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Back to School, Back to Homework

August 20, 2012

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Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and for our children, this means that summertime is almost over and it’s time to get back to school.   As a parent, I’m always reminded of that clever commercial for one of the large Office Supply stores, where the music playing is the famous holiday song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and the father is gleefully zooming up and down aisles on the shopping cart while his children trudge along with sour looks on their faces. 

While I’ll miss the sunshine, blue skies, warm weather and relaxed pace of summer, I am happy that my kids are heading back to school soon.  My husband and I have been through this many times with our oldest son, but this will be our first year with the twins heading off to full day kindergarten and having all three boys at school all day.  I expect that it will be busy and chaotic the first couple of weeks as we get a morning routine, transportation, homework help, parent – teacher conferences, PTA meetings, athletic and after school activity schedules all worked out during those first few weeks.

As a host parent hosting an au pair, it is a good time to sit down and review with your au pair the following:

1. Schedule.  Review the children’s school schedule, activity schedules and upcoming school breaks.  It is also a good idea to review this each week for the upcoming week so your au pair is aware of any changes. Make sure that your au pair knows what her work hours will be, and keep in mind that the Department of State rule is 45 hours per week, no more than 10 hours per day.

Host Mom Tip: I find that having a central communication center is very helpful.  I include and use a calendar, where I can write schedules, au pair work hours, and the children’s after school activities on (this is a good organizing, planning, and communications tool). Remember to write in pencil (this makes it easier to change if needed).  I also keep a notebook  (I like the ones that have the folder pockets) where I can write last minute reminders, or our au pair can write down things to remind me (in case she forgets to tell me)and include notes that come home from school.  While I make it a point to have conversations with our au pair about the day or week, with busy work,  school , and activity schedules we do not always get a chance to talk every day. This allows us a way to keep important reminders and information available to each other.  

2. Au Pair responsibilities.  Review with your au pair what her responsibilities will be.  Will she be getting the children up and ready for school, including feeding them breakfast? Is she walking them to the bus stop or driving them to school?  Are there chores for her to complete while the children are in school and if so, what are they? (i.e. making the children’s beds, doing their laundry, cleaning up breakfast dishes)  After school,  will she be driving them to activities or play dates?  What time should she have the children begin their homework and is she responsible to help them complete their homework? Are the children allowed to have a snack? Will she be preparing dinner for the children?

Host Mom Tip: I found that having a detailed list of responsibilities and chores that our au pair could reference to be helpful.  The chart I used had each chore / responsibility listed on it along with which days it was to be performed. For example, making the children’s beds and straightening their room was daily, while doing the children’s laundry was on Tuesdays and Fridays.

3. Au Pair Education.  Keep in mind that your au pair will also be attending college courses in order to fulfill the education requirement of the program.  Class attendance and study time are during her non work hours, and host parents are responsible for providing transportation to and from class (examples:  public transportation, allowing your au pair to drive one of your vehicles, or host parents driving the au pair to class) as well as contributing $500 toward education costs.

While back to school can be a bit hectic initially, it is definitely possible to have a smooth transition from your summer routine to a school year routine.  Regular communication, planning and organization will help with this transition and help mitigate potential miscommunications with your au pair.

Christmas gifts to make with Kids

December 9, 2010

The Christmas Holiday is quickly approaching.  Older children love to get into the spirit of Christmas and giving gifts to parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones.  This holiday, set aside some time to sit down with them and craft some Christmas gifts with them, and then help them wrap their gifts.

Once you and your kids have narrowed down the crafts you will make, make a list of the materials, tools, and other items you will need.  Ask your host family if they have any of the items from the list around the house that you can use, and explain that you are helping the kids to make some Christmas gifts. A trip to a local craft store like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby,  JoAnn’s or a local Dollar store will probably have all the other items needed.

