Your Au Pair’s Room: How much mess can you take?

by cv harquail on December 14, 2009

A host mom sent me a few photos of her au pair’s bedroom (taken with the au pair’s permission). The host mom was agonizing, because the room was a freaking mess.

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This family’s au pair was following the two most important bedroom-related rules: No dirty dishes and no candles/incense. But otherwise the place was a disaster.

What I don’t see won’t kill me.

Like many host moms, I have a rule about my au pair’s bedroom– I don’t go in there unless there is some kind of house-related issue that verges on an emergency.

[ fyi: Emergencies have included: when the air conditioner is left on high when she goes out for the day, when the windows are left open and there is a rainstorm, or when I trip the electrical circuit by using my hairdryer and the window a.c. unit at the same time and need to turn everything off before I reset the circuit. Other than that I just don’t go in there.]

Since the au pair’s room is on the third floor, the only time I walk by is on the way to the attic storage room, and even then I try not to look in if the door is open. Frankly, I just don’t want to know.

So, you’ d think that if we host parents rarely go into the au pair room, that we really don’t care how messy it is….?

Do you care whether your Au Pair's room is tidy or messy?

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If your au pair’s room is too messy for you to take, what do you do about that?

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{ 52 comments }

PA aupair mom December 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

We always ask our AP to keep their room tidy. We expect the same of our children, so I don’t feel that it’s too much to ask. We have a housekeeper who dusts and vaccuums her room, empties her trash and scrubs her bathroom floor, sinks, tub/showe and toilet once a week.

We just ask that she keep the room “picked up”. If she didn’t, I think my husband would definitely discuss it with her. He can’t stand clutter.

PA aupair mom December 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm

wanted to add that we only enter AP’s room for emergencies, to return laundry, and when invited. we aren’t checking daily for cleanliness.

Luana (au pair) December 14, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I think an au pair should keep their room tide enough (not crazy organized if she isn`t crazy with organization like me) as it`s part of the house. In my case we don`t have a housekeeper, so I clean my own bathroom and room every week! I leave it organized, as while I`m not in home or during the day, kids (and friends) use my bathroom (It`s the only bathroom on the main floor and it`s inside my room, but I have my privacy when I`m out-of-duty).

Sara Duke December 14, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Most of my au pairs have been tidier people than my husband and I. In fact, it’s one of our questions that we ask au pairs as a barometer of how flipped out they will be when they arrive at our house. I spend the entire time the one week both of my kids are in summer camp scouring the house and putting everything away, so the house is clean one week a year. Mostly I tell my au pairs, “Don’t clean up after me, you’ll just get angry that I don’t care.” (I do vaccuum and wash my floors on the main level of the house 2-3 times a month, but otherwise I’d rather be with my kids than cleaning up after them.) We don’t pay for a housekeeper and it shows.

So, no, I don’t look at my au pair’s bedroom. “Emergencies” have been: candles left lit when au pairs have gone out (my handicapped daughter sleeps right above their room), alarm clocks sounding endlessly because she’s gone for the weekend, or the windows left open in the rain. Otherwise, I only enter when I’m invited.

I must say that usually the au pairs are so tidy and clean that they leave very little for me to do when they leave (which is fantastic, because it coincides with the week my kids are their camps).

A December 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

What is it with APs and windows left open in the rain? I think I did this, too, when I was under 20 years old!

Calif Mom December 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Sara, I love your unapologetic stance! Go girl!

NoVA Host Mom December 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

We have it in our house rules that the AP room is to be kept tidy, as is the hall bathroom (AP uses it mostly, and guests or when we bathe our 15mo). Her room is right at the top of the stairs on the way to the other bedrooms, so it is pretty visible. Luckily our current AP is very neat and orderly with her things, and does a good job of keeping our daughter’s things neat, too.

