Tag Archives: vacation

How to Manage Longer Days with Children – When School is out and Camp isn’t On!

Summer -  Ryan HydeHere are some ideas to keep your kids busy this summer!

Top Ten – How to Manage Longer Days with Children – When School is out and Camp isn’t On!
Au pairs should always check with their host parents to seek approval for any childcare activities.

10. Start A Summer Scrapbook!
Include drawings, pictures, and journal entries of activities from the summer. It will be special because children and their au pair created it together. This could be a hard version, a computer generated one, a movie of daily clips set to music…..they could even make 2 copies – one for her and one for them to keep!

9. Have a picnic!
Spread the planning and preparation across a few days to get them excited!
First, decide on a location, and have a few choices from which the children can pick. For example, their backyard, a town park or near a pond. Include a rain plan – will they choose an alternate in door solution or go on another date? Create ballots and let them vote!
Make the picnic ‘basket’ —- use a plain box and let the children decorate it! Then, decide on a menu — look up recipes and shop for the ingredients together….prepare anything that can be done ahead of time — and then when it is “the day,” finish the picnic packing and go!

8. Switch It UP
Have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner! Plan the menu and prepare together!
Who doesn’t like pancakes for dinner???? (If their host parents don’t, then ignore this one!)

7. Have a Pajama Day!
Plan an indoor PJ day. Choose books to read, cookies to make, a movie to watch, indoor tent with blankets and go! Think of it as a snow day (on a rainy day) in the summer!

6. Six websites with nifty ideas!

Create your own holiday www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson018.shtml
Start a collection www.ehow.com/how_10563_start-collection.html
Scavenger Hunt http://www.lovetheoutdoors.com/camping/kids/scavengerhunt.htm
Build a sandcastle www.sandcastlecentral.com/toolpages/
Plant a garden www.geocities.com/mastergardener2k/
Make a bubble solution www.bubblemania.com/faq/solution.html

5. Park it!

Make a list of area parks. After each visit, have the children critique it….what was good, what did they like about it….what didn’t they like? Create a chart with applicable headings including a rating system. At the end of their comparison, their chart will show them where they like to go for what activities, etc. This is a great hand down tool as well for subsequent au pairs or the parents themselves!

4. Taste Test Day!
Buy several brands of vanilla – and try one bite of each and see what they like best! Or do flavors – let the children choose! Different versions….yogurt tasting, cheese/crackers, salsas or red vs. green grapes!

3. Make a Diorama!

Have children re-create a scene from their favorite book, zoo or outing. http://www.ehow.com/how_12761_make-diorama.html

2. Have a home book club!

Everyone read the same book – and compare your thoughts on it.
Here are some ideas: http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2015

1. AP Day!

Once a week — have a Day dedicated to the au pair’s country! Eat some foods from her country…and have her share typical summer activities she did growing up. She can read the children a book in her native language as well as teach them how to sing and count! As the children get the hang of it – they can make a list of things they would like her to teach or tell them. Au pairs could even team up to share ‘days’ from their countries with each other’s children!

Photo: Flickr Ryan Hyde

Personal Safety-General Safety Tips

Personal Safety – General Safety Tips

April 7, 2018 – 9:22 am

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These tips are not intended to scare you, but to make you aware of some simple things you can do to prevent being the victim of a crime.

  • Listen to and act on your intuition. It’s better to be safe and risk a little embarrassment, than stay in an uncomfortable situation that may be unsafe.
  • If you are in danger or being attacked and want to get help, yell “Call 911!” or give specific directions to onlookers; for example: “You! Get the police!” or “Walk me to the store on the corner, I’m being followed.”
  • Have your keys ready when approaching your car or building.
  • Vary your routine: drive or walk different routes every day. If you suspect that someone is following you, by foot or in a car, don’t go home (or they will know where you live). Go to a trusted neighbor or to a public place to call police, or go directly to the police station.
  • Do not label keys with your name or any identification.
  • Don’t talk about your social life or vacation plans where strangers can overhear you.
  • Carry your cell phone with you at all times.

Happy Independence Day!

July 4thKnown as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

HAVE A HAPPY 4th of JULY!!

Make It The Best Year Ever

There are so many new faces in the cluster.  You must have heard “make this the best year ever”, but what does it really mean?  Here is a list of suggestions I gathered from my former au pairs.  They all agree that the year goes by really fast and despite having some bad days, they do miss being an au pair.  When I asked them what suggestions they wanted to share, here is what they told me:

1.  Take good care of the kids (this really was their first response!)

2.  Listen and respect your host family, be honest about your mistakes, don’t try to hide them….it will only make things worse.

3.  Travel as soon as you can, don’t procrastinate.

4.  Meet new people, try not to hang out with only au pairs from your country

5.  Enjoy every moment

6.  Be open-minded, don’t compare

7.  Don’t spend all your money on the stuff you don’t need.  It’s not easy to take it home

8.  Give it a good chance, even it you are feeling homesick, shy or nervous. Stick it out because its definitely worth it

9.  Take advantage of your free time, volunteer and help out.  The reference letter may help you get a job in the future.

