- Remember to bring along drinks, especially water. Try to get children to drink water every 20 minutes, when they are outside in hot weather.
- Pay attention to surfaces that can be hot against children’s skin, such as metal slides and other playground equipment in the sun.
- Safety around water is particularly important. A child can drown in just a few inches of water. Whenever you are near water you must never leave a child alone – if the phone rings, take them with you or let it ring! Always stay within arm’s reach when the children are in or near water.
- Young babies should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep the baby in the shade or under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy.
- Dress babies in lightweight clothing and use brimmed hats.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, even if it appears overcast (cloudy).
- Try to keep children out of the sun in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest.
- Learn what poison ivy looks like and keep children out of it. A good rule to teach the children is “leaves of three, let it be.”
- Use insect repellent spray to keep away mosquitos and ticks. Ask your host parents before applying.
- Check for ticks when you bring children in from playing outside, especially if you’ve been in tall grass or the woods.
March 20th is the first official day of Spring, and the city is alive with so much to do. Take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures to get outside and explore the city with your host kids. From cherry blossoms on the Potomac to Easter egg hunts at Hillwood or even Madame Tussauds, there truly is something for children of all ages.
Activities from Some of Our Favorite DC Blogs
- The Best Family Events to Celebrate the 2018 Cherry Blossom Season in DC
- Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms (2019)
- Easter 2019 (2019 coming soon)
Red Tricycle DC
- Full Bloom: 10 Ways to Celebrate the Cherry Blossoms
- 10 Festivals That’ll Put Some ‘Spring’ Into Your Step (2018)
Capital City Au Pairs (That’s right- don’t forget that this blog has plenty of ideas too!)
About Travel DC
Valentine’s Day is a time of love, friendship, giving, and caring. Americans use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to tell friends and family how much they care. Celebrated on February 14th, children usually exchange cards at school on that day or one close to the holiday.
Au Pair in America’s Valentine’s Day Pinterest Pinboard has lots of ideas for fun crafts and activities.
Have a happy Valentine’s Day!
Play dough is the perfect modeling material for children. Their small hands can pat, poke, pinch, roll and knead it into many shapes. Keep it in an airtight container to use another day, or let it air dry into favorite shapes.
Measure 2 cups of flour, one cup of salt and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil to one cup of water in a separate bowl then add the mixture to the dry ingredients. For colored play dough, squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into the water before you add it to the mixture. Cook the dough at low heat in a wide pan, stirring constantly until it becomes rubbery. Remove the dough from the heat and knead it for a few minutes. When it cools the kids can play too!
Photo: Kevin Jarrett (Flickr)
Brr…It’s cold out there!
Whether you’re staying home with the kids during a blizzard, a polar vortex, or just because it’s cold and dreary, the hours inside the house during winter can seem endless for everyone. But with just a bit of preparation, you can ward off the winter doldrums and keep everyone smiling. Here are some ideas to get your started:
APIA’s Pinterest Pinboards are loaded with indoor craft ideas and activities for kids of all ages:
America’s Test Kitchen has recipes and STEAM-focused, hands-on activities designed to get kids ages 8-13 cooking, experimenting, and exploring in the kitchen. Learn more by visiting America’s Test Kitchen Kids and following them on Instagram.
Making Paper Snowflakes: Cutting paper snowflakes is a fun and simple indoor winter activity. Tip: For younger kids, keep the designs simple to avoid frustration. Here’s a great video showing you how to cut some of your own.
If you’re looking to get out of the house, the Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019) blog post from has the rundown on DC-area adventures.
Each month, Au Pair in America provides a calendar full of fun activities and helpful information for everyone in the family.