We look at keeping one’s space tidy as part of respecting another person’s property. We own this house and if the place is a disaster, we may not know of damage or needed upkeep until the problem is more severe than it was in the beginning (like if the window is left open in the rain or the fuse blows or something. We are still trying to get hair dye off our bathroom walls from AP #1, who thought nothing of letting the reddish-yuck drip down the walls in not 1 but 2 large places. We are now picking a new paint color because the other one is stained but good. Maintenance and upkeep that did not have to happen (we have only lived here 2 years, so it was a pretty fresh paint color in the beginning).

PA aupair mom December 14, 2009 at 2:36 pm

When our last AP colored her hair dark brown, my husband noticed brown spots all over the wall. He asked her if she knew how they got there and she said, “honestly, I have no idea”. He asked her if she had dyed her hair in there and she said that she had but that she was sure she didn’t get anything on the walls. She was the ONLY person using the bathroom at the time.

Hubby ended up having her repaint the bathroom. She didn’t like it, but she did it.

Janet December 15, 2009 at 9:02 am

This happened to us, too, and she somehow melted the toilet seat.

Calif Mom December 15, 2009 at 1:57 pm

That should go under “crazy AP stories!” —

franzi December 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm

if you have rules about dying one’s hair in the bathroom then let the AP know about it! i don’t think it’s a problem to ask them to clean up afterwards but if you have a cleaning lady coming once a week s/he might not be used to cleaning the bathroom anymore ;-)

franzi

PA aupair mom December 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm

We asked her on several occasions to not dye her hair in the bathroom but she continued to do so. The cleaning lady didn’t clean her bathroom then because that particular AP wouldn’t allow the cleaning lady in her bedroom or her bathroom due to privacy issues. She had to clean her own.

franzi December 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm

oh man, i don’t get it why people cannot clean up after themselves when it is not their own place. maybe i’m getting too old for understanding AP’s ;-)

NoVA Host Mom December 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

Franzi, this one fell under the “interesting things you learn as you go” category. It never occurred to me that someone would or could create as much of a mess as she did with hair dye. I am still puzzled about one of the areas of stain, as to just how it got there. Our cleaning lady does not usually need to scrub walls, but this particular AP was definately of the spoiled princess/thieving liar category (many, many lessons learned in such a short time with her). Obviously we now have rules about care of the home and use of dye.

au pair December 14, 2009 at 5:41 pm

If I’m being honest, I don’t see why it should be an issue. Fair enough you ask your kids to keep their rooms tidy, but you’re the parent: if you didn’t tell them, who would? Au pairs, on the other hand, are adults and responsible for themselves. I think if it’s going to cause damage to your house/belongings then you should interfere, but if it’s just clothes, books etc. all over the floor then I don’t see the problem.

(FYI: I have my own room and bathroom on the basement floor, which I clean once a week. I don’t keep dirty dishes in my room, but I have things strewn all over the floor and my desk. My host parents probably don’t approve, but as long as I’m cleaning it I don’t see why it’s their problem.)

PA aupair mom December 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm

It is MY problem because I work to pay for all the things in the house, including her salary. I keep the rest of the house tidy and her room should be no exception. Being a member of our family means following the house rules, whether she agrees with them or not. If I wanted my desk at work to be messy I think my boss would have a problem with it. We project a clean office and it includes everyone in the office.

FormerSwissAupair May 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm

True, but this is where your AP LIVES!! It is her private space and sanctuary from the kids during her time off. Should it be a complete pigsty? No, of course not. She should clean and vaccuum, but other than that, if she is great with your kids and in the other areas, I think you should consider yourself lucky, and quit stressing about the little stuff. I am a live-in nanny, and I am a very disorganized person, and my room is usually a mess because by the time I am done watching 2 year old twins for up to 13 hours, I do not want to tidy up my room. That is why doors were invented!

PA AP mom May 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I know that it’s where she lives, but it was also be where the NEXT au pair lives when she is gone. By the way, her year ended and our new au pair is much neater. Her room is cluttered but there is no problem with food, dirty dishes, trash, etc.

We don’t expect a neat freak, but we do expect cleanliness. clutter is ok. Dirty dishes growing mold and food that attracts ants/roaches is not.

