Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood, and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to society. It is celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday in May. It was established by Anna Jarvis, with the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908.
You will find lots of fun ideas for projects you can make with your host children on the Au Pair in America Mother’s Day pinboard.
Photo: Mike van Dalen (Flickr)
We had a beautiful day for our April cluster meeting at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Established by Congress in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden is the oldest continuously operating botanic garden in the United States. Admission is free and it is located in view of the U.S. Capitol. For more information visit their website here: https://www.usbg.gov.
Program rules dictate several situations when the host parents are required to cover an au pair’s transportation costs. Aside from those specific requirements there are some things to consider when deciding how to handle an au pair’s personal transportation.
Situations when host parents are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs:
- To/from cluster meetings
- To/from classes (for the education requirement)
- When they are transporting the host children
What are some ways host parents can pay for those required transportation costs?
- By providing car use and paying for the cost of gas in those situations
- By giving an allowance for Metro or bus fare
- By giving an allowance toward Uber/Lyft
Who is responsible for an au pair’s transportation in her free time?
- If an au pair has car use, it would be reasonable for the host parents to ask her to pay for the gas used for personal car use.
- If no car use is provided and an au pair must rely solely on public transportation, many host parents will give a transportation allowance to help with those costs.
What factors should you consider when deciding how to handle personal transportation costs?
- Where do you live?
- If you live in the city, you may be within easy walking and/or bike-riding distance to shopping and activities.
- If you live in the farther out suburbs, there isn’t normally much an au pair can walk or bike to.
- Is car use provided?
- When host parents provide car use, that includes them covering the cost of car insurance and maintenance. So, it is fair to ask the au pair to pay for her own gas for personal use.
- If host parents are not providing car use, many will figure out how much they are saving by not paying for insurance and maintenance costs and offer that to their au pair as an allowance for public transportation (metro, bus, Uber/Lyft).
Other Things to Consider
- Au pairs are happiest when they are able to explore the area and make friends. This goes a long way to reduce homesickness and ensure a great cultural exchange experience. The more host parents can do to support this, the more successful their match will typically be.
- When car use is provided, be clear about any limitations. Is it okay to transport friends, take the car overnight, go on a road trip, drive to Baltimore or Ocean City? In what situations does she have automatic permission and when does she need to ask in advance?
- Every match is different. Transportation is only one aspect. Whatever works well for a host family and their au pair is what’s best (as long as the minimum program requirements are being met). Things like whether a host family is paying a higher stipend (over the regulation minimum), offering other benefits and driving the au pair to some places all may factor into how personal transportation costs are handled.
- Please discuss transportation plans for cluster meetings in advance. Participation in cluster meetings is important for an au pair’s overall cultural experience, making friends and getting to know her counselor. Transportation to meetings should not be an impediment to those experiences.
If you have questions or concerns about how to handle transportation, reach out to your counselor to discuss.
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio
What is Passover?
Passover is the Jewish celebration lasting seven to eight days (seven in Israel, eight outside of it) that marks the freedom of the Jews from enslavement by the Egyptians. According to the Old Testament, the Jews, led by Moses, had requested freedom from the Pharaoh of Egypt but were denied. To punish the Egyptians, God sent the 10 plagues to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews. The last of these plagues, and the most devastating, was to kill the firstborn male in each Egyptian household.
When is Passover?
Passover in 2022 will start at sunset on Friday, the 15th of April and will continue for 7 days until Saturday, the 23rd of April.
How is Passover celebrated?
Family and friends gather together after nightfall on the first and second nights of the holiday for the high point of the festival observance, the Seder. During the Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew, the experience of the Exodus is told in story, song, prayer, and the tasting of symbolic foods. The Seder meals include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.
Here are some websites, with Passover activity ideas for kids.
“Game plan” means a strategy for how you are going to accomplish something. In the case of keeping kids from getting bored and/or into trouble, the best way to prevent it is to keep them busy with safe, fun activities.
When there are days home from school, letting kids sit around watching TV or playing video games is not the best use of their time. Providing fun alternatives will make it much easier to pull them away from the screen.
You need to make a plan of what you will do with them each day and prepare for that. Planning is very important. You don’t want to tell them you are going someplace fun, only to arrive there and see they are not open that day or you needed to bring something and you don’t have it.
If your plan includes a craft or cooking project, make sure you have:
- All the ingredients/supplies
If your plan includes an outing to someplace fun, figure out:
- How will you get there?
- When you should leave?
- How much it will cost?
- What will you do for lunch?
Use some of these online resources to find activities and recipes:
- Our Cluster April Activity Calendar
- Au Pair in America Pinterest Pinboards
Have a Wonderful Spring Break!
Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time. Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.
Instead of saying, “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)? The answer will often be, “No.”
Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do _____ or ______?” Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun if you pick a good activity.
I don’t know what to do with school-age kids.
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school-age kids” or “activities tweens”. You can also take part in an au pair webinar on this topic. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.
- Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age-appropriate)
- Going to fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)*
- Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating)*
- Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
- Get outdoors and visit local parks.* You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?) They can write this up and keep it so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
- Let them help you search and plan some activities.
- Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
- If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.
- Use technology to get them off the couch and sneak in some exercise. The phone app Pokémon Go includes activities that are unlocked by taking steps. There are Pokéstops and gyms at many places they might enjoy going for walks like parks, nature trails, walk/bike paths, and downtown areas.
*Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places and remember to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.
Being knowledgeable in basic first aid and CPR is important for au pairs (and anyone else caring for children). Au Pair in America’s commitment to infant/child safety begins before au pairs arrive in the U.S., with pre-arrival training and continue throughout the au pair year.
#1 Training At Orientation
Our orientation training includes a course by American Red Cross on infant/child CPR and safety. Additional child safety training covers a variety of aspects of child safety and cultural differences in common childcare practices.
#2 Enroll in a Red Cross Certification Class
After settling into their host community, all au pairs are encouraged to complete an Infant/Child CPR and First Aid certification program. Au Pair in America will pay for this training through the American Red Cross.
Classes are available through the Red Cross. Au Pair in America will pay for the cost of a class providing an au pair has at least six months left on her visa and is taking one of several approved childcare/child safety-related classes, such as Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. Au pairs should check with their community counselor and host family before signing up. Au Pair in America will register the au pair directly.
To locate a class, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass. For step-by-step instructions on how to locate a class and have Au Pair in America complete enrollment, click here.
#3 Stay Current on Safety Information
The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, this app gives you instant access to the information you need to know to handle the most common first aid emergencies. With videos, interactive quizzes, and simple step-by-step advice, it’s never been easier to know first aid. Download the app for free from the American Red Cross website or in your app store.
Photos: Robin Leon