Yearly Archives: 2019

It is officially cold and flu season. What can an Au pair do to be prepared?

Help, I feel sick! It is officially cold and flu season. What can you do to be prepared, if you wake up sick? What can you do to prevent getting sick?
    • Take care of your body. When your body is stressed, it cannot fight common germs. Be sure to dress warmly, eat well and get enough sleep ( If you stay out too much on the weekend and then show up sick on Monday, the host family may not be very compassionate).
    • Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose. This is how germs enter our bodies.
    • Wash your hands very often during the day and when out in public places. Use soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Rub your hands together for as long as it takes to say the alphabet and then you know you are good to go! When you cannot wash with water and soap, use a hand sanitizer.
    • Get a Flu shot.
    • Print your medical insurance info. Or, download the insurance app to your smart phone. You can search your email for the word ” CISI” and download the attachments to this emall. Print and carry this with you.
    • KNOW where to go. Today, google where is the closest CVS minute clinic near me. You don’t need an appointment, but one can be made on line.
    • Save some money. Even with insurance, being sick cost a lot of money. Save up at least two weeks pay to be sure you can take care of yourself, if you need to see a doctor. You can file a claim with your insurance to get a portion of your money back or to have it applied to your deductible. The instructions are on our blog in the resource section.
    • READ the information on our blog about your medical care to understand more about taking care of yourself.

Tips for understanding how holiday time can affect an Au pair.

Holiday Season in the USA will be a very special time for your family and Au pair.  It can also be a time when the Au Pair may need a little extra support. Consider these tips:

                                               

  • Missing Home
Certain people and places are missed and our traditions and activities seem “different” right at a time when an Au Pair would welcome something familiar. My observation has been that an Au
Pair’s emotions are close to the surface during the holidays. The enormity of this year away from
home hits her and sometimes throws her into a self-protective mode. You can help her through
this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (when
the candles will be lit, the stockings hung, the gifts exchanged, the meals prepared and eaten, the
relatives arriving, etc.) An especially thoughtful touch is to ask her if she has any favorite holiday foods or
traditions that could be incorporated into your celebration.
  • What are your expectations?       
Talk to your Au Pair specifically about what has to be accomplished. This will help to get her involved and interested. Remember her mother has probably taken this responsibility in previous years so don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed-upon assignments, make her feel a part of things and let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.
  • Discuss the change in routine and roles 
The parents are home and this is unsettling to the children as well as to the Au Pair. Some different work expectations may be needed since the kids may prefer to hover around the parents. This can make an Au Pair feel unwanted and unsure of what is expected of her. If she is thrown off balance she may not see other things she can do instead of the usual. The high emotions and energy of the kids at this time of year seem like craziness to her. Assure her that things are temporary and will be back to normal soon! Suggest things she can
do to help and encourage her to roll with the punches and just enjoy the general fuss. And host parents need to remember that no matter how stressful those long holiday days are, the rules of how many hours an Au pair can work are mandated by the State Department. No Au pair is allowed to work more than 10 hours each day or left in sole charge of the children for more than 10 hours.
  • Only in America!
The number of gifts given to the children and the excesses we enjoy with gifts, food, and decorations are overwhelming to most Au Pairs. This often causes them to withdraw as they attempt to catch their breath and to evaluate the differences.
  • New Year’s Eve in the USA
Socially you should remember the holidays are a time when Au Pairs want, and need, to be with their friends. This helps their survival mechanism when they are missing old friends back home. New Year’s Eve, especially in America, is a special occasion to an Au Pair so open communication is very important as you decide on New Year’s Eve plans. If possible, use a different babysitter on this important night for her.

Are You Thinking Of Extending Your Au pair Year?

Extension Year Tips

Choosing to extend is a great choice! It does require some planning and thought before you decide. These facts will be helpful in your decision-making process. Call or email your counselor, if you need help making the right choice.