And, we go over the expectations in the phone interview and in our household handbook before we make a match, so the AP should know what is expected of her.

Darthastewart May 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Having recently had an AP leave who was a mess in her own room, I can’t begin to tell you how many hours we’ve spent shampooing carpets (and STILL can’t get all of the stains out), painting walls (because she scuffed up the walls with her feet), scrubbing showers, bathroom, and picking up stuff off the floor… I am certainly becoming much more anal retentive about this kind of thing!

TX Mom December 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm

We had an AP who was a complete SLOB but she cleaned up after the kids well. We teased her about what a slob she was and were OK with her confining her mess to her own room. (She sometimes had all her clean laundry in a pile on the floor including sheets and then slept on the mattress pad for several nights!) But we have had other AP’s who have been more “neat” but less respectful of our home and it irritates me. I am OK with natural wear and tear, but I do not appreciate holes in the walls (I will buy the non-marking hangers) and I definately do not like semi-permanent redecorating outside of the AP’s room!

MTR December 14, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I generally don’t care how AP keeps her room. It is in the basement and we don’t go in there, except for emergencies. We say in the hand book that they should keep their rooms neat, but we do not enforce it in any way.

However, we’ve had 3 AP’s. And how each of them kept their room told us a lot about who they were. Our first AP did not keep anything personal out. The room looked very austere and not lived in. In the end, we rematched with her for personality issues and her not wanting to follow our instructions. She never integrated herself into the family (or her room).

Our second AP was a slob. The room was a disaster zone. Books, clothes, papers everywhere. She also kept moving furniture around. I think the dresser and the bed were in at least 4 different spots in the room in the 4.5 months that she was with us. We rematched with her. She was a slob not only in her room, but also turned our house into a pigsty. Did not dress kids properly, never remembered to shower kids, fed them crap and not the foods that I left for them, refused to take any kids of directions, and was very immature.

Our 3rd and current AP keeps her room neat. Things are put away. Bed is made, etc. But, her room is full of personal items, pictures of her family and friends. Pictures that my kids made for her. Things that we’ve given her. Her room now is very cozy and comfortable. And that is how she keeps my house when she is duty. She is not a neat freak. She does not always leave everything spotless at the end of the day. But, in general, kid-things are picked up and at least are confined to one corner. Dishes are put away in the dishwasher. Homework is done. Kids are happy, dressed appropriately, cleaned, showered, and fed.

Amelie December 14, 2009 at 8:14 pm

My room and my bathroom are always really messy, but I never caused any damages to the walls, carpet, furniture, etc, and although I tried to decorated the room to my taste (with pictures, stuffed animals, souvenirs from my trips, etc), I’ve never done anything that would be permanent. I intend to leave the room exactly as I found it when I leave it (it’s my last month as an au pair, so I already started cleaning up my stuff).

My host parents almost never get into my room, but the few times they where here, they never complanined about the mess. Also, it’s a very private room, in the end of a hall in the upper level of the house so, normally, no one even pass in front of my door.

There’s a cleaning lady that comes once a week, and she also cleans my room.

But being messy with my own stuff doens’t mean that I’m not dity when it comes to my work. Everytime I can, I leave the sink and the counter tops in the kitchen clean, and I always unload the dishwashers. I sweep the floor in the kitchen when it’s needed. I try to put away all the books and toys before I’m done, as well as shoes, coats, etc.

I also make sure that the kids always have clean clothes to wear (there’s a lot of clothes, and I do the laundry almost everyday), and I bathe them every other day (in the summer they needed baths almost veryday). I not always make the kids beds, but I wash the linens one in a week (or whenever they have ‘accidents’).

Maybe I wasn’t the most neat au pair my family ever had, but I really think I did the best I could.

