Tag Archives: Christmas

Surviving and Thriving in the Holiday Season

The winter holiday season is most often a time of joy and excitement. However, it can also be a time of stress and disappointment for both host families and au pairs. The pandemic will add it’s own complexities to the holiday season this year.

Here are some ideas and insights that will hopefully help you avoid the stress and disappointment and share more of the joy and excitement.

Holiday Work Schedules

Miscommunication over the schedule is the #1 issue for host families and au pairs over the holidays. As a reminder to assist with scheduling, program guidelines state an au pair can work up to 45 hours per week and no more than 10 hours per day. Hours cannot be carried from week to week. Please take the time to discuss your schedules and expectations.

The au pair program regulations do not have requirements for au pairs to be given holidays off. However, in the spirit of the program and since most parents will be at home spending time with their children, the majority of host families give au pairs some or all of the winter holidays off: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Please discuss this so that everyone is clear about the schedule when making holiday plans.

Religion

For au pairs with religious beliefs different from your own, you may choose to encourage her to share the associated traditions with your family. If you are not comfortable with this aspect of cultural exchange, your au pair may need your help as well as appropriate time off to participate in her own holiday traditions. Enabling her to do this is very important. Her holiday or her time to celebrate the holiday may not be the same as yours; try to take this into consideration if you can when you make her work schedule. You may find that there is no conflict in giving her time off if her traditions are different, and it can relieve a great deal of anxiety to take her preferences into consideration. If you do need your au pair to work during the holiday, please tell her way in advance so that it is not a surprise. Help her to see this as a positive aspect of the cultural exchange if she will be actively sharing in the holiday celebration.

Changes to Routine

The dynamics of established relationships and routines change during the holiday. The high emotions and energy of the children (compared to their more reasonable behavior during the rest of the year) may seem like craziness to the au pair. Assure her that this new set of behaviors is temporary and the household will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, suggest specific things she can do to help. Encourage her to roll with the punches and enjoy the craziness. Also, the number of gifts, food, decorations, etc., can be unfamiliar and overwhelming. Try to include the au pair in some quiet, meaningful time together when the true spirit of the holidays is shared.

These are important days ahead. This is perhaps the greatest opportunity of the year to respect and learn about cultural differences, which is, indeed, one of the basic elements of the Au Pair in America program. There will be fun-filled memories. This should be a time of love and understanding. Please do your part to make that happen.

Wishing you all every happiness of the season!

Photo: Sean Hobson

Surviving & Thriving in the Holiday Season

The winter holiday season is most often a time of joy and excitement. However, it can also be a time of stress and disappointment for both host families and au pairs.

Here are some ideas and insights that will hopefully help you avoid the stress and disappointment and share more of the joy and excitement.

Holiday Work Schedules

Miscommunication over the schedule is the #1 issue for host families and au pairs over the holidays. As a reminder to assist with scheduling, program guidelines state an au pair can work up to 45 hours per week and no more than 10 hours per day. Hours cannot be carried from week to week. Please take the time to discuss your schedules and expectations.

The au pair program regulations do not have requirements for au pairs to be given holidays off. However, in the spirit of the program and since most parents will be at home spending time with their children, the majority of host families give au pairs some or all of the winter holidays off: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Please discuss this so that everyone is clear about the schedule when making holiday plans.

Religion

For au pairs with religious beliefs different from your own, you may choose to encourage her to share the associated traditions with your family. If you are not comfortable with this aspect of cultural exchange, your au pair may need your help as well as appropriate time off to participate in her own holiday traditions with another family, with a community group or with a religious institution. Enabling her to do this is very important. Her holiday or her time to celebrate the holiday may not be the same as yours; try to take this into consideration if you can when you make her work schedule. You may find that there is no conflict in giving her time off if her traditions are different, and it can relieve a great deal of anxiety to take her preferences into consideration. If you do need your au pair to work during the holiday, please tell her way in advance so that it is not a surprise. Help her to see this as a positive aspect of the cultural exchange if she will be actively sharing in the holiday celebration.

Changes to Routine

The dynamics of established relationships and routines change during the holiday. The parents are home more, and this is unsettling to the children as well as to the au pair. Some different work expectations may be needed since the kids may prefer to hover around the parents. This can make an au pair feel unwanted and unsure of what is expected of her. The high emotions and energy of the children (compared to their more reasonable behavior during the rest of the year) may seem like craziness to the au pair. Assure her that this new set of behaviors is temporary and the household will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, suggest specific things she can do to help. Encourage her to roll with the punches and enjoy the craziness. Also, the number of gifts, food, decorations, etc., can be unfamiliar and overwhelming. Try to include the au pair in some quiet, meaningful time together when the true spirit of the holidays is shared.

