Tag Archives: host family

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

Privacy & Personal Information Online

We live in a time of constant sharing through social media. We often share pictures, plans of somewhere we are going or rants about problems, without thinking much about who will see it and what could be the consequences.

Before clicking post, stop to think:

  • Am I violating someone’s privacy?
  • Am I sharing personal info. that could put me in danger?
  • Would I want my current or a future employer to see this?

This will help protect your privacy and safety as well as that of your host family. It is important to respect your host family’s privacy and not share personal details and information.  This applies to all kinds of situations, including: personal conversations, email and social websites.

For your own safety, it is a good idea to be careful what personal information you share about yourself as well. You should not give out information like your telephone number and address to people you don’t know. Safer to meet a new friend in a public place, than to give them your address before knowing them.

Once you post something on the internet (even if you later delete it), it can show up elsewhere.  Unless you have specific permission from your host family, you should never post pictures of them, their children or their home on the internet.

If you have a blog or website where you post in your native language, remember there is translation software.  So, even if you say it in your native language, be sure it is not something you will regret.

Privacy, Personal Information & The Internet

It’s a good idea to carefully consider what you post online. This will help protect your privacy and safety as well as that of your host familyIt is important to respect your host family’s privacy and not share personal details and information.  This applies to all kinds of situations, including: personal conversations, email and social websites.

For your own safety, it is a good idea to be careful what personal information you share about yourself as well. You should not be giving out information like your telephone number and address to people you don’t know.

Once you post something on the internet (even if you later delete it), it can show up elsewhere.  Unless you have specific permission from the host family, you should not post pictures of them, their children or their home on the internet.

If you have a blog or website where you post in your native language, remember there is translation software.  So, even if you say it in your native language, be sure it is not something you will regret.

Privacy, Personal Information & The Internet

Just a reminder about how important it is to respect your host family’s privacy and not share personal details and information.  This applies to all kinds of situations, including: personal conversations, email and social websites.

For your own safety, it is a good idea to be careful what personal information you share about yourself as well. You should not be giving out information like your telephone number and address to people you don’t know.

Once you post something on the internet (even if you later delete it), it can show up elsewhere.  Unless you have specific permission from the host family, you should not post pictures of them, their children or their home on the internet.

If you have a blog or website where you post in your native language, remember there is translation software.  So, even if you say it in your native language, be sure it is not something you will regret.

Holiday & Vacation Reminders

With Memorial Day just passed and Fourth of July coming soon, I wanted to remind everyone about program rules on holidays and vacations.

Holidays

  • Host families are NOT REQUIRED to give au pairs any specific holidays.
  • Each host family will make different arrangements on holidays, some au pairs will be off and others will be required to work.
  • Au pairs should NOT make plans for holidays without checking with your host family FIRST.

luggage maliasVacation

  • Au pair earns 2 weeks of paid vacation during the course of her year.
  • The host family can pick a week and the au pair can pick a week, if an agreement is not reached.
  • All vacation should be preplanned (at least 4 weeks in advance.)
  • All au pair’s friends and/or family visits/vacations should be pre-approved prior to purchasing a ticket.
  • If an au pair travels with their host family, it should be discussed UP FRONT whether this is the au pair’s vacation or if she is working.
  • If an au pair travels with the host family to work, the host family is required to pay for her transportation, lodging and meals.

Important: An au pair MUST have her DS2019 signed PRIOR to her departure from the US. More info. about this can be found on the right side of this page under “Travel Links for Au Pairs.”


Privacy, Personal Information & The Internet

fb twitter youtubeJust a reminder about how important it is to respect your host family’s privacy and not share personal details and information.  This applies to all kinds of situations, including: personal conversations, email and social websites.

For your own safety, it is a good idea to be careful what personal information you share about yourself as well. You should not be giving out information like your telephone number and address to people you don’t know.

Once you post something on the internet (even if you later delete it), it can show up elsewhere.  Unless you have specific permission from the host family, you should not post pictures of them, their children or their home on the internet.

If you have a blog or website where you post in your native language, remember there is translation software.  So, even if you say it in your native language, be sure it is not something you will regret.

Beautiful Day at the Pumpkin Patch

On Sunday, we had beautiful weather and a great turnout for our Annual Host Family & Au Pair Pumpkin Patch Visit.  Queen Anne Farm remains an authentic pumpkin patch where kids get the chance to pick their pumpkin right off the vine. There were also animals, a corn maze and a hayride.

Click on the pictures to view them full size in our Cluster Photobucket Album.

Host Family Deadline Reminders

dont forget

EXTENDING WITH YOUR CURRENT AU PAIR

If you are extending with your au pair, below are the due dates and deadlines for the Extension Program:

Arrival Date November 2009 – Extension Package Mailed: June 29, 2010
Deadline to send in Extension Package: August 18, 2010

Arrival Date December 2009 – Extension Package Mailed: August 3, 2010
Deadline to send in Extension Package: September 22, 2010

OR

BEGINNING THE SEARCH FOR YOUR NEXT AU PAIR

If you are not extending your contract with your current au pair and want to have continuous au pair childcare, the following are the recommended dates to submit your repeat application. Applying early gives you plenty of time to view applications and make a match with an au pair from any country, regardless of visa timeline.

Re-applying online is easier than ever. You just login with your Host Family ID number and password and update the information we have on file for you.  There is no application fee for repeating host families.

Target Arrival Date November 2010 – Recommended that you re-apply in July or August.

Target Arrival Date December 2010 – Recommended that you re-apply in August or September.

Don’t forget to check out our Host Family Loyalty Site with information on several ways to save $500+ off your program fee.

What We Will and Will Not Do

Recently, Terry and I have discussed a trend we have seen in recent months.   We have been surprised and saddened by the lengths that some of our competitors will go to in order to get more business.   In an industry built on the concept of providing cultural exchange and childcare, we still hold those as high priorities.   Some of our competitors seem to have a different focus.   We personally prefer to deal with ethical people who have moral standards, especially on something as important as the safety and care of our children.   We may be naïve in believing that those things matter to people, but we think they should.   So, we decided to post a list of the things we will and will not do.

Here’s our list:

  • We will continue to keep taking care of our host families and au pairs as our main priority and marketing to new families as a secondary focus.
  • We will promote Au Pair in America using honest, ethical methods.
  • We will encourage our host families and au pairs to refer people to Au Pair in America, based on their own positive experiences.
  • We will continue to allow our au pairs to bring their friends from other agencies to our meetings and will welcome them and treat them just as our own au pairs.
  • We will not lie to people.
  • We will not misrepresent ourselves or our intentions in order to obtain competitor’s host family information.
  • We will not pose as reporters in order to obtain access to a competitor’s host families and market to them.
  • We will not ask our au pairs’ friends to give us their host family’s contact information or their agency’s cluster list.
  • We will not make misleading statements about our competitors.
  • We will not violate the terms of online forums and pose as satisfied customers, rather than agency representatives.
  • We will not violate the terms of websites such as Craig’s List by posting ridiculous numbers of listings and cross-posting.
  • We will not take another agency’s original ideas, copy them and promote them as our own.

We spend the majority of our work time providing great service and support to our host families and au pairs and genuinely care about them having a positive outcome in the au pair program.  We are saddened that people would try to lure them away, with the promise of discounts and services, which may or may not be accurate.

When one of these competitors was confronted by a third party whom she had lied to and used to get the private information of host families and au pairs,  her reply was, “that’s just business.”  Well, that’s not how we do business.  At the end of the day, we want to feel good about the work we do and know that we haven’t done anything that we should feel ashamed of.