About Au Pair in America

Au Pair in America is the nation's first legal au pair program. Since 1986, we have provided the best child care opportunities to host families across the US and au pairs from around the world.

Au Pair Tips

These are common issues/concerns that some au pairs have and suggestions on how to avoid them.

How to Write a Check or Money Order

This question comes up from time to time and with the tax deadline approaching, I thought I would post a link with a great step by step tutorial.  Click on the image of a check below to go to the tutorial on About.com.

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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.

10 Ways to Incorporate Positive Childcare

April 9, 2014

Here are 10 tips to incorporate Positive Childcare into your day.  These tips are written by:  C. McCrory.

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1. Boredom at Bay

When a child begins to get bored, their little bodies wander, and often into trouble or mischief. It is important to make sure you keep the children busy with different things to do if they cannot occupy themselves alone, or until they are able to entertain themselves. Keeping a list of quick and easy activities or games is a good idea to avoid rushing to find something to occupy little ones. If they are busy with the right activities, you’ll avoid potential misbehaviour and mess.

2. Endless Encouraging

Positivity leads to smiles, not sadness. Children look up to adults around them for approval and examples, which is why encouraging them is so important. When children do something right, well or good, make sure you awknoledge that right away. Your positive comments and encouragement will make them want to repeat that behaviour and act in a way which is pleasing to you. You will also be building their self-esteem and confidence, leading to stronger little individuals.

3. Reward not Reverse

When children take positive and appropriate actions, rewards them where needed. In contrast, do not use a reward as an encouragement to do something. The reward should be a positive surprise, not an incentive to do something. This is in fact bribing, and it is not constructive. In addition, the reward is best to be non-material, such as an shared activity, not a ‘thing’ like a toy.  You want positive actions to become first nature, without them expecting anything in consequence.

4. Listen and Protect

Be attentive to what children express to you, especially if they share something that is bad, negative, scary or worrisome to them. You want to react in a positive and supportive way so that the child continue to trust you and share with you. If you have a negative reaction, this will deter the child from coming to you in the future. A strong relationship of trust can be built with children and the importance of this in their live is significant and necessary.

5. Boulder Boundaries

Boundaries are essential to a child’s development and understanding. Setting limits serves the purpose of protecting a child, helping then understand rules and creating a sense of safety.  By nature, as little as they are, they will still challenge these boundaries, and it is essential that you maintain these and remain consistent in what you say. Over time, children will challenge what you say and do less and less as they better understand that you mean what you say.

6. Teaching By Example

Children may have little eyes and ears, but they still take it all in. They are constantly watching you and listening to what you say to them or others. As adults are examples to them, they will mimic certain behaviours they see you do, which is why it is so important that you behave in way you would want them to behave. Be as attentive to your own behaviour as you are to theirs.

7. Keep Calm and Carry On

Also part of “teaching by example,” you do not want to let your anger cause you to react in a way you do not want children to mimic or witness. If you are angry in a way that is affecting your thought process and behaviour, then take a step back and wait before reacting. Conversation can occur once you have regained your calm and discipline can take place once you mind is clear.

8. If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again.

Looking after children is not easy, in fact many say it is one of the most challenging job in the world. It can, at times, be exhausting, draining, frustrating and overwhelming. The best you can do is to do the best that you can, don’t try to be perfect because no one is. Parenting and caring for children is a challenge, one that you should not be afraid to ask for help with. Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed, and take it one day at a time!

9. The Bright Side of Discipline

Discipline is an amazing thing that will build good, well behaved and understanding children. This is not the shouting, screaming, violent or threatening kind of discipline, this is the healthy, constructive, clear and reasoned discipline. They key is to be calm, clear and consistent (the 3 C’s of Discipline) to help children understand the reason why they are being punished, how they are being punished and that this means you care about them. Find a strategy that works for your household and carry it out when necessary, following the 3 C’s.

10. T.L.C – Tender love and care.

Some people have a natural tendency to shy away from emotions and closeness, but this is an essential element of childcare. Children need love, comfort, warmth and protection. Do not be afraid of showing this to them by playing with them, taking time for them, hugs, kind words and holding their hand. Be aware and attentive of their emotional needs and do your best to meet them.

How to Address and Envelope

This is another common question, since the way people address mail around the world varies.  Here is an image of where to put the information when you are sending mail in the United States.

How to Address a Letter from the US Postal Service How to Address a Letter from the US Postal Service
Here is the address to mail your tax return to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, Texas  73301-0215

Personal Safety – General Safety Tips

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These tips are not intended to scare you, but to make you aware of some simple things you can do to prevent being the victim of a crime.

  • Listen to and act on your intuition. It’s better to be safe and risk a little embarrassment, than stay in an uncomfortable situation that may be unsafe.
  • If you are in danger or being attacked and want to get help, yell “Call 911!” or give specific directions to onlookers; for example: “You! Get the police!” or “Walk me to the store on the corner, I’m being followed.”
  • Have your keys ready when approaching your car or building.
  • Vary your routine: drive or walk different routes every day. If you suspect that someone is following you, by foot or in a car, don’t go home (or they will know where you live). Go to a trusted neighbor or to a public place to call police, or go directly to the police station.
  • Do not label keys with your name or any identification.
  • Don’t talk about your social life or vacation plans where strangers can overhear you.
  • Carry your cell phone with you at all times.

Guest – Think Carefully Before Asking..

