Au Pair Tips
These are common issues/concerns that some au pairs have and suggestions on how to avoid them.
My name is Terry Bellus and I have been an Au Pair in America Community Counselor in Virginia, since 2000. My service area includes: Fairfax County: Fairfax, Springfield, Lorton, Fairfax Station and Alexandria. Enjoy my blog!!
These are common issues/concerns that some au pairs have and suggestions on how to avoid them.
June 13, 2014
It is important to have a meeting to review schedule changes for the summer . Kids don’t have school, but they still have busy schedules. There is often even more driving for the au pairs during summer, taking the kids to day camp, sports, and to the beach. Playdates are plentiful and need to be part of everyone’s schedule. Some host parents have more time off in the summer, especially if they are teachers. Make sure you schedule who is in charge, parent or au pair. Keep posting a schedule to define working hours for your au pair.
Vacations are often taken by families and au pairs, together and separately. Be clear about time off and working time. If your au pair is going on vacation and is working, she gets paid!! Good planning will make sure everyone has a great time!
June 1, 2014
If you are working abroad as an au pair, there is a good chance that one of the reasons you are is to learn a new language. Right? Or you may be there to perfect a language that you already have started to learn. OR – you’re an au pair simply for the fun of it, and learning a language is part of the deal.
Whatever the case, learning a foreign language can be challenging. And interesting. And overwhelming some days too. Some learn languages more quickly than others, but even those who learn foreign languages easily still have their days.
So how can you learn to speak your new language like a native? Because let’s face it, even if you are taking a language class (which you should be, it’s one of the benefits of being an au pair) you are still going to have to work hard outside of class if you want to learn to speak the language fluently.
Here are a few things that help speed up the language-learning process:
Stop speaking your own language with your host family – if your host parents speak your language well, it’s tempting to stick with the comfort of your mother tongue when speaking with them. Give yourself a set amount of time to learn the basics of the new language and get comfortable with it, and then stop speaking your own language with your host parents so that you are forced to speak the new language. It’s a bit scary at first, but it will make a difference.
Meet locals and speak their language – Getting out and meeting people is important – not only socially, because you want new friends – but also to speak the language. And just like with your host parents, even if your new friends and acquaintances speak your language, do your best to converse – at least as much as you can – in the local language. As they say, practice makes perfect, and with languages, it tends to be true (as long as your friends are willing to correct your errors!).
Watch local tv shows and movies – Even if you don’t understand everything that is being said, watching TV and movies in your new language is a fabulous way to learn the language, especially because you will learn the language the way it is actually spoken – not school-book language. To baby-step it, you can even rent movies that you have already seen in your own language and change the settings to watch it in the local language. You’ll know what is going on AND benefit from learning new words and expressions. Give it a try!
May 24, 2014
Both the au pair and host parents should carry a recent photo of the host child/ren in their wallet in the event of an emergency.
What to do if you cannot find your host child in a store?
If your child disappears in a store, notify the store manager or security office and your host parents immediately. This is the reason a host family provides a cell phone to an au pair. If a child is missing in the store, employees immediately mobilize to look for the missing child.
May 22, 2014
There are different ways to handle the little day to day expenses that come up. Things like when an au pair takes the kids out for ice cream or picks up a gallon of milk. Some families keep a cookie jar fund, a little cash that they set aside weekly or monthly for this kind of expenses. Here are some suggestions for avoiding problems with expenses.
Gas and Fare Cards
Host families are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs:
It is a good idea to figure out how much gas an au pair will use for these trips and either put gas in the car or give a gas allowance. If your au pair is riding to classes or cluster meetings with another au pair, you should offer to share the cost of gas.
Au pairs are responsible for their own transportation at all other times. You should replace the amount of gas used for personal use.
Photo: Andrea Travillian
May 22, 2014
I read this article from the Washington Post on May 17 and just had to add it to my blog. I had 3 very athletic brothers growing up and always hated the “smell of boys”. I vowed when I was a mother I would NEVER allow “Stinky Boy Smell” into my home. I feel rotten for judging my mother for all those years and realize this is an ongoing battle when you have boys. Now as a mother of 2 boys, “Stinky Boy Smell” is a unwelcome visitor in my own home. After confessing to my friends , it turns out it is battle we must all fight – to include actress, Jada Smith. Mother to Mother, Counselor to Au Pair – here are tips to share as we join forces in a common goal!
By Megan Buerger
Does your house reek of smelly feet? Here are three household ingredients that will help get rid of the funky odor.
Baking Soda: Shake a small amount of baking soda into a pair of shoes and leave it overnight. The next morning, toss the powder into a trash can and wipe the shoe with a dry cloth. Baking soda can also come in handy with stinky socks. Just fill the toes with a quarter-sized amount of baking soda and tie them into a knot. Stuff the socks into the shoes and let them sit overnight.
Fabric Softener Sheets: Stuff a fabric softener sheet into each shoe and leave for 12 hours. For gym bags, stick a dryer sheet into the bag and leave until the smell has subsided. Many athletes always carry dryer sheets in their gym bags!
Salt: That funky odor comes from sweaty feet. Sweat provides a hot, moist environment for bacteria to grow, and these bacteria cause sneakers to smell. Soak up some of this moisture by sprinkling a teaspoon of salt in your shoes. For this, you may want to try scrubbing out the shoes ahead of time.
