Friday, July 12, 2013
Whether it’s a summer trip to a tropical destination, or a winter escape to visit the grandparents, you may be asked to travel with your host family. It’s difficult to travel long distances with young children, and the family can often use your help. How do you adjust to working in a new environment, while keeping the children entertained? How will your schedule and routine change? Here are a few pointers we have for you.
You may be traveling via plane, train, boat, or car with the host family for extended periods of time. Make sure that you have activities for the children that will keep them occupied on the trip. This can include a coloring book and crayons, a few video games, or movies and a portable DVD player. Don’t forget an extra set of headphones!
You may even want to give older kids crossword puzzles to enjoy. For car rides, you can also play games with kids, such as “Spot this License Plate” where you all look for a license plate from a certain state.
If you’re traveling by plane, make sure the kids have their own small carry-ons filled with goodies and activities to keep them entertained. This will keep them busy both on and off the plane. Make sure to pack a stroller for younger children, in case they become tired. Don’t forget to remind older children that during takeoff and landing electronic devices must be turned off.
If you’ve never traveled with your host family before and aren’t sure how it all works out, be sure to take the time to ask them any questions you might have in advance. For example, will you be sleeping with the children at night or will you have your own room? How many hours during the day will the family need you to care for the children? How much leisure time will you have on your own? What expenses should you expect to cover?
Make sure that you discuss your responsibilities in advance. You don’t need a written agreement, but it’s best to understand expectations and arrangements prior to your trip. The agreement should outline duties and responsibilities, as well as any incentives or changes in schedule. This shouldn’t be an uncomfortable or pushy conversation; it’s just a way to clarify vacation expectations.
Make sure to schedule some downtime for yourself. Since you’re on vacation with the family, it may feel as though you’re always on duty if you don’t take time for yourself. It’s better to communicate with your host family your needs and wants in order for everyone to have an enjoyable time. However, keep in mind that although you are on a family vacation, you are being paid to work and maintain your professionalism.
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
For most children across the world, school is out, and they can hardly wait for the summer fun to begin! If you’ve been hired as a summer nanny, or if the children you watch year-round are out of school for the summer, the parents will expect you keep their children occupied and safe. While an occasional movie or trip to the library is an option, there are lots of other things to do in the summer! Here are some of GreatAuPair’s tips to keeping everyone safe and happy this summer!
If you are watching school-aged children, you may notice them missing their school friends as the summer continues on. Set up a few play-dates where they can get together and socialize! Ask the parents and children for a few phone numbers of school friends, and give them a call. Make sure not to agree to watch more children than you can handle, and always get permission from the parents before agreeing to invite over someone’s else’s children.
Plant a Garden:
Gardening is a great outdoors activity for children to take part in. Not only is it fun, it’s a confidence-booster to children that get to see their hard work pay off! Try planting some easy-to-grow crops first, like sunflowers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce. Kids will be eager to see results, and you can make the garden a part of their daily summer routine. What a fun way to spend time outdoors!
Go to the Park:
School-aged children are used to keeping busy with their daily routines, so they’re likely to have a lot of energy, even in the summer. Why not take them to the park? Always be sure to supervise them playing on the playground. Bring along a few snacks and always pack plenty of water to make sure the children stay hydrated in the summer heat. Be sure and pack a first aid kit, to clean up any scrapes or cuts!
Arts and Crafts:
Sometimes, it’s just too hot to play outside. Why not enjoy part of the day inside with some arts and crafts? You can do fun things with the kids like make tie-dye shirts, finger-paint, create fabric necklaces and bracelets, or even put on a play with hand-made masks and costumes. Try Pinterest for more ideas on different arts and crafts activities you can do with the children.
Get in the Water:
If you have a pool nearby, or even in the backyard, you’re one lucky nanny! If you don’t, and the beach is too far away, why not check out your local recreation center, (YMCA or Boys and Girls Club) to see if they have a community pool? Swimming and playing in the water is great way to conquer the summer heat.
It’s extremely important to always keep an eye on the children when they’re in the water. If you’re at a community pool with a lifeguard, don’t assume that they will always have their eyes on the children. It’s your responsibility! Going swimming and getting to play in the water is a great summer activity the children will enjoy, but only if you’re comfortable watching children in the water. Don’t forget sunblock, towels and floaties.
If you have a zoo or aquarium nearby, why not take the kids there for the day? Pack a light lunch and plenty of drinks, and head out for a day of exploring! Younger children will appreciate looking at the animals from their strollers or your arms, while an older child will enjoy a more-hands on approach. Sometimes, these places provide exhibits that allow visitors to feed or touch the animals. Look to see if there is a petting zoo exhibit open. Challenge the kids to mimic the sounds of the animals and have a great time! It’s best to go on a weekday when it’s less crowded.
Museums are a great way to avoid the heat and spend time indoors. If you have a Children’s museum in your area, take the kids there to have some hands-on playtime. You can also visit a local art or science museum. Call in advance and ask if they have any activities planned for children. Some museums have special exhibits centered around children during the summer. Always keep a close eye on the children!
No matter what you decide to do, be sure to keep you and the children safe and hydrated. Have a great summer!
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Friday, May 17, 2013
If you’re over 30, and dream of working in another country, your visa options may be limited. However, there is still a chance of success.
Most childcare visa programs are limited to au pairs who are age 30 or below. Every country has different age limits for their designated visa programs which can be found on the GreatAuPair visa page.
There are other work opportunities outside of the au pair visa program that may be an option for you. Some countries have student visa programs without age limits. However, you are required to attend University classes and work just part-time in a family’s home. There are no restrictions to the type of work you do as a student, so look for jobs as a part-time tutor, language instructor, caregiver, housekeeper, or personal assistant. Be sure to check with the Consulate to inquire about the restrictions and make sure you’re not breaking any rules. For example, if you’re an American interested in studying in Italy, contact the Italian Embassy or Consulate in the US for the most up to date student visa information.