Remember, each gift does not have to be perfect. Help the kids, but allow them to do most of the work in making the gift.  While you are working, try to take a few pictures if you can.  You can take a few pictures of the kids while working on their gifts, a picture of the finished gift and a picture of the child with the finished project they made. Later, you can put the pictures into an inexpensive album to give to your host family as a gift for the holiday, or at the end of your year.

Happy Crafting!

Button Jewelry

String buttons and felt and paper flowers onto yarn and chenille stems to make adorable necklaces and rings.

Supplies: Narrow chenille stems, mini hole punch, felt and paper flower embellishments, scissors, assorted buttons, yarn or thin cord

How to make it: To make rings, cut a short length of chenille stem and bring ends together to form a loop. Punch two holes in the center of felt and paper flowers and stack them onto the chenille stem loop (keeping the ends together): Thread one end of the chenille stem through one hole in the flowers and button; repeat with the other end of the pipe cleaner on the second hole. Twist the ends together, trim excess if needed, and make sure there are no sharp ends sticking up. To make necklaces, thread yarn through stacked flowers and buttons.

Lacey Candles
These candle holders are so lovely, people will never believe that they’re handmade — and by a kid, no less!

Supplies: Food coloring, water, paper doilies, kitchen tongs, paper towels, scissors, colored tissue paper, straight-sided glass votive holders, paintbrush, craft glue

How to make it:
Doilies: In a large glass pie plate or pot, mix a dye bath using approximately 20 drops of food coloring (more for deeper colors) and 2 cups of water. Slide a doily into the dye bath and push it down with the tongs so it’s covered completely; let it sit for five seconds to two minutes, depending on the desired shade. Remove doily with tongs and place it flat on a stack of paper towels. Immediately blot it dry with another paper towel, then set it aside to dry on a clean paper towel.

Votives: Cut a rectangle of tissue paper that is 1″ longer and ½” taller than the votive holder. Cut a piece of doily the same size or smaller. Use a paintbrush and coat the entire votive holder with a thin layer of watered-down glue. Adhere tissue to votive and use your fingers to smooth the bottom edge underneath; turn upside down to dry. When dry, trim the excess tissue paper so that it’s flush with the top edge. Apply glue mixture to the entire surface of the tissue-covered votive and adhere doily strip. Press down lightly with fingers and set it aside to dry. Trim the excess doily pieces from the votives, then brush a thin coat of glue on top to seal it; let dry completely.

Ink Blot Prints A series of simple folded Rorschach paintings are festive and fun for little ones to make. You can purchase
inexpensive picture frames at Dollar stores.

Supplies: Medium-weight art paper, small paintbrushes (optional), tempera paints, colored cardstock for    backing, picture frame

How to make it: Fold paper in half and generously drizzle or dab paint onto one side of the paper fold. Fold
the other side of the paper onto the painted side and press down. Open to reveal design and let dry flat. Mount
print onto colored cardstock and frame.

Jolly Java Jackets

Kids can fashion a striped or solid sock into a reusable sleeve for coffee or hot cocoa to go.

What you’ll need: Old socks, fabric scissors, buttons, felt, felt stickers, fabric glue

Make it: Cut 4 inches from leg of sock to form a cup cozy. Add embellishments like buttons, felt shapes, felt stickers, sequins, and/or ribbons using fabric glue.

Bottle Cap Magnets Fill a bottle cap with mini-fingerprint artwork or wrapping paper scraps to make these adorable magnets.

Supplies: Inkpad, markers, clear Con-Tact paper, 1-inch circle punch, glue, small magnets, assorted metal bottle caps, scraps of gift wrap or    photos, white cardstock

How to make it: For fingerprint art, have children make designs using inkpads, their fingers, and markers. Set aside to dry for a few minutes.   When ink is dry, cover the fingerprint design with a small square of clear Con-Tact paper, then punch out using a 1-inch circle punch. Glue the   small paper punch to the inside of the bottle cap. Glue a magnet onto the top of the bottle cap. If using gift wrap scraps or photos, glue the gift  wrap (or photo) to white cardstock, cover with a square of clear Con-Tact paper, then punch out and attach to bottle caps.