May 13, 2014
Do you stay in inexpensive/cheap hotels when you travel? Have you heard of bed bugs? This year one the au pairs in our cluster had friends visit who frequented several hostels while traveling the United States East Coast. Not only did her friends stay at our home, but they left some uninvited guests – bed bugs.
Every morning for about a week, the au pair would wake up with bug bites all over her legs, neck and back. The family thought at first that they were mosquito bites and then perhaps spider bites. Finally the host father– who lived in New York – said that there might be bed bugs. You can’t get rid of bed bugs with RAID and normal spray…it does nothing; over the years bed bugs have become more resistant to pesticides. First, the family found a reputable bed bug exterminator and one that used canines to detect if we had these little mites.
Low and behold, the dog detected the au pair’s bed housed two or three bed bugs. Usually it takes a couple of months for a person to detect they have bed bugs, but lucky for this host family their au pair was highly allergic to bed bugs and could not ignore the itchy. Au Pairs are traveling to New York, Chicago, Washington, DC or other major cities often stay in hostels and cheap hotels to save money. Bed bugs are prevalent in these accommodations.
Getting rid of bed bugs is not cheap. It will range anywhere from $2,000 (Pesticides, special poisons now that DDT is banned in the USA) to $10,000 (heat treatment) to eliminate the bed bug problem and unfortunately, there is no guarantee the pesticides will kill them all. In addition, to ensure the bed bugs are gone, you will either need to throw your box spring, mattress, bedding and pillows away and replace them or encase them in $50-$80 covers, which can be purchased on Amazon.com, Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond.
The solution to Au Pairs and bed bugs is not to eliminate travel, but to do the following things when traveling.
If you think you have a problem with bed bugs, let your host family know right away! Ignoring the situation will not make the bed bugs go away!
Are you itching all over yet? I am.
May 1, 2014
May is Good Care Care Month. Many of the au pairs in our cluster are lucky to have access to a car in their free time. This is a privilege for an au pair NOT a right. It is important to let your host family know you appreciate allowing you to use the car and take care of the care as if it were your own. Wash and clean your car monthly to show you care!! Host families want to know if there is red light on in the car or it is driving “differently”. You need to let the host family know if the oil needs to be changed (every 3,000 miles) or the other fluids are low. Below are a few pictures to help you check is your oil is low —- KNOWLEDGE is POWER. No matter how beautiful you are, how much money you wish to marry into, how great a boyfriend is with a car — you should know the basics!!!!
Park the car on a level surface.
To get the most accurate reading you want to check your oil when the engine is cold.
Pull the hood release lever under the dashboard.
Find the dipstick. This is a long piece of metal sticking out of the engine with a loop at one end, usually located near the center of the engine. Many times it will be labeled with the word “Oil” or brightly colored.
Pull on the loop and draw the dipstick all the way out.
Look at the pointy end of the dipstick. If the oil on the dipstick is below the line marked “full,” add a small amount of oil. Many dipsticks simply have 2 lines with a cross hatch design in between. The oil level should be halfway between these 2 lines.
Check the oil level with the dipstick after adding oil. Add more if necessary. It’s easier to add more oil several times, then to take oil out.
Put the oil filler cap back on and secure it tightly.
April 21, 2014
Millions of people suffer from allergies every spring, including many children. In fact, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about 40 percent of children in the United States suffer from allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever.
Hay fever is triggered by breathing in allergens, like pollen, commonly found in springtime air. Sneezing and nasal congestion are some of the most common symptoms, but your symptoms can vary depending on the types of plants that grow where you live.
The following tips will help you minimize seasonal allergies in children, and learn more about allergy treatments.
If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, there are steps you can take to reduce their symptoms and decrease the use of medications:
Medicine can help alleviate allergy symptoms in children, but with any medication you give your child, be sure you’re using the right medication for your child’s age and weight. Follow the instructions carefully to be sure your child gets the correct dosage.
Over-the-counter, generic allergy medication is effective for many people and can cost less than prescription allergy medications. If you have any questions about what medications are right for your child, ask your family doctor.
Some common allergy medications include:
April 19, 2014
Did You Know???-
- Over 65% of Au Pair in America families repeat with us.
- Au Pair in America Community Counselors are experienced, the average years of service of 9 years. – I have been with Au Pair in America for over 12 years!!!
- Au Pair in America customer service surveys results show that 94% of Au Pair in America families would recommend the program to a friend
- Placement surveys from repeat and new families indicate that 96% feel Au Pair in America placement service is excellent or very good.
- Almost 1,000 Au Pair in America families are referred to us last year by another family.
- Au Pair in America is the ONLY au pair program to have partnerships with American Red Cross and AAA
Remember: Use pen and don’t leave extra blank space where someone can make changes.
If you don’t have a checking account and need to make a payment by check, you have two other options: money order or cashier’s check (bank check.) Money orders are available for purchase at your bank, the post office or the customer service desk of some retail stores (CVS, Safeway, WalMart.) You will be charged a small fee, $1.50-$5. Money orders need to be paid for with cash (not credit cards.) You will fill out the money order similarly to a check and keep your receipt portion for your records.