Category Archives: Child Care

5 Thanksgiving Tips for Au Pairs & Host Parents

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Even though a few other countries also celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s still considered a uniquely American holiday, one that the au pairs look forward to experiencing. You can learn more about it here.

I really enjoyed Thanksgiving with my host family. It was as I imagined! So much food to try. Everyone got dressed up and shared what they were thankful for. It was so warm and special. The next day we began to prepare for Christmas. It was magical.” Selina from Germany

Below you will find some tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.

 

Host Parents

1.  Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. Thanksgiving with an au pair offers an opportunity to consider the relevance of the history and meaning of Thanksgiving as you compare the hospitality offered by the Native Americans to the recently arrived Pilgrims and the hospitality you offer your au pair.

2.  If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.

Au Pairs

3.  If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend. It is considered rude in America to accept the invitation for dinner and then change your mind later in the month. Please be thoughtful.

4.  Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.

5.  If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans. You may be able to join a friend and their host family for the holiday dinner.

Bonus Tip for the Kids

If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cupcakes. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.

Photo: Tim Sackton (Flickr)

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 Work Hours

Kiev, Ukraine - August 26, 2013 - A collection of well-known social media brands printed on paper and placed on plastic signs. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr logos.

Phones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful tools to stay connected and informed, but we need to be careful not to let them become distractions from real life interactions and most importantly our responsibilities.

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 or FaceTime
-IMing
-Emailing
-Updating your status on Facebook
-Using Snapchat, WhatsApp or any other app or social media site
-Watching videos on YouTube
-Tweeting on Twitter
-Uploading photos on Instagram
-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.

Halloween

Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31Ghouls and goblins will take over the night.
But even scary creatures need to be safe and celebrate Halloween right.

Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and automobile collisions.
The Red Cross wants your family to have a safe Halloween so we’re providing these tips:

The Lucky 13:

1. Map out the route that you plan to roam, so adults are assured you will find your way home!
2. From the bravest of superheroes to the noblest of knights, everyone should remember to bring their flashlights!
3. If you visit a house where a stranger resides, accept treats at the door and, please, don’t go inside.
4. When you get ready to put on your disguise, use face paint instead of masks, which will cover your eyes.
5. Always remember, before you embark, to wear light-colored clothing to be seen in the dark! (And remember to use reflective tape, even on bikes, and brooms and the edges of your cape!)
6. Whether you walk, slither or sneak, do it on the sidewalks and not in the street.
7. As you roam through the neighborhood collecting your treats, please look both ways before crossing the street! (And speaking of streets, the corners are the place for trick or treaters to cross no matter their pace.)
8. Wigs, capes and costumes are flammable attire, so avoid open flames to prevent a fire!
9. Use a glow stick instead of a candle so your jack-o-lantern isn’t a safety gamble!
10. You may fly on a broom or a space ship from Mars, but please be on the lookout for drivers in cars! (Between parked cars is no to hide, be sure that you’re seen whether you’re a clown or a bride.)
11. Monsters and zombies should stay off the lawn, and only visit homes with their porch lights turned on!
12. You may be dressed as a werewolf, a cat or a frog, but be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.
13. For additional information on how you and your family can be prepared for emergencies on Halloween or on any day of the year, please visit www.RedCross.org