Category Archives: Au Pair Tips

How do you talk about something that is concerning you with your host family?

Tips for Communication During Conflict 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.

  1. 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 another family relative.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Role model that YOU are listening too: 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.
  7. Give Information but stay on track: AVOID letting the conversation move to a general discussion of your unhappiness. Be specific. If you are saying a lot of different instances for example” 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 an ice-cream.” it will be hard to single out a solution!
  8. Talk about your perspective: Avoid telling the other person how they are or are not, feeling. This can make them angry or offended.  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.”
  9. 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”.
  10. 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! Yes, it might feel awkward today, but soon your relationship with the host family will be better than ever!

Making Thanksgiving Memories Together

Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally since 1789.  The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend time together with the special people in their lives. A part of the tradition is to focus as a family and individual on the gifts in our lives and relationships. What are you THANKFUL for?

Martin Cathrae

 “My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Firstly, it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical things you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.” – Swantje from Germany

Here are a few tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.

Host Parents
Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.

Au Pairs
If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend, so they may make plans. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans, so I can assist.

Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.

Thanksgiving is a very special time to gather with friends and family. It is also very hectic for your host family who has to prepare food or travel with children. This is a great time to ACT like a part of the family. If you see a way to be helpful- do it! Your participation in this stressful time will be appreciated.

Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cookies. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.

 

Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Art Experiences.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to art can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Some museums are requiring advanced tickets or have reduced hours due to the pandemic.

  • Art Museums
  • Paint Your Own Pottery Studio
  • Clay and Ceramics Studio

Online Art FunHere is a great website with lots of art activities including ones for older kids.

Webcams – You can do a google search for art websites with webcams. Here are a few to get you started:

Pottery & Ceramics webcam
Glass Blowing webcam

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about drawing and all kinds of art.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on famous artists and art.

Check YouTube for books on art being read aloud:

Image: teachkidsart.com

Camp Au Pair – Summer Olympics

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme Summer Olympics. The 2021 Summer Olympics are taking place in Tokyo, Japan, July 23-Aug 8.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to the Summer Olympics can be found here on the Camp Au Pair Summer Olympics pinboard.

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of about the Olympics.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books about the Olympics.

Some good ones include: Olympig!, G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet, How to Train with a T-Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals, Wilma Unlimited, America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle, Way to Go Alex!, Touch the Sky, Pele: King of Soccer, A Picture Book of Jesse Owens & Babar’s Celestville Games.

You may also find some of these books read aloud on YouTube.

Fun Fact: The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions, used alone, in one or in five different colors, which are, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The Olympic symbol (the Olympic rings) expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

Image: Project Nursery

Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM)

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Science (STEM). This includes science, technology, engineering and math.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all things science, technology, engineering and math can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM) pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

  • Nature Walk
  • Science Centers
  • Pick Your Own Farms
  • Nature Centers
  • Botanical Gardens or Garden Store
  • Television/Radio Museum
  • Into the City to See Skyscrapers
  • Building or Technology Museum

Virtual Field Trips

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of with science experiments to do with kids.

The Magic School Bus is a cartoon series with episodes on lots of great science topics. You can find some episodes on YouTube and the full series on Paramount Plus.

Movies – The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, Wall-E and Hidden Figures all fit the STEM theme.

Webcams – You can do a google search for science websites with webcams. Here is a collection of 22 science webcams from around the world.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on science, technology, engineering and math.

Image: sweetpaulmag.com

Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Dinosaurs.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to dinosaurs can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions.

Here are a few places to go that fit this theme:

    • Children’s museum with dinosaur exhibit
    • Natural history museum
    • Nature center with fossils

Toys – Many kids have dinosaur toys already. See what your kids have and think of fun, new ways you can play with these toys with them. Imagine taking a plastic dinosaur and making footprints in play dough to form your own fossils.

Webcam – This NPS Paleontology Lab offers a webcam where you can watch paleontologists remove rock from around fossils. The cam is normally working 9 am-5 pm PST, so 12-8 pm our time.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs and fossils. Here are a few to get you started.

Movies – The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on dinosaurs.

Photo: krojotak.com

Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of Shark Week (see below), next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Under the Sea.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to creatures who live under the sea can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea pinboard.

Webcams – You can do a google search for aquariums and zoos across the country (and the world) with webcams that allow you to observe sea creatures. Here is one to get you started.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Search online to see if your area has any of the following:

  • Any pet store with fish tanks
  • Aquarium
  • Zoo
  • Nature Center

Television – The Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be July 11-18, 2021. Much of the programming will be too scary for younger kids, but for nature-loving tweens and teens, it could be a great way to get them interested in sharks and other ocean animals. Check out 15 JAW-some Activities for Shark Week with lots of fun ideas for kids in grades 5 and up, but a few for younger kids too.

Online Games – NOAA has fun interactive games that help kids learn about sea turtle survival.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about sea creatures. There’s more to see than Baby Shark. Movies like Finding Nemo, Dolphin Tale, and the Little Mermaid also go well with this theme.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on sea creatures. The Rainbow Fish is a classic children’s book, your kids may already own. If not, you can find videos like this of it being read aloud.

Photo: mimisdollhouse.com

Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Bugs & Butterflies.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all kinds of bugs, insects, butterflies, and spiders can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Bugs & Butterflies pinboard.

Outdoors – Kids today do not spend enough time outdoors. Take the kids in the backyard or another nature area (approved by your host parents) and do some activities related to this theme:

  • Allow them to search for bugs and butterflies.
  • Observe lightning bugs (also known as fireflies) in the evening. Here is a map showing what people call these little guys in different parts of the country.
  • After it rains, look for earthworms. Not bugs or butterflies, but very interesting creatures you can find in your own backyard.

NOTE: If you are outdoors with the children, be sure to check for ticks when you come back inside. Here is a blog post explaining the health risk ticks can pose and how to find and remove them safely.

Videos – You can find many great videos of butterflies and insects on YouTube. Check out these videos for kids about bees and ants. All about Insects covers lots of tiny creatures who crawl and fly. Here are a few videos to get you started.

Movies – A Bugs Life, The Bee Movie, Maya the Bee, and The Ant Bully all fit this theme.

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

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on bugs and butterflies. 

Image: minieco.co.uk

Camp Au Pair – Outer Space

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Outer Space.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to outer space can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Outer Space pinboard. Here is a fun one that combines a science lesson, art, and snack time.

https://www.opticscentral.com.au/moon-phases-explained-with-oreos

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Search online to see if your area has any of the following:

  • Air & Space Museum
  • Science Center
  • Planetarium

Webcams – You can do a google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe space. Here is one from the International Space Station to get you started.

Online Games – NASA has a gallery of free space games for kids.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about outer space. Solar System 101 and 25 Space Secrets Astronauts Want You to Know are good for school-aged kids. The Planet Song is for toddlers and preschoolers. WALL-E, Zathura, Monsters vs. Aliens & Star Wars are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, movies like Hidden Figures and the Martian too, both are rated PG-13.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on outer space.  Me & My Place in Space, Mousetronaut, There was an Old Astronaut who Swallowed the Moon, and Mae Among the Stars are a few fun ones to get you started. Story Time from Space is a YouTube channel with real astronauts reading children’s books aloud.

Photo: alittlepinchofperfect.com

Camp Au Pair In America

 

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.

Check out Au Pair in America’s Pinterest pages; Summer Fun & Summer Holidays pin boards for even more ideas.

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!