Amazing Au Pairs, Candidates

Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair

Looking for the Perfect Addition for Your Family? Why You Should Host a Younger Au Pair

Ana Babcinetchi (3)Hosting an au pair is a fantastic childcare option for many families because it is more cost-efficient than daycare and allows host families to participate in a cultural exchange with a young man or woman from another country. Whether you have hosted an au pair previously or are new to the program, you may be wondering what qualities would work best for your family in an au pair candidate. Younger au pairs are a great option for families who would like to add a valuable new member to their household, who can act as both a mother’s helper and a big brother or sister to the children. Hosting a younger au pair is a great option for many host families, and here’s why:

Younger au pairs are energetic: One of the best qualities that younger au pairs possess is great energy and excitement. They enjoy caring for children of all ages and have the stamina to keep up with busy schedules, sports activities, tidying up, and playing games.

 

Age does not reflect maturity: Although younger au pairs may seem inexperienced by American standards, most of the younger candidates who apply for the program have extensive hours from a variety of previous childcare experiences. Most of the candidates also come from large families and have spent years caring for their younger siblings and cousins. They may only be 18 or 19-years old, but they have developed great maturity from their work and personal experience. The important thing to remember is that an 18-year-old au pair candidate from abroad, is quite different than an 18-year-old American high school graduate.

They are coachable: Since younger candidates are still growing and learning themselves, they have a willingness to experience new things and learn about childcare from their host family. Younger au pairs are still forming how they best relate to children and thus are more willing to accept advice and tips from their host parents.

Although hosting a younger au pair might not be your first choice as a host family, it may very well turn out to be your best choice. One of our current host families, the Notos, explained that age was not a deciding factor at all and they encourage new host families to look for an au pair whose personality and interests best matched with their own family instead. They went on to say that “they would recommend a younger au pair a million percent, because their younger au pair became like a daughter to them, was always excited and willing to play with the kids, and faced every new challenge with determination.”

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If you would like to learn more about our available younger au pair candidates or have questions about the au pair program, contact us today!

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Amazing Au Pairs

Childcare for Children with Autism – Finding Someone You Can Trust

According to the Talk About Curing Autism website, “More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined”.  They state that as of April 2012 1 in 88 children have autism compared to the CDC’s December 2009 report of 1 in 110 children.  Obviously this is a growing issue that presents new challenges to families.  One major concern for working families is child care.  Many child care facilities feel they cannot meet the needs of these children and parents are left feeling frustrated and hurt.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports “Thirty-nine percent of the parents of children with autism spectrum disorder reported that child care problems had greatly affected their employment decisions.”

KidsHealth offers these tips to people caring for children with autism.

  • Follow the child’s routine, especially at bedtime or mealtime. Kids with autism prefer structure and can get upset if routines are different from what they’re used to.
  • Ask the parents about the child’s favorite toys so you can play with them. Go slowly. One tactic is to sit alongside the child and mimic his play. That might attract his attention and lead him to join you.
  • Special toys can help you encourage the child to cooperate. For example, you might say, “If you brush your teeth, you can play with your toy car.”
  • Don’t be offended if the child decides to play alone or limits interactions with you. This is part of the disorder.
  • Maintain a calm environment. For example, skip a trip to the playground when you know a neighborhood gathering is likely there. Avoid bringing your friends or other people the child may not know into the home.
  • Go slowly when it comes to physical contact. Find out from the parents how their child reacts to affection. A quick hug or light tickle could set off a child with autism.

 

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Celeste is an au pair from South Africa for a family in Arizona with a child with autism.  She has shared her experiences with us.

Did you have experience with special needs or autistic children before you went to your host family’s house?

I had worked as a high school teacher back in my home country for two years.  In a school environment you deal with a lot of different children.  I have a special needs friend and family members with dyslexia, but other than that I can’t say that I have experience in working with special needs children.  I was aware of the fact that it wasn’t going to be easy, and I also knew that I would gain a lot of experience and personal growth in working with this family.
2.       What did the family do to help you get to know their children?

They gave me a neat family handbook with information on each person’s personality.

3.       What is challenging about working with children who have autism?

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One needs a lot of patience and understanding, and I think the most challenging for me is that a lot of the things they do and the way they act will sometimes seem like its naughty child behavior.  But truth is that they act in certain ways we don’t understand because of things they’re struggling to cope with and because the understanding of social cues doesn’t come natural to them.

4.        What do you love about working with children with autism?

I love that every day is a challenge.  I love how much I learn each and every day, not just about them and autism, but also how much I learn about myself.  They helped me look at the world in a different way and appreciate that I have health and friends.  I love how they find things fascinating that we overlook every day.  It’s fulfilling to see how they make progress every day and how far they have come.  They are remarkable kids and I’m very proud and feel very privileged to be a part of their lives.

5.       Do you feel you make these children’s lives better?  How?

I feel that they make my life better.  Being with them every day is fun and they put a smile on my face.  They get really excited and enthusiastic about things they’re really interested in.  Even just hiking or baking brownies.  I guess I make their lives better by showing them love and understanding and by helping to teach them live skills every day.

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6.        What activities do you like to do with them?

We like to go hiking, play at the park and swimming.  S. enjoys painting, singing, dancing, reading and playing dress up.  They like to play “Just Dance” on the Wii.  A. loves to talk and watch videos about the weather, fireworks and explosions.  He also loves to sit outside when there’s a storm coming and watch the clouds and lightning. The boys really enjoy to do science experiments and to make their own crystals.  J. likes to swim, watch cartoons, play board games, read and help me bake cookies or brownies.  We also enjoy going to the Children’s and Science Museums together.