Check back for more fun Christmas gifts to make with kids!

 

 

With over 20 years of experience, goAUPAIR is one of several agencies licensed by fthe U.S. Department of State to administer the au pair program in the U.S.  Kimberly Nuttle has been a Local Area Coordinator for goAUPAIR for ten years, and she and her husband have hosted au pairs themselves from all over the world.  Au Pair care is an economical choice for child care and a terrific cultural experience for families.  If you are interested in learning more about the au pair program, visit our web site at www.goaupair.com or contact Kimberly at knuttle@goaupair.com Check out our Au Pair Preview, free of charge and with no obligation to you, and our Flexible Choice program.  Contact us today!

Spooktacular Halloween

October 27, 2010

Halloween is primarily celebrated in the U.S., and what’s not to like? It has something for everyone. Children scarf candy. Teens smash pumpkins. And dogs go bonkers whenever the doorbell rings. Americans love Halloween, and it is probably the most celebrated holiday in the U.S. aside from Christmas. For Au Pairs living in the U.S., it is one of the most fun holidays celebrated here.  But how did this wild and crazy celebration get its start?

Our Au Pair & her Friend with my 3 boys

The holiday’s origins date back to “the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.” Roughly 2,000 years ago, a people known as the Celts lived in the area now divided among three modern-day countries: the United Kingdom, Northern France, and Ireland. The Celts began their new year on November 1, meaning October 31 was their New Year’s Eve. According the History Channel, “the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred” that night.

Bonfires and animal sacrifices were common, as were costumes “typically consisting of animal heads and skins.” Eventually, the Romans conquered the Celts, and Samhain was combined with other holidays. Later, as Christianity became more powerful, Pope Boniface IV put a new tilt on the event. He designated November 1 “All Saints’ Day” — a day when followers could honor saints and martyrs. This celebration was also called “All-Hallows,” and the night before (October 31) was known as “All-Hallows’ Eve.” Later, it became known as Halloween.

Two Au Pairs dressed for a Halloween Party

These days, Halloween is mostly known as a day when kids throw dental hygiene out the window and go hog-wild with candy. Kids of all ages dress up in costumes to go trick-or-treating and the goal is to get as much candy as possible (at least it was when I was a kid!). There is no shortage of Halloween parties, Haunted Houses, and Haunted Corn Mazes, and while they can be a scary experience, it’s all in good fun.

Should your Au Pair wish to participate in Halloween festivities with your family or friends, remind him/her of a few safety tips.

  • It’s best to wear costumes that do not have masks, as it makes it much more difficult to see, especially at night.
  • If they are going trick-or-treating, remind them to use caution while crossing streets, and to wear clothing that will reflect in headlights.  It also can’t hurt to wear one of those fun glow stick necklaces or bracelets like the kids wear.

    Group of Au Pairs at Au Pair Activity - Halloween Party

  • If your Au Pair is going trick-or-treating with your kids, please go over safety precautions with them before they set out on their candy seeking journey. Give them specifics as to where they are allowed to trick-or-treat, and for how long.
  • Attend parties with friends that you know, and ensure that they have transportation to and from the party. Reinforce that drinking under age is illegal in the U.S., as is driving after drinking alcoholic beverages.  If they suspect that their friends have been drinking and then want to drive home, tell them to call you instead.
  • Remind them that while at parties, to never set their drink down and leave it unattended, and then come back to it.  It’s far too easy for someone to “slip” something into their drink when they are not paying attention. Better to get a fresh glass of punch then wind up being sick or worse.

Now that we have the history behind Halloween, and some safety tips, I hope you have a frightfully good time this Halloween!