CT Au Pair December 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Well, I try to be organize but I am not really freak about it. I try to keep my room clean (no food) but my clean close rest for a while in a suitcase. I don’t make my bed (because I never did that in my country) and I don’t do it with the kids, but the mom never complaints about it (she doesn’t make it in her bedroom) and one of my kids needs to practice her piano in my bedroom, the sheets are in my closet and sometimes the girls like to play in my bedroom, so I try to keep it neat or at least hide my stuff (my 3 suitcase is the best place so far!)
With the rest of the house, I think I am more worry about if everything is in their place than my HM!

Emma December 15, 2009 at 7:31 am

I always differentiate between messy and dirty. Papers and books tend to float around on my desk until the weekend when I straighten them up, clean laundry can pile up on my chair (also always straightened up on the weekend) but dirty laundry is confined to a laundry bag in the closet, and food doesn’t enter my room save for in the form of coffee and that has to be out before I turn on the dishwasher in the evening. The kids like to play in my room sometimes so I try to keep the space friendly to them. My HPs don’t really enter my room, at most they just hang out in the doorway, but I try to remain aware that this is their house not mine.

I totally have the same problem with the window in the rain though, funnily enough. But the rain always blows away from my room, not into it, so I don’t think of it as an issue because nothings getting water-damaged.

aussie mum December 15, 2009 at 7:47 am

Ummm…sorry but I have a problem with using your cleaning ladies to clean the AP’s room! The AP experience is a good opportunity to teach some of these young girls to take pride in their home and surroundings. Getting the cleaner to clean up after them is really setting them up to fail and to turn them into real little princesses. My past 4 AP’s were expected to keep their rooms clean and tidy at all times. All the bedrooms in our house are on the same level so as you walk up the stairs, the AP room is visible. We have a very strict rule about no eating in bedrooms…we live in the subtropics and we would have a problem with cockroaches and other rodents if we allowed food upstairs. I have heard some horror stories of what some AP mums have found under the bed of their AP…..yuk!!! I will go into their room if I need to check that windows are closed and ceiling fans are switched off when the AP is out. Also I fine pick my AP so that she will be a positive role model for my daughter. So a slob or a princess is out of the question.

an au pair December 15, 2009 at 9:29 am

My room is always cleaner than my host parents’, but if it was messy I don’t think they would care (as long as I wasn’t actually damaging the house). I think there’s a huge difference between piles of clothing/clutter and food/drinks being spilled. I’ve never had a cleaning lady before, but my host family recently hired one because I’m going home soon. I wouldn’t really want her cleaning my room in the first place, but if she was vacuuming my room/cleaning my bathroom once a week, it most certainly would not turn me into a “princess”.

As far as the hair dye thing goes…even if you’re a clean freak, you can leave behind a mess that you didn’t realize you left. Even if you’re dying your hair brown, the dye is usually just a yellowish light brown color while it’s wet, and it’s easy to miss small splatters here and there, especially if the walls and floor are not white. Then it dries, and you have dark brown spots everywhere. I’m pretty picky about my bathroom being clean, but this has happened to me several times in my old apartment, at my parent’s house, etc. This being said, the one time that I dyed my hair in my host family’s house, I MADE SURE that I didn’t make any sort of mess. But I don’t think a mess like this is intentional on the part of your au pairs, it’s just a tricky thing to clean up in time.

Keith B December 15, 2009 at 9:38 am

We just received our new au pair and our first just left after two years. We were rookies but know better now about setting expectations and holding the AP to them. With our first AP, we knew she took care of the children and fed them adequately so we turned a blind eye to what we suspected to be an unholy mess behind her door.

We only entered her room a few times over her two years and then, only for maintenance. One time she told us her ceiling had collapsed from a water leaks. We went in to find a 2’x4′ section gone. When we asked how long the leak had been going on, she stated “a few days.” She didn’t feel it was an issue until the wallboard collapsed.

