Tag Archives: Kids

Flu Alert – Tips to Stay Healthy this Flu Season

You can’t turn on the television news lately without hearing about the flu epidemic.  The seasonal flu seems to be a particularly strong virus this year.  Here’s some useful information from the Center for Disease Control about how you can protect yourself from the flu and how to treat yourself and your host children should you get sick.

It is NOT too late to get a Flu Vaccine.  Au Pair insurance does not cover immunizations, but there are lots of places to get flu shots for $30 or less. Check your local health department or stores with a pharmacy such as CVS, Target and Walgreens. If a host family is insisting that their au pair get a seasonal flu shot and she agrees to get it, the host family would be responsible for the expense.

An Ounce of Prevention
There are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • Practice good health habits.  Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medicine.

Symptoms of the Flu
The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between them.  Your healthcare provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold.  Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu.

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Treating the Flu
You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated
  • Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever
  • Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier
  • Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat
  • Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills

Children are at higher risk for getting the flu because their immune systems are not fully developed.  If your host child gets sick, always ask your host parents before giving any medications to the children.  There are strict guidelines for dosages and they MUST be followed.  Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have the flu.  Giving aspirin to children with the flu can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s Syndrome.  Read ingredient labels on over-the-counter medications carefully to ensure they do not contain aspirin.

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.

Make Your Own Play Dough

Play Dough - Kevin JarrettMake 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.

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!

Witch’s Broom Treat Bag.

 

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What You’ll Need:

  • Brown Paper Lunch Bags
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Bands
  • Ribbon, String, or Yarn
  • Sticks (from your yard)
  • Candy

 

  • Easy Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. Create the broom’s bristles by cutting one of the paper bags in 1⁄2″ strips from the very top (where the bag opens) to the very bottom, stopping at the part of the bag that sits flat on the table top.
  2. Lay the cut paper bag flat on the table.Place the uncut paper bag on top of the cut paper bag, so that the bottoms are sitting exactly on top of one another.
  3. Fill the uncut paper bag about one-quarter full with the candy of your choice.
  4. Put the stick in the middle of the uncut paper bag.
  5. Bring the loose strips of the cut paper bag up and around the sides of the uncut paper bag. Holding both bags tightly against the stick (about half way up) secure with a rubber band.
  6. Tie a piece of string, yarn, or ribbon tightly around the paper bags, concealing the rubber band. Trim excess paper bag.

Use bags as favors/place cards at your next Halloween or Thanksgiving party. Simply print your guests names on cardstock, cut out, and attach to the fronts of the bags!

Going Unplugged During Work Hours.

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

*you do want to be on the look out for texts from your host parents

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.

October-Fire Safety Month

 

Click here to read more Fire Safety Tips on PBS KidsClick here to read more Fire Safety Tips on PBS Kids

Here are some fire safety tips from PBSKids.org. Go over these fire safety tips with your children.

Be Smart

  1. Don’t touch matches. Stay away from lighters and candles, too.
  2. Don’t touch radiators or heaters. Ask a grown-up to turn a heater on or off for you. Don’t stand too close to a fireplace or wood stove, either.
  3. Don’t play with electrical cords. And don’t stick anything into an electrical socket.
  4. Don’t play around in the kitchen. If you want to cook something, be sure to check with a grown-up first.
  5. Don’t put anything over a lamp. Things thrown over a lamp (like blankets or clothing) could catch fire

Top Ten Activities for Fall

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Summer is over, and in many places the air is turning colder. As the weather changes be sure to take advantage of what the fall season has to offer. Even if you don’t live in a place that sees a lot colorful leaves, there are fun family-friendly ways to get outdoors this fall:

• Go apple picking. Sure, most of us can get apples year-round from the grocery store, but there’s nothing quite like orchard fresh apples, picked straight from the tree during harvest season. That crunchy, tangy, sweet apple flavor is at its peak during this time of year. Many commercial orchards will let you pick your own. It’s not only fun, it’s also a great way to show kids where their food comes from. Get extras for canning applesauce, or making pies. When you’re done, warm up with a delicious mulled cider.

• Go on a nature hike. Bring along a field guide to identify different kinds of trees. Look for wildlife collecting food for winter. Explain to kids how animals are starting to fatten up and grow thick, protective winter coats. Watch for migrating birds.

• Collect fall leaves. Press them into books or preserve them in glycerin. Paste them onto handmade paper to create greeting cards, or glue them between two pieces of wax paper to make an attractive sun catcher. Go lightly on the glue, or substitute crayon shavings to add color; use a warm iron to melt the shavings and hold the paper together.

• Take a hayride. Many farms offer hayrides during the fall. This is a great way to kick back and enjoy nature with smaller kids who may not be up for a long walk.

