Tag Archives: communication

Top 5 Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Almost everyone experiences culture shock when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

When everything feels so unfamiliar, it is natural to long for the security of home. However, you don’t want to let that feeling of longing for home, make you too sad or prevent you from finding happiness in your new home.

Here are my 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 other 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 often makes homesickness worse. Try texting instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls 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) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or go to movies 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 nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years). 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 group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Photo by: Hernán Piñera (Flickr)

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:

May Au Pair Tips

Illustration: www.onewaystock.com (Flickr)

Illustration: www.onewaystock.com (Flickr)

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and before too long, the kids will be on summer break. Here are a few things to think about as we look toward summer.

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:  Summer 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 summer. Bring up questions you have about these changes in your weekly meetings.

3. Smart phones:  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 tips for having a successful year, check out the ABCs document on our Facebook group page.