We should have known better. When AP1 prepared to leave, we were preparing a bed for the new AP and we noticed that all of the 5 sets of very nice sheets we had for the queen bed were festooned with bright red blotches and value and blink ink pen streaks. Apparently, the AP would paint her fingernails and toe nails in bed. When the polish tipped over and spilled which clearly happened numerous times on each set of sheets, she just left it. While expected, the horror was no less profound when we opened my wife’s favorite queen comforter that the AP had been using and found it covered with even larger polish stains many as large as a dollar bill. Additionally, she was using one of our Thomasville night stands as her toenail paint pad. When confronted with this damage, her responses was that we were cheap and if we were so cheap she’s just buy new sheets. These were 1500 TC sheet so she was not going to buy 5 sets on her salary. Additionally, the entire top of the table was coated with clear coat and colored polished. Any attempt to remove with acetone removed the finish on the wood and any attempt to chip the polish off took chucks of the wood as well. We shouldn’t be surprised or concerned.

The entire bedroom suite was a Thomasville set and AP found it convenient to screw wood screws into the armoire to hand calendars. This was only if the thumbtacks she stuck all over the furniture did not hold.

The other details (water clogged bathroom with standing water in the sink for more than 2 weeks, all bath towel bars ripped from the walls leaving huge holes – caulking in tub stained black from two years of neglect) are too painful to recount. Suffice to say we have clearly outlined what is acceptable use and wear and tear for our furniture and linens with our new au pair and we will monitor appropriately. After a week of repairing the damage, I will not let someone go unattended again regardless of how well they treat my children. We were na├»ve and wanted to respect the AP’s privacy but clearly our interests were compromised in the process and we will not let that happen again. AP1 was 25 at arrival in US she we wrongly assumed an adult would know better.

CV December 15, 2009 at 9:47 am

Oh Keith, that would have just crushed me to find that kind of damage, especially to ‘real’ furniture that anyone would hope to have looking good for a long time.

AP's host mom December 15, 2009 at 10:17 am

OMG. I have to say, I feel better knowing that my AP’s room is decked out in IKEA furniture.

Hula Gal December 15, 2009 at 11:07 am

yes – we outfitted out AP’s room with IKEA too. The only thing I would have done differently is not put a nice Pottery Barn duvet and throw pillows in there because they do not get appreciated and are nicer than what I have on my bed. :-(

TX Mom December 15, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Ugh, Keith.

I’m beginning to think I should add to my interview list, “Describe what your fingernails look like right now.” LOL!

Hula Gal December 15, 2009 at 11:04 am

I agree that you should not, in the name of privacy, allow your au pair’s room go unmonitored for a long time. With our second AP, who was a slob, I would peek in her room if the door was ajar while she was out just to do a scan of the room. We are very explicit about not leaving dirty dishes in the room. After a few days I noticed that four dishes had gone missing from the cabinet. These particular dishes were a wedding gift, were $10 a plate and cannot be replaced because they are no longer available. I asked her if she had dishes in her room because we were missing some. She said she did not. I was pretty close to calling my housekeeper and asking if dishes had gotten broken and she didn’t tell me. But my instincts were telling me that the au pair was lying. I did a cursory look in her room, under the bed, in the closet etc. No dishes. Later my husband just got fed up, went in there and searched everything, including drawers, and found the pile of dirty dishes in the bottom drawer along with empty packages of cookies, crumbs everywhere etc. I was po’d because she was told many times not to leave dirty dishes in the room because we had a bug problem AND more importantly because she lied to me and I almost blamed my housekeeper who has always been honest in the past about damage.

We did rematch with her for other reasons but someone above said that sometimes this issue is connected to how good she is as an au pair in general. She was a slob, she did not take care of herself, and had no pride in her appearance. She was a terrible AP. But, the AP we have now who we like is not a clean freak. She is messy, but not dirty. I have not felt the need to peek into her room so much except after her friends had a sleepover and got pretty rambunctious. I realized I had not really monitored the room much since she arrived 4 months ago. So after she left I had to leave some sheets in her room so I did a quick scan for damage or issues. It all looked fine.