March 31, 2014

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It is important to think carefully before asking your host parents to allow you to invite guests, especially friends of family who may come stay for a week or more.

There are many host families who would not feel comfortable with allowing that and will say no. If they say no, you need to do your best to accept that and not pout or have a bad attitude about it.  Remember, it is their home and when they invited you to join them, they were not planning on turning it into a youth hostel.

There are others who might not feel comfortable, but they want to be kind, so they say yes. In those situations, it can hurt your relationship, because they may resent being put in that position.  You may get to have your friend come stay with you, but if it hurts your relationship with your host family and leads to a rematch, is that worth it?

There are a small number of families that are happy to allow you to welcome guests throughout the year and have no problem with it. That is a very small number and if your host family is one of them, show them how much you appreciate it their hospitality.

Also, consider how you plan to account for your time during the visit? Will you use your vacation time or do you plan to work and just visit on your off hours?  If you plan to work, keep in mind that during work hours childcare should remain your number one focus.  I have seen situations where au pairs are too excited about their guest to do their job as well as they normally would.  In those cases, the family is giving up a lot.  They are allowing guests to stay in their home and accepting a lower level of work performance during the visit.  Be aware of that and do your best to carry out your duties and show your host parents that you appreciate their actions.

If you are working during the visit, one way you can avoid letting your work slide, is to encourage your guests to go out and do things while you are working.  Since you are familiar with the area you have been living in, you can act as a tour guide.  Give them information on places that you have visited with other au pairs and maybe gone for cluster meetings.  Since you have already seen these places, you will not be missing out, if they go there while you are working.  Then, you are free to visit new places with them in your off hours.

Remember – honest communication, flexibility, gratitude and consideration will make all the difference when dealing with your host parents on inviting guests.

Travel Outside the US

March 24, 2014

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If you are planning to travel outside the U.S. during your first year, your DS 2019 will need a travel validation signature.  See “Travel Links for Au Pairs” on the side of this page for link to the Travel Validation Request Form. At least 3 weeks before you travel, you should print this form and send it along with your original DS-2019 form and a self-addressed stamped envelope (so your signed DS 2019 may be returned to you) to the following address.

Au Pair in America
River Plaza
9 West Broad Street
Stamford, CT 06902
Attn.: Evelyn Blum

You will also need to check whether you need a visa to enter the country you intend to visit. I have a link for Visiting Canada. Other countries requirements can be found by doing a Google search such as “visitor requirement Mexico.”  Obtaining a tourist visa is solely the responsibility of the au pair.

Extension Au Pairs: In your extension year, travel outside the U.S. is restricted. Please contact me before making any plans to travel outside the U.S. in your extension year.

Have a great trip!

Happy Pi Day!

March 14, 2014

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Pi, Greek letter (π), is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th. Pi = 3.1415926535…

With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal. Pi is an irrational and transcendental number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating. The symbol for pi was first used in 1706 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737.

How to Say Goodbye Around the World

February 26, 2014

How to Say Goodbye

The English word “goodbye” is derived from the pharse “God be with you.”  Parting words in other languages are similar. In Spanish, it’s adios (ah-dee-ohs), in French adieu (ah-dyur).  Both words literally mean “to God”.

There are other ways to “goodbye”, howver.  English children shout “Cheerio” when parting and in Switzerland. Germany and Italy they say ciao (chow) which is the informal way of saying “goodbye” in Italian.

A wave  of the hand accompanies most goodbyes, at least in the West.  In Japan, people bow when they part, and Hindus press their hands together and say “Namaste”, just as they do when greeting one another.

In some households, in India, it’s considered a bad omen to say “goodbye”.  Instead people say, “go and come back”.  If you are the one leaving , you announce, “I’m going and I will be back.”

How many languages can you teach your host kids to say “goodbye”.  Amaze your host parents at by having the kids say goodbye from around the world at the dinner table.

Here is video to get you started:

Hint for Success – RSVP

February 25, 2014

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Stay in touch with your community counselor, RSVP* and attend cluster meetings, or if you can not, call her back or reply to her email.

* *RSVP is an abbreviation for the French phrase “Répondez s’il vous plaît”.  It translates to “please respond”. In the US, if you do not reply to an RSVP request with a confirmation of one’s attendance or absence is considered rude.

Please RSVP!!!

Time Management Tips

February 18, 2014

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Being a successful au pair takes a lot of planning and effort. It is possible to balance your duties of being an au pair and have a great social life while in the USA.  Expert time management is the only to way to make it work. Here are a few tips to help you reach your goals!

1. Keep a Diary.  Record your time for 1 week and see where your time goes!

2. Make a Daily Schedule.  Determine what your are your top priorities and follow through.

3. Start your day off right  - Eat breakfast and start your day with a smile – the kids will notice!

4.  Just say no to social media when you on working or you need to plan time for the kids.

5.  Organize your room and keep it clean.  Being at peace in your personal space and help you focus and lower your stress level.

6.  Set short term and long term goals.  Use this tool to keep you on track over the your year!

7.  Don’t procrastinate!  Don’t put things off – it is not worth the anxiety!

8.  Be flexible when needed! – The unexpected happens – be able to put it in your schedule!

9.  Be positive – attitude counts!

10.  Important vs urgent – learn the difference!

11.  Worst first:  all things being equal. do the hardest, least fun things first, just get it over with!

12.  Set time to communicate with your host family.

13.  Don’t be too hard on yourself – perfection is not expected but honesty is!

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