Au Pair International has au pairs with experience with children with autism.  Check out some of their profiles.

 

Maria G.

Marypaz A.

 

Au Pair Advice, Host Family Questions

HF Q’s: My new au pair is about to arrive. What should I expect?

Congratulations on getting your new au pair!  What an exciting time.  It is a good idea to have realistic expectations so your match can get started off on the right track.

Arrival – As excited as your au pair is going to be chances are she is also going to be wiped out.  The regulations state that au pairs cannot be responsible for the children during the first 3 days after arrival so that they can have time to acclimate to your home and the US.  It is a good idea to use this time to help her to get to know your home and family.  Don’t plan anything too big during the first few days and give her a chance to settle in.

Driving – Even the best of drivers can be intimidated by driving in the US.  Our roads and vehicles are bigger than they are used to and many countries don’t have the same standards of driving.  We recommend all au pairs get a US drivers license but many can drive on their country’s license.  Be prepared to ease your au pair into driving and don’t get frustrated if she doesn’t pick it up right away.

Homesickness – As you can imagine being away from friends and family isn’t easy for anyone.  Add to that being in a different country and speaking a different language and it can get quite difficult.  Encourage your au pair to get out and meet people.  Starting on her education is a good start, but there are a lot of other possibilities.  Churches, international student organizations, meet up groups, rec leagues and ethnic restaurants are good places to meet new people.  Your Area Director will have some ideas for your area.

A good piece of advice is to treat your au pair how you would want someone to treat your son or daughter if they were staying with them.  If you always keep that in mind, then you won’t go wrong.

 

*** ADVICE TO AU PAIRS***

Remember that while your host family, Area Director and agency are here to help you, ultimately your happiness is up to you.  You have an amazing opportunity to gain so many new and beneficial experiences.  Take advantage of every chance you get to learn and grow.  Remember that you are here to 1) help make your host family’s lives easier, and 2) learn about the US.   Don’t be surprised if families in the US raise their children differently than you are used to.  Find out how they want you to assist them in raising their children and then follow their lead.  Finally, although it will be an adjustment at first, if you give it your best you will have one of the greatest experiences of your life.

Fun Stuff

Au Pair Adventures – Caren’s cute kids!

Caren, an au pair in New York, takes care of 5 year old twins: C and S.  This is Caren’s story:

“My host family has two boys.  They are twin 5 year olds. C is 1 minute older than S. The boys need to go to the potty before going to school in the morning or going out with their parents. C takes a very long time to make a poop poop, and he always refuses to sit on the potty after a few minutes. He comes out and said in a very sad voice, “I can’t make a poop poop, Caren.  I don’t want to make a poop poop.”  At that time, S will go the toilet and check the poop poop and speak like an adult. “C, that’s not enough. Try again. You need to believe in yourself and then you can make a big big poop poop.”  They make us all burst into laughter.”

Caren has another story that shows why she loves being an au pair.

“S once said to his grandmother, “Grandma, I fall in love with someone.”  His grandma was so surprised and asked,”Who?”  He said “Caren.”  And grandma asked him how much he loves Caren, he said, “I love Caren from the earth to the moon and come back to the earth – that much.”

Au Pair Advice, Day to Day

A letter to host families and au pairs: On-duty vs. Off-duty time

(This is an email that went out to host families and au pairs in 9/2012)

Dear Host Families and Au Pairs,

We at API hope that school is off to a good start and everyone is transitioning well.  There has been some questions about schedules with the start of school so your Regional Directors wanted to address those questions.

Karol from Costa Rica

As you know, the regulations state that au pairs can work up to 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week.  This includes the time that is necessary to get the child-related housework done.  Families need to give their au pair a schedule with a start and end time and au pairs need to be dressed and ready to go 5 minutes before that start time.  When it comes to the time that au pairs are suppose to be off, we know it is difficult to be home at an exact time every day, but it is important for families respect their au pair’s time off and try to be as consistent as possible.

When an au pair is on-duty, that time needs to be devoted to providing active childcare.  We expect our au pairs to be involved with the children whether that be playing with them, cleaning up after them or helping them with homework. If you want some ideas, follow us on Twitter @AuPairInt where we give craft ideas and advice.  TV, cell phones and computers should not be in use during on-duty time, unless for the benefit for the children

Marion from The Netherlands

and with the permission of the host family.

Host families, please recognize that your au pair will need some down time once her time is over.  Just like you need a break from your job, your au pair needs a chance to relax once you take over.

Shuo from China

Au Pairs, you need to remember that this is an exchange program and part of that is interacting with the   family like a member of the family.  You should pitch in at times, without being asked.  If everyone is cleaning, you should be cleaning too.  If your family is making dinner, you should ask if you can help or volunteer to watch the kids.  While you do need your alone time, you should not be disappearing into your room whenever you are not on duty.  On the flip side, your host family is going to want some time to just be a family.  Please be understanding of that.  The most important thing is to communicate with each other and come to an agreement that works for everyone.

Please take some time this month to look at your schedules, discuss the changes that might be happening with the start of school and discuss how best to manage them together.  Your area directors will also be addressing this with you.

Have a great day,

Lisa Kempton & Alexia Smith

Regional Directors

Au Pair International