Keeping kids busy and active is the key to success for those long summer days!
When kids are out of school for the summer, it doesn’t take long for them to become bored. Boredom leads to sibling squabbles and mischief! Children don’t realize how much they miss the routine and predictability in their daily schedule. One solution is to make fun plans to keep them busy! Make Camp Au Pair!
Have a ready list of easy, fun activities that you can do with your host children. Get prepared for the upcoming week by getting a list of what is needed and asking the host parents for help in purchasing your supplies.
Use your Au Pair In America resources to find activities and ideas. Check your Au Pair portal for “150 Things to Do with Children”. This is jammed with super ideas.
My favorite outside activity is making super planet size bubbles, using a homemade bubble recipe. Ask your host dad to bend wire coat hangers into large circles with a handle. Outside on the driveway, pour the bubble mix into a shallow dish large enough for the circular coat hanger. A clean trash can lid works great. See how large you get can your bubbles to float!
Create your own bubble solution by gently combining 1 cup dish soap, 1 tbsp glycerine and 4 cups water in a large bucket.
10 fun ideas:
1.Dance-Put on classical music and move like trees or animals!
2.Cook-Freeze juice and make yummy popsicles!
3.Craft-Make a craft out of leftover Popsicle sticks or shells from the beach trip.
4.Make a tent-Use the Kitchen table and a sheet to make a cool place to get out of the sun on a hot day!
5.Dress up-Be Super man or a princess! Have fun pretending.
6. Chalk on the driveway-Endless fun with drawing pictures and hopscotch!
7.Balls-Make up a new game outside with the ball or just toss or kick
8.Read out loud and use funny voices to make all the characters come alive!
9.Bird watch-See how many kinds of birds you can find in your back yard. Look them up on Google to identify what kind of bird it is. Have a bird watch every day to keep track of them 10. Plant a sunflower– Plant seeds in a super, sunny place and water it every day!
Tips For Communicating About Problems With Your Host Family.
How you approach an issue of concern with your host family will often determine the outcome. A thoughtful, respectful approach will prompt success, but an aggressive, demanding conversation is likely to harm your relationship. American culture is supportive of positive solution-focused communication. Talking about concerns is hard, but well worth the effort.
- Talk in person/ face to face: texts and chats can be misunderstood. Our body language helps us to succeed in communication. Respect the family’s privacy. AVOID talking/texting negatively about the family with a neighbor, family friend, or other family relatives.
- Choose a good time to talk: Ask for a time to talk when the other person can hear you and you will have enough time to get to the resolution. AVOID catching the host parents on their way out of the door or after a long day at work. Wait until you are calm.
- Are you doing your best? Before bringing a concern into a conversation with your host parents, think through your role in their family. It may pay off to build your relationship first. Ask yourself: have I demonstrated my value to the family dynamic? Being able to demonstrate through your behavior that you are… trustworthy, safe, use good judgment, prioritize your Au pair schedule, dependable…. will serve to help you in the discussion about your concern.
- Plan: Think about what you want to say ahead of time. State clearly about one problem and how it affects you. Do some research with your CC. Ask for information about program rules and norms. Be realistic.
- Listen: Give the other person a chance to tell their side of the concern completely. AVOID interrupting to defend yourself. Really try to hear from their perspective. Let the other person know you want to understand from their side, and you would be happy if they could see your perspective too.
- Role model that YOU are listening: You may not agree with the other perspective. Tell the other person you see that your behavior affected them or the importance of what you are now asking for. For example: “I see that when I was 30 minutes late, it made my host child feel scared and it lead you to think that I did not prioritize my au pair role.” State that you are glad that this information is being discussed together and that you are happy that it will make your relationship with the family better. You really want to find a solution and appreciate the feedback.
- Give Information but stay on track: AVOID letting the conversation move to a general discussion of your unhappiness. Be specific. If you are saying” when you were late last week …and when you said I cannot take the car… and when the children yelled at me…. and I had to take the dog out too… and then you didn’t ask me to go with you all to get ice cream.” it will be hard to single out a solution!
- Talk about your perspective: Avoid telling the other person how they are or are not, making them angry is not an effective way to find a solution together. It is ok to talk about how the behavior made you feel. Talk about the most difficult things. If you are not able to get them out in the open during this conversation, no solution can be made. For example: “When you don’t involve me in your plans outside my work schedule, it makes me feel like an employee not really an important part of your family.”
- What is the solution? Americans have a saying: “don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution.” How do you see a solution for the concern? Be specific:” I would feel better about my relationship with the family if you did ask me sometimes to go with you. I understand you are not able to ask me every time. I would appreciate occasionally being asked to join in the family fun times”.
- Follow-through: The hardest work is over! You have successfully talked through a concern and made it to the end with a solution in place. Agree to set up regular talks that both parties can express a concern and move through the steps you have taken today to make your relationship the best that it can be!
- Before it becomes an emergency, google where is the closest CVS minute clinic to me! If you do not have a medical condition that is life-threatening, CVS minute clinics and Walgreens stores are great choices for medical care. These clinics do not require an appointment and are open early and late.
