An amazing Christmas and New Year with my Host Family!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Oh, how I love Christmas… too bad it goes by so fast and we’re left only with the memories, the presents, the pictures and-unfortunately-the dozens of wrapping paper and cardboard boxes to clean.

But it is a magical time and I had an amazing Christmas with my Host Family. We sang Happy Birthday to baby Jesus and to Allison’s father, I ate a gingerbread house for the first time and waited for Santa in my snowmen pajama.

On the morning of the 25th, we were all up early to see what Mr. Claus had brought us for being good and, oh boy, we must have done a pretty good job ‘cause the kids are still opening some of the gifts.

We’re all truly blessed.

Then came New Year’s Eve and I heard some of my friends from Go Au Pair celebrated with Lady Gaga at Times Square. Awesome! I wanna know everything.

My celebration was a bit modest. I started the year doing what I do best: eating, watching a Big Bang Theory Marathon and reading my beloved books and I loved it all.

Joey was off school, so we took a trip to the Pocono Mountains and stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge, an indoors water park.

We all had an incredible time and I felt like a kid again, playing basketball with Joey and frolicking around with Olivia.

Looks like the beginning of a great year…

New year, New Host Mom and New Au Pair

A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.
– Ludwig Erhard (1897 – 1977)

One of the keys to a successful year for a host family and an Au Pair is good communication.

When new Au Pair come to Host families she will  need a lot of supervising at the beginning. The amount of time and training in the first month directly affects the type of relationship Host family has the entire year.

Here are some tips that will help the year with your au pair go smoothly.

  • Be welcoming, that means being warm, friendly, and reasonably attentive.
  • Model, model, model…set the example in our house of how you want to see your au pair fit into your family
  • Spend the first weekend reviewing Host family handbook for an au pair  together with your au pair.
  • Teach them to operate all appliances to make sure they know how to do it.
  • Show them how to cook basic things for your children
  • Teach your au pair what to do in case of power failure, tornado warning, etc.
  • Be sure to give your au pair a written schedule for the first week and every week thereafter.
  • Help them to get their Social Security card and bank account right away
  • Try to get them out driving as soon as possible (during the first week is best)
  • Bond with your au pair, as you want them to bond with your children
  • It is never acceptable to yell at your au pair, talk to them as an adult with respect.
  • Show appreciation. Say “thank you” all the time even if they do not.
  • Keep having regular chats and be willing to listen to your Au Pair.

Good communication is the key to a great year.

Having weekly meetings helps to prevent small problems from becoming big problems.

Good Luck!

My Au Pair Journey, my new home at Langhorne, Bucks County, PA

Hi, my name is Juliana and…Wow!
That’s pretty much the best word to describe these 2 weeks since I got to Langhorne at Bucks county, PA.
After almost 12 hours flying from Sao Paulo, Brazil to New York, Washington and – finally- Pennsylvania I arrived at my house for the next year, The Zacconis residence.
Now I am an Au Pair from Go Au Pair  and here my journey began.

I was welcomed by my host mother (and new shopping partner) Allison, my host father Shawn and their wonderful family.


I spend most of the time with Olivia, who is two and is a cutie.
Joey, her brother, is six years old. He is my evening buddy.
We usually spend some time at the basement and playing Wii (I’m not very good at that), baseball (I try) and soccer (Hey, I’m from Brazil) and we have lots of fun.
I wasn’t just welcomed by the humans in the family, though…their dog, Diesel, connected to me immediately. I wake up everyday with him lying by my feet. His love came in a perfect time once I left my 11 year-old dog Coco at home.
Unfortunately, Coco passed away last Saturday. Diesel is helping me cope…

Stay tuned for my next entry: A trip to Philly

How to welcome your new Au Pair.

Here are several tips for the  Host Family  on how to welcome a new Au Pair when she arrives.

  • Have their room ready and clean with a waste paper basket and laundry basket .
  • Prepare a welcome sign made by the children and a small arrival gift or basket
  • Ask about their room (do they have everything they need).
  • Help them call home to let their parents know they are now with their host family
  • Ask them how you can make them feel welcome in regards to cultural differences, food, customs, etc.
  • Spend the entire first week showing them everything in your home and in the neighborhood.
  • Introduce your au pair to your neighbors and friends.
  • Ask your au pair questions about their home, their country, their family, and ask to see the pictures they brought with them.
  • Give her a few days to unpack, rest and become acclimated to the host family’s home.

Help your au pair feel welcome and that they are truly part of your family.

