Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Au pair in UK

I really enjoyed my time as an au pair in the UK. I recommend it to everyone. London is a great city with so much to see and do. Whether you like pubs, culture or just strolling down the streets, you will like London.
Only downside is that it is very expensive. I could do the little things I wanted to do in London on my au pair allowance. Luckly, I joined my host family for excursions to the English countryside. I think UK is beautiful despite the weather (a lot of rain and clouds). People are extremely kind and civilized. I got used to the weather and after a while I learnt to ignore it.
I recommend to take some extra money before going to London area as an au pair. I think it is a good idea to take some extra money anywhere if you will be an au pair in a foreign country.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How to choose your host family

Many au pair candidates ask me about the families they are about to choose. I can give you some individual advise but the important thing is what you the au pair wants.

First, make a list of the things that are important for you, conditions that you have to have to live.
Second, make a list of the things you want to accomplish during your au pair stay.
Third, review your language, childcare and domestic skills. What can you offer?

List all the questions and wants you have.
List all the things and you can offer to the host family

When you correspond with the host family, tell them why they should hire you. Can you teach them a language? cook your country's dishes? play musical instruments? Remember they want to learn from you too. You need to tell them that you would be valuable to them during your stay. Most families like to have an au pair because they like to learn about new cultures also.

Ask all the questions you have. Ask about the house they live in, their routine. What does the family like to do? How do they discipline and raise their children? What do they expect from an au pair? Do you agree with their lifestyle? Will you be happy to be their au pair?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Au pair USA

A good friend of mine is an au pair in Virginia USA now. She was inspired by me and decided to go to USA for au pair venture. She is very close to Washington, DC in a town called Vienna (not to be mistaken with the capital of Austria).

I called her tonight just to see how she is doing. We have been friends since high school and been close friends ever since. She has been there for 1 week and she was very excited to go to USA. She sounds little homesick. She didn't want to hang up the phone. She says she feels little lonely, think the weather is getting cold, maybe winter was not the best time to start her au pair job. I told her that it would take a few weeks to get used to everything.

She loves children and spending time with them. She missed speaking Dutch and her friends & family. Her host family sounds nice, but they didn't have too much time together yet as they work a lot.

One week is certainly not enough time to get used to another country. I hope she adjusts quickly and has a wonderful time.

Friday, October 07, 2005

How to be an au pair in Europe

Working in Europe as a European is very easy. European Union countries allow each other's citizens to stay up to certain time and work as au pair. European au pairs won't need a visa or anything like that to be an au pair.

New European Union countries are also allowed to work as au pair in some countries. Some countries may require them to have residence permit and/or work permit. This depends on the au pair target country.

Most European countries may have this requirement from other EU citizens as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My trip to the USA

I just wanted to share my recent trip to the USA with you. I thought it might be helpful to the au pairs who are planning to go to the USA. I went there for my summer vacation. I have never been in the USA even though I have many American friends in the Netherlands. I must say that it is a beautiful country first of all.

I have visited New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I think these are the best cities for the tourists as my friends advised me. I'm very glad I chose to visit these cities.

I was certainly fascinated with New York city. It was not like any other city I have been to. Buildings were so tall sometimes that they blocked sunlight. I could turn my head up and look and look and look just to catch the top of the building. New York is a very cosmopolitan city. I could hear millions of foreign languages spoken wherever I went to. It was amazing, a true international city. I also loved shopping there. I found very good bargains. Talking about bargains, the Chinatown and Little Italy were amazing. The food was outrageous. I probably gained weight in 5 days I was in New York.

My next stop was Los Angeles. Southern California is a natural beauty. Seeing the Pacific Ocean and the breathtaking beaches (we drove along the coastline to San Francisco). Pacific Coast highway is a very scenic route. I recommend everyone to take it. Drive on that road as long as you can. It will amaze you.

Los Angeles was as I expected. I'm not too crazy about seeing movie stars or anything, but Los Angeles is still a nice city to visit. Weather is nice, beaches are great and there is a lot to see if you are in to the movies.

