With summer fast approaching, now is a great time to review program rules around holidays and vacations. Continue reading
The thought of having the kids home for two weeks 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 a little pre-planning, you can provide your host kids with a vacation to remember. Continue reading
One of the most common questions we get about the au pair program is about the au pair’s schedule and hours. How many hours can an au pair work? Can an au pair work on nights or weekends? Continue reading
Does it seem like the days are getting longer, but the hours are getting shorter? Too much to do and never enough time to do it all? You’re not alone- many host parents are struggling with the same challenges as school comes to a close for the year.
The flexible schedule is one of many reasons many families champion the Au Pair program. We all know that our au pairs can work no more than 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week. However, summer can be a real challenge for host parents who are working full-time. Once kids are out of school, an Au Pair’s regulation hours may not be enough time to cover all of your childcare needs.
Day camps are a great way to fill in the gaps, and there are many options in the DC area. Below is a list of camps not too far from our part of town. At posting time, all still had some availability. If you know of others your kids have enjoyed, please share on our private Facebook group page. Let’s work together to find options for our cluster kiddos– and make it a great summer for everyone!
- Amazing Life Games Summer Camp (ages 3-8; 9 am-3 pm, limited aftercare; weekly sessions; application)
- Beauvoir Summer Camp* (rising pre-k-rising 5th grade; half-day, full-day, before and aftercare , and speciality camps; CIT program; weekly sessions, registration)
- BloomBars‘ Fit Kids Hit the State: Summer Adventure
- CCBC Children’s Center’s Summer Camp* (ages two-five; 9 am-1 pm; potty training NOT required; weekly sessions available; brochure and application)
- Headfirst Summer Camps- St. Albans and NCS campuses (age 3-rising 7th grade; half-day, full-day, before and aftercare, and specialty camps; weekly sessions; registration)
- Lowell School’s Summer Camp (age 2.75-rising 9th grade; half-day, full-day, before and aftercare, and specialty camps; CIT programs; weekly sessions; registration
- National Presbyterian School’s Summer Horizon’s Camp* (age 3-rising 4th grade; half-day, full-day, before and aftercare, and speciality camps; CIT program; weekly sessions; registration)
- Sidwell Summer Camp- DC Campus (age 3-rising 10th grade; half-day, full-day, before and aftercare; specialty camps, weekly sessions; registration)
- Silver Stars Gymnastics Camp* (ages 3.5-15; half-day, full-day, before and aftercare; weekly sessions; registration)
*My children have attended these camps. Please reach out to me with any questions about them.
Several host families have asked me to share more about our experience as host parents. Of course every day is different and no two host families or au pairs are alike, but here are some ways we have found to successfully communicate with our au pairs.
1. Weekly meetings: We meet every Sunday evening with our AP to discuss schedules, the children’s behavior, and other issues. This helps my husband and me communicate as well, so we think it’s important for both host parents to attend these meetings. (We’ve also had meetings during the work week with my husband using Facetime from his office.)
2. Schedule: We use the weekly meeting to go over the upcoming week’s schedule and discuss future changes (vacations, etc.). An online calendar is critical for our planning purposes. Cozi works for us, but Google Calendar is great too. We schedule everything online for the kids- school drop-off and pick-up, playdates, haircuts, doctors’ appointments, etc. All 3 of us can access the calendar and know who is responsible for each event.
3. Texting: I work from home, and it’s easier if my kids don’t see me during the day, so my AP and I text a lot with each other. For example, if I need a snack, I’ll send our AP a text and give her time to take the kids to the basement or outside before heading to the kitchen.
4. Compliments: We use our meetings to compliment our au pair on areas we’ve found her to be particularly successful (even the smallest thing). This is really helpful when we need to address an issue that isn’t as positive.
5. Rewards: We look for ways to surprise our AP. Has she been great about entertaining the kids during a snow day? Did she soldier through a bad round of strep throat? Do we know she’s excited to see an upcoming movie? Starbucks gift cards, pedicure gift certificates, and movie gift cards go a long way to helping an AP feel appreciated and loved. (You can find discounted movie and restaurant gift cards at Costco.)
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.