Phones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful tools to stay connected and informed, but we need to be careful not to let them become distractions from real-life interactions and most importantly our responsibilities.
Au Pairs – Imagine for a moment that you went to the hospital and you were in the care of doctors and nurses. How would you feel if those doctors and nurses who were there to care for you were more interested in texting or using their personal computer 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, it 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 truly one of the most important jobs I can think of because you are helping to shape the next generation. What message are you sending them 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.
It also poses a safety concern when you are not paying enough attention to the children in your care. Injuries and accidents happen, but when an adult caregiver is close by and appropriately supervising the chances of a major injury dramatically reduce.
During work hours, the following would not be considered acceptable:
Texting* or talking to friends on the phone
Using Skype, FaceTime, or any other video chat
Using TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, or any other app or social media site
Playing online games
Anything else on your phone or computer unless it is going to Nickjr.com together with your host children
*you do want to be on the lookout for texts from your host parents
Even if you work 45 hours a week, that leaves you 123 hours per week for all of that other stuff, or about 70 hours (if you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.)
Phone Use in the Car – Using your phone to text or talk without Bluetooth while driving is illegal, a huge safety risk, and a bad example for the children (future drivers) in the car with you. One moment of distraction when you are driving can change someone’s life forever: your own and/or others around you. If you find the temptation to check your phone is too much for you, set up the driving mode feature on your phone.
Host Parents – You need to be clear about what you consider acceptable during work hours to avoid misunderstandings. Also, please understand that you are dealing with a generation of people who are very accustomed to being plugged in at all times. Their intention is not to be rude, they don’t necessarily realize how their actions will be perceived. Please use this information as an opportunity to begin a dialogue on the issue.
Cold weather can bring a new set of driving challenges, especially if you are not from a climate where you have experience with these conditions. Driving in the snow and ice can be a challenge even for experienced drivers. If you don’t have to go out in bad weather, stay home. If you do have to go out, here are some tips. More information can be found on the AAA website.
Top 10 Winter Driving Tips
Bulky coats and snowsuits should not be worn underneath the harness (straps) of a car seat. Check out information here and discuss with your host parents.
Keep cold-weather supplies in your car, such as a blanket, a flashlight, window ice scraper, snacks and water.
Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
Avoid sudden moves, accelerate and decelerate slowly.
Don’t stop going up a hill.
Increase the following distance between you and the car ahead of you.
Know your brakes. Test our how they perform on slippery surfaces in a safe place where there are not other cars parked close to you.
Leave early to give yourself extra time and drive slowly.
Even better… If you don’t have to go out driving in snow and ice, stay home.
Do not drive when you are tired. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
Always look and steer where you want to go.
Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
Tips for driving in the snow:
Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.