And yes – I do believe that in order to protect my investment in my home the AP’s room will be professionally cleaned by a housekeeper. She is required to allow the housekeeper in there. I would be suspicious that she was hiding something if she refused to allow anyone in her room. And for the AP’s reading this, when I say a quick scan that means I am not focusing on objects, reading anything or looking closely. I really do try to respect my AP’s privacy. The second AP put us in a position of violating her privacy by searching her drawers because she lied to us and proved to be untrustworthy.

anonymous December 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Hula Gal, what did you do about those dishes? Did you confront her? How did you tell her you found them? Just curious and to what you say when you need to confront an AP on something you found in their room that was not open and obvious from a general scan.

Hula Gal December 16, 2009 at 4:30 pm

We did not confront her. The relationship was dying a slow death at that point and I was not up for what would be a very uncomfortable conversation. So we just cleaned the dishes and put them back in the cabinet and I threw away the empty cookie boxes. She never brought it up. I guess we all just pretended nothing ever happened. We were either in rematch or had gone into rematch shortly after that, I don’t remember. If we had been working to repair the match, as we had been doing for awhile prior to this incident, I would have confronted her in a calm, rational way about it, as I had done with prior issues. But it wasn’t worth it at that point. And I would have said that we went into her drawers and asked her why she hid them there and lied to us about it. At the end of the day this is my home not hers.

franzi December 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

regarding furniture, i think ikea is a good value option to go. do not give the AP furniture/sheets that you cannot live with seeing ruined after a year.

as nice as you are trying to be in this regard, i don’t think it matters to the AP if the TC is 800 or 1500. a nice duvet is certainly a plus, but it doesn’t have to be the most pricey option out there, imho.

Jane December 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm

I also respect my au pair’s privacy and stay out of her room for the most part, but I do enter to check open windows, lights that have been left on, etc. During these brief times, I also quickly scan for any signs of concern like dirty dishes, stains, damage, etc. Our current au pair is not very neat but it isn’t any worse than my room has looked when I was her age, so I don’t say anything. She washes her linens regularly and cleans her bathroom weekly in accordance with our family handbook. I do let her eat and drink in the room–something that does give me pause–but I eat and drink in my own room so I don’t think it’s fair to restrict her. As long as there are no spills–or they are cleaned up right away–I’m okay with it. I see an occassional cup left on the dresser with no coaster and that makes me cringe, but the furniture we have in there is designed to withstand that.

Alex December 16, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Our au pair has an apartment above our detached garage, so, from a protectin our investment point of view, care, but not so much from “it has to be neat to be neat” point of view. However, she is a very, very clean and tidy person and when I have gone into her room, it is always neat. Our old au pair was a disaster and I regret not inspecting her room. She left it trashed when we rematched and I had to repair the walls and bathroom and replace all the towels, sheets, pillows and curtains and blinds because she smoked in the room even though it was against our policy. The place stunk so badly when she left. I never met a bigger slob in my life. Like another poster mentioned about the nail polish, our old au pair left polish stains on our 100 year old wood floors in her apartment and left hair dye stains in an antique sink in her bathroom. I don’t think she ever cleaned the toilet or the shower and I remember silently cursing her for months after she left. Never again will I get an au pair who has not lived on her own and worked for a living before. The maturity factor is huge. I think the younger girls just don’t have an appreciation for what it is to live on her own and have that responsibility. If she has lived with mommy her whole life and had mommy cleaning up after her, how can I expect her to be responsible for herself when she is living in our family? But, that is just my experience.

anonymous December 18, 2009 at 2:29 pm

She smoked in your house??! I can’t believe any au pair would have the nerve to do that. So rude.

elle January 3, 2010 at 9:05 am

this is my first visit to this site and i think it’s gr8! i’ve had au pairs since 2003 and am currently searching for a new one. as far as their rooms are concerned, i tell them:

1. they are responsible for them
2. they musn’t leave wet towels or dirty dishes around
3. they should keep their doors closed when they are not home (so kids and dogs don’t go in there).
4. they may decor8 any way they wish, except they may not paint the walls any dark colors
5. they are responsible for cleaning their own rooms (there is NO WAY I would pay a housecleaner-and i have one-to clean the au pair’s room)
6. they must thoroughly clean it (from top to bottom) when they leave, so it is ready for the next au pair.

i really haven’t had a problem with any of them and their rooms (candles, air conditioners,windows and lights have rarely been a problem)…i think the key is to set the guidelines up right away and hold them responsible for them.

i did get some useful info from your posts, so thank you!