• Visit the pumpkin patch. Don’t buy your Halloween pumpkin from the grocery store. Go straight to the source. Kids will love wandering around the patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Choose a couple of big ones for jack-o-lanterns, and grab a few smaller ones for painting or general household decorations. Smaller pumpkins make great additions to fall centerpieces. Roast the seeds in your oven with a sprinkling of tasty spices, and grab a few to make pumpkin pies.

• Visit a corn maze. Many farms earn extra income for the winter by turning their cornfields into large mazes. Test your directional sense, and get some fresh air in the process. Corn mazes are fun or all ages.

• Stuff a scarecrow. Dig out an old shirt and overalls, and stuff it with leaves until firm. Add a pumpkin head (from your trip to the pumpkin patch) and you’ve got a great fall decoration.

• Fly a kite. The gusty, brisk air makes autumn a great time for flying kites. Buy one from the store, or make your own from two long sticks, strong paper, and string.

• Have a bonfire. Invite some friends over for a backyard bonfire. The chill in the air makes fall the perfect time to sit together by the warmth of a blazing fire with a nice warm mug of cocoa or cider. Be sure to get any necessary permits from your town first.

• Make a leaf pile and jump in!

Checklist Place Mat

checklist
Table your constant stream of morning reminders with this clever place mat, which allows kids to take responsibility for their own must-dos.
Materials
  • Decorative paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • 18- by 12-inch sheet of poster board
  • Markers
  • Clear Con-Tact paper (or have it laminated at a copy shop)
  • Nontoxic dry-erase marker
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro dot
Instructions
  1. Cut three 6- by 12-inch rectangles from decorative paper. Use a glue stick to affix them side by side onto the poster board.
  2. Write a “Do at Home” checklist on the left rectangle and a “Take to School” checklist on the right one (leave a few blank spaces at the bottom of each list for write-in reminders).
  3. Have the place mat laminated at a copy shop or cover it with clear Con-Tact paper. Your child can use a nontoxic dry-erase marker to check off items or write additional reminders. Affix an adhesive-backed Velcro dot to keep the marker in a handy spot on the mat.

Welcoming Your New Au Pair.

Welcoming Your Au Pair

welcome

After you match with your new au pair and arrange her travel from orientation to your community, it’s very important to keep in touch with her prior to her arrival. Please keep in mind that you have opened your home to someone else’s daughter. There are many things you can do that will help her to feel welcome in your home. An email to check in every so often is reassuring and builds the bonds you started to form when you offered her a home for a year. Sending photos of the children or pictures they have drawn is also a welcome form of connection.

Once your au pair arrives at orientation, please call her to welcome her. It makes the au pair feel much more comfortable to hear from you while she is at orientation. The number at the hotel is 203-358-8400. The best time to call is between 7 and 7:30 AM. You can leave a message for her to call you collect if you can’t reach her directly. An alternative is to call her the night before she leaves home.

Some families send flowers or small packages with personalized stationery or homemade cookies. Ask your counselor for other suggestions if you want to send something, but keep in mind that your au pair will have to transport whatever it is to your house. Faxes can be received by the hotel and are also a nice way to say hello.

Before she travels to your home, prepare a welcome sign made by the children. You can display it at home or use it at the airport or train station. Make sure her room is clean and ready for her. Mark the au pair’s birthday on the family calendar.

When she arrives at your home, she will be tired, excited and probably anxious. Keep in mind the fatigue that being in a new culture causes, particularly if your au pair is not a native English speaker. The au pair needs time to recover from jet lag.

It’s important to give her a few days to unpack, rest and become acclimated to the host family’s home, family and neighborhood before expecting her to assume full child care responsibilities. She should be allowed to find ways to make her space her own; mounting a bulletin board on the wall is one easy way to do this.

According to Department of State regulations, au pairs are not allowed to assume sole responsibility for the children until after she has been in the home three days. Giving her the opportunity to bond with the children one at a time is helpful in building relationships. Those first few days can be used to complete the child care questionnaire for each of your children, to conduct a tour of the neighborhood, to go to the grocery store to determine her food preferences and for her to see the variety of foods available in the US, and to share information about the house and her chores. Many families also use this time to have the au pair drive for the first time.

The Community Counselor will call and/or visit within the first forty-eight hours after the au pair’s arrival.

Some other adjustment issues to keep in mind:

  • The au pair may be confused by directions with so many new things to learn, especially as she works to adapt to a new language and surroundings.
  • She may be homesick, possibly suffering from stomach indigestion as she tries to adapt to new foods, diet and a different time zone.
  • Children may be both excited and apprehensive about the au pair’s arrival, and their behavior patterns may be different from how they generally behave. With patience they will weather the transition.
  • Host parents may need to adapt to sharing living space with a young adult.

Putting time and effort into a positive welcome experience and being prepared for what typically happens in the first few days will give your match a strong foundation to build on.