  • You must have at least 72 hours of education completed at the time of your request to extend.
  • Certificates or documents that show your completed hours must be emailed to your community counselor. Please do not text pictures. Take a picture and email.
  • All education hours must be completed 30 days before the end of your first term.  Your request to extend and all documents will be filed one month before your end of your first year. THIS IS FIRM. THE STATE DEPARTMENT WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY EXTENSION REQUEST, IF THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENT HAS NOT BEEN MET.
  • If you are going to extend with a different family, you need to get your education finished by the 8th month so that you have time to interview and find a new family.
  • You have a choice to extend for 6, 9 or 12 months.
  • The travel month will be moved to the end of your second term. Your second au pair term will begin the day after your first year ends.
  • You cannot extend your second year, once it begins. If you choose for six months, you cannot stay longer.
  • You may change your mind during your second term and still receive your flight back home if you give your host family and CC at least one month’s notice.
  • If you are not able to give at least one month’s notice that you need to leave, you will be required to purchase your own flight home to your country.
  • If you leave early in the second term, you will lose your travel month. You will be expected to return home at the end of your one month notice.
  • There is no guarantee that you will get matched for your second year. Many au pairs do not make a match and return home.
  • Once you are matched with a second term family, you cannot change your mind and choose another family that calls later. You must honor your commitment.
  • Deciding to stay with your current family can work well. Sometimes, there are some things that you will want to change about your second-year experience. Talk with your host family to see if they are willing to make the changes you need to stay a second term!
  • Many au pairs underestimate the difficulty of getting re-adjusted in a new city. You will not have friends. You will not know your way around. Your host family will be new to you. Your host children will be new. All the comfort of your current situation will be gone. You will be starting over!
  • A second term in a new city can be exciting. You will have an opportunity to make new friends, see a new city and learn another way of life here in the USA!
  • The education requirement still applies in the second year. Standard au pairs will have 250.00 education allowance towards a six-month extension. You will need to achieve 40 hours of educating.   500.00 education allowance is given towards a nine and twelve-month extension. You will need to achieve at least 72 hours of education.
  • Your transfer to your new second term family is on the last day of your contract. You may not join them earlier or later than this date. This is very strictly followed. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • If you have the upgraded insurance policy, you must pay the fee to upgrade the policy in your second term. The insurance has to be the same. You must pay the fee to upgrade or you will not be allowed to stay.
  • Your USA driver’s license will need to be renewed once you have a new DS-2019 form with your extended dates on it. If you move, you will need to exchange your license for that State’s license with your new address.
  • Travel outside the country may not be possible in your second term. Some islands around the USA may be allowed. If you plan, to travel outside the USA in your second term (with or without your host family), you will need to 1. Read the travel information about second term travel outside the USA on the APIA website and 2. Email Fiorella at fciralli@aifs.com, if you have further questions about travel in the second term. http://www.aupairinamerica.com/resources/travel_and_flights/travel_visa.asp#3
  • Your actual visa will expire at the end of your one year term. However, the white paper in your passport ( the DS-2019 form) is the document that gives you a legal reason to be in the USA.  A new DS-2019 form will be issued to you from the State Department. It is not necessary for you to go back home to renew your visa.
  • Some Au Pairs want to renew their visa, due to the travel plans of their host family. Renewing the visa is risky because your government may not agree to grant another visa and you would not be allowed to return to the USA to finish your first term. It takes a lot of planning and organization to save your vacation days to the end of your term in a plan to return home to get a new visa. This process may take 2-3 weeks. You would need to return to the USA at least two weeks before your current visa expires.  Your host family is responsible for paying your Au pair stipend each week, even if you go home on vacation. Because of this, they may not agree to have you be absent for 2-3 weeks. The Au Pair must also pay your flight back home.
  • There is a lot to think about! Ask your counselor for advice.

Halloween Safety Tips For Au Pairs.

HALLOWEEN SAFETYHalloween

Safety is a very important issue for Halloween.   This is the most popular holiday for children who are able to go from door to door showing off their choice of costume for this year, and collecting candy from the neighbors.  For au pairs there are issues to consider that may not have been encountered before.  Here are some reminders to help make this holiday fun and safe.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!  

