Author Archives: Christine Connally

Where to Get Your Flu Shot

Many au pairs and host families are looking for places to get flu shots this time of year. Au Pair insurance does not cover immunizations, but there are lots of places to get flu shots for $35 or less. If the host family is urging their au pair to get the seasonal flu shot and she agrees to get it, the host family would be responsible for the expense.

If you are planning to get the seasonal flu vaccine, it is recommended that you get it as early as possible.

Anne Arundel County Health Department – Free flu shots are available by appointment and at some vaccine clinics, registration is required.

Montgomery County Health Department – Free flu shot clinics, online registration is required. will be added as they are scheduled.

Prince George’s County – Free flu shot clinics, no appointment necessary.

State of Maryland – Find a vaccine clinic search feature, this does not seem to have all of the local health department flu shot clinics listed. Check back for updates and check your specific county health department website for more options.

I have been told that Kaiser Permanente is offering free flu shots as well.

Flu shots are also available for a fee (usually $25-35) at pharmacies such as Target, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, etc.

Hints for Success – Homesickness/Culture Shock

Almost everyone experiences culture shock and homesickness when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for
Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try texting instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee, go to the park, and/or go places with other au pairs. If someone invites you out, say “yes” whenever possible.* Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

*Since we are in a pandemic, talk with your host family about what they are okay with you doing and what precautions you should take.

4. Share your culture with your host family – If you are missing some favorite foods from home, find ways that you can make them here and share them with your host family. There are many international markets in our area, you should be able to find most of the ingredients you need. If you are not really a cook, search online for restaurants and bakeries that have a taste of home. Your host family is probably just as excited to learn about your culture as you are to learn about America.

5. Make plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook or WhatsApp group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Realize that it definitely gets easier with time.

All au pairs experience homesickness to some extent and nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years.) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

Federal & School Holidays

As you may be aware, the public school children are out of school several days in September and October. These are regular workdays for an au pair, unless your host parents tell you otherwise. As with any “school holiday” start making plans for activities with the kids now.

In addition to holidays in September (Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur) many public schools are also out additional days for teacher development and the end of the grading period. As with any holiday, it is up to the host family’s schedule whether you will have the holiday off. Please check with your host families before you assume you have this day off. Do not make any travel plans until you have received confirmation that you will not work on this day.

Host parents, please check your schedule to make sure that you are factoring in these hours and make adjustments as needed to stay within the State Department regulations not exceeding 10 hours per day or 45 hours per week (or 30 hours her week for Educare.)

Photo: Dafne Cholet

Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Art Experiences.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to art can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Art Experiences pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Some museums are requiring advanced tickets or have reduced hours due to the pandemic.

  • National Gallery of Art in DC has resources and programs for kids and families.
  • Renwick Art Gallery in DC was featured in this blog post  with great information on visiting the museum with kids.
  • American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is not your typical art museum. You can tell that when you see the school bus covered in mosaic glass or the mural on the sidewalk outside.
  • Other Art Museums
  • Paint Your Own Pottery Studio
  • Clay and Ceramics Studio

Online Art FunHere is a great website with lots of art activities including ones for older kids.

Webcams – You can do a google search for art websites with webcams. Here are a few to get you started:

Pottery & Ceramics webcam
Glass Blowing webcam

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about drawing and all kinds of art.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on famous artists and art.

Check YouTube for books on art being read aloud:

Image: teachkidsart.com

Camp Au Pair – Summer Olympics

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme Summer Olympics. The 2021 Summer Olympics are taking place in Tokyo, Japan, July 23-Aug 8.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to the Summer Olympics can be found here on the Camp Au Pair Summer Olympics pinboard.

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of about the Olympics.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books about the Olympics.

Some good ones include: Olympig!, G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet, How to Train with a T-Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals, Wilma Unlimited, America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle, Way to Go Alex!, Touch the Sky, Pele: King of Soccer, A Picture Book of Jesse Owens & Babar’s Celestville Games.

You may also find some of these books read aloud on YouTube.

Fun Fact: The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions, used alone, in one or in five different colors, which are, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The Olympic symbol (the Olympic rings) expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

Image: Project Nursery

Preventing Dehydration in Hot Weather

Dehydration means that the body lacks the necessary amount of fluid. Infants and small children are more likely to become dehydrated than older children or adults, because they can lose relatively more fluid quickly.