These are important days ahead. This is perhaps the greatest opportunity of the year to respect and learn about cultural differences, which is, indeed, one of the basic elements of the Au Pair in America program. There will be fun-filled memories. This should be a time of love and understanding. Please do your part to make that happen.

Wishing you all every happiness of the season!

Photo: Sean Hobson

Surviving & Thriving in the Holiday Season

The winter holiday season is most often a time of joy and excitement. However, it can also be a time of stress and disappointment for both host families and au pairs.

Here are some ideas and insights that will hopefully help you avoid the stress and disappointment and share more of the joy and excitement.

Holiday Work Schedules

Miscommunication over the schedule is the #1 issue for host families and au pairs over the holidays. As a reminder to assist with scheduling, program guidelines state an au pair can work up to 45 hours per week and no more than 10 hours per day. Hours cannot be carried from week to week. Please take the time to discuss your schedules and expectations.

The au pair program regulations do not have requirements for au pairs to be given holidays off. However, in the spirit of the program and since most parents will be at home spending time with their children, the majority of host families give au pairs some or all of the winter holidays off: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Please discuss this so that everyone is clear about the schedule when making holiday plans.

Religion

For au pairs with religious beliefs different from your own, you may choose to encourage her to share the associated traditions with your family. If you are not comfortable with this aspect of cultural exchange, your au pair may need your help as well as appropriate time off to participate in her own holiday traditions with another family, with a community group or with a religious institution. Enabling her to do this is very important. Her holiday or her time to celebrate the holiday may not be the same as yours; try to take this into consideration if you can when you make her work schedule. You may find that there is no conflict in giving her time off if her traditions are different, and it can relieve a great deal of anxiety to take her preferences into consideration. If you do need your au pair to work during the holiday, please tell her way in advance so that it is not a surprise. Help her to see this as a positive aspect of the cultural exchange if she will be actively sharing in the holiday celebration.

Changes to Routine

The dynamics of established relationships and routines change during the holiday. The parents are home more, and this is unsettling to the children as well as to the au pair. Some different work expectations may be needed since the kids may prefer to hover around the parents. This can make an au pair feel unwanted and unsure of what is expected of her. The high emotions and energy of the children (compared to their more reasonable behavior during the rest of the year) may seem like craziness to the au pair. Assure her that this new set of behaviors is temporary and the household will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, suggest specific things she can do to help. Encourage her to roll with the punches and enjoy the craziness. Also, the quantity of gifts, food, decorations, etc., can be unfamiliar and overwhelming. Try to include the au pair in some quiet, meaningful time together when the true spirit of the holidays is shared.

These are important days ahead. This is perhaps the greatest opportunity of the year to respect and learn about cultural differences, which is, indeed, one of the basic elements of the Au Pair in America program. There will be fun-filled memories. This should be a time of love and understanding. Please do your part to make that happen.

Wishing you all every happiness of the season!

Photo: Sean Hobson

Countdown Calender – Adventkalender

I wanted to share this special post written by an au pair in my cluster a few years ago. If you want to make an Advent calendar for your host child(ren) you should probably get started now.

A post by special guest blogger, Alex from Austria:

Countdown calender – Adventkalender

advent calendar

The Christmas countdown starts on December 1! :)
To make it sweeter, funnier and not that long for kids, we in Austria (guess so in Germany too) have an “Adventkalender.”  That is a calender with 24 little gifts (mostly sweets) and you can open one number every day till the 24th of December!

I always love that and my mom still buys one for me, so I want to share that tradition with my hostchild!

The easiest way is to go to the shop and buy a ready made one with small little chocolate treats, but of course it is more fun for the kids to get a homemade one! I did that this year and it was fun for me too!

  • I bought some sweets and small presents like a pen, warm socks, a cd or a toy (–> go to dollar tree, you can find cute stuff there and just for $1 ) and wrapped them into paper.
  • Then write the 24 numbers on the little gifts.
  • You can also make a number 25, but we in Austria open our presents on the 24th.
  • I pinned my packages on a big carton that we can hang the calender on the wall and decorated it!

I made a Christmas tree with all the packages under it and some stars, but you can make something else too. Maybe a snowman and the gifts all look like snowflakes or what about the crib with mary and the baby and the stars are the gifts.. Whatever you want! – be creative and make an awesome Adventkalender! :)

It is very easy and it does not take very long and I guess it is a really nice gift for my little girl!