-Children should always be supervised by an adult when going “Trick or Treating”.

-Small children should not be allowed to run ahead or behind the Au pair. Talk to the host parents to find out if holding the child’s hand is necessary. 

-Only go to those homes that are known in the neighborhood to be safe participants.

-Never let a child go inside the neighbor’s home unless you know the person.

-Always check the candy before letting the children eat it.  Make sure that anything that has been unwrapped, homemade or just does not look safe is thrown away.  Ask the parents about this.

–When driving please slow down, as there will be a lot of children out in the dark.  They may not be visible.

-Talk to the children about safety during Halloween. (crossing the street, talking to strangers and waiting until their candy is checked before they eat it).

-Children may want to use a flashlight to see in the dark, this is also a good way for them to be seen by drivers.

Have a reflective pin, necklace or headpiece so that the children can be seen by drivers.

-If you have any safety concerns, talk to the parents.  

-Ask the parents about rules for candy consumption for the children.  Most parents will not want their children to gorge themselves with a lot of candy at one time.  Usually, parents will let children have a couple of pieces a day.

-Enjoy yourself.   Halloween is a fun holiday for adults too!  You may want to dress up with the children. 

Don’t forget to take lots of photos. 

Written by ALowery ATE cluster GA.

 

Three Ways for Au Pairs to Stay Red Cross Ready

Being knowledgeable in basic first aid and CPR is important for au pairs (and anyone else caring for children). Au Pair in America’s commitment to infant/child safety begins before au pairs arrive to the U.S., with pre-arrival training and continue throughout the au pair year.

#1 Training At Orientation

Our orientation includes seminars by American Red Cross instructors who provide hands-on demonstrations in infant/child CPR and safety. Printed materials are provided that reinforce the safety information and can be used to review from time to time.

#2 Enroll in a Red Cross Certification Class

After settling into their host community, all au pairs are encouraged to complete an Infant/Child CPR and First Aid certification program. Au Pair in America will pay for this training through the American Red Cross.

Classes are available through the Red Cross. Au Pair in America will pay for the cost of a class providing an au pair has at least six months left on her visa and is taking one of several approved childcare/child safety-related classes, such as Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. Au pairs should check with their community counselor and host family before signing up. Au Pair in America will register the au pair directly.

To locate a class, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass. For step-by-step instructions on how to locate a class and have Au Pair in America complete enrollment, click here.

#3 Stay Current on Safety Information

The Official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, this app gives you instant access to the information you need to know to handle the most common first aid emergencies. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice, it’s never been easier to know first aid. Download the app for free from the American Red Cross website or in your app store.

Photos: Robin Leon

Top 5 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Almost everyone experiences culture shock when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

When everything feels so unfamiliar, it is natural to long for the security of home. However, you don’t want to let that feeling of longing for home, make you too sad or prevent you from finding happiness in your new home.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make Friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other lots of new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home often makes homesickness worse. Try texting instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or go to movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness and nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years). So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

5. Make Plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Photo by: Hernán Piñera (Flickr)

It is important to talk each month with your Community Counselor.

Communication with your Community Counselor

It is very important to stay in communication with your counselor. Without at least monthly conversations, it is impossible for your counselor to know what is going well for you or what you need help with. The State Department of our Government sets the rules for which APIA must follow. One of those rules is that you must have at least one communication with your counselor per month. Most of our communication will take place at our monthly meetings. If you do not attend a cluster meeting, it is important that you talk with your counselor that month and discuss how your year is going.

Cluster meetings are mandatory. This is part of your contract with APIA. You will not always be able to attend. The following are reasons that you might not attend a cluster meeting:

  • You are sick.
  • You have an education class.
  • Your host family has a conflict in the schedule.
  • You are concerned about the cost of the meeting.

