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Au-pair's bedroom - sacrosanct space, or spare room?

(58 Posts)
TooBusyByHalf Tue 18-Feb-14 22:07:47

We currently have a kind of au-pair but she's the niece of a good friend so we treat her very much as part of the family. This includes her (very occasionally) giving up her room to an older relative coming to stay for a night - when she would sleep on a sofa-bed instead, and (slightly more often) allowing us to use 'her' room for guests when she is away anyway (e.g. for a weekend visiting friends). She has no problem with either of these arrangements.

She is leaving in May and we are planning on getting someone new. But it is unlikely to be a family friend, so we are worried about what to do in these situations. The bed in the au pairs room is the only one suitable for a couple, or for older visitors, so though we are happy to put visiting young adults on the sofa bed there will be some who can't do that.

My worry is that the room an au pair gets is their only private space and should not be used by others at all; my DP says they are young, flexible and won't mind, and where she's from (New Zealand) it's quite normal for kids / teenagers / young adults to be moved around for guests and no-one thinks anything of it. She thinks I'm quite barmy even for worrying about it.

The other option I suppose would be to give up our own room instead (and sleep on the floor somewhere).

If we make it clear when we recruit that they may (rarely, e.g 3 times a year) be asked to give up their bed for a night or two, would that be acceptable do you think? and is it normal to use their room for guests when they are away for a weekend?

Do you agree with me or DP?

TheScience Tue 18-Feb-14 22:11:44

I don't think it is acceptable at all to be honest. Can't you sleep on a sofa-bed and give your guests your room?

Mrswellyboot Tue 18-Feb-14 22:13:43

I think it would put someone off

Smartiepants79 Tue 18-Feb-14 22:14:30

Well, with no real experience myself I have to agree with you. If I went to work in another country and live in a strangers house I'd would want it to be MY space and would find being asked to move out very intrusive. Presumably whoever comes will be bringing their own belongings. Are they expected to keep packing up every time?
On the other hand it will probably do no harm to ask. You could sound out potential people during an interview. I would not make it an essential part of the job description, you may find you limit the kind of people who are interested.
I know very little about au pairs but to me it just sounds so unprofessional. You are their employers not family or even friends. I feel it is a lot to ask.

mousmous Tue 18-Feb-14 22:16:48

not acceptable at all. if an eldery relative needs a bed you need to give up your own. or guests need to sleep on the sofa.

BrianTheMole Tue 18-Feb-14 22:17:01

No. You'd need to give up your own room. It would be very off to do that to someone else, where its there personal space, private possessions etc. i wouldn't dream of asking someone to do that.

ItsNotATest Tue 18-Feb-14 22:18:29

It's not just giving up their bed for a night or two though is it? It's also having no private space for the entire duration of these visits. I don't think it's on at all.

Floggingmolly Tue 18-Feb-14 22:18:48

Completely unacceptable. If you have frequent need of a spare room; you don't have space for an au pair.

BettyBotter Tue 18-Feb-14 22:21:05

No. You are right. DP is wrong.

Fine for a friend of the family. Definitely not OK for a visiting employee/guest. He/she will need their own private space that they don't need to clear out of every month or two.

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 18-Feb-14 22:22:14

As everyone has said it is unacceptable

If you have guests then they sleep in your room and you have sofa bed or floor

It's her own private space and somewhere she can escape to if need be - which she def can't do if people are staying in there

So tell dp he is wrong smile

Reinette Tue 18-Feb-14 22:23:38

Absolutely unacceptable. That is her ONLY space in a foreign country living in a stranger's home. As a former au pair here, if my HP had come into my room without knocking, gone in searching for something without asking, or asked me to LET EVEN MORE STRANGERS STAY IN IT, I would have rematched immediately. You'll have to consider it off-limits for anything and find another solution.

Pimpf Tue 18-Feb-14 22:24:49

Not al all acceptable. It is their private space.

I've been an au pair and a nanny, only one family did this to me and I was furious. Yes their home but my room.

Your guests, you give up your room

TooBusyByHalf Tue 18-Feb-14 22:28:26

Thanks everyone that's very clear. No sleeping on the sofa and no clearing out the room (which we wouldn't ask anyway). What about scenario (b) - when she's away for the weekend anyway. Obviously her stuff is still in the room, but if the bed is empty, can we use it?

Pimpf Tue 18-Feb-14 22:29:51


It's still her space full of her belongings. What if she changes her mind and comes back early, or doesn't go away at all

TheScience Tue 18-Feb-14 22:29:52

No, it's still her room and her stuff. How would you feel if you went away for the weekend and the au pair let her friends stay in your room?

Heebiejeebie Tue 18-Feb-14 22:30:38


Jirvine Tue 18-Feb-14 22:33:14

Think how you would feel if some one asked you to let soemone sleep in your room while you wee out - ok they are known to you and perhaps less likely to snoop but I would feel very uncomfortable with someone in a personal space....

I had a couple of au pairs over the years and I couldnt have asked them to do that - to me the use of a room was part of their wage and as such no longer mine to be used by anyone else - wether they were in or not.

Poloholo Tue 18-Feb-14 22:53:36

I appreciate it is different but we have a live in nanny which obviusly constrains bedroom space and thus what we can accomodate with visitors sleeping over. Like you it is only a couple of times per year so we just pay for a local hotel and accept that is part of the "cost" of having a live in nanny.

Having said that, when our nanny has been away for a signifcant period over Christmas she has been happy for us to use her room for guests. But I wouldn't ask if she were just away for the weekend.

BrianTheMole Tue 18-Feb-14 22:56:17

No I still wouldn't ask to use her space when she's away. Completely wrong.

IHopeYouStepOnALegoPiece Tue 18-Feb-14 23:10:42

No no no no no

It's still HER room with her personal belongings so absolutely not acceptable to use it when she's not no

NickNacks Tue 18-Feb-14 23:23:39

I'm embarrassed for you that you even need to ask!

IHopeYouStepOnALegoPiece Wed 19-Feb-14 01:44:44

And are you sure your current nanny is actually ok with it or just doesn't wabt to say actually, no I dont bloody want people in my rokm

ItsNotATest Wed 19-Feb-14 01:46:55

No. Of course not.

Is this really so hard to understand?

VeryStressedMum Wed 19-Feb-14 01:58:41

No. And I wouldn't have done it with your friends niece either. That was her space and she shouldn't have had to give it up for your guest but more importantly you shouldn't have asked her to.

MistressDeeCee Wed 19-Feb-14 02:03:06

I don't think au pair would be happy to give up room. Presumably if room being used by guests for a couple of days then theyd have stuff in there, and au pair may feel awkward going into the room to access her own stuff - whats to do, knock on the door every time she needs something? What if she fancies chilling out in her room? Obviously she wont be able to whilst guests are what does she do, hang around with others elsewhere in the house?

If this is what you want I think its best to say from the outset, then anyone put off by that won't apply. Easiest and most courteous thing though is to give the au pair their private space. After all, Im sure you'd say there is a room available, and au pair would assume a room was cant be available 'sometimes' it should be available for personal and constant use throughout the period she's with you.

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