Monthly Archives: June 2022

10 Tips for Vacationing with your Host Family

As an Au Pair, it is great to go along on a host family vacation.  However, being in a different environment does not change your role as an Au Pair. Sometimes it does get confusing and one of the biggest issues is the danger that can be involved when no one is clear about whose job it is to oversee the kids.

Here are 10 Tips for Vacationing with your Host Family so that everyone has a great time, and the kids are safe!

1.
Tag, your it!
I had a host family with 3 small children tell me that when it was the au pair’s turn to be
responsible for the children (and vice versa) they would tap hands so that there was no
misunderstanding who was in charge. What a great idea!

2.
Yes, a schedule is needed! A few summers ago, I received 2 calls on the same day. One was from a host mother saying that they just returned from vacation and their Au Pair did not work at all and one was from the Au Pair in this family saying she worked all day every day! How interesting is that? Be sure to discuss your Au Pair schedule so that you know when you are off – just like at home.

3.
Travel time/Work time?
You must get there, right?  Getting kids to relax on a long car ride or helping to get boarded on the plane, on time, can be stressful for all the adults! Travel time is not considered work time (unless you are the only person in charge of the children), however, being a kind Au Pair will mean that you cannot wear your earbuds and take a nap the whole trip. Look for ways to be helpful. This will make the travel time better for everyone.

4.
Lazy days! Vacation can bring different behaviors from children – especially children that
will not do well when there is no routine. Ask about any special routine that you will need to be aware of. Be prepared to be patient. Young children will not be themselves and older children who get to stay awake later may get cranky.

5.
Pool Safety!  If vacationing at the beach or around a pool be sure to talk to your host family about
how long the kids can stay at the pool, how often should sunscreen be reapplied? What is the host parent’s expectation of your role at the pool or beach? Do you need to be in the water or is it okay to sit on the side of the pool? Please do not assume your role, get clear directions.

6.
Who is the Boss?
Often summer vacation includes extended family. Can Grandma and Grandpa change the
schedule for the day? If you are uncertain about a change made by someone else, reach out to the host parents to get clarification.

7.
Where did all these kids come from?!
Are you vacationing with the host family’s family and their children too? It is fun to be surrounded by family and fun times. However, you can speak up if you are asked to care for more children than you feel comfortable with.

8.
 Traveling internationally?
Two steps must be accomplished before you travel out of the USA.  1.You must determine if you need a visitor’s visa to enter the country that you want to visit. 2. And, your DS2019 form must be signed. Even, if you are going with your host family, your DS2019 form must be signed for travel.  The original form must be mailed back to the office and signed. Then, it is mailed back to you. This process takes 3-4 weeks!  If you are in your second year, the rules are different. Please make sure you are knowledgeable about the restrictions for year-year travel.

*Au Pairs who will be away from the host family’s primary address for more than three weeks should contact your community counselor to discuss this. 

Travel Validation Form

Year 1 International Travel Checklist

Year 2 International Travel Checklist

Automatic Revalidation Checklist

9. Roomies? Vacations are expensive. It may not be possible to have your own private room, but you should have your own private bed.  Many times, an Au Pair will share space with the host children. Plans can be made so that you have the privacy to change clothes or rest by yourself. You should feel comfortable with your ability to have private time. If you do not feel comfortable with their plan, discuss your concerns with the host family before you leave.

  1. Safety First!
    Little kids LOVE exploring a new environment, and everyone is excited and off guard. This makes an accident more likely to happen. An accident can only take a second to happen. Do what you can to prevent accidents; walk with the host parents around your vacation surroundings to discover issues that might be safety concerns. Stairsteps, upstairs windows, sliding doors, patios, and backyard pools all need special attention. Remember the safety of the children is always a priority even when you are off duty.