10.  Pick your classes carefully.  There are some options that you will find interesting.

Enjoy your journey!

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.”

Happy Passover

Passover 2011 begins at sundown on Monday, April 18 and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days in the rest of the world.

 

 

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) commemorates the formative experience of the Jewish people: their transformation from scattered tribes indentured in Egypt to a nation on the road to redemption. As the Israelites hastily prepared for their precipitous flight from Egypt, they had no time to allow their bread to rise. Instead they baked matza, a flat, yeastless cracker of flour and water.

At the last minute, Pharaoh changed his mind and gave chase; God parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through on miraculously dry land while causing the pursuing Egyptians, along with their horses and chariots, to drown in the briny deep.

 

The seder:
On the first night of Passover (the first two nights, outside of Israel), a ceremonial meal called a Seder  is held, usually in the company of family and friends. The Seder, replete with symbolism, revolves around bringing the Exodus story to life.

 

The other six days:
The Biblical Song of Songs is read during synagogue services on the Saturday that falls during Passover (the second if there is more than one). On the final night of Passover, some recall the splitting of the Red Sea — which, according to tradition, happened on that day — by gathering to sing songs of praise to God, with a bowl of water on the table before them. Chabad Jews dedicate a special meal on this day to the Messiah, complete with cups of wine

A Very Merry Christmas!

HERE’S WISHING A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS!

Christmas around the world

Millions of children around the world are familiar with plump and jolly Santa Claus, much loved of North America, with his red suit, black boots and twinkling eyes. He arrives Christmas Eve bearing gifts from the North Pole in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Other countries have their own native gift bearers of the holiday season as well.

 

Christmas Customs

Christmas around the world: In Italy, children receive gifts from the good witch La Befana, old, bent and dressed in black. La Befana was a widowed, childless woman when the Three Kings passed on their way to see the Christ child. When they asked her the way to Bethlehem she was busy cleaning and sent them away. Realizing her mistake, she left to search for the Baby Jesus. To this day she is still searching going from house to house on Epiphany, January 6, leaving a gift for good children.

Russian children await gifts from Babouska, a farmer’s wife who offered food and shelter to the Three Wise men on their journey to Bethlehem, Baboushka declined their offer of travelling with them to visit the Christ child. Realizing her error on the eve of Epiphany, she tried unsuccessfully to find them, but handed the presents she had intended for the infant Jesus to children she passed along the way.

In Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America, the Three Kings or Wise Men bring Christmas gifts to children, while in France children eagerly await the coming of Father Christmas or Pere Noel who brings their gifts.

In some cultures, Saint Nicholas travels with an assistant. The old bishop Sinterklass arrives in Holland on December 6 in his red bishop’s costume astride a white horse. In many port towns, he is said to have sailed in on a ship from Spain. Beside him walks Black Peter with a black sack and a book recording each Dutch child’s behavior through the year. Good children receive a gift from the bishop while bad children may be carried away in Black Peter’s sack

 
In Germany Saint Nicholas also travels with a helper, known as Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, or Pelzebock, and comes with a sack on his back and a rod or switches in his hand. Saint Nicholas gives gifts to good children, while those who have been bad are punished by the assistant with a few hits of a switch.

Swedish children wait for the gnome Jultomten, also called Julemanden or Julenisse, who dresses in red and carries a sack of gifts on his back. He flies in his sleigh pulled by the Julbocker, the goats of Thor, the god of thunder. Elves, called the Juul Nisse, hide in the attics of families throughout the year, eagerly waiting to help him. Children leave bowls of milk or rice pudding in the attic for the elves, hoping they will be empty in the morning.

In Austria and Switzerland it is Christkindl or the Christ Child who arrives bearing gifts. In some towns children await the Holy Child and in others Christkindl is a beautiful girl-angel who comes down from heaven bearing gifts.

And in England a thinner version of Santa Claus known as Father Christmas, wearing long red robes with sprigs of holly in his hair, delivers gifts to children.

Merry Christmas around the world

Afrikaner (Afrikaans) ~ “Geseënde Kersfees”
Argentine ~ “Felices Pascuas”
Bohemian ~ “Vesele Vanoce”
Brazilian ~ “Boas Festas”
Chinese (Cantonese) ~ “Saint Dan Fai Lok”
Danish ~ “Glædelig Jul”
Dutch ~ “Vrolijk Kerstfeest”
English ~ “Merry Christmas”
Filipino ~ “Maligayang Pasko”
Finnish ~ “Hyvaa Joulua”
French ~ “Joyeux Noël”
German ~ “Froehliche Weihnachten”
Greek ~ “Kala Christouyenna”
Hawaiian ~ “Mele Kalikimaka”
Hebrew ~ “Mo’adim Lesimkha”
Icelandic ~ “Gledileg Jol”
Indonesian ~ “Selamat Hari Natal”
Irish ~ “Nollaig Shona Dhuit”
Italian ~ “Buone Feste Natalizie”Natale italiano
Japanese ~ “Kurisumasu Omedeto”
Korean ~ “Sung Tan Chuk Ha”
Lithuanian ~ “Linksmu Kaledu”
Malay ~ “Selamat Hari Natal”
Maori ~ “Meri Kirihimete”
Norwegian ~ “God Jul”Jul i Norge
Romanian ~ “Craciun Fericit”
Peruvian ~ “Felices Fiestas”
Portugese ~ “Boas Festas”
Slovakian ~ “Vesele Vianoce”
Spanish ~ “Feliz Navidad”Cyber Navidad
Swedish ~ “God Jul”Jul i Sverige
Welsh ~ “Nadolig Llawen”

Surviving the Holiday Season.

