One scheduling challenge as parents is finding the time, and means, to get out together as a couple for a date night. Work, kids’ activities, family obligations, and lack of childcare can prevent parents from spending time alone together. Our recent Cultural Care Au Pair parent poll asked our panel, “How often do you get a night out away from the children?” Only 22% of au pair host parents answered “rarely” or “never” with the majority getting out monthly or even weekly, thanks to their au pair.
Thirty percent of respondents indicated that they have weekly dates with their spouse and 48% go out at least monthly. Many attribute this to the help of their au pair. “I have my au pair babysit on Saturday night about three times a month,” one couple reported. “I give her one full weekend off per month. On those weeks I might even have her babysit on a weeknight. Date night is very important to us.” Another couple with school aged kids said, “We schedule our au pair to work usually one night per week, so we can go out with friends or on a ‘date night’. We can do that since our kids are in school and our au pair is off a lot during the day.”
Au pairs can work up to 45 hours per week according to Department of State regulations, so for families with “extra hours” beyond the work week, scheduling time out is easy. “We go out weekly thanks to our au pair!” responded one happy couple. Others have to be more creative. A couple with two parents who are federal employees says, “When there are government holidays, we use au pair hours for a date night.” And another parent said they get out, but not necessarily together. “We go out at least once a month. We could probably do it more often since we have an au pair, but we use most of our hours during the week. It is more likely that one of us will get out with friends than both of us at the same time.”
The couples that rarely go out attributed it to having used all of their au pair’s 45 hours during the week for work hours, not having family around to help and not having the funds to pay an extra babysitter.
Some parents simply choose not to go out more often. One couple that reported they occasionally go out said, “We are typically so busy during the week working, that we prefer to be home with our son versus go out at night. However, our au pair typically watches our son once per month so we can go out. She would watch him more often if we asked!” And other couple said, “This is a conscious decision we made. We actually love being home or out with our baby–and au pair.”
Host parents, how often do you get out for a date night?