Working with your host family during vacation time can be tricky, and might require an extra dose of patience, but you will make memories of this experience that you are sure to treasure. You will be able to experience a new place within the USA and learn more about your host family during a relaxed time. Be thankful and express your appreciation to your host family that they chose to include you!

Camp Au Pair: Backyard Safari

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Backyard Safari.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Backyard Safari pinboard

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences.

  • Local Zoo

Webcams – You can do a google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe nature.

Videos – Look for fun videos about African animals on YouTube.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on animals you might find on a safari or in the zoo. You can also check YouTube for some books on this subject being read aloud.

Image: Jumble Tree

Make Plans for Summer Fun with the Kids!

When the kids are out of school on summer break there are soooo many possibilities. But, if you don’t make plans, you will often end up in the house with bored kids getting into trouble and arguing with their siblings.  Make plans!

Having lots of ideas ready can minimize those problems.

Looking for fun activity ideas to get the summer started off right with your host kids?

The Au Pair in America Summer Fun Pinboard is a great place to start. Together, create a Summer Bucket List. Talk with the kids about things they would like to see and do. Even toddlers and preschoolers can contribute to the conversation. Run these plans by your host parents and clear things like how much you may spend and when is best to do some of these activities.

Check back here next week for information on Camp Au Pair in America: a weekly blog series with themes for a summer break filled with fun and new adventures.

Photo: MissMessie (Flickr)

Vacation and Holidays for the Au Pair.

Summertime is a busy travel season for host families. Here are some reminders about program rules regarding holidays and vacations.

 

Holidays

  • Host families are not required to give au pairs any specific holidays. However, if you know that you will be home, a holiday day off can be a nice reward for an Au pair!
  • Each host family will make different arrangements for holidays, some au pairs will be off and others will be required to work.
  • Au pairs should not make plans for holidays without checking with their host family first.

Vacations

  • An Au pair earns 11 days of paid vacation during the course of her year. An Au Pair who always has the weekends free will earn 10 days of paid vacation.
  • Vacation time should be mutually agreed upon before it is taken.
  • All vacations should be preplanned (at least 4-12 weeks in advance.) This can allow time to coordinate the au pair’s weekend off for the month and her vacation days.
  • Time cannot be made up in the remaining week if the vacation is taken with individual days.
  • All au pair’s friends and/or family visits/vacations should be pre-approved prior to purchasing tickets. Some host families will not be comfortable with guests visiting during work hours. It might be best to coordinate the Au Pair vacation with guests’ plans to visit.
  • If an au pair travels with her host family, it should be discussed in advance whether this is the au pair’s vacation or if she is working. A schedule is necessary for work during the host family vacation.
  • If an au pair travels with the host family to work, the host family is required to pay for her transportation, lodging, and meals. Her Lodging should ensure her privacy.
  • An Au Pair cannot be away from the host family’s primary residence for longer than 3 weeks.
  • Year 2 Au Pairs cannot travel internationally with the exception of Canada, Mexico, and some adjacent Caribbean islands.

Important: If an au pair is traveling outside of the U.S., she must have her DS2019 signed (travel validation) PRIOR to her departure from the US.  This can take up to 4 weeks to process. A visitor’s visa may also be needed for the country you are visiting.

More information about international travel may be found with these resources:

Travel Validation Form

Year 1 International Travel Checklist

Year 2 International Travel Checklist

Automatic Revalidation Checklist

Drowning is FAST AND SILENT. Four Tips to prevent drowning!

DId you know that drowning is the number 1 cause of accidental death for children under 5 and a leading cause for ages 1-14?
 Drowning is FAST AND SILENT. Drowning happens to all types of families and in all kinds of water- bathtubs, pools, lakes, ponds, rivers, beaches, and even buckets and toilets. The good news is that drowning is PREVENTABLE.
The big four tips for water safety:
1. Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning. Never trust a child who says they will stay away from the pool while you go to the restroom or back to the car…. Take them with you!
2. Whenever children under age 5 are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
3. Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
4. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.