Thanks to Heike, community counselor in Boston, for a thought provoking article!
Au Pairs – Imagine for a moment that you went to the hospital and you were in the care of doctors and nurses. How would you feel if those doctors and nurses who were there to care for you were more interested in texting or using their personal computer than caring for you? How would that make you feel, about yourself and about them? Would you think that you were getting the treatment you deserved? Would you feel like paying the bill after your stay?
Life as an au pair, it is a fine balance between employee and family member. You live with your host family and participate with them as a member of the family, but you also have clear responsibilities as a childcare provider. Being a childcare provider is truly one of the most important jobs I can think of, because you are helping to shape our next generation. What message are you sending them when you would rather interact with a computer than with them? How will they feel about themselves and about you? Children feel as though everything is about them. They will see this as a rejection of them and they will be more likely to act out.
It also poses a safety concern when you are not paying enough attention to the children in your care. Accidents happen, but when an adult care giver is close by and appropriately supervising the chances of a major injury dramatically reduce.
During work hours, the following would not be considered acceptable:
-Talking to friends on the phone
-Chatting with friends online
-Using Skype or Facetime
-Updating your status on Facebook
-Using Orkut, Google+, Studivz, SiempreGente or any other social media site
-Watching videos on YouTube (even my really fabulous ones)
-Tweeting on your Twitter
-Uploading photos on Instragram or Vine
-Anything else on the computer unless it is going to Nickjr.com together with your host children
Think about this — even if you work 45 hours a week, that leaves you 123 hours per week for all of that other stuff, or about 70 hours (if you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.)
Host Parents – You need to be clear about what you consider acceptable during work hours to avoid misunderstandings. Also, please understand that you are dealing with a new generation of people who are very accustomed to being plugged in at all times. Their intention is not to be rude, they don’t necessarily realize how their actions will be perceived. Please use this information as an opportunity to begin a dialogue on the issue.
“An Unforgettable Year”
Written by Mareike Sander
German Au pair 09-17-12 through 09-17-13
“The wish to escape everyday life, the idea of being an au pair, applying for an agency, getting to know host families, matching, preparing, packing, saying “goodbye home, see you later – hello USA”, that’s all the exciting things we have done before the actual adventure started.
My adventure takes place in Alpharetta. Parts of it are my host parents, three boys bursting with energy, a dog, two cats and fish. They never had an au pair before so it was new to all of us. Now, my year is almost over and I am incredibly thankful for all the great things I got to do. I travelled through 16 states, saw East and West coast, had a sunny time in the Bahamas, visited the Capital of the US and enjoyed a couple weekend trips with my new friends. Furthermore I got to know my American relatives!
Being an au pair made it possible to get to know another culture in a very special way, I got a whole lot more self-confident and I improved my English. I attended a TOEFL class and took the test which allows me to now study English at the university of my choice, back in Germany.
Certainly there are moments that are exhausting or you get homesick but to sum it up, this year was not just fun, exciting and unique; it taught me a lot of things that are important for life. I made great friends and we already have plans to meet some time soon. Also, I will miss my host family so much, they made me feel at home and I hope that I get to come back here in the future.
I hope that all the other au pairs get the chance to enjoy an unforgettable year!”
Dear Au Pairs, I wanted to take a second today to thank you for working so hard. I do know that you have a very hard job. Your job, although hard, is really one of the most valuable I know. You have an impact on the little people you care for. They are learning from you, even when you are not teaching. They learn to smile when days are hard. They learn to speak softly even when you are angry. They learn to take the news of a mistake graciously and make it better next time. They learn that the telling the truth is always the best thing to do. They learn about you! They also learn that our country is not the only country. We may be different , but we are all alike in the most important of ways. You are so important to your host family and your host children. Sometimes we may forget to tell you! If you are having a hard day, I hope you will know the next one will be better! Thanks for all that you do! Your counselor, Andrea
Wishing our Jewish host families, au pairs, community counselors, colleagues and friends a very Happy New Year. Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown this evening.
Here is a great site for children including information about the holiday traditions, games, word searches, Hebrew vocabulary and crafts. http://www.akhlah.com/jewish-holidays/roshhashanah/