During the last week of December and first week of January, many host kids will have between ten days to two weeks off from school for winter vacation. The thought of having the kids home for multiple days during the winter can send even the most seasoned childcare giver into a panic. Cold weather, shorter days, extra sugar, later bedtimes, and visiting relatives can be a challenge, but with some pre-planning, you can provide your host kids with a vacation to remember.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
- Take advantage of your host children’s free time. Pull out your calendar and read the Capital City Au Pair’s Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019) post for hundreds of holiday and winter-themed events going on right here in DC.
- Play tourist with your host kids. Again, use the free time to explore DC. (Use the DC Guides section to help.) We live in an amazing city!
Tip #2: Dress the Part
Winter has finally arrived in DC. It’s important to dress for cold weather and to make sure that your host children are dressed warmly too. If this is your first experience with really cold weather, ask your host parents for advice on staying warm. For more info, read this blog post from October: It’s Cold Out There! A 2018 Guide to DC Winter Weather.
Tip #3: Plan a Cozy Day Indoors
- Staying home for the day? APIA’s Pinterest boards have loads of winter fun and holiday crafts and activities.
- Help the kids organize their toys and rooms with these suggestions. With mom and dad’s permission, perhaps your host kids can donate some of the toys they have outgrown. This will create more room for the new toys from Santa.
- Looking for a fun baking activity? Gingerbread is a delicious way to celebrate the season!
Tip #4: Make a Date
Playdates can be a great way for kids to socialize and work on the important skills necessary for being a good friend. Talk with your host family about planning a playdate over winter vacation. With their permission, you can use our cluster list to find an au pair who lives near you and has host kids who are compatible ages with your host kids. If hosting doesn’t work, you can also make plans to meet up at the library for a free story hour or crafting session.
We have host families from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths; some of our host families celebrate Christmas, some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Kwanzaa, and some celebrate more than one holiday or none at all. If you’re an au pair living with a host family who celebrates Christmas and you do not, I encourage you to take part and experience it with them. This can be a great opportunity for learning and culture sharing. I also encourage host families to ask their au pairs to share their holiday traditions and customs.
Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.
In the United States, popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. (Source: History.com)
Christmas Traditions in the US
In the US, Americans celebrate Christmas with traditions that have been introduced from different cultures as well as some uniquely American celebrations.
- The period of time in the US from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is called “the holidays.”
- Decorated Christmas trees begin lighting up windows in homes, and shops and outdoor plazas shortly after Thanksgiving.
- Christmas tree ornaments can be found in almost every store, but many families have boxes of treasured ornaments made by children out of paper and other crafts which are lovingly hung year after year.
- Christmas lights decorate trees indoors as well as the front lawns and porches of houses. Many parks have special holiday light displays.
- Children write letters to Santa Claus requesting gifts. Shopping malls, parties, churches, and some schools host events where children can have their photo taken with Santa Claus and ask him for gifts in-person.
- Christians remember the birth of Christ with nativity scenes displayed on church lawns, Christmas pageants performed by children in churches and some schools, and delicate, often handcrafted manger scenes set out among the Christmas decor at home.
- On December 24, Christmas Eve, many families have special traditions and often attend Christmas Eve church services. Children hang Christmas stockings, leave cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and try their best to fall asleep so Santa can deliver their presents.
- On December 25, Christmas Day, children wake up early to see the gifts Santa Claus left them. Families exchange gifts, which have been wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree.
- Americans mail Christmas and holiday cards (often with photos of the family) throughout the holiday season. In 2010, Americans mailed 1.5 billion holiday cards.
Many Americans view the same beloved Christmas movies year after year. Some classic favorites include, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Christmas Story,” “Home Alone,” “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “Elf” and “A Miracle on 34th Street.”
Celebrating Christmas in Washington, DC
- Winter Wonderland: Your Guide to the Holiday Season in Washington, DC
- The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC
- TripSavvy’s Guide to Christmas in Washington, D.C.: Lights, Parades, and Festivals
- TripSavvy’s Guide to Christmas in Washington, D.C.: Kids’ Events and Attractions
A very Merry Christmas to all!
