Places like the DMV and Social Security office can be challenging for Americans, so I can understand how difficult it could be for an au pair to run into problems there.
If you encounter a problem in one of these locations or at other places like college enrollment, store, bank, etc., here are some tips:
- Remain calm and polite, even if the person you are dealing with doesn’t. You don’t want to be viewed as being unreasonable or out of control, because that will not help your situation.
- Ask to speak with a supervisor, if you are being told something that goes against the procedure you have been told (by your counselor, host parent, Au Pair in America or a previous encounter with the office you are visiting).
- Ask for the name of the person with whom you are speaking. It is a reasonable question and can help if you need to reference this conversation later. It also adds some accountability for the person who gave you the answer.
If the supervisor is still unable to help you, please discuss the problem with your host parents and/or your community counselor. Maybe there has been a change in the procedure. If there has not been a change and you just got unlucky with the person with which you were dealing, you may find success going back another day.
Years ago when my kids were younger, I had a cluster meeting at my house and a few au pairs commented on the chore and behavior charts I had posted in my family room. With four kids, I sometimes found it difficult to keep track of who had done what and who had gained or lost various privileges. So, over the years, I have used charts to keep everything on track. I have also created charts for host families and au pairs dealing with behavior the children may be having.
I uploaded a few of these charts in case you may find them helpful.
Positive Behavior – Recognizing and rewarding positive behavior can often be a good way to reduce negative behavior. The goal behind lots of children’s actions is the same, attention seeking. Try to show them more positive attention when they do well and make less of a fuss over negative behaviors.
Explain how the chart will work and then look for times when you can call their attention to something they did that was kind or helpful. It is nice to have short term and longer term goals. For example, the thrill of putting a sticker on the chart can be exciting for toddlers and preschoolers and that along with your words of praise are instant gratification. Saying when you get 5 stickers you get a larger reward (trip to the park, extra story or video, special activity) is intended to make them want to keep up the positive behavior. Positive Behavior Chart
Tracking Privileges – For school aged children it can be helpful to tie how they are behaving to privileges they want to have. I used this chart with different colored push pins, so my children could see where they were on the ladder and I could remember who I had told they could do what. The ladder style chart is based on an idea of the Dilley Family (famous parents of sextuplets.) I figured if it worked for them with six kids, it might work for me- and it has for many years. You can make this chart your own by substituting the kinds of activities your kids enjoy. Ladder Chart
Chores – Having chores teaches children that they are an important part of the family and their efforts count. This teaches responsibility and promotes positive self-esteem. Chore Chart with Basic Chores
These are just a starting point, you can make your own charts and even involve the children in the process.
#1 Tip – Be Consistent!
All adults in the house need to be on the same page. It takes time to change behavior. Don’t expect instant results.
Host parents have many responsibilities and are often very busy. Hosting an au pair can provide help with a large part of the childcare related responsibilities. Below are a few simple things you can do to help your au pair match flourish.
Treat Your Au Pair Like a Family Member – Au pairs who feel appreciated and included as a member of their host family tend to see their host children as family members and feel very invested in their happiness and success.
Stay on Top of Payments – Au pairs can feel very uncomfortable if they need to ask for their weekly stipend payment. This can also make them feel like their work is not appreciated or you are unconcerned about their needs. Add a recurring weekly event on your calendar, use payment apps or automatic bank transfer to schedule your au pair’s stipend payment and give yourself one less thing to remember.
The same is true for their transportation costs to cluster meetings and classes. Au pairs let their host family know about the costs but some host parents don’t always follow through and reimburse them. Here’s a blog post with information and tips on how to handle transportation costs.
Communication – Make time every couple of weeks for a check-in conversation. This provides your au pair a time to bring up questions or concerns which she may be hesitant to bring up when she see’s how busy you are day to day. It’s also a good time for discussing any concerns you have as well as planning for upcoming events or schedule changes.
Photo: Shared by an APIA Host Family
Three of our DC/Maryland clusters did a tour inside of the Washington Monument for their May cluster meeting. This was our first Washington Monument tour since before the pandemic! We were very happy to have a great turnout and gorgeous weather.
In the final months of your au pair year, it can be tempting to become relaxed in the way you complete your duties. You may be thinking about your travel month, returning home and the next chapter of your life. That can be exciting and sometimes a little overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to talk with your host family, community counselor and friends if you need support.
You have done a wonderful job and made it so far! Don’t forget you are still an important part of your host family and they are still counting on you in these final months of your program.
Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood, and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to society. It is celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday in May. It was established by Anna Jarvis, with the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908.
You will find lots of fun ideas for projects you can make with your host children on the Au Pair in America Mother’s Day pinboard.
Photo: Mike van Dalen (Flickr)
What is Passover?
Passover is the Jewish celebration lasting seven to eight days (seven in Israel, eight outside of it) that marks the freedom of the Jews from enslavement by the Egyptians. According to the Old Testament, the Jews, led by Moses, had requested freedom from the Pharaoh of Egypt but were denied. To punish the Egyptians, God sent the 10 plagues to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews. The last of these plagues, and the most devastating, was to kill the firstborn male in each Egyptian household.
When is Passover?
Passover in 2022 will start at sunset on Friday, the 15th of April and will continue for 7 days until Saturday, the 23rd of April.
How is Passover celebrated?
Family and friends gather together after nightfall on the first and second nights of the holiday for the high point of the festival observance, the Seder. During the Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew, the experience of the Exodus is told in story, song, prayer, and the tasting of symbolic foods. The Seder meals include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.
Here are some websites, with Passover activity ideas for kids.