Tag Archives: winter

Preparing for Cold Weather

We’re in that time of year where Maryland temperatures start dipping a little lower. It can be 70°F (21°C) one day and 40°F (4°C) the next. This is a time when many people begin to opt for indoor activities instead of outdoor ones. As the pandemic continues, we may be rethinking that this year. CDC guidelines state that outdoor gatherings and activities are generally safer than indoor ones.

There is a Scandinavian saying about this…

If you come from a warmer climate this may sound impossible to you. Over the years I have noticed that the temperature difference is much easier on those who have a gradual adjustment. It allows your body time to adjust to the lower temperatures. So, that’s the good news for all of you who are already here. Your body is already getting adjusted, give your mind a chance to stay open to enjoying the outdoors.

The next thing to do is get yourself the proper clothing and accessories. Start shopping for cold weather clothing: sweater, coat, gloves, hat, scarf, long underwear & boots. Ask your host family if they have some you can use and then start looking out for sales and checking thrift shops for the rest. Take a look at what you already have and think of ways to layer it. A long sleeve t-shirt under a sweatshirt may be as warm as a jacket. A pair of leggings or tights under a pair of jeans adds a lot of warmth.

It may also help to remind yourself that people in other parts of the U.S. and other countries experience much colder temperatures than we do and are still able to enjoy the outdoors.

Pick your activities carefully. If you are sitting next to a fire pit or doing physical activity you will feel warmer. When you take the kids to the playground or out in the snow, don’t sit on the bench and watch. You will feel warmer and have more fun if you are actively involved and having fun with them.

If you have tips on enjoying the cold weather, please share them!

CONTEST: The first au pair in our cluster to message Christine or Lisa with their favorite cold weather activity will win a prize!

Image: Canva.com

Do You Need Sports Insurance?

Trying out winter sports like ice skating, skiing and snow boarding can be very exciting, especially if this is your first time experiencing winter weather. However, you should also know the risks and be prepared.

Is it risky to do winter sports without the sports insurance?

Yes. If you have to pay your own hospital bills for a broken bone, you might be shocked at how much that would cost. I checked this website for some cost estimates.

Here are a couple examples:

  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (that does not require surgery) it could cost up to $2,500.
  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (requiring surgery) it could cost $16,000 or more.

I wanted to make sure everyone understands how the medical coverage works for sports related injuries. There is a list of “high-risk sports/activities” that are not covered with the basic or upgrade medical insurance plans. Those activities are only covered with the Sports Insurance Package.

The Sports Insurance was available pre-departure and may also be purchased at any time during your year. It takes effect within 3 days of your enrollment and it is good for 12 months. The cost will be the same ($100) whether you have a month left or your whole year ahead of you. I recommend you pay for it early on, if you didn’t already purchase it. You never know when an opportunity might present itself and you don’t want to miss out on an adventure. You also don’t want to take a risk on getting injured and being responsible for the bill on your own.

Below is a partial list of sports that are only covered with the sports insurance package:
Football, Rugby, Scuba diving, Ski-doo,  Wakeboarding, Skydiving, Parachuting, Rock climbing, Zip line, Skate boarding, Rollerblading, Roller skating,  Ice Skating, SkiingSnowboardingSnowmobiles & Snowshoeing.  View the full list on your insurance brochure.

Note: Injuries sustained while partaking in these sports are covered with purchase of the Sports Insurance ONLY.

How to register for the Sports Insurance
Contact Lisa or Christine, if you are unsure which insurance package you have and/or to register for sports insurance.

If you think you will be doing any of these sports, you should get it now.

Preparing for Cold Weather

We’re in that time of year where Maryland temperatures start dipping a little lower. It can be 70°F (21°C) one day and 40°F (4°C) the next. This is a time when many people begin to opt for indoor activities instead of outdoor ones. With the pandemic, we may be rethinking that this year. CDC guidelines state that outdoor gatherings and activities are generally safer than indoor ones.

I recently heard a Scandinavian saying about this…

If you come from a warmer climate this may sound impossible to you. As a person who often complains of being cold when the rest of my family is comfortable, I definitely understand. But, I think this winter I will need to rethink that. I will need to push my boundaries of cold tolerance in order to be able to still see a few friends or family members outside or dine at an outside seating area. I encourage you to give outside a chance too.

One thing I have noticed in my years of working with au pairs is that the temperature difference is much easier on those who have a gradual adjustment. It allows your body time to adjust to the lower temperatures. So, that’s the good news for all of you who are already here. Your body is already getting adjusted, give your mind a chance to stay open to enjoying the outdoors.

The next thing to do is get yourself the proper clothing and accessories. Start shopping for cold weather clothing: sweater, coat, gloves, hat, scarf, long underwear & boots. Ask your host family if they have some you can use and then start looking out for sales and checking thrift shops for the rest. Take a look at what you already have and think of ways to layer it. A long sleeve t-shirt under a sweatshirt may be as warm as a jacket. A pair of leggings or tights under a pair of jeans adds a lot of warmth.

It may also help to remind yourself that people in other parts of the U.S. and other countries experience much colder temperatures than we do and are still able to enjoy the outdoors.

Pick your activities carefully. If you are sitting next to a fire pit or doing physical activity you will feel warmer. When you take the kids to the playground or out in the snow, don’t sit on the bench and watch. You will feel warmer and have more fun if you are actively involved and having fun with them.

If you have tips on enjoying the cold weather, please share them!

CONTEST: The first au pair in our cluster to message Christine or Lisa with their favorite cold weather activity will win a prize!

Image: Canva.com

Top 3 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

The winter has it’s own kind of beauty, but when the days are short and it’s cold outside, some people feel less energetic or even sad. The cold weather can make you feel like staying indoors. For some au pairs, those conditions can cause homesickness to resurface.