Au Pair dressed up for Halloween

With over 20 years of experience, goAUPAIR is one of several agencies licensed by fthe U.S. Department of State to administer the au pair program in the U.S.  Kimberly Nuttle has been a Local Area Coordinator for goAUPAIR for ten years, and she and her husband have hosted au pairs themselves from all over the world.  Au Pair care is an economical choice for child care and a terrific culutural experience for families.  If you are interested in learning more about the au pair program, visit our web site at www.goaupair.com or contact Kimberly at knuttle@goaupair.com   Check out our Au Pair Preview, free of charge and with no obligation to you, and our Flexible Choice program.  Contact us today!

Advantages of Live-In Caregivers

October 21, 2010

Among the many choices of child care available to parents today, live-in child care may be the option with most visible advantages from mornings to nights.

Picture your morning with additional help. Live-in help is never late, meaning as a parent, you won’t have to wait for your child’s caregiver to arrive. All the morning routine can be managed by your caregiver. They can wake your children up; help them get dressed and ready for the day, they can even prepare your children’s breakfast. If your children are not school-aged, you will always have the confidence that no matter what time your work demands you leave home, your children will be safe and cared for in your own home. Live-in caregivers can also take your children to play dates, make lunch and help with homework.

If your day is somewhat calm, but nights are specially demanding; live in nannies can help with your children’s night schedule. They can bathe, feed and help prepare your children for bed; they can even tell children’s stories and tuck your children into bed.

Au Pairs are live-in nannies with additional advantages, the term “Au Pair” means “equal to” which describes their relationship with their Host Family. They are members of your family and because of that, they are able to create a special bound with your children. Because they work exclusively with your children, they will be focused to assist your children only. Also, one of the biggest advantages of Au Pairs is the opportunity they give your family to learn and teach about a new language and culture.

Besides flexible work schedules, Au Pairs require a lower stipend because of the room and board they receive. They require no transportation from and to work and in case of any emergency, your Au Pair is in your home to help watch your children. Au Pairs are ideal for parents that work long and irregular hours.

Kim Nuttle is an LAR with go AUPAIR servicing the Detroit Metropolitan area.  She, her husband and three boys have hosted many au pairs throughout the years from all over.  If you are interested in learning more about the au pair program, please visit our web site at www.goaupair.com, or contact Kim Nuttle at knuttle@goaupair.com You can preview our au pair candidates now for FREE with no obligation.  Check out our au pair preview and learn about our Flexible Choice program.

Transition Au Pairs

October 20, 2010

We really had a great relationship with our last Au Pair and she bonded with us and our children and really became a part of our family.   We matched with another au pair, to replace the one who is returning home, and she arrives in a couple of weeks.   What can we do to get our children ready to transition to a new Au Pair?

Being an LAR for the past ten years with go AUPAIR, and a host parent, I am often asked this question.  First, I think it’s terrific that your family bonded so well with your au pair.  It always makes for a terrific experience and a great year when you’ve had such a wonderful au pair.  In addition, I think it’s great to ‘expand’ your family and both you and your kids can keep in touch with her even after she returns home.

Transitioning to a new Au Pair can be difficult or it can be very easy. A lot of it depends on the ages and personalities of your children.   The tips offered below are just suggestions. Some of them may or may not work for you or your family, but you should be able to gauge your children’s responses so that you can make the transition easier for everyone.

First, talk to your kids.  It’s best to start ‘prepping’ them a few weeks ahead of time so that they know that your current au pair will be going home soon and that you will have a new au pair arriving.  This is really important with younger children.  Talking about the transition and letting them know that they can be sad that their au pair is leaving is okay. Tell them all the ways that they will be able to keep in touch with the au pair. In our technology driven world today, they can email, and even video chat.  They can draw pictures and send them through the mail. There are all sorts of options.

If your children are old enough, get them involved in the interviewing process. Allow them to write a few questions down that you can ask the au pair, or have them ask the au pair themselves over the phone (perhaps put it on speakerphone so that you can all hear).

Once you have matched with your next Au Pair, talk to your children about the new au pair. Make sure that you are doing it in such a way that doesn’t alienate your current au pair. You could talk about the country your new au pair is from.  Look up the country on the map or a globe. You could discuss some of her favorite activities that she enjoys and ask what activities they would like to do with her once she arrives.