Here are some steps to take to make sure children remain hydrated in the summer months:

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water. On hot days, children should drink significantly more water than usual, as they are losing more due to the heat.
  • Do not wait until your child is thirsty to give him water. By the time they feel thirsty, they are already becoming dehydrated.
  • If your child is resistant to drinking enough water, have other liquids on hand for your child to drink throughout the day.
  • Be alert to changes in behavior. A child may act confused or more irritable when they are becoming dehydrated/overheated. Get them into cooler temperatures and drinking more fluids.
  • Dress your child in lightweight clothing in the summer months, particularly if she’ll be playing outdoors in warm weather. You may also consider clothes that are well ventilated as they do not trap heat close to the body.
  • When there are heat and/or air quality advisories because the weather is dangerously hot, you should avoid taking the children outdoors. Check with your host parents for further guidance on this topic.

Remember to follow these tips for yourself too, so you stay well hydrated.

Photo: Moyerphotos (Flickr)

Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM)

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Science (STEM). This includes science, technology, engineering and math.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to all things science, technology, engineering and math can be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Science (STEM) pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions. Here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

Virtual Field Trips

Videos – On YouTube you can find many great videos of with science experiments to do with kids.

The Magic School Bus is a cartoon series with episodes on lots of great science topics. You can find some episodes on YouTube and the full series on Paramount Plus.

Movies – The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, Wall-E and Hidden Figures all fit the STEM theme.

Webcams – You can do a google search for science websites with webcams. Here is a collection of 22 science webcams from around the world.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on science, technology, engineering and math.

Image: sweetpaulmag.com

Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Dinosaurs.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to dinosaurs can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions.

Here are a few places to go that fit this theme:

Toys – Many kids have dinosaur toys already. See what your kids have and think of fun, new ways you can play with these toys with them. Imagine taking a plastic dinosaur and making footprints in play dough to form your own fossils.

Webcam – This NPS Paleontology Lab offers a webcam where you can watch paleontologists remove rock from around fossils. The cam is normally working 9 am-5 pm PST, so 12-8 pm our time.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs and fossils. Here are a few to get you started.

Movies – The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on dinosaurs.

Photo: krojotak.com

Scavenger Hunt at National Harbor

It was a beautiful evening for a scavenger hunt!

These are the lovely au pairs who participated. This was our first in-person meeting since March 2020! For most of these au pairs it was there first in-person cluster meeting they ever attended. It was so great to finally meet people we have been communicating with online for all this time.

Here are the ladies on the winning team!

They were the first ones back and completed every item on the hunt!

Here is the scavenger hunt activity we did…

A scavenger hunt is a game where you are given a list of questions, things to look for and photographs to take. You will work together as a team to complete as many as you can in an hour.

Rules:

  • Photos need to be taken as a group selfie with all team members included.
  • Questions/photos may be completed in any order you choose.
  • Return to the starting point (outside of Del Sol store) by 7:15 pm to have your score calculated and find out who is the winning team.

Let the game begin!

  • Learn the names of all the au pairs on your team.
  • Find the first president of the United States and take a picture with him.
  • Find the U.S. president called “The Great Emancipator” and take a picture with him.
  • Find the mosaic mural called Maryland’s Bounty and take a picture in front of it.
  • Take a picture with the Capitol Wheel in the background,
  • Take a picture with a boat or picture of a boat.
  • Take a picture in front of the business with piano keys on their sign.
  • Take a picture trying to help the statue of a lady carrying her groceries.
  • Take a picture with a famous movie star from the 1960s.
  • Take a picture in front of a restaurant named for an American car.
  • Take a picture with the carousel.
  • Take a picture inside the heart statue.
  • Take a picture with “The Awakening”.
  • Take a picture of something you find beautiful.
  • Take a picture of something that looks delicious.
  • Group selfies with these famous people:

 

You probably won’t complete all of the questions/photos. That’s not a problem. Have fun and take great pictures.

 

Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of Shark Week (see below), next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Under the Sea.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to creatures who live under the sea can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea pinboard.

Webcams – You can do a google search for aquariums and zoos across the country (and the world) with webcams that allow you to observe sea creatures. Here is one to get you started.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions.

Here are a few places to go that fit this theme:

Television – The Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be July 11-18, 2021. Much of the programming will be too scary for younger kids, but for nature-loving tweens and teens, it could be a great way to get them interested in sharks and other ocean animals. Check out 15 JAW-some Activities for Shark Week with lots of fun ideas for kids in grades 5 and up, but a few for younger kids too.

Online Games – NOAA has fun interactive games that help kids learn about sea turtle survival.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about sea creatures. There’s more to see than Baby Shark. Movies like Finding Nemo, Dolphin Tale, and the Little Mermaid also go well with this theme.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on sea creatures. The Rainbow Fish is a classic children’s book, your kids may already own. If not, you can find videos like this of it being read aloud.

Photo: mimisdollhouse.com