- Little symptoms can become big emergencies. Don’t risk your Au Pair experience by waiting until you are extremely ill before seeking medical advice.
- If you have more than a small medical issue, call your insurance company to discuss your benefits and options before incurring a large medical bill that you will have to pay. (800) 303-8120, prompt 5 or 203-399-5130 or email email@example.com
- Hospital Emergency rooms are for life-threatening conditions only. An additional 500.00 deductible will be charged to you if you do not have a life-threatening emergency. When in doubt go to a CVS minute clinic. You will not have to pay the additional ER deductible if you are directed by a medical professional to go to an ER.
- Download your insurance card. Keep your insurance card with you at all times Or, have the mobile app on your phone with myCISI phone app for iphone or android.
- You can go into your Au Pair Insurance portal to print out a new card with your host family’s address on it. Make an account and save your password. Or, you can use the mobile app on your phone to do this.
- The basic plan of insurance will have a 50.00 deductible for each sickness or injury. There will be a co-pay amount you will pay for your care and a percentage of the cost of the service. The insurance will determine what is the usual and customary charge for the service you received.
- Be prepared by saving up two weeks’ stipend to cover any medical cost.
- If you pay for medical care or prescription medicine, you can fill out a claim form and mail it in to get CISI to pay you their portion (once you have met your deductible). A claim form can be found on the mycisi portal.
- Use Well RX to lower your prescription cost. https://www.wellrx.com/prescription-discount-card/
- Au Pairs do not have dental insurance (with exception of the upgraded medical policy which does have a 500.00 pain relief benefit). Avoid crunching on hard food or candy!!
- Read about sports insurance upgrade to determine if this will help you. If you are injured during a sporty activity- the insurance may not cover it. This can be found on your MyCISI portal.
- Routine wellness checks and vaccinations are not covered under CISI. Before getting a vaccine, ask if there is a charge to administer the shot and what your cost will be.
- Birth Control pills and routine GYN visits are not covered by CISi. Consider your local health department or Planned Parenthood as a good option for these services.
Here are 10 Tips for Vacationing with your Host Family so that everyone has a great time, and the kids are safe!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Au Pair in America is advising against any international travels for the Au Pair during 2021 even if you are going with your host family. If you arrived on an NIE visa, you will not be able to return to the USA once you leave. Call your community counselor to discuss any plans for international travel during 2021.
Roomies? Vacations are expensive. It may not be possible to have your own private room. 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. If you do not feel comfortable with this, discuss your concerns with the host family before you leave.
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!
Top 10 Tips – Host Family Guide to a Successful Working Vacation with your Au Pair.
As a host family, it is great to have your Au Pair along on a vacation. However, there are pitfalls that can happen 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 Au Pair so that everyone has a great time, and the kids are safe!
- 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!
- 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 give your Au Pair a schedule of when she is working so that she knows when she is off – just like home. It is important for her to know when she can go relax at the beach – without having to ask if she is free. Make a tentative schedule and discuss your expectations ahead of the vacation. It is always possible to readjust when you are there.
- Travel time/Work time?
Do you consider travel time to be your au pair’s work time, or can she put her earbuds in and take a nap? This is something you want to define ahead of time.
- Lazy days! Vacation can bring different behaviors from children – especially children that
will not do well when there is no routine. Talk to your Au Pair about your children and the things you found have worked on past vacations. If you like to have a routine on vacation let her know that, too.
- Pool Safety! If vacationing at the beach or around a pool be sure to talk to your Au Pair about
how long they can stay at the pool, how often should sunscreen be reapplied, do you want your Au Pair in the water or is it okay to sit on the side of the pool? Please do not assume your au pair knows your expectations.
- Who is the Boss?
Often summer vacation includes extended family. Can Grandma and Grandpa change the
schedule for the day? Make sure your Au Pair knows who gives her responsibilities for the day and communicate that to all parties involved.
- Where did all these kids come from?!
Are you vacationing with your kids, your brother’s kids, your sister’s kids and do they expect
your Au Pair to watch them, too? If this is the case – this needs to be spelled out ahead of time so that the Au Pair can let you know whether she is comfortable. Also, is it safe for her to be watching more than your children in an unfamiliar location?
- Traveling internationally?
Au Pair in America is advising against any international travels for the Au Pair during 2021. If your Au Pair arrived on an NIE visa, she will not be able to return to the USA once she leaves. Call your community counselor to discuss any plans for international travel with your Au Pair during 2021.
Will your Au Pair have to share a hotel room while on vacation? Make sure you discuss ahead of
time what the accommodations will be on the trip so that you eliminate any surprises (your au
pair should not be expected to share a room with her host parents).
- Safety First!
Communication with your Au Pair is paramount on vacation. When you are all in unfamiliar
surroundings with different schedules and different expectations – things can go wrong. Be sure that the safety of your children is number one in everyone’s mind. Take a tour of your surroundings and discuss any concerning issues. Making sure everyone knows whose turn it is to watch for the kids and what they are watching out for. These tips can ensure a successful vacation with memories to last!
Documentation showing your identity and legal presence in the USA:
- DS2019 form ( Verify that the form is signed at the bottom by Au pair and shows current host family address)
- I-94 card (print out from the cbp website).