Goodbye, Farewell, Bon Voyage, Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, до свидания, adeus

Saying Goodbye to an Au Pair can be difficult. However, children can be pretty resilient too.  Reinforce with your kids that they will be able to still keep in touch with the au pair.  We always have a little ‘going-away’ party for our au pairs. We have a nice dinner, we invite some of their friends over, and we give a gift from us and a gift from the kids.  Gifts do not have to be extravagant, but keep in mind that they are returning home and will likely not have a lot of room in their luggage. I recommend keeping the gifts small, and non-breakable.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pictures of the kids together with the Au Pair are great. You can use several together from various times throughout the year and put them into a small photo album. Instead of a photo album, you could also put the pictures onto a CD or a flash drive.  This would be terrific to do if you also had some video of her with the kids.
  • Jewlrey is another option. An inexpensive silver locket with pictures of the kids is always nice.
  • If your au pair likes to read, the kids could make a nice bookmark with their pictures on it.
  • Any of the photo processing places offer a variety of things that make nice gifts.  A mousepad with pictures of the kids if your au pair spends a lot of time on the computer.  A T-Shirt with pictures on it of the kids and maybe some pictures of places she visited while in the U.S.  A calendar with pictures for each month – again using pictures of her together with the kids or pictures of places she visited, pictures of her together with friends. There are plenty of ideas through sites like Shutterfly.com, Winkflash.com, Kodak.com, etc.
  • 

Hello, ¡Hola! Hallo!, Bonjour! Olá!! Здравствулте!! こんにちは!

Welcoming a new au pair to  your family can be exciting. Below are a few of the things that we have done over the years to welcome an au pair to our home.  I’m sure that there are others, and I encourage you to comment here on this blog with ideas you have and things you and your family have done to welcome an au pair to your family.

  • Have your children get involved by asking them to make cards or a Welcome sign on some posterboard to welcome her to your home.
  • Kids can also make out a list with you of all their favorite things so that they can share them with the new Au Pair – their favorite foods, favorite games, favorite activities, etc.
  • Take her out around the area you live and show her some favorite places and landmarks. Stop and have a nice dinner or lunch with her.
  • Include a nice basket of soaps, shampoos and lotions in her room that she can use.
  • Place a vase in her room with a boquet of flowers.
  • Include some empty photo frames in her room or a bulletin board so that she can display photos of friends and family from home.

These are just suggestions. Keep in mind that your Local Area Representative is available for support as well and may have ideas to share with you regarding this situation. Every family has their own way of transitioning from one au pair to another au pair.  We encourage you to share your ideas and tips by commenting here on this blog.

Kim Nuttle is an LAR with go AUPAIR servicing the Detroit Metropolitan area.  She, her husband and three boys have hosted many au pairs throughout the years from all over.  If you are interested in learning more about the au pair program, please visit our web site at www.goaupair.com, or contact Kim Nuttle at knuttle@goaupair.com You can preview our au pair candidates now for FREE with no obligation.  Check out our au pair preview and learn about our Flexible Choice program.

Vietnamese Au Pairs

October 18, 2010

Along with new diplomatic actions in the historical conference on the American Experience in Southeast Asia this week, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about cultural exchanges help shaping the post-war relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam, goAUPAIR is excited to announce the availability of Au Pairs from Vietnam.

The announcement comes after months of anticipation. Now, goAUPAIR is among the few agencies able to offer Vietnamese Au Pairs to Host Families across the United States. Host Families will be able to browse Vietnamese Au Pair profiles in the coming months. Au Pairs from Vietnam are highly sought after due to their meek character, respect for adults and hard work ethic.

“We are excited to open diplomatic doors to the Vietnamese people. The Au Pair program will be a great way to share culture and create life changing experience for the Vietnamese Au Pairs and the families who host them,” said, Meghan Ramirez, International Representative Coordinator.

