Category Archives: Host Family Tips

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: Darwin Bell (Flickr)

Holiday & Vacation Reminders

“Rest and be thankful.” – William Wordsworth

Holidays and vacations are a great opportunity to rest, recharge and explore the U.S.

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer travel season. Here are some reminders about program rules regarding 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.

Vacations

  • Au pairs earns 2 weeks of paid vacation during the course of her year.
  • Vacation time should be mutually agreed upon.
  • 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 tickets.
  • If an au pair travels with her host family, it should be discussed in advance 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: If an au pair is traveling outside of the U.S., she must have her DS2019 signed (travel validation) PRIOR to her departure from the US. More information about this may be found here on the Au Pair in America website.

Photo: torbakhopper (Flickr)

Handling Expenses

Host parents often ask for suggestions on how best to handle common expenses that occur as au pairs are caring for the children.

Miscellaneous Expenses

There are different ways to handle the little day to day expenses that come up.  Things like when an au pair takes the kids out for ice cream or picks up a gallon of milk.  Some families keep a cookie jar fund, a little cash that they set aside weekly or monthly for these types of expenses. Others give their au pair a prepaid debit card for this purpose. Below are some suggestions for avoiding problems with expenses.

Host Families

  • It’s important to be clear about how long this money should last and what types of expenses are approved.
  • Let the au pair know whether or not you expect receipts.

Au Pairs

  • Only spend the money on approved expenses.
  • If it is something you are not sure about, ask first.
  • Put your receipts in the cookie jar in place of the money to avoid any confusion.

Gas and Fare Cards 

Host families are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs: to and from classes, cluster meetings and when driving the kids.

It is a good idea to figure out how much gas an au pair will use for these trips and either put gas in the car or give a gas allowance.   If your au pair is riding to classes or cluster meetings with another au pair, you should offer to share the cost of gas.

Au pairs are responsible for their own transportation at all other times.  You should replace the amount of gas used for personal use.

Photo: Andrea Travillian

Going Unplugged during working hours.

Au Pairs – Imagine for a moment that you went to the hospital and you were in the care of doctors and nurses.  How would you feel if those doctors and nurses who were there to care for you were more interested in texting or using their personal computer than caring for you?  How would that make you feel, about yourself and about them?  Would you think that you were getting the treatment you deserved?  Would you feel like paying the bill after your stay?

Life as an au pair, it is a fine balance between employee and family member. You live with your host family and participate with them as a member of the family, but you also have clear responsibilities as a childcare provider. Being a childcare provider is truly one of the most important jobs I can think of, because you are helping to shape our next generation.  What message are you sending them when you would rather interact with a computer than with them? How will they feel about themselves and about you? Children feel as though everything is about them. They will see this as a rejection of them and they will be more likely to act out.

It also poses a safety concern when you are not paying enough attention to the children in your care.  Accidents happen, but when an adult care giver is close by and appropriately supervising the chances of a major injury dramatically reduce.

During work hours, the following would not be considered acceptable:
-Texting
-Talking to friends on the phone
-Chatting with friends online
-Using Skype
-IMing
-Emailing
-Updating your status on Facebook
-Checking in on Orkut, Studivz, SiempreGente or any other social media site
-Watching videos on YouTube (even my really fabulous ones)
-Tweeting on your Twitter
-Uploading photos
-Anything else on the computer unless it is going to Nickjr.com together with your host children

Think about this — even if you work 45 hours a week, that leaves you 123 hours per week for all of that other stuff, or about 70 hours (if you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.)

Host Parents – You need to be clear about what you consider acceptable during work hours to avoid misunderstandings.  Also, please understand that you are dealing with a new generation of people who are very accustomed to being plugged in at all times.  Their intention is not to be rude, they don’t necessarily realize how their actions will be perceived.  Please use this information as an opportunity to begin a dialogue on the issue.

Holiday Reminders for Au Pairs and Host Families

With the holiday season just around the corner, it is important to review this little reminder about program rules for holidays and vacations.luggage malias

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.

Vacation

  • 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.

Keep these things in mind as you plan your travel and we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

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.”

Tax Information for Au Pairs

taxes-pic

We have been talking about taxes a lot lately and there have been lots of questions. I will continue going over tax questions each month at our Coffee Meetings.

Here are some of the basic questions:

Who is supposed to file taxes? – All au pairs (even those who don’t owe money)

Will all au pairs have to pay something? – No, it depends on when you arrived and how much money you earned last year.

When are 2010 taxes due? – April 18, 2011

Where can I get the tax form? –  1040NR-EZ Form

Where can I get the instruction booklet?1040NR-EZ Booklet

Where can I get detailed information and see a sample au pair tax form?APIA Tax Info for Au Pairs

What to Keep in the Car Glove Box

If you are like me, you probably have napkins and straws from fast food restaurants and other assorted items in your glove box in the car.  It can be a nifty storage place, but it’s main purpose is to keep some important documents related to the car. glove box

It is very important that you keep all of the necessary documents in the car glove box. These items will be necessaryif you are stopped by a police officer or have an auto accident. Not having these items can result in your receiving a ticket (citation) from a police officer.

Essential Documents

*Some host parents may tell you to carry these in your wallet instead of keeping them in the car. Follow their instructions.

Helpful Extras

  • Flashlight
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Vehicle Owner’s Manual
  • Map or GPS
  • Tissues and Hand Sanitizer
  • First Aid Kit

In Your Wallet
Carry your Maryland license or country driver’s license and international driver’s permit with you at all times, especially when you are driving. You should leave your passport and Social Security Card and other documents at home, to reduce the risk of losing them.

Miscellaneous Expenses

There are different ways to handle the little expenses that may come up.  Things like when an au pair takes the kids out for ice cream or picks up a gallon of milk.  Some families keep a cookie jar fund, a little cash that they set aside weekly or monthly for this kind of expenses.  Here are some suggestions for avoiding problems with that.

Host Families

  • It’s important to be clear about how long this money should last and what types of expenses are approved.
  • Let the au pair know whether or not you expect receipts.

Au Pairs

  • Only spend the money on approved expenses.
  • If it is something you are not sure about, ask first.
  • Put your receipts in the cookie jar in place of the money to avoid any confusion.

Gas and Fare Cards

Host families are responsible for the au pair’s transportation costs:

  • to and from classes and cluster meetings
  • driving the kids

It is a good idea to figure out how much gas an au pair will use for these trips and either put gas in the car or give a gas allowance.   If your au pair is riding to classes or cluster meetings with another au pair, you should offer to share the cost of gas.

Au pairs are responsible for their own transportation at all other times.  You should replace the amount of gas used for personal use.

Who’s in charge?

Au pairs and host parents are most often together with the children at the most stressful times of the day – the morning and at the end of the day.  Getting through the stressful times of the day is best done with a consistent approach.  Planning ahead about division of labor and delegation of responsibility, as well as developing routines that both the au pair and the parents will adhere to, is essential.

Another particularly challenging time of day is when the transition is made from parent to au pair or from au pair to parent.  Focusing the transition on a particular activity and consistently following that procedure may ease the confusion for the children. for example, Mommy will help you get dressed; then you will go downstairs and the au pair will give you breakfast while Mommy gets ready for her day; or the au pair will give you a bath, and when you are done, she will say goodnight and Daddy will read you a story.

The children will benefit when the au pair and the parents remember to work cooperativley, keep communication open and exercise authority when necessary.