Category Archives: Host Family Tips

Handling Expenses

Host parents often ask for suggestions on how best to handle common expenses that occur as au pairs are caring for the children.

Miscellaneous Expenses

There are different ways to handle the little day to day expenses that come up.  Things like when an au pair takes the kids out for ice cream or picks up a gallon of milk.  Some families keep a cookie jar fund, a little cash that they set aside weekly or monthly for these types of expenses. Others give their au pair a prepaid debit card for this purpose. Below are some suggestions for avoiding problems with expenses.

Host Families

  • It’s important to be clear about how long this money should last and what types of expenses are approved.
  • Let the au pair know whether or not you expect receipts.

Au Pairs

  • Only spend the money on approved expenses.
  • If it is something you are not sure about, ask first.
  • Put your receipts in the cookie jar in place of the money to avoid any confusion.

Gas and Fare Cards 

Host families are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs: to and from classes, cluster meetings and when driving the kids.

It is a good idea to figure out how much gas an au pair will use for these trips and either put gas in the car or give a gas allowance.   If your au pair is riding to classes or cluster meetings with another au pair, you should offer to share the cost of gas.

Au pairs are responsible for their own transportation at all other times.  You should replace the amount of gas used for personal use.

Photo: Andrea Travillian

Water & Summer Safety Cluster Meeting

IMG_20150614_140727On Sunday, July 14th Long Island Au Pairs gathered at Community Counselor, Cindy Garruba’s beach house for the annual Water & Summer Safety Meeting.  Safe tips on watching children and themselves at pools and the beach was discussed.  Also covered was preventing sunburn by using sunscreen, avoiding high sun times of day and proper clothing.  They au pairs learned how to recognize poison ivy, preventing exposure, what to do if exposed and the care for the rash.  Cindy explained Lyme disease, the difference between a deer and dog tick, the bull’s eye rash, care and treatment.IMG_20150614_145021 (1)

The au pairs enjoyed time on the beach, each other’s company and even had a yoga class.IMG_20150614_152433







We said good byes to au pairs who are heading home soon, and welcomed new au pairs! IMG_20150614_165034









Everyone enjoyed an all American dessert in celebration of Flag Day, June 14th!  Strawberries and blueberries fresh from the farm stand, whipped cream and pastry shells!  Yummy!



Pot Holes and Other Spring Driving Issues

pot holesWe had a long hard winter and the roads have suffered.  Please be very careful.  There are lots of pot holes which can cause damage to tires and the car as a whole!  Flooding from the melting snow is a big issue and can even hide the pot holes.  The NIGHTS still get below freezing and then the melted snow becomes ice.  The big snow piles in all the parking lots and on the sides of the road are also hazards.  They are hard to see around and also cause major flooding.  BE CAREFUL OUT THERE EVERYONE!

As the winter snow and ice begin to melt, unpleasant potholes can begin to appear and become a threat to vehicles
When winter’s snow and ice finally melt away, they invariably leave behind an unpleasant reminder of this winter’s severe storm season—potholes.
“Major winter storms have affected much of the country this season. While many motorists’ cars have made it through the winter storm season unscathed, they could still fall victim to a pothole left in its aftermath,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA Auto Repair and Buying Programs.
Potholes form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface. As temperatures rise and fall, the moisture expands and contracts due to freezing and thawing. This breaks up the pavement and, combined with the weight of passing cars, eventually results in a pothole.

To aid motorists in protecting their vehicles from pothole damage, AAA recommends the following:

Inspect Tires – The tire is the most important cushion between a car and a pothole. Make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. To check the tread depth, insert a quarter into the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down. The tread should cover part of Washington’s head. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to start shopping for new tires. When checking tire pressures, ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended levels, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb. Do not use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
Inspect Suspension – Make certain struts and shock absorbers are in good condition. Changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration or uneven tire wear can indicate bad shocks or struts. Have the suspension inspected by a certified technician if you suspect problems.
Look Ahead – Make a point of checking the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver may have time to avoid potholes, so it’s important to stay focused on the road and not any distractions inside or outside the vehicle. Before swerving to avoid a pothole, check surrounding traffic to ensure this will not cause a collision or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.
Slow Down – If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce speed safely being sure to check the rearview mirror before any abrupt braking. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds greatly increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels and suspension components.
Beware of Puddles – A puddle of water can disguise a deep pothole. Use care when driving through puddles and treat them as though they may be hiding potholes.
Check Alignment – Hitting a pothole can knock a car’s wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If a vehicle pulls to the left of right, have the wheel alignment checked by a qualified technician.
Recognize Noises/Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension components. Any new or unusual noises or vibrations that appear after hitting a pothole should be inspected immediately by a certified technician.
To help consumers identify quality auto repair shops that can maintain and repair their vehicles, AAA established the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. Approved Auto Repair shops are inspected by AAA automotive specialists and must meet and maintain high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Customers of approved shops are continually surveyed, and every approved facility must maintain a 90 percent or higher customer satisfaction score in all areas. Consumers can locate nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities online at
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