Try it too, I bet the kids love it :)
Have fun and Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas)
Alex 🙂

Holiday Lights Displays in the Maryland/DC Area

train

Here is a list from About.com of local places with beautiful Christmas light displays:

ZooLights at the National Zoo
Rock Creek Park. Washington, DC. November 23-December 9, Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. Open nightly December 14–January 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31). The National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers. See Photos of ZooLights

Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple
9900 Stoneybrook Dr., Kensington, Maryland. (301) 587-0144. November 30, 2012 – January 1, 2013. Dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. Nativity scene is open each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m. See Photos of the Mormon Temple Festival of Lights

Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park
301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Friday, November 23, 2012 through Tuesday, January 1, 2013. HOURS: 5-9:30 p.m. daily. $5 per car;  $10 for multi-visit passes for cars and vans (good for three visits). The festival is FREE on December 25. You may bring canned food items to donate to local food banks for the holidays. Winter Festival of Lights is Prince George’s County, Maryland’s spectacular drive-through Christmas light display featuring more than a million twinkling lights. See Photos of Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park

Symphony of Lights in Columbia
Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. (410) 740-7840. November 19, 2012 – January 6, 2013. Hours: Open 7 days a week from 6-10 p.m., including holidays except CLOSED December 31st for the Midnight at 7 event. $20 per car. Symphony of Lights is a spectacular drive-through display of more than 75 animated and stationary holiday lights. All proceeds from the Symphony of Lights benefit the services of Howard County General Hospital. See Photos of the Columbia Symphony of Lights

Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park
Route 50, Annapolis, Maryland. (410) 481-3161. November 19, 2012 through January 1, 2013, 5-10 p.m., 5-10 p.m. An annual scenic drive through holiday lights show sponsored by the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Drive along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and see more than 60 animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. $14 per car. See Photos of Lights on the Bay

Celebrate the Holidays Safely

I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating the holidays.  I just want to remind you to please make good safe decisions.

New-Year-Champagne-Greetings

Don’t drink and drive.

  • Take public transportation -metro, bus or a cab.
  • Metro and buses will run until 2 am on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. View the holiday schedule HERE.
  • One friend can be the designated driver (and not drink alcohol, so she can drive everyone home safely.)
  • Sober Ride Home – Take this number with you in case you find yourself without a safe ride home. 1-800-200-TAXI
2011 Holiday Sober Ride program will be offered nightly from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am beginning Friday, December 16, 2011 and running until January 1, 2012. To receive a free cab ride home (up to a $30.00 fare), please call 800-200-8294 (TAXI) or #8294 (TAXI) on your AT&T wireless phone.    You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service.
All calls must originate in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland; the Cities of Rockville, Bowie, College Park, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt and Takoma Park in Maryland; the District of Columbia; Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Eastern Loudoun Counties in Virginia; and the Cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia.

The offer is good for fares up to $30. The service is available through the SoberRide phone number: 800-200-TAXI. You cannot call a taxi company directly to get the free ride.

Don’t Drink Alcohol if You are Under 21 – It is against the law and if you are caught, you will have to purchase your own ticket and return home.

If You are Over 21, Drink Alcohol Wisely – Know your limits and don’t drink to the point of becoming ill.

Keep Your Eyes on Your Drinks – Don’t let someone you don’t know get a drink from the bar for you.  When you order a drink take it straight from the bartender and keep it with you.  If you leave your glass sitting where you can’t see it, someone can put a drug in your drink.  If you

Protecting Your Personal Health & Safety – It is safest to be together with friends.  Be careful not to put yourself in dangerous situations with people you don’t know.  Consider carefully what information you give to people you have just met.

See Waterskiing Santa on Christmas Eve

Tired of shopping mall Santas? Looking for a unique family holiday experience?
On the banks of the Potomac River, the 26th Anniversary of this exciting, one of a kind Washington, D.C. tradition…

Waterskiing Santa

December 24, 1 pm Sharp
The show will go on in rain, snow or shine

National Harbor
100 American Way, National Harbor
http://www.waterskiingsanta.com/

Au Pairs Working as Santa's Helpers

P1180121Rockledge Elementary had their Annual Holiday Shop on Friday, 12/9.  Au Pair in America sponsored the arts & crafts activities: providing the craft supplies as well as some volunteers to assist the children.  Three au pair volunteered: Alex from Austria, Šárka from the Czech Republic and Sabrina from Germany. The students kept us busy! One of the volunteers, Šárka said,  “I´m glad I was there, it was a nice time with the kids.”

You can see more pictures from the Holiday Shop here in the article on the Bowie Patch.