Megan February 3, 2010 at 3:34 am

This is a tough one for me, because I can see valid arguments for both sides. Personally, I am messy. And I’ll admit it. Clutter doesn’t bother me, disorganization doesn’t bother me. But I wouldn’t say that I’m “dirty.” I’m starting the process of finding an au pair family in Europe and haven’t even gotten around to thinking about the clean freak vs not clean freak situation. Now I’m a bit worried!

My situation might be a little different, but I’m about to graduate college and I’ve lived on my own (aka not with my parents) for four years. While I certainly understand that I’ll be living in someone else’s property and should respect it, I don’t think I would fit with a host family that requires my space to meet stringent requirements. By now I’ve learned how to take care of belongings and not have my room turn into a bio-hazard zone; as long as I’m not damaging their property in any way, I think it’s fine to have my clothes piled in places other than a drawer and for my bed not to be made.

But that’s just me. :) And hopefully I’ll find a family that feels the same way!

Calif Mom February 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Elle, those standards sum it up nicely at our house (except I don’t allow candles or anything that burns).

Megan–you would do fine at our house (as long as you would encourage the kids to clean up common areas before I come home from work!). But I caution you to not think you can transform into something you’re not out of desperation to get a family. Ask the host family about their expectations, and be courageous enough to say no to a family that sounds great otherwise but might be a bit OCD. Follow your instincts on this — it can really drive some host moms crazy to the point where they aren’t willing to give you slack in other areas as a result. I think it shows maturity to know this about yourself!

Darthastewart February 3, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I dont’ mind slightly messy. What I do mind is when I have an au-pair leave- like we just had this week, and we go up there, and it is still a disaster zone. Trash behind stuff, under stuff.. Great big heaping bags of trash coming out of the room. Floor not vacuumed. Shower still dirty, floors filthy, sink covered in grime. That, to me, is not acceptable.

English Aupair...x May 6, 2010 at 8:58 am

Darthastewart that is terrible for your au pair to leave the room like that. Before i left my last HF i almost completely spring cleaned my room just so HM wouldn’t have the hassle of trying to clean it in a day before the new AP arrived aswel as looking after the kids and house etc…

Upon saying that i’m not the tidiest/tidyest (??) au pair you’ll ever meet. I’m not dirty so there is never any hygiene concerns in my room, but personally i love clutter and i wouldn’t feel comfortable in a family that expected my room to be completely spotless all the time. My first HF was like that and as much as i loved the kids i never felt completely comfortable there and was actually quite relieved when i left.

NJnanny May 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

My room is generally to be found in a state of bedlam… not that I like it that way; i just can’t be bothered to clean/tidy it after cleaning/tidying the rest of the house. I also have A LOT of clothes (like enough to dress three people…) and so laundry strewn about seems to be a constant issue for me. I always keep my door closed and am usually the only one who needs to come in. When my younger one (age 10) comes in, he remarks that it’s messy, but he knows to “do as I say and not as I do”.

The only reason why I ever think twice about the way I keep my room is because the fusebox is in my room. ugh… I’ve been part of at least one awkward discussion with the dad when he had to go in to flip a blown fuse and found it a mess. The gist was, “I don’t care how you keep things. We might just want to make sure there’s a path clear from the door to the fusebox closet.” LOL. I was mortified, but not scared straight, I guess.