San Francisco impressed me more than Los Angeles. It is a very characteristic city. I believe there is no other city like it. The roads in the city are all huge hills. I was scared to drive on some of them! San Francisco has a nice Wisherman's Wharf by the sea. You can see the seals on the pier. It is very cute. I have seen them lying on the piers and shore in Los Angeles as well. They are really cute and they make strange sounds. San Francisco also had an amazing Chinatown I should mention. If you like Chinese food, you shouldn't miss it.

I loved the flowers around the houses and buildings in California. I think the weather is so beautiful, Californians can have flowers all year around. How lucky!

Even though I had some good bargains shopping, San Francisco and New York can be a bit expensive if your home country is not an expensive one. I stayed with my friends/their families all through my trip so I can't really give you advise on how much the hotels cost. But I think everyone would agree with me when it comes to shopping, especially the American brand clothes and shoes!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What are the responsibilities of an au pair?

Au pair helps the families with childcare and light housekeeping. Families should not even ask au pairs to clean their house, do parent's laundry, wash the windows of the house etc... In most Western countries, families usually have a cleaner who comes in once a week to clean the house.

Au pair is usually responsible for the children's laundry and light housekeeping. Light housekeeping is defined as keeping the house tidy. That is cleaning up after the children to me. Children make most the mess around the house. It is necessary to keep their toys off the floor when the parents are due back home from work. Noone wants to see or clean up after a long day's work. Parents usually take over the children when they arrive home and it is also curteous to keep the house in order.

Au pair does the children's laundry. Children change a lot of clothes especially if they are out playing all day. Small children also change clothes often, maybe several times a day.

Hoovering the children's rooms and play area is also considered light housekeeping and au pair is usually expected to do this task. This may be once a week or 2 times a week depending on the family and children.

Of course, besides light housekeeping au pair is expected to take care of the children like their parents would do. Follow the rules the parents establish. They usually tell the au pair what to do and how. This can make things even easier if the children have a regular schedule and activities to do.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Activities to do with younger children

Hi au pair friends,
I got some emails from fellow au pair friends about the activities they can do with the children. Most au pairs asking this question are looking after young children. Some of you mention that it is more fun to look after older children. This might be true for some au pairs.

I love young children especially babies. You may think there is not much to do with the babies. You can always do things with them even though they take long naps. Taking long walks (good exercise for the au pair) with the baby in the stroller is one of my favorites. Find a nice park and take long walks. Babies love it and fresh air is always good for the baby (the au pair of course too).

Take them shopping, especially grocery stores. Babies get very excited at the grocery stores. Different colors and lights make them really happy I think and people pay them attention! This is true for other shops and stores as well. Stroll along the shops, check the new trends in clothes (my favorite).

If you have a playplace (like some pizza stores do), take them there. They can meet other babies. Though some may be too young to play in the play area, they may find little friends and socialize with them. Au pair can make new friends with the mother/caregiver of the other babies/children. You can even meet other au pairs there!

I think it is a great idea to keep the baby (and au pair) active by going out of the house. You may even end up with a nice playgroup for the baby!

I hope this gives the au pair friends some ideas and help. Don't forget the babies are cute and fun to take care of!


Friday, September 02, 2005

How do I resolve problems with families?

Hi au pair friends,
I decided to give my answers to some questions I get from other au pair friends here. I hope it can benefit all of you if you have similar questions.
Some of you are already in another country as an au pair working with wonderful families. Some of you may have problems with your arrangement.
My first advise is to communicate any problems bothering you with the host family. Sometimes problems can be simple communication problems. Sometimes it is bigger and you may not have enough time to go to a language school. Children may be too many or too young for your experience. Sometimes, it is hard to move to a different country and try to get used to their customes. You may want to change your host family. I advise you check with the country's rules before you do that. You may have an au pair visa for that country. You may have to follow them to change the family. You must talk to your agency if you use one about the rules and regulations. They should know what options you have. It is not advisable to break the rules. It may create problems for you if you have an au pair visa.
These are my thoughts on this topic. Feel free to email me questions. I will do my best to answer them.
Have a good day!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

US Visa

I receive tons of emails from the fellow au pair friends about USA. Although I've never been an au pair there my best friend did. I am familiar with the process.