There are a number of jobs available in Canada, where there are no age limits as long as you have experience either caring for children or seniors. If you’re interested in immigrating to Canada, the Live-in Caregiver visa will allow you to become a permanent resident after you have worked three years on this visa program.
Greece and New Zealand have programs for candidates up to age 35. You can work as an au pair in Greece until you’re 35. New Zealand accepts 35 year olds into their working holiday programs and into their BUNAC student visa programs. Look for work/study and BUNAC study visas for your home country. Some of these are restricted by age, so, make sure to do some research before setting your sights on working in that special country.
Look into special arrangements between your country and other locations. There is a Japan-Philippine Economic partnership agreement that allows qualified nurses and certified caseworkers to live and work in Japan for 3-4 years after they complete Japanese language training.
Some countries have work permits that allow you to work at any age with family sponsorship. These open work permits are available in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.
Look for places where you could go to teach English as a second language. China is looking for English speakers so they’ve recently launched a number of programs. Type “China embassy” in your search engine to find links to programs available in your country. US citizens can click here.
If you want to teach English in a foreign country, you will need to be sponsored by a company, rather than an individual host family. GreatAuPair only works with individual host families. However, we wanted you to know that there are ways to work outside of your home country if you’re willing to get creative and do some research.
Teachers, nurses, occupational therapists and sometimes senior care providers can also find jobs in almost any country as long as they are licensed and submit applications to schools, hospitals and senior care companies. While you may not find these jobs through GreatAuPair, you can take the experience you earned working abroad or at home and expand your search to find these positions.
Start your search by looking into your visa options first. We don’t want you wasting your time looking for jobs in countries where you’re ineligible to work.
We wish you the best of luck on your search!
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
We have a few questions in our registration that ask candidates about their passports and visas. So what’s the difference between a visa and passport? If I’ve been to another country, I have a passport for that country, right? Not exactly. Let me explain the difference between passports and visas.
Passports are the documents issued by the country you’re from which allow you to travel to other countries. For example, as an American citizen, I have an American passport. I’ve been to numerous countries, but I still only have one passport, issued by the USA. In fact, unless you have dual citizenship or are married to someone from another country, it’s pretty much impossible to have a passport issued from another country.
So what should I put down as my passport country? Well, if you have a passport, make sure you put where your passport is from. If you received it in Ireland, you’re going to want to put Ireland down as your passport country when completing your registration. 99 % of the time your passport is issued from the country where you were born. The only exceptions are when you marry someone from another country or apply for citizenship in another country. If you’re an EU citizen, you can look into acquiring a Schengen visa.
A visa is a little bit more complicated than a passport, and even more difficult to obtain. Just because you’ve lived in another country does not mean you necessarily have a visa. A visa can be issued by the government of a specific country for things like work, school, marriage, visiting as a tourist or other special situations. It is extremely rare to have visas for more than one country at the same time. Most visas are only good for a limited period of time from 3 months to 1 year. Normally you will only need to list that you have visa’s for one country (or no visas).
Those of you who are EU nationals do not have visas from EU countries. Your right to travel into all EU countries is based on your passport. EU nationals may have passports for their home country and for Schengen countries, but they will not have visas for any of the EU countries.
It’s important to list your visas accurately. Don’t list expired visas in your profile. Normally when you leave a country you have been visiting, you are not free to return on that same visa. Listing that you have a visa when it is no longer valid, is extremely frustrating and confusing to families when they are searching for a candidate that can legally work in their country.
What if you don’t have a visa right now, but are eligible or will have one soon? This would be great to mention in the “Introduction” section of your profile, but you might want to wait to officially list it in your profile once you have it.
Let’s say you’re a student studying abroad in France. You would then have a student visa for France, which you would definitely want to list in your profile.
Did you just realize that you accidentally listed that you have a passport for every country you’ve ever visited? Maybe you did this with your visas too? It’s an easy fix! Just log in to your account, and click on the “My Account” tab. From here, click on the “Edit Profile” link and find the passport and visa information on the third and final page of your profile information, on the “Experience” link. Make sure to click Save when you’re finished, to save the changes you’ve made!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
If you’re a US family looking to sponsor an international au pair for the J-1 au pair visa program, you can find information on requirements for sponsoring families and costs on our FAQ pages.
In order to qualify for the au pair program, candidates need to be between the ages of 18 and 26. You can review the au pair requirements here.
When you’ve found the perfect au pair, contact the GreatAuPair support staff to match you to the J-1 agencies who service your candidate’s country. All J-1 agencies give our families a “pre-match” discount that more than covers our subscription costs. There are fourteen agencies and their fees range between six and nine thousand dollars. Most are in the seven to eight thousand dollar range. Keep in mind that up to $6000 of your agency fee can be deducted from your taxes because this is a US Department of State sponsored visa program.
Agency fees include a background check and screening, the au pair’s round trip airfare to and from the US, a training course, and all visa and contract costs. The agency provides year round support to the family and au pair, and most agencies guarantee an additional placement if the original match doesn’t work out for some reason. The weekly stipend that the family is required to pay the au pair is $195.75 for 40-45 hours of childcare and help with light housekeeping.
If the cost of hiring an international au pair is overwhelming, consider restricting your search to American candidates and negotiate the salary, job duties, and benefits directly with the candidates. There are no age limits or job restrictions associated with hiring US citizens. You can also search locally for live-out positions, or across the country for live-in jobs. If you want to hire a more mature nanny, have an irregular work schedule, or require overnight care when you travel, a US candidate would be a better fit for your needs.
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