Vietnam was under Chinese control for nearly a thousand years, occupied by the French shortly thereafter and then faced three decades of war, including the famous Vietnam War from November 1955 to May 1975. Today Vietnam is working to become an industrialized, modern nation while establishing a strong national identity.

About 75 percent of Vietnam’s population lives in rural areas. Au Pairs from rural areas are used to traditional Vietnamese lifestyles. They generally speak quietly compared to Americans, some may misinterpret this as shyness, but it is actually the cultural standard in Vietnam. Being on time is also very important in Vietnam which makes Vietnamese Au Pairs more conscious of starting work on time.

Food is often left on dishes because it is considered impolite to take the last serving and rice is eaten with almost every meal and bowls are held in the hand, not placed on the table. Au Pairs from Vietnam may prefer to use public transportation in their free time

“An entire generation of young people has grown up knowing only peace between Vietnam and America, and the relationships that they are forming through educational and cultural exchanges, through new businesses and social networks are drawing us even closer together,” said, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State on the Historical Conference on the American Experience in Southeast Asia.

To find out more about Au Pair Child Care and Vietnamese Au Pairs call 888.287.2471 or visit goAUPAIR.com  You may also contact Local Area Representative, Kim Nuttle, at knuttle@goaupair.com  With ten years of experience both as an LAR and a host family, Kim can share information, experiences, and answer any questions you may have regarding the au pair program and what it is like hosting an au pair in your home.

Why Choose go AUPAIR as your Au Pair Agency?

October 16, 2010

goAUPAIR  is one of the original six Au Pair agencies designated by the U.S. Department of State. Created in 1989, goAUPAIR has more than 20 years of experience helping families find quality and affordable child care.

goAUPAIR provides support to Host Families from the time of the initial inquiry, to the departure of the Au Pair with Go Aupair Logoan experienced staff of corporate and local resources. As an Au Pair agency, goAUPAIR rigorously reviews each Au Pair’s background screening, child care experiences and English skills. goAUPAIR also takes care of all travel and visa arrangements for your Au Pair. Local support for you and your Au Pair throughout the year are also an added benefit of Au Pair child care. Plus, goAUPAIR offers some exclusive resources:

Mutual Match
One of the many things that makes goAUPAIR unique is the Mutual Match system. Our exclusive Mutual Match system is based on 20 years of experience matching quality Au Pairs with families across the country. We’ve made the process of choosing an Au Pair that’s right for your family smooth and easy. Unlike the majority of Au Pair agencies, with goAUPAIR, you aren’t ever limited to the number of Au Pairs you can review. View one or view hundreds. Our goal is to make sure you match with the Au Pair that best fits your family’s unique needs.

Au Pair Preview
With goAUPAIR, you can start viewing hundreds of our well-qualified Au Pair applicants, without even having to apply. goAUPAIR’s Au Pair Preview provides you with instant access to our available Au Pairs. You can review profiles of hundreds of Au Pairs by creating your own custom searches based on your personal preferences.

Choose Your Au Pair’s Arrival Dates
Your family has unique needs and schedules that are different from any other family. We don’t expect you to conform to our schedule; rather we want to plan around yours. goAUPAIR is the only agency to book Au Pair arrival flights individually and according to your schedule. You don’t have to worry about what date might still be available for your Au Pairs arrival.

Choose Your Own Customizable Au Pair Payment Plan
goAUPAIR offers the most flexible Au Pair payment plan in the industry, by allowing you to choose a payment schedule that fits your unique needs. With our payment plan, the match fee is due at the time of match, a second payment is due 30-days prior to your Au Pair’s arrival and includes any applicable airfare charges and the remaining amount may be distributed in up to eight monthly installments.

Are you ready to go for the experience?  If so, contact Local Area Coordinator, Kim Nuttle, at knuttle@goaupair.com . Kim has been a Local Area Representative (LAR) for goAUPAIR for ten years, and has a great deal of experience with the au pair program.  She and her husband have hosted many au pairs themselves as well.  She is available to share program information and answer any questions.

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