Host Families and Au Pairs form Lasting Bonds

One of the wonderful benefits of the Au Pair in America programs is the relationships formed by host families and their au pairs.  Au Pairs truly become part of the family.  Often they return for visits with their former families.  Some families even go and visit their former au pairs in their countries.  Recently the Diana Melick, a host mom from Setauket, Long Island, New York traveled to Germany with her twin daughters.  While there they visited with their former au pair, Helena Gottschalk.

helena and melick kids

Valentine’s Day

Globe Heart

Valentine’s Day is February 14th!

Au Pairs give loving care to their host families every day.  Au Pair in America has provided 27 years as the world’s most experienced intercultural  childcare program.

Au pairs become full-fledged family members, sharing a cultural exchange experience that often leads to a lasting relationship with the host family.

Au Pairs come to the USA for cultural exchange and to provide childcare to busy families.  They stay for one year and then have the option to extend for a second year.  Au Pairs are 18 to 26 years old when they arrive in the USA.  Please check out for more information!


Au Pairs will be making Valentine cards with their host children.  Here’s how:

What you’ll need:

  • 8.5 x 11 construction paper or card stock in various colors and/or patterns easy-homemade-valentines-kaboose-craft-photo-350-fs-IMG_9049_rdax_65
  • Valentine and/or heart stickers
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears (optional)
  • Glue stick or white craft or school glue
  • Glitter (pink, red, white)

How to make it:

  1. Begin by cutting a piece of construction paper or card stock into four equal pieces.
  2. Fold quartered paper in half to make a card.
  3. For the easiest version, appropriate for preschoolers, use stickers to decorate or cut out hearts from a different color of construction paper or card stock to glue onto your cards. Experiment with different patterns, florals look great contrasted with stripes on a solid background.
  4. Younger children love glitter! Use a bottle of glue to “draw” on a heart or phrase (such as “Be Mine”). Sprinkle glue generously with pink, red or white glitter and let dry over night. Tap off excess glitter when completely dry.
  5. For the older set, let them use pinking sheers to cut out heart shapes and glue onto cards. Again, use contrasting patterns and colors to create a charming design.
  6. Once glue is dry, cards may curl up a little. Place cards between the pages of a heavy cookbook or phone book and leave over night.

Valentine's Day




apia pic
Sometimes host families are confused about the things au pairs can do.  As requested by a host family, I am posting this information from the APIA website Au Pair responsibilities.  Please note these responsibilities are CHILDCARE related only.  The au pair is also responsible for cleaning up after herself and helping as a family member when eating or traveling with the family.  Au Pairs should remember they are role models to the children in their care.  Good hygiene and keeping your room clean is expected.

Child care is a meaningful way for an international visitor to get insight into American life.

The au pair’s responsibilities may include:

  • Waking the children
  • dressing infants and toddlers
  • bathing and playing with the children
  • preparing meals for the children
  • looking after the children’s belongings
  • making the children’s beds and straightening their rooms
  • doing the children’s laundry
  • cleaning up the kitchen after the children eat
  • straigtening up the playroom once playtime is over
  • driving children to and from school, appointments or outings as requested by the host family
  • an au pair on the standard or Extraordinaire programs may be home while children are absent from school due to illness or holidays

The au pair/companion’s responsibilities do not include housework unrelated to the children such as cleaning the home or doing all the laundry. They are not professionally trained child care workers or capable of running an entire household when parents are absent for business or personal travel. Responsibility for the welfare of the children always remains with the parents.

Daylight Savings Time Ends on November 2nd!

If you’re a fan of sleep you’re probably a fan of November 2nd, that’s the day when most of us get to set our clocks back one hour at 2:00am and revel in the end of daylight savings time 2013 which brings with it an extra hour of sleep.daylight savings time ends 

Daylight savings time was originally enacted to cut down on energy consumption during World War I and World War II, it was believed that tacking an extra hour of daylight to the end of the day would lead to less overall electricity use at night and while the practice worked for a short period of time it eventually led to studies that both supported and debunked the theory all together, leaving many people to wonder why the practice is used at all in today’s modern age. In the meantime daylight savings time leaves some people coming into work an hour before normal and kids arriving at school before the doors have even been unlocked.

