Tag Archives: friends

Fun Fall Activity Ideas

Looking for fun fall activities to do with your kids?

Check out Au Pair in America’s Halloween FunFall Holidays pinboards on Pinterest.

Looking for even more fun fall activities, to do on your own, with friends, and/or with your host family?

Print out our Fall Bucket List full of fun fall traditions and activities to try.

pumpkin patch

Photo: Angela Severn (Flickr)

Hints for Success – Homesickness/Culture Shock

heart hand byAlmost everyone experiences culture shock 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 lots of 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 emailing 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 or movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” 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.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness 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.

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 group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Contest: Au pairs in my cluster, make your Au Pair Bucket List and send me a file, link or picture of it for a chance to win a $20 Starbucks gift card. Entries must be received by Friday, September 27. Winner will be announced at the September Coffee Meeting on September 29.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

First Day of Winter

Stashabella on FlickrDecember 22 is the first day of winter.

Animals handle cold winter weather in a variety of ways. Some travel to a warmer climate. Others grow thicker fur coats so they can stay warm and active during the winter. Many animals hibernate during the coldest weather – they spend the warmer months eating and storing as much body fat as they can and then live off this extra weight as they sleep.

Au pairs *** do not *** hibernate this winter-call a new au pair or someone you haven’t met yet and go get a hot chocolate.

Photo: Stashabella (Flickr)

Guests – Think Carefully Before Asking…

It is important to think carefully before asking your host parents to allow you to invite guests, especially friends of family who may come stay for a week or more.

There are many host families who would not feel comfortable with allowing that and will say no. If they say no, you need to do your best to accept that and not pout or have a bad attitude about it.  Remember, it is their home and when they invited you to join them, they were not planning on turning it into a youth hostel.

There are others who might not feel comfortable, but they want to be kind, so they say yes. In those situations, it can hurt your relationship, because they may resent being put in that position.  You may get to have your friend come stay with you, but if it hurts your relationship with your host family and leads to a rematch, is that worth it?

There are a small number of families that are happy to allow you to welcome guests throughout the year and have no problem with it. That is a very small number and if your host family is one of them, show them how much you appreciate it their hospitality.

Also, consider how you plan to account for your time during the visit? Will you use your vacation time or do you plan to work and just visit on your off hours?  If you plan to work, keep in mind that during work hours childcare should remain your number one focus.  I have seen situations where au pairs are too excited about their guest to do their job as well as they normally would.  In those cases, the family is giving up a lot.  They are allowing guests to stay in their home and accepting a lower level of work performance during the visit.  Be aware of that and do your best to carry out your duties and show your host parents that you appreciate their actions.

If you are working during the visit, one way you can avoid letting your work slide, is to encourage your guests to go out and do things while you are working.  Since you are familiar with the area you have been living in, you can act as a tour guide.  Give them information on places that you have visited with other au pairs and maybe gone for cluster meetings.  Since you have already seen these places, you will not be missing out, if they go there while you are working.  Then, you are free to visit new places with them in your off hours.

Remember – honest communication, flexibility, gratitude and consideration will make all the difference when dealing with your host parents on inviting guests.