These are the only acceptable excuses. If you must miss a meeting for one of the above reasons, please call and let your CC know. If you miss more than three meetings during your year, Your counselor may not be able to give you a good recommendation about your participation with APIA.

There are other times you MUST call and talk with your counselor:

  • When you go on vacation with your family or on your own.
  • To report any accidents: car, personal, in the home, with host children.
  • If you are involved in an incident in which the police or firemen are present: fire, accident, robbery, etc.
  • If there are any concerns with the host family which harm you in any physical or emotional way.
  • If any incident occurs with you which may compromise your completion of the year.

Many common questions can be answered without calling your counselor.

The official web site for Au Pair in America ( www.aupairinamerica.com then scroll to the bottom and click ” current Au pair”) is a great place to search for interesting facts or important information. Our cluster blog site is also a great place to find the answer you are looking for. The following are examples of questions you can answer on the web site or on our blog.

  • Where can I go to the doctor?
  • What do I need to get my driver’s license?
  • What do I need to travel to another country?
  • How do I pay my USA taxes?
  • What activity can I do with my host children?                                                                              Your counselor is always glad to communicate with you. You are always welcome to contact your counselor. Here are some things to remember:
  • It might not be possible for her to speak to you or to respond to your text at the exact time you want.
  • If your counselor does not answer the phone, she may be in a meeting or talking with someone else. If this is the case, you will reach her voice mail. Voice mail in the USA is an important way businesses operate.
  • Your Counselor will not know that you called if you do not leave a message. Please call once and leave a message.
  • Do not call or text multiple times. It is only necessary to leave one voice mail or text message within a 24 hour time.
  • Please don’t feel shy about your English skills. Your counselor is in the habit of listening to au pair messages and she will be able to understand you.
  •  If you have an emergency, your counselor will call you back as soon as she receives your message. If you cannot wait on your counselor with an immediate emergency, call the after-hours emergency number for Au pair In America and follow the prompts for emergency assistance.
  • If you are calling to say hi or with a question, she will return your call within 24 hours.
  • Most counselors have set office hours. If you call or text outside of these hours, and you do not have an emergency, she will call you back on the next business day.
  • Resist texting after hours or on the weekend. Send an email and your counselor will answer this when she returns to work on the next business day.     

 

 

Counselors love talking with au pairs and look forward to hearing how your year is going!  Counselors also love hearing about ideas for cluster meetings. So, call soon!!

Back to school driving tips for Au Pairs!

The summer vacation is over! Every Fall, nearly 55 million children across the United States return to school. Many children will be on foot or using their bikes to either get to the bus stop or school grounds.

School days bring heavy road congestion with buses stopping to pick up students, children on bikes that are rushing to get to school before the tardy bell rings, and stressed out parents dropping kids off on their way work. Drivers must slow down and pay attention when children are present.  The afternoon hours are particularly the most dangerous. Over the last 10 years, nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

As children head back to school, here are some helpful reminders to drivers:

Slow Down and Obey School Zone Speed Limits 
Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. Fines for speeding in a school zone can be as high as $400.00

“No Passing”
This is a standard law, noted clearly in school zones, yet drivers regularly ignore it. Passing is not permitted in the 15 mph zone, no matter how slow another vehicle may be traveling. Passing doesn’t mean going around the vehicle. No passing means that your bumper cannot pass any other car’s bumper going in the same direction.  Another important reminder, never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

Flashing Lights
In a school zone when there are flashing lights, drivers must stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.

Be Diligent
Watch for kids crossing the streets. Children are quick, often unpredictable, tend to ignore hazards and take risks. A student crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars could be tragic. Eliminating distractions such as talking on your cell phone, eating, etc. is also strongly encouraged. Never text and drive and follow all laws pertaining to school buses. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.

Stop
Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in neighborhoods and school zones. Check carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding. Always stop for a school crossing guard holding up a stop sign.

Crosswalks
Never block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Pay special attention as you approach the intersection to avoid this as it forces pedestrians to go around you and this could place them in the path of moving traffic.