The Holidays should be a time of joy and excitement.  From my experience, we have noticed they can also be a time of stress and disappointment for Host Families and Au Pairs.  I would like to offer some ideas and insights that I hope can broaden everyone’s understanding.

Homesickness

First, let’s face the issue of homesickness.  Host Families, this can be a problem at this time of year even if it hasn’t been in the past. Important people and places are missed.  Our traditions and activities seem “different” just at a time when an Au Pair craves the “familiar” celebration.  My observation has been that an Au Pair’s emotions are closer to the surface during the holidays.  Her highs are higher, her lows are lower.  The enormity of what she is accomplishing…actually living and working in another culture, (which is an amazing thing when you think about it!)… can induce a self-protective mode.  You can help her through this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be such as when the candles will be lit, the stockings hung, the gifts given, the meals prepared and eaten, the relatives arriving, etc.. Let her know what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and what she can expect.  Talk to her about what must be accomplished and get her involved. Ask her if she has any favorite holiday foods or traditions that could be incorporated into your celebration. Give her some clear, agreed-upon assignments. Remember, her parents have probably handled the organization in previous years, so don’t expect her to “know” what needs to be done. Make her feel a part of things.  And, let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.  Try to cut a little slack, then be pleased with progress.

Au Pairs, regarding homesickness…you knew when you came for a year that family and religious holidays would be a part of that year.   If you get involved and active in the family’s plans, I assure you that next year you will be thinking about this family and missing their celebrations!  Your Host Family will make many efforts to assure that this holiday in America is special for you.  It is important to your Host Family that you acknowledge their efforts.  Show your appreciation and participate, participate, participate!!!  Look for ways to help.  If you aren’t certain, ask!  Thinking about someone other than yourself is the best way to manage homesickness.

Routine Changes

Host Families, another problem to consider is how the dynamics of the established relationships and routines change during the holidays.  Parents are home more and this demands adjustment for the children as well as the Au Pair.  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.  She may not see the specific needs of the children other than the usual.  The high emotions and energy of the children (compared to their more reasonable behavior during the rest of the year, I’m sure) may be difficult to handle even for the most confident Au Pair.  Assure her that this behavior is temporary and 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 energy of the season.  The quantity of gifts given to the children and the excesses of gifts, food, decorations, etc. can be overwhelming.  In everyone’s best interest, make sure there is some quiet, meaningful time together when the true spirit of the holidays is shared.

Au Pairs, life will be busy and, perhaps, stressful for the Host Family as they do all that they would like during the holiday season.  Celebrations don’t just “happen”…there is a lot of work involved in having fun!  Your Orientation information from Connecticut, under “Policies and Procedures” very clearly states under “Holidays” that there are no automatic  “holidays off.”  You are expected to help with the work and responsibility. Your Host Family may not be at their usual jobs, but they are putting in great effort to prepare for the family celebration.  Your Host Parents are very successful day to day, but, these same people will be in an absolute panic trying to prepare holiday meals, get all of the toys assembled and wrapped, and create a “perfect” day for their family AND for you.  Find ways to help!   Play games with the children, bundle them up and take them for walks, visit the library with them, use up some of their energy.  This can free the parents for other things.  If the children want to be in the middle of the action, then find other ways to help.  You can keep the kitchen floor swept, do the extra laundry, prepare lunch when parents are busy.  BE CREATIVE about what you can do.  During your free time all year, you have the choice to be one of the children or one of the adults in your family…this is definitely the time to be one of the adults!  Keep your eyes and hearts open for moments to help out!

Social Life

Host Families, remember that socially, the holidays are a time when Au Pairs want to be with their friends.  Christmas Eve, in some countries, is spent with friends rather than family.  New Year’s Eve in America is a very special occasion to them.  Discuss your plans and expectations with each other.  Be as generous with free time as possible.

Au Pairs, if you treat family holidays as a time to disappear every evening, and sleep all day, you can expect to disappoint your family.  If you came to learn family customs, then please know that our customs during the holidays include working together, sharing responsibility, and spending time with the extended family.  As for  ‘New Years Eve,’ all of you would like to have this night off to celebrate, but many of you will be asked to work.  If this is part of your responsibility, do it with good grace and cooperation.  It is only one night out of your 13 months here!   If your Host Parents make arrangements so you can be free, express your appreciation.

Host Families and Au Pairs, these are important days ahead. They will involve adjustment, but will create fun-filled memories if you let them.  This is a time of love and understanding.  Please do your part to reflect these priorities.

I wish you all a very wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.