                             

You can find more information about  how to welcome your new Au Pair here

Host Family handbook for an Au Pair

A well-written Family Handbook should avoid many problems and questions. This notebook will be especially critical for Au Pair success in the beginning of her year and will become her “au pair bible”.

When an Au Pair comes to live with a host family, she will be new to living in the United States.  Many host parents like to write down Family Handbook, where they set limits and rules from the start and in writing.

That gives the Au Pair a reference that she initially reads to understand host family’s  rules and important information. This is also a reference she can use when she has forgotten something that parents have told her.

Some parents prefer that Au Pair reads Family Handbook and asks questions prior to matching. They believe that if an Au Pair read the Family Handbook prior to matching, that she knows the rules and will be very good at following them.

During the searches many parents email it to candidates. During the interview process, it helps cover many of the topics (particularly guest & vacation policies) to minimize misunderstandings. Parents and Au Pair can ask each other questions and discuss the details before the match.

A handbook may contain ‘absolute rules’, ‘expectations’ and ‘guidelines’. Every family does things differently and the following goAUPAIR Family Handbook (1) is for guidance only.

Go Au Pair at the FRUA picnic

Au Pairs from Go Au Pair cluster from Philadelphia, Bucks County and close NJ recently volunteered for adoptive families at the FRUA picnic, at Limerick Community Park,  PA. 

The adopted children of FRUA‘s families come from all former Soviet bloc countries and republics, including Russia, Ukraine and many more.  FRUA believes that every child deserves a forever family and celebrates the rich heritage of our children’s birth countries.

Several Au Pairs were from Russia and Ukraine. Au Pairs  entertained the children, played games, taught them words in Russian, made crafts and had fun together.  We brought Russian toys and a lot of Russian food. Everyone asked questions about Russian culture and heritage. Although many children forgot their native Russian language, they were thrill to learn several words again,  like “Thank you” – “Spasibo”, or “See you later “- ” Poka”.

Go Au Pair helped make this picnic very special. The agency sent Au Pairs very  pretty T-shirts with their logo. All the Au Pairs were thrilled to wear this  fancy T-shirt and they looked amazing in it. The Agency also gave a huge $1000 discount off  the program fees for any family who had attended this picnic.

Volunteering is a great way to help the community around us. It also has many positive benefits for Au Pairs! They got a chance to meet new people, made friends and got to know American life better through volunteering.

This picnic was a great success, Au Pairs made many children and parents very happy at FRUA picnic!  The FRUA families were so glad to have us. They said to us again and again:” Thank you very much for coming,  you made this day very special. Please, come again, we are looking forward to seeing you at our Christmas party!”

“Thank you.”  “See you later”.  

SPASIBO! POKA!

How can I choose an Au Pair without interviewing her in person?

From an Au Pair mom.

(Anna T., a host mother and an author of articles about hosting an au pair: How to hire an au pairHow to save money on an au pair programHow to welcome your new au pair.)

This was one of the questions I had when I was first considering hiring an au pair. Making a commitment to live with someone for a year and entrust my children to her, based on reading her application, emails and phone conversations seemed risky. After all, I was accustomed to interviewing prospective pediatricians for my children by personal appointment, visiting potential daycares, personally interviewing babysitters and nannies.
At the time I started hosting au pairs, internet video conferencing services such as Skype were not so widely available. We hired our first several au pairs after phone and email conversations only.
Nowadays, the lack of a true in-person interview is not such an obstacle, because using Skype or another video conferencing tool can serve as an adequate substitute for an in-person interview most of the time. Moreover, during Skype sessions you can “meet” au pair’s family, pets, see how she lives.
Another consideration is that even when interviewing a local caregiver in person, usually you have much less information about them than you do about an au pair. For examples, Go Au Pair agency does a great job of gathering and presenting information about au pair candidates to families. A typical au pair dossier consists of dozens of pages of references, questionnaires, interview reports, medical files, photos and a personal essay.
Many agencies have started adding videos to the application, where an au pair can do a video presentation of herself in addition to her application. If studied carefully, the application usually gives an accurate impression of the au pair’s background, personality and experience.
In my experience, most of the time, the impression conveyed by reading an au pair’s application was confirmed during subsequent interviews and, if we matched, during her stay with us.
For those families that still prefer an in-person interview, there is an option of hiring only in-country au pairs. There is a limited pool of au pair candidates that are in transition from other families or are extending their stay for 6, 9 or 12 months with another family. Depending on the family’s location, many of those candidates can be interviewed in-person.
When choosing a caregiver for your child, whether by an in-person interview or from overseas, it is important to carefully examine your family’s needs and make sure that the decision is made carefully and all the questions and doubts are resolved prior to hiring an au pair.