As for decorating/etc…. As a nanny, I get paid a nanny’s salary, and so have updated a lot of the furniture on my own over the past four years. The next girl to live in this room will have a much better set-up, imo, than I started out with. I plan to move out of the country (hopefully as an aupair) and will leave all the things I’ve amassed here for my replacement (desk, bookshelf, extra closet, organizing cubes/drawers, etc.)

newhostmom June 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I am a really neat person (despite being a full-time working mom, I pick-up the shared areas every single night or I go insane). However, I do not care a bit about the state of my au pair’s room. In fact, I’m not even sure how other host families even KNOW about the state of their AP’s room. I have walked into her room twice this entire year – once to change a light bulb with her permission and once because my kid ran in there and I had to grab him (again, with her permission – she was right there). Other than that, it’s her space. We do have a “no eating anywhere but the kitchen and dining room” rule, so that eliminates the trash and food problem. But other than stuff that would attract bugs – why do host parents care if their AP’s room is a mess?

newhostmom June 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Just read back through the posts and I guess parents are concerned about stains on the carpet and wall scuffs? I’m pretty much assuming that at the end of the year there will be normal wear-and-tear, which may require repainting and/or spot cleaning. Even if you’re not a messy person, that stuff happens… I take it as a cost of having a new person living in the room every year.

NoVA Host Mom January 16, 2012 at 12:41 am

Normal wear and tear is not the same as nail polish running amok or hair dye recoloring the bathroom walls. Having to have the rug professionally cleaned because it was the makeup spot of choice is also not “normal wear and tear”. Not in my house, and not in any I’ve known.

Spot cleaning is something to be done when the stain first happens (i.e. get off your tushie and go get the carpet spray and sponge). Wall scuffs – yes, sure. My 22mo causes them with her tricycle in the winter months. But holes in the walls? Nope. That’s not a normal occurrance.

It’s the simple idea that everyone, APs or guests or renters, should be treating others’ property with at least some basic respect. While I get to use it, it’s not mine. Not everything in life is disposable and should not be treated like it is. Just because we have an AP does not mean we are made of money. Actually, it’s quite the contrary.

i am not a nanny... November 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

well I am more organized than my host parents. Actually my room is the only place in this house that is clean all the time. I will not be surprised if I find a wild animal in the kitchen lol. Just kidding. But now honestly talking they dont care about cleaning.

HRHM November 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I think this is one area of the matching/screening process that needs improvement and a reality check. I hear a lot of APs complaining that the HF wants them to keep the house super neat (wash kids dishes right after meals, keep all the toys picked up, etc) but then when the AP is off, lets the house go to hell and expects the AP to get it back to order when she starts again on Monday morning. IMO this is totally unfair. While I understand families who try to use the AP experience as an opportunity to improve the household organization and state, all must participate for it to work. There should be a box to check on both the AP and HF applications (and their references for that matter) a. I/We are a slob b. I/We are OCD neat freaks who keep our spaces like a museum or c. I/We are relatively clean but can tolerate some clutter. LOL As an OCD neat freak married to a slob, I need an AP who falls on my side of the continuum because I already have to pick after DH, I don’t want to pick up after her too! And I think for APs, you should ask the outgoing AP to find out the truth, because it can really cause a lot of trouble if you are opposites in this area.

Anna November 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

One of the agencies I was with had this on their application… It was put humorously and nicely, but there were three or four choices “our home is formal” “our home is casual” “our home is messy but cozy” something like that

newby January 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Thank you for this post. We are getting our first au pair in a month and I though we had the room all set…with antique furniture inherited from my husbands great grandmother. Good grief, what was I thinking? We will be removing this furniture pronto and replacing it with some ikea crap. Our antiques have made it over 100 years with minimal wear and tear and to imagine an au pair ruining it in the course of a year would just make my husband ill.

NoVA Host Mom January 16, 2012 at 12:49 am

Oh my word, yes!

Never use anything you really value in an AP room. While some APs might treat things carefully, you cannot ensure this and it’s not like you can get a security deposit on anything (although to me, if they had something to lose, it might make them more likely to treat things with more care – I know it did me and my college roommates in our rental apartment).

Set aside the nice antiques for another room/purpose/occupant. Use linens, furniture, etc, that you have absolutely no emotional attachment to and that can be replaced cheaply and easily.

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