Reversing Concerns
Every vehicle has blind spots and children are small and may dart unexpectantly. Double-check for children walking on the sidewalk. In your own driveway, look all around your vehicle before backing up. Always back up slowly and teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles. Also, discuss with them where to stand when a vehicle is reversing.

Watch for Bicycles
Young children on bikes can be unsteady, inexperienced, and most definitely unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a bicycle helmet on every ride and map out a safe route with details on what to avoid and how to navigate their route.

Bus Safety
According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are between the ages 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are either hit by the bus, or a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. When the school bus has initiated the stop sign, all drivers must stop in both directions. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children and sadly we see news stories regularly of impatient drivers who race by a bus unloading young children. Obeying all road rules is imperative for student safety. It is also costly for a ticket, costing as much as $1000.00 in Georgia for the first offense.

The information posted was obtained at https://theumphx.com/2019/08/05/back-to-school-safety-reminder-drivers-watch-out-for-the-kids/

Are you feeling a little homesick?

Feeling homesick is a normal feeling when you first arrive as an Au pair. YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT! It just takes a little time and some effort on your part. Know that you can live with being uncomfortable for a short time. Trust yourself that you made the right decision. Trust me when I say it will get better and your whole year is ahead of you. Fun times and lifetime friends await you. GO GET THEM!

Here are some things to do if you are feeling a little blue:

  • Be a tourist, get to know where you live, visit the local sights and explore just as you would if on vacation.  Start a list of favorite places.
  • Plan a trip with a friend, a day trip or a weekend, get excited about doing something new with a new friend and before you know it you will be excited and chatting about the trip instead of talking about what you are missing at home. 
  • Go to your cluster meeting, This will definitely help you.
  • Not everything has to change.  If you loved jogging at home, do it here.  There are some habits you love that you can keep.
  • Create a routine.  Having a routine will help  you feel at home and settle into life here.
  • Do not stay home.  Get out and about, go to the gym, the park, a coffee shop, a movie, staying home alone will not help homesickness.
  • Ask your counselor to connect you with another au pair who was also homesick, there’s nothing better than talking to someone who has been in your shoes.
  • Start planning a digital memory book. Collect pictures and mementos from your year in a special online folder. Online sites like Shutter Fly and  Social Print Studios offer great deals on photo books.It will give you something to work on when you  have quiet time alone and as your year progresses you will be able to see what an amazing experience you are having.  You’ll have a wonderful keepsake to take home with you.  You’ll feel so proud of your memory book! 
  • Most importantly, talk to someone, if you feel sad or homesick.  Being part of a cluster enables us to help and support each other. 

A little inspiration from a former au pair… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3IBmRWGnwA

 Have a great year, this is your dream, make the most of it! 

Back to School Planning

Back to school time is here. This can mean changes to the au pair schedule and possibly to the duties.  It is very important to communicate these changes to avoid problems.

Here is a list of topics to consider discussing:

  • Au pair’s work schedule
  • The children’s school and activity schedules
  • Where the children get dropped off and picked up and who will be doing this
  • What to do if a child is staying home sick, late to school, does not get off the bus (if they are supposed to)
  • Driving laws regarding stopping for school buses
  • How to tell if school has been canceled or delayed for bad weather
  • Add the au pair to your list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school and explain the process
  • What to pack for lunch
  • The routine after school (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for a snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)
  • How to communicate about what’s going on at school. Your Kids in Care logbook from Au Pair in America can be a great two-way communication tool for keeping track of schedules, afterschool activities and day to day info that needs to be transferred between host parents and au pair.
  • If your au pair will be the one going through the children’s backpack and helping with homework, consider designating an area for putting things that need to be read and/or signed by parents.

Here are some Printable Fill-in-the-Blank School Notes for parents. You can print these out and have them ready for times when the kids are absent, late, have an early dismissal or you need to give permission for something.

Check out Au Pair in America’s Pinterest School Tips and Ideas pinboard for things like organization ideas, back to school traditions, printable lunch box notes, and fun lunch recipes.