When preparing to host an Au Pair

From an Au Pair mom.

(Anna T., a host mother and an author of articles about hosting an au pair: How to hire an au pairHow to save money on an au pair programHow to welcome your new au pair.)

 

It is important to talk about boundaries and how you see the relationship with your future au pair with your partner.

Will a wife be comfortable if a husband casually watches movies with an au pair after kids are asleep? Will a husband be comfortable if his wife gives a male au pair a hug as a greeting?

There is no one answer – every family has a different culture, different levels of comfort with physical contact with others, and different standards of what a casual conversation is and how long it should take. In my family, we don’t casually touch any stranger of opposite sex, and my husband is not a chatty type who is likely to stay up talking for hours to an au pair. My comfort boundaries have never been crossed in my husband’s relationship with our au pairs.

When preparing to host an Au Pair, it is important to discuss those boundaries, and write down the rules of the relationship with an au pair, that will make both spouses comfortable.   And if an issue arises after the au pair arrives, it is important to revisit those rules.

In summary, in order to make both host parents comfortable hosting an adult of an opposite sex in the house, there are three things to consider:

1. Be confident in the stability of the marital relationship.

2. Involve both spouses in the selection of an au pair, to ensure that the spouse of the opposite sex doesn’t find the au pair extremely attractive to the point of discomfort.

3. Discuss the boundaries of the relationship with an aupair, that will make the host mother of a female au pair, or a host father of a male au pair, comfortable.

If you are getting ready to welcome a new au pair into your home, see more advice at How to welcome your new au pair

Host family rules

When an Au Pair comes to live with a host family, she will be new to living in the United States. Some  host parents like to write down the house rules. That gives the Au Pair a reference that she initially reads to understand host family's rules and important information. This is also a reference she can use when she has forgotten something that parents have told her.
Every family does things differently and the following information is for guidance only.  
Parents may include in their family rules telephone use - whether the Au Pair should buy a telephone card or use Skype,  and limit of using family cell phone.
Is the Au Pair allowed to use parents’ computer? When is the Au Pair allowed to use the computer? 
Is the Au Pair allowed to have girlfriends and boyfriends over to the house during her time off and while babysitting? Does she have to be back at any particular time on weekday nights and on weekend nights? Is the Au Pair is allowed to have other Au Pairs over for sleepovers? Is the Au Pair allowed to have visitors from their home country to stay?  
Car availability and limits. Discussing use of the car outside of the working hours. Who is going to pay for gas?
The host family rules can be a part of the Au Pair Host Family Handbook.  Parents may set out the rules of the house and establish boundaries for the Au Pair. It also gives the Au Pair a reference to important and often different ways of doing things in the United States.

Preparing for a new Au Pair.

The more host parents prepare for hosting their new Au Pair, the less miscommunication and misunderstanding happens. Here are some suggestions.

Set aside the first few days after the Au Pair arrives to let her get acclimated and recover from jet lag. Once the Au Pair is rested and ready, spend at least one week walking the Au Pair through your routine, as well as your local neighborhood. Be patient, communicate constantly, and give lots of feedback. Let the Au Pair spend some relaxed time with the children. The first few weeks will be an adjustment for everyone.

It is important right from the start to avoid misunderstandings. Clearly explain your “philosophy” and practices on childcare. Example: how to handle a temper tantrum, trips or daily schedules. The good idea  to obtain some kind of notebook where you can jot all of this information down. WRITE IT ALL DOWN! (The daily schedule, allergies, household rules, etc.) This way the Au Pair has something to refer to if she encounters a problem during the day and you are unavailable. The more you write down, the better off you are.

In this notebook, you may also want to keep track of the hours your Au Pair works. Working too many hours is a common complaint of Au Pairs.

Make sure you have written clearly all emergency numbers that the au pair will need. Make sure that these numbers are updated and legible. You should go over all of these numbers with the Au Pair. Also, explain how you would like the telephone answered and how you would like your messages to be taken..

Label all medicines if the children take them. Go through how appliances and machinery in your home work, especially washing machines and child safety gadgets. Many countries have different machines and the Au Pair will not know how to use them. Discuss household products and different foods as well.   Go over with your Au Pair how to get the children out of the house in case of a fire or other emergency.

Communicate constantly, especially in the beginning. Act as if your Au Pair knows nothing. Being specific will eliminate miscommunication.

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