So remember before you go to bed on November 3rd to set your clocks back one hour if they don’t it automatically for you!

Halloween Safety Tips

halloween pic

Ghouls and goblins will take over the night. But even scary creatures need to be safe and celebrate Halloween right. Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and automobile collisions. The Red Cross wantsyour family to have a safe Halloween so we’re providing these tips,

the Lucky 13:

  1. Map out the route that you plan to roam, so adults are assured you will find your way home!
  2. From the bravest of superheroes to the noblest of knights, everyone should remember to bring their flashlights!
  3. If you visit a house where a stranger resides, accept treats at the door and, please, don’t go inside.
  4. When you get ready to put on your disguise, use face paint instead of masks, which will cover your eyes.
  5. Always remember, before you embark, to wear light-colored clothing  to be seen in the dark! (And remember to use reflective tape, even on bikes, and brooms and the edges of your cape!)
  6. Whether you walk, slither or sneak, do it on the sidewalks and not in the street.
  7. As you roam through the neighborhood collecting your treats, please look both ways before crossing the street! (And speaking of streets, the corners are the place for trick or treaters to cross no matter their pace.)
  8. Wigs, capes and costumes are flammable attire, so avoid open flames to prevent a fire!
  9. Use a glow stick instead of a candle so your jack-o-lantern isn’t a  safety gamble!
  10. You may fly on a broom or a space ship from Mars, but please be on the lookout for drivers in cars! (Between parked cars is no  to hide, be sure that you’re seen whether you’re a clown or a bride.)
  11. Monsters and zombies should stay off the lawn, and only visit homes with their porch lights turned on!
  12. You may be dressed as a werewolf, a cat or a frog, but be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.
  13. For additional information on how you and your family can be prepared for emergencies on Halloween or on any day of the year, please visit

Summer Safety Tips!

water bubblerDehydration: The little ones, especially, forget to drink or to tell you that they need to drink. If you find the children not looking well and/or getting cranky toward the afternoon, it might be because they’re tired, or it might be because they’re dehydrated. Remember: By the time a person feels thirsty, he’s already partly dehydrated, so drink to prevent thirst, not to quench it. Common symptoms of dehydration are crankiness, headaches, aches in the joints and weariness. And don’t allow your child to fill up on juice or soft drinks; these are dehydrators. Water or child-appropriate hydrating drinks are best.

However, if you or your child has severe dehydration (dry mouth, sunken eyes, reluctant to drink, unable to pee or cry, high fever, lethargy), call for emergency help and have your child sip an electrolyte-replacement fluid (such as Pedialyte).

Hot Cars: Don’t EVER leave children alone in the car — not even for a moment. Besides the danger of abduction, the temperature in a car can skyrocket in minutes. And, if you see an unattended young child in a vehicle, please call 911, the police or other emergency personnel. Your call could save the child’s life.

Drowning: Always actively supervise children in and around water. Infants and children can drown in bathtubs, swimming pools, ponds or almost any other water. Toddlers aren’t strong enough to lift themselves back out of a toilet, bucket, container or wading pool.

sunscreenSun Protection: Children’s skin and eyes are more sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Babies should be protected from direct sun entirely. Toddlers, preschoolers and older children should be covered well in sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) at least one half hour before going out in the sun. Sunscreen should be reapplied every hour or so, and it should be reapplied after the child has been in water. Don’t forget ears, hands, feet, lips and under the eyes. Also, make sure your child wears a hat and sunglasses when out in the sun for any length of time.

September Au Pair Cluster Meeting

AP's Sept 2011 023 webThe Suffolk County cluster of Au Pair in America meeting in September was filled with au pairs and with important information.  Cindy Garruba, Senior Community Counselor advised all host families to make sure their au pair attended this important meeting.

All summer long Au Pairs were arriving in Suffolk County.  Some of them came to families whose former au pair had completed her time as an au pair and was heading home to her own country.  Some were coming to new host families!  Along with au pairs who have been in the country several months, the new au pairs gathered at Cindy Garruba’s home.  They had lessons on safe driving led by Cindy, always a high priority for all au pairs.  Cindy also taught the au pairs about managing the needs of their host children going back to school; things like handling the stressful morning on school days, safe trips to the bus stop, communicating with school through the back pack, and advice from teachers.

AP's Sept 2011 027 webAlong with the valuable lessons learned, the au pairs also had a chance to talk about themselves.  They each told the group their name, their country, when they arrived in the USA, where their host family lives in Suffolk County, how many and the ages of their host children.  The group includes au pairs from Europe, Asia and South America.  Everyone made new friends!