- Social Security Card
- Confirmation of placement letter can be printed directly from the Au pair portal.
- International driver’s permit
- Original country license ( this should be returned to you).
- Two forms of proof of Georgia residence: 1.Confirmation of Placement letter ( print from the Au Pair portal) AND 2. choose one of the following ways to prove your residency:
- Bank statement with Au pair name and host family address dated within 6 months of the appointment date.
- Order a book of stamps through www.usps.gov and save the envelope showing Au pair name and host family address dated within 6 months of the appointment date.
- Save Social Social Security card information when it arrives through the mail showing Au pair name and host family address- this must be dated within 6 months of the appointment time.
- Print your insurance card from the CISI website with your name and host family address on the card https://www.mycisi.com/CISIPortalWeb/pub/login.aspx?PT=GEN
For more information regarding the Georgia Driver’s License refer to our Blog under life in the USA
Two test must be taken: A knowledge test and a skills test. No appointment is necessary for the knowledge exam, but wait times can be long. An appointment must be made to take the roads test. Test can be made 120 days ahead. Save confirmation emails and appointment numbers. The written exam can be made as soon as the social security card is obtained.
The Roads test does not have to be taken in the same location. Please research all available appointments close enough to drive from the host family home. A licensed driver will need to drive the Au pair to the Road’s Test, if she has been issued a temporary permit.
Class C Driver’s License
Search for driving distance from your host family’s home using this link. Ask your host family which location is closest to your home. https://dds.georgia.gov/locations/customer-service-center
These are the locations most often used. Some may be too far from your location.
All are open Tuesday to Friday. Some are open on Saturdays 8am-12pm. The offices will be closed on holidays. CHECK the hours of operation for the specific office BEFORE you go.
Alpharetta Does not offer the Roads Test, Written test only- 1575 Maxwell Road Alpharetta, GA 30009 Saturday 7:30am 12pm
Canton right off 575 behind library- Brown Industrial Parkway, Suite 200 Canton GA. 30114
Cumming 400 Aquatic Circle Cumming GA. 30040 Saturday 8am-12pm
Marietta 1605 County Services Pkwy Marietta, GA 30008 Saturday 7:30am
Gainsville 1010 Aviation Blvd Gainesville, GA 30501 Saturday 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Cartersville 1304 Joe Frank Harris Pkwy Cartersville, GA 30121 Saturday 8:00am-12:00pm
Kennesaw-Saturday7:30-12pm 3690 Old 41 Hwy NW Kennesaw, GA 30144
Norcross/Peachtree Corners- Saturday 7:30 to 12pm 2211 Beaver Ruin Rd Norcross, Georgia 30071
Information obtained at www.dds.ga.gov
How the Au pair program affected Adult Children from Former Host Families.
(Excerpted from Au Pair in America Program Outcomes- Perspectives of Host Children 1999-2017)
Cassie Heine and Catie Steidl, AIFS program Researchers stated:
“The host children love and learned from their Au pairs. As a result, their eyes were open to the world beyond the doorsteps of their home.”
Catie “When children are raised to think of cross-cultural understanding, interaction and the embrace of difference and diversity as the norm, they are guaranteed to grow into similarly tolerant young people and adults who are interested in and enthusiastic about the positive aspects of cultural understanding.”
The impact Statistics gained from surveying 4000 former host children now age 21 or older:
An ability to accept differences in other people- 88%
An appreciation for global cuisine- 81%
A desire for more diverse friendships and social networks-71%
A better understanding of myself and my values- 71%
The Au pair affected their lives in a positive way- 99%
Would you have an Au pair care for your children- 94%
I consider the Au pair who lived with us to be like family-92%
62% of adult children of APIA can comfortably hold a conversation in a different language. Only 26% of American-born citizens can do this.
College-age children of APIA were 7x more likely to study abroad.
Quotes from former host children:
Caitlin Age 25 New Jersey:
“They broadened my horizons and showed me that people everywhere live different and interesting, but equally beautiful lives. Through them I learned about different languages, food, architecture, and displays of friendship. I wanted to know more about people, and I wanted to go on adventures because of them.”
Madeleine, age 26 Massachusetts
“I attended my former Au pairs weddings. I’ve met their parents, and their children. To me, to everyone in my family, they are Family. I feel like they will stay that way for the rest of my life.”
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. Tell yourself 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!
Almost everyone experiences homesickness and culture shock to some degree when they come to live in a completely new environment. So much is different and it takes time to adjust.
It is normal to miss your own family, at home. Try to remember that they support you and want you to make the most of this experience. Your family and friends back home will enjoy learning more about the U.S., through your eyes, as you share your adventures with them.
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 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 normally makes homesickness worse. Try to lessen your contact by every other day and slowly 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) – Attend your zoom cluster meetings! Ask your host family how you can be social with other Au pairs outside of their home. Perhaps you can have coffee or meet outside 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 the vast majority of them get through it, stay and have a successful year (some even extend for a second year!) 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 Facebook group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.
Photo by: Shimelle Laine (Flickr)