that could happen? if you tell them how you feel sure they might get angry and might want you to leave. But then you already want to leave :)

FormerSwissAupair May 10, 2010 at 9:35 am

I was in AP in Switzerland. I met a couple of girls online who were absolutley miserable in Italy. I found it difficult enough with the Swiss, but at least most of the population spoke English. I only lived about 2 hours from Italy, and was shocked to find that most of the Italian population, outside of tourist cities, didn’t speak English. And they were not overally friendly. Well, good luck with everything. If it were me, I would plan to leave in July. You have given them pleanty of notice, and if they chose to take their sweet time in finding a replacement, then that is their fault, not yours.

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