We have host families from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths; some host families celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Christmas, some celebrate Kwanzaa, and some celebrate more than one holiday or none at all. If you’re an au pair living with a host family who celebrates Hanukkah and you do not, I encourage you to take part and experience it with them. This can be a great opportunity for learning and culture sharing. I also encourage host families to ask their au pairs to share their holiday traditions and customs.
Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew Month of Kislev and lasts eight days. Hanukkah usually falls in the month of December, but occasionally can start in November. This year Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 2, 2018, and ends the evening of Monday, December 10, 2018
How Do You Spell Hanukkah?
According to Judaism 101, the process of writing Hebrew words in the Roman (English) alphabet is known as transliteration. Transliteration is more an art than a science, and opinions on the correct way to transliterate words vary widely. This is why the Jewish festival of lights (in Hebrew, Cheit-Nun-Kaf-Hei) is spelled Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanuka, and many other interesting ways. Each spelling has a legitimate phonetic and orthographic basis; none is right or wrong.
The books of the Maccabees tell the story of Hanukkah which occurred in 165 B.C. After three years of struggle, the Jews in Judea defeated the Syrian tyrant Antiochus. The Jewish people held festivities in the Temple of Jerusalem and rededicated it to God. After removing all Syrian idols from the Temple, the Jews found only one small pot of oil to light their holy lamps. Miraculously, the small pot provided oil for eight days. Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish leader, then proclaimed a festival to be observed by Jewish people. (Source: www.apples4theteacher.com)
Hanukkah Traditions (Source: www.bhg.com)
- The Menorah
The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is the Hanukkah or menorah, a candelabra that holds nine candles. Eight candles symbolize the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed; the ninth, the shamash, is a helper candle used to light the others. Families light one candle on the first day, two on the second (and so on) after sundown during the eight days of Hanukkah while reciting prayers and singing songs. The menorah — either store-bought or homemade and crafted of metal, wood, papier-mache, or clay — is filled from right to left, but lit left to right so each new candle is lit first. (Source: www.bhg.com)
- Singing Songs
Hanukkah — one of the most family-oriented of Jewish holidays — comes with its own set of carols sung around the glowing menorah. These celebrate everything from the glory of God and the ancient Temple of the Jews (“Maoz Tzur”) to the simplicity of a dreidel (see below), as in “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel/I made it out of clay/And when it’s dry and ready/Dreidel I shall play.”
- Yummy Treats
There’s nothing low-fat about Hanukkah – many of the traditional foods of the holiday are deep-fried. In honor of the oil-y miracle people celebrating Hannukah like to eat foods that are fried in oil like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) and different fried breads. Want to have a go at making something? There are lots of recipes for yummy treats here.
- Spinning Tops
It’s customary to play with dreidels (spinning tops) during the holiday, even wage gambling games in which players guess which side of the top will fall face up. Legend has it that during the Greek-Syrian dictatorship in Israel of yore, Jews got around the ban on reading the Torah by bringing spinning tops to study sessions so their oppressors would think they were just playing around. The Hebrew characters carved into the four sides of today’s dreidels are the first letters of “Ness Gadol Haya Po/Sham,” which roughly translates to “Great Miracle Happened Here/There” (depending on whether you’re in Israel or not).
Celebrating Hanukkah in Washington, DC
- National Menorah Lighting: Sunday, December 2, 4 pm on the National Ellipse
The lighting of this menorah – the world’s largest – is attended by thousands every year and seen via media by tens of millions across the nation and around the world. Along with the lighting, there will be live entertainment and menorah kits and dreidels to take home. Tickets are free but must be ordered in advance.
- TripSavvy’s Guide to Hanukkah in Washington, D.C.: Festivals, Events, Things to Do
- KidFriendlys DC’s list of Chanukah events in DC
A very Happy Hanukkah to all!
Each month, Au Pair in America provides a calendar full of fun activities and helpful information for everyone in the family.