Some of you ask me about the visas. First of all, if you want to go to the US, you must get a J-1 visa. I only recommend a J-1 visa even though some au pair sites tells you on the internet you can get a H-1 visa or something like that. This is not true. H-1 visa is ONLY granted to the SKILLED workers to go to USA. I don't believe the US government will grant a H-1 visa to an au pair or nanny even if this person is highly educated.

To get a J-1 visa au pair and the family must register with an agency. There are only 6 of these agencies and they are the only agencies who can get you the paperwork for legal J-1 au pair visa.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I get so many emails from other au pairs asking me how to go about choosing a host family. My first advise is to go with your instincts. You are the person who can make the best decision.
I would ask many questions to the family. Most important one is to get a clear work schedule and duties. You must get these written if you can in your au pair contract.
You must also ask them for pictures of the house and the family. Find out what kind of area they live in. Is it close to public transportation? Will you drive or take the bus/subway? This is very important if you want to go to a language school.
Talk to their references if they provide them. Ask them if they had an au pair before.
I found a long list of questions to ask here
I think all of them are important and can be used as a guide.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Host family

I wonder if au pairs keep in touch with their old host families. I personally do. Mostly because I wonder how the children are doing. They grow up so quickly!
We of course use email most of the time. We can send pictures to each other, even cards on birthdays. My UK host family has a new au pair now and they are getting along very well which makes me happy. They are lucky and their au pair is very lucky because they are such a great family. I believe any au pair would be happy with them.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Tips for au pairs

I have gathered some useful information for my fellow au pair friends. I hope these tips help you with your host family.When I got my first au pair job, there wasn't any resource to help me out. I had to figure out everything on my own. I think the most important thing to be a happy au pair is the respect between the au pair and the host family. You and the family live in the same house like most of us live with our parents now. We have to obey the rules of the house and live as a part of the family in that house with the host family. Our parents have rules in the house, calling in if we will be late or cleaning up after meals and doing things around the house. In return, the host family should treat the au pair as a part of the family and be include the au pair in activities and such.Another immportant thing is communication. If there is a problem, it should be resolved by talking to each other. This is the only way to let each other know if something is bothering either the au pair or the host family. Do not let anything bother you for a long time becase it would only get worse if you don't take care of the problem when they arise.Keep in mind that take your time when finding a family. Correspond with them and talk about everything, their lifestyle, children's habits, what they expect and tell them what you expect from them. If you want to go to a language school, make sure they locate one before you sign up for the job. Make sure you can get to the school by bus or car (if provided and can drive) and your schedule will allow you to go to the school.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Au pair

Hello, my name is Jana. I am a 23 year old au pair girl from the Netherlands. I have traveled to UK and Italy as an au pair last years after I graduated from college and loved it. That's why I'd like to try it again. I studied to be a kindergarden teacher at the university and taking some time off for more hands on experience and get to know new cultures. I love children of any age and I am very creative when it comes to the activities. I like to color, paint, make crafts, read books, go to the park and take long walks with the kids. I like reading, music and play the piano.Both of my host families worked out great for me. I think being an aupair is a very rewarding experience if you like kids. It is the best way for me to learn different languages and get to know new cultures.I have experience with kids aged newborn to 12. I looked after 2 kids for 1 of my host families and 3 for the other family. I'd make their beds, get them ready for school, do their laundry, drop them at the school and pick them up. I also did some light cooking for the children.My English is pretty good and Italian is above average. Next year I am planning to be an au pair again. I have not decided exactly where I want to go. I am open to any suggestions including UK and Italy again. I liked both countries a lot and people were very nice. I am researching the options for Switzerland, Spain, and even Australia and New Zeland.