Here are some tips to fight the winter blues (sadness):

  1. Don’t hibernate. Hibernation is staying inactive or indoors for an extended period of time. Seeing friends and enjoying new activities is a great way to fight homesickness.
    • Meet up with friends for coffee or a movie.
    • Try new activities and foods.
    • Visit places you’ve been wanting to visit like museums and indoor landmarks.
  2. Stay physically active. Keeping moving helps elevate your mood and boosts your immune system.
    • Head to the gym or community center.
    • Go walking inside a shopping mall.
    • If you are feeling brave, dress warmly and get out there and enjoy the winter beauty!
  3. Maintain a Healthy Sleep Routine. It’s important to keep your body on a consistent sleep schedule. Too much or too little sleep can impact your mood and health.

Photo: Marwan Youssef

How Does Sports Insurance Work?

Trying out winter sports like ice skating, skiing and snowboarding can be very exciting, especially if this is your first time experiencing winter weather. However, you should also know the risks and be prepared.

Is it risky to do winter sports without sports insurance?

Yes. If you have to pay your own hospital bills for a broken bone, you might be shocked at how much that would cost. I checked this website for some cost estimates.

 

Here are a couple examples:

  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (that does not require surgery) it could cost up to $2,500.
  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (requiring surgery) it could cost $16,000 or more.

I wanted to make sure everyone understands how the medical coverage works for sports-related injuries. There is a list of “high-risk sports/activities” that are not covered with the basic or upgrade medical insurance plans. Those activities are only covered with the Sports Insurance Package.

The Sports Insurance was available pre-departure and may also be purchased at any time during your year. It takes effect within 48 hours of your enrollment and it is good for 12 months. The cost will be the same ($95) whether you have a month left or your whole year ahead of you. I recommend you pay for it early on, if you didn’t already purchase it. You never know when an opportunity might present itself and you don’t want to miss out on an adventure. You also don’t want to take a risk on getting injured and being responsible for the bill on your own.

Below is a partial list of sports that are only covered with the sports insurance package:
Football, Rugby, Scuba diving, Ski-doo,  Wakeboarding, Skydiving, Parachuting, Rock climbing, Zipline, Skateboarding, Rollerblading, Roller skating, Ice Skating, Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobile-riding & Snowshoeing. View a full list on your insurance brochure.

Note: Injuries sustained while partaking in these sports are covered with the purchase of the Sports Insurance ONLY.

How to register for the Sports Insurance
Contact Lisa or Christine, if you are unsure which insurance package you have. To sign up, submit a completed copy of the Sports Insurance Enrollment Form along with payment to Au Pair in America. It takes three days for your coverage to begin. If you think you will be doing any of these sports, you should get it now.

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

Make Your Own Play Dough

Play dough is the perfect modeling material for children. Their small hands can pat, poke, pinch, roll and knead it into many shapes. Keep it in an airtight container to use another day, or let it air dry into favorite shapes.

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Measure 2 cups of flour, one cup of salt and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil to one cup of water in a separate bowl then add the mixture to the dry ingredients. For colored play dough, squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into the water before you add it to the mixture. Cook the dough at low heat in a wide pan, stirring constantly until it becomes rubbery. Remove the dough from the heat and knead it for a few minutes. When it cools the kids can play too!

Photo: Kevin Jarrett (Flickr)

Avoiding Homesickness this Holiday Season

Homesickness can be a problem during the holidays, even if it hasn’t been at any other time of the year. Au pairs often miss their friends and family, familiar places and their own traditions and customs. The holiday activities in the United States seem, and may actually be, different just at a time when an au pair would welcome something familiar. 

It is common for au pairs’ emotions to be close to the surface during the holidays. Her highs are higher, her lows are lower. The enormity of what she has done–actually living in another country (which is an amazing thing when you think about it!)–hits her and throws her into a self-protective mode.

Host parents can help her through this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (gifts, meals, visitors, religious services, in-home traditions, or none of these, as the case may be.) In the spirit of cultural exchange, ask her if she has any favorite holiday traditions or foods that you might be able to incorporate into your family’s celebration of the season. Let her know what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and what she can expect. Talk to her about what has to be accomplished and get her involved and interested. Don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed upon assignments. Make her feel a part of things. And, let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.

Photo: Sheila Sund (Flickr)

Driving – Car Safety Kit

62922586_bd9aa19227What should you have in the trunk of your car in case of an emergency?

I’ll give you a hint- it’s not a cat. While they are cute, they are not very helpful in a crisis. Below is a list of some more helpful things to keep in the car.

Recommended items to have in the car in case of emergency

  • Cell phone car charger
  • Jumper Cables (be sure you know how to use them)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Flares & Reflective triangles
  • Bag of sand or kitty litter (to help if stuck in ice, snow)
  • Small shovel, snow brush and ice scraper
  • Extra windshield solvent
  • Blankets and extra clothing
  • Nonperishable food items and water (e.g.. snack bars)
  • List of emergency telephone numbers on a card in the glove compartment
  • Auto club card (AAA or roadside assistance)

Here is another post with a list of what to keep in the car glove box.

It is always a good idea to keep the gas tank at least half full at all times, especially in the winter.

Photo: Bart Everson

Winter Driving Tips

snow carDriving in the snow and ice can be a challenge even for experienced drivers. If you don’t have to
go out in bad weather, stay home. If you do have to go out, here are some tips from AAA. Check out the full article on the AAA website.
Tips for driving in the snow:
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. …
  • Drive slowly. …
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. …
  • Know your brakes. …
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. …
  • Don’t power up hills. …
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. …
  • Stay home.

Photo: Steve Pisano (Flickr)