Monthly Archives: August 2016

Celebrate Labor Day 2016!

This year, we will celebrate Labor Day on Monday, September 5th. Labor Day Weekend is a new holiday for many au pairs. Here is a brief history of this American holiday (from Holiday Insights), ideas of ways to celebrate with your host children, and DC-area events.

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Back-to-School Tips for Au Pairs

It may still feel like summer outside, but back-to-school season has arrived. Here are a few things to think about as we turn our attention to September.

  1. Weekly meetings:  These are a perfect time for you to sit down with your host parents and review the weekly schedule, the children’s behavior, and other issues. APIA strongly encourages these meetings. If they’re not happening at your house, let me know and I’ll speak with your host parents.
  2.  Schedule:  September is almost here. What does that mean for you? Now is the perfect time to review your work schedule and family agreements and think about how life might change this autumn. Bring up questions you have about these changes in your weekly meetings.
  3. School: Can you answer all of these questions? If not, ask your host parents, so you will know what to do.
    • What are the children’s school and activity schedules  (including school holidays, teacher work days)
    • How does school drop-off and pick-up work?  Have you been added to the list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school>
    • What do you do if a child is staying home sick, is late to school, or is dismissed early?
    • How do you know if school has been cancelled or delayed for bad weather?
    • What should you pack for the children’s lunches?
    • What is the after-school routine (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)?
    • How should you communicate with your host parents about what’s going on at school?
    • Are there any other changes in routines, bedtimes, and meals?
  4. Technology:  Smart phones are great tools for staying in touch with your host family, finding directions, scheduling playdates, keeping track of your schedule, and taking pictures of your host kids to share with their parents. However, remember that you should never use your phone for anything else during work hours. Don’t do it. For more technology tips, read this blog post. 


Back-to-School Tips for Host Parents

While it still feels like summer outside, store shelves are stocked with notebooks and pens, school crossing guards are directing traffic, and Facebook feeds are full of grinning kids happily headed off to school. Yes, Back-to-School Season has arrived!

Along with the scramble to find missing backpacks, use this time of year to review your family routines, tweaking them for your children’s new schedules. Also, consider how your children have matured since last year, and how they can show their increased maturity with new responsibilities.

It’s very important to communicate with your au pair any changes to her routine schedule and duties. Consider the following discussion topics for your weekly meeting:

  • Au pair’s work schedule
  • The children’s school and activity schedules  (school holidays, teacher work days)
  • School drop-off and pick-up (how does this work and who does it). Be sure to add your au pair to your list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school
  • What to do if a child is staying home sick, late to school, dismissed early
  • How to tell if school has been cancelled or delayed for bad weather
  • What to pack for lunch
  • After school routine (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)
  • How to communicate about what’s going on at school (Kids in Care Log Books are available upon request from APIA)
  • Any other changes in routines, bedtimes, meals, and job duties.

You may find the following articles helpful in considering your plan for the school year:

Technology Tips for Au Pairs

Imagine if you went to the hospital and the doctors and nurses were more interested in texting or tweeting 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 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 a very important job because you are helping to shape our next generation. What message are you sending to your host kids 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.

Not paying enough attention to your host kids poses safety concerns too. Accidents happen, but when an adult caregiver is close by and appropriately supervising children, the chances of a major injury are dramatically reduced.

When you are working, you should not do any of the following:

  • Texting
  • Talking to friends on the phone
  • Chatting with friends online
  • Using Skype or FaceTime
  • Messaging
  • Emailing
  • Tweeting
  • Updating your status on Facebook or any other social media
  • Using Snapchat, WhatsApp or any other app or social media site
  • Watching videos on YouTube
  • Uploading photos on Instagram
  • Playing Pokemon Go
  • Using the phone or tablet while driving
  • Exceptions- the only time it’s okay to use your computer, phone, tablet, etc. is when your host parents have given your specific permission to text or call them, help your host children find a pre-approved website (like, or some other job-related task that your host family has asked you to complete. When in doubt- ask your host parents.

Finally, please do not text, scroll through Facebook, answer your phone, etc. when eating meals with your host family or talking with your host parents. Even if you think you’re a great multi-tasker, your host family will think you are being rude.

Going unplugged during work may seem impossible, but think about this — even if you work 45 hours a week, you still have 123 hours left in the 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 – Please be clear about what you consider acceptable technology use during work hours to avoid misunderstandings. Your au pair is most likely very accustomed to being plugged in at all times. Her intention is not to be rude, but she might not realize how her actions will be perceived. Please use this information as an opportunity to begin a dialogue on the issue.

(Adapted from Christine Connally’s blog post, Going Unplugged During Work Hours)

Fair Season!

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair 2015 (Images: Catherine McEaddy)

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair 2015 (Images: Catherine McEaddy)

Looking for a change of scenery? Want to get out DC’s concrete jungle for the day? Or maybe you just want to try a fried Oreo? All of these dreams can come true over the next few weeks at one of the many area county and state fairs.  Continue reading