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House rules for the au pair

Rules for the au pair

If people live together, they need rules. This is especially true for au pairs and host families. Defining basic house rules provides orientation for the au pair, especially during the first days.
Read more about “Rules for au pair” here.

House rules for the au pair

Most likely, you don’t have any official house  rules for your family , but there are probably some unwritten rules that your family follows intuitively.

From an established dinner time to  certain rituals in your household  (where you eat, where you keep the door keys, etc.), your family has a special way of structuring and organizing everyday life. Your au pair won’t know about these unwritten rules at first, and will learn them only with time and by living with your family.

So, it will help your au pair if you write some of them down, including the new rules for the au pair:

  • Write down what you expect the au pair to do during the day
  • Write down the time when you expect the au pair to start working  
  • What are the nights when you would like the au pair to babysit?
  • What is important to you? What should the au pair keep in mind?
  • The children’s eating and sleeping times
  • Your working hours
  • The days when the au pair doesn’t have to work
  • Your children’s regular appointments and activities: At what time do the activities start, at what location and when do the children have to be picked up again?
  • Write down when and how often you will pay the au pair  
  • What health insurance did you take out for the au pair? What is the name of the insurance company and the contract number?
  • Telephone rules for the au pair (internet, cell phone, landline – who pays how much for what?)

You should also write down the most  important phone numbers  for the au pair, so the au pair knows who to call in an emergency situation. This includes the phone numbers where the au pair can reach you, and also phone numbers of friends and neighbors. Don’t forget to leave the number of a doctor too! Also, the au pair should have the number for your children’s school and/or kindergarten. Have your au pair call one of the numbers to make sure the au pair actually knows how to reach somebody in an emergency. If you have a cell phone or a smartphone for the au pair, you could also save the numbers in that phone.

It would also make living together a lot easier for you and your au pair if you actually had the most important house rules written down. This way, your au pair will know the dos and don’ts, and you can avoid misunderstandings. You should include the following points in your house rules for the au pair.

eating together

For many families, it is important to have  common meals . Explain that it is important to you that the whole family and the au pair sit together and eat. Write down at what time you eat during the week and also whether the time changes on weekends.

Eating together is a great opportunity for everybody to talk about their day and make plans together. If you expect the au pair to help you to prepare the meals, include that in the house rules.  


Children love candy and they can be very inventive in order to get it. Explain in the house rules how much candy your children are allowed to eat, at what time and for what occasion.

watch tv

Many parents don’t want their children to watch too much TV. They want to know that the au pair actually plays with the children.

Include in the house rules if and at what time your children can watch TV and what programs they are allowed to watch. Be clear about how much TV your children are allowed to watch in one day. 

Talking on the phone

Calling back home used to be conflict number one between  au pairs and host families . Since you can use the internet to call for free now, this has definitely changed. Make it clear in the house rules when the au pair can use your landline to make phone calls and explain that the au pair has internet access in your house and can call phones for free. Keep in mind that the au pair might need your computer for this. 


If  recycling  is important to you, keep in mind that your au pair does not automatically know this. Explain in the house rules if you recycle and how. Use pictures to explain your recycling system.

This way, your  au pair  will definitely understand, even if there are still some language problems in the beginning. In many households, the au pair is responsible for taking out the garbage. If you want your au pair to do this, make sure to attach a schedule for the garbage pick-up to your house rules.

Cleanliness and hygiene

What is considered clean is different for each person, and sometimes there are cultural differences as well. For example, if you want everybody who comes into the house to take off their shoes, write it down in the  house rules for the au pair.
How do you clean the table after the meals? How do you load the dish washer? Is the au pair responsible for loading and unloading the dish washer? Is there a certain way you clean your pots and pans? How often do you clean? If these things are important to you, make sure to include them in the house rules.

Curfew for the au pair?

If you want the  au pair  to follow certain rules at night, write it down! Is there a curfew for family members? Is there a certain entrance that the au pair can’t use after a certain time? Do you lock your doors at night? Make sure to write it all down for the au pair.

Cigarettes and alcohol

Decide if it is okay for you if the  au pair smokes  and drinks alcohol in your house or if this is a no-no. Mention in the house rules that your au pair cannot drink alcohol while taking care of your children. 

The au pair sleeps over at a friend’s house

Your  au pair  is allowed to go out at night and to sleep over at a friend’s house. If you want to know when your au pair goes out or won’t be sleeping at your house, include this in your house rules. Your au pair will understand that you want to be kept in the loop.

Having friends over

You decide if you want to allow the au pair to have friends over at your house. There shouldn’t be any problems really if the au pair wants to invite a friend. If you want to meet the people first, write it down as a house rule. Also mention whether your au pair’s boyfriend or girlfriend can sleep at your house.