Archive for the ‘Tip for Nannies and Au Pairs’ Category
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!
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!
Thursday, January 3, 2013
All of your hard work has finally paid off; you’ve been offered a great job and you can hardly contain your excitement! Before you start packing your bags and booking your tickets, take a look at these tips to ensure a successful match:
Does the job sound too good to be true? Hopefully it’s not, but send an email just in case to or click the Give Feedback link to ask us a question. This way we can check the family’s account history to see if there have ever been any complaints. If you know how to send their email as an attachment or can forward it with the full header information, that will allow us to double-check their IP location.
The family will want a reference or two from you, so why not ask them for some as well? It can’t hurt to ask for contact information for some of their past au pairs, housekeepers or personal assistants. You can call their previous employees and ask them some basic questions to help ease your mind. We have a great interview questionnaire available to subscribed job seekers on the site that might assist you in the interview process. If you are not a paid member, you can create your own list of questions asking how the family treated their previous candidate, why she left the family, if she’d work for them again, how the family was to work for and anything else you are concerned about prior to your arrival.
The last thing you want to happen is to show up in a new city and absolutely hate it! If you’re moving to a new place, make sure you research the city you’ll be moving to and find out if there are clubs in the area where you can continue your interests and hobbies. You’ll also want to double check and make sure you can handle any changes in weather! You can find unlimited information searching city names on any search engine. Don’t forget to search for networks of other au pairs to connect with ahead of time, and ask them questions about the area.
Ask for the family’s address and phone number and do some research on Google to see what comes up. You can also search their name in quotes “like this” to see if anything suspicious is found in your search. There’s no harm in a little detective work!
You may want to purchase a background check on one or both of the parents, just to be safe. There’s nothing wrong with asking, especially if you’re going to live in their home or fly across the continent to meet them! Background checks can be ordered when viewing the family profile by clicking on the “Report” tab.
Make sure to schedule a few phone calls or Skype chats before committing to a job. This will help you get to know the family better, as well as confirm that there are real people behind the screen! Use this time to ask questions about the job, or even have them take you on a little tour of their home with their laptop! If you need to sign up for a Skype account, you can do it for free here.
Try it Out
If you’re working for a local family, ask for a trial period to see how it goes before committing to anything. You can set up a day, or even a week to try things out with the host family to make sure that there isn’t anything about the job that makes you uncomfortable. This will also help you understand their expectations more completely, a definite plus when at a new job!
Make sure that you have a contract set up between you and the host family to cover all of the logistics. It helps to have this sort of information on paper so that you can easily reference it later rather than wondering about the details. If you’re a paid member, we have a sample contract available from the Support tab Resources column, http://www.greataupair.com/contracts.cfm that can be edited to suit your needs. This contract provides a way to document the verbal agreements made during phone calls and any agreements made via email. You will want to include hours, pay, overtime pay, and a termination clause for both the family and candidate, if things do not work out in the first 30 days of your stay. If you’re not a paid member, make sure to ask the family to download their copy of the contract so that you’ll have a copy of your own.
Have you ever gotten a good vibe when speaking to certain people? Make sure that in addition to all of the nervousness that comes with moving to a new location, that you’re able to determine if you’re compatible with the family. Ask them questions! Take your time getting to know them! Do this before you accept their offer. If you have any concerns, even if there is no good reason, listen to the whispers you receive. If you follow your intuition when accepting jobs, you will have far better experiences, than if you ignore the waving “red flags”. It’s been our experience that when someone calls about a bad experience, they always had small concerns they ignored. Listen to your own intuition and pay attention to what you hear!
Even if you’re experienced, you may want to take the time to review the information on “First time au pairs” and “Tips for a successful relationship” found here. It certainly doesn’t hurt to take another look!
Following these tips will definitely help to ensure you have a successful experience. Taking time to look into the family you’ll be working for and possibly living with will help ease your mind when you find yourself in a new city, state or country. Remember to take your time and trust your judgment. The GreatAuPair Support Team is always here to help!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The holidays are a great time to have extra time for bonding with the children you care for. However, keeping them occupied can be quite stressful, too! Here are GreatAuPair’s ideas on how to keep kids busy, entertained, while maintaining a stress-free attitude this holiday season. Enjoy!
- Make a Wish-List: This is one way to have the kids come up with ideas for you! Make a wish-list together of things you’d like to do together over the holiday break. Be careful that the wishes don’t get too wild—a wish for an “all-day shopping spree” might not come true, so be sure to remind the children to keep their wishes realistic.
- Encourage Reading: Even though school’s out, the learning doesn’t have to stop! Take regular trips to the library, make reading seem fun under a homemade fort in the living room, and perhaps even offer a reward for a certain number of books read over the break. Librarians are also quite happy to help children find books they’d like, so use this resource to your advantage! If the children are too young to read, help them find fun books they’d like you to read aloud to them.
- Go Outside: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the outdoors. Depending on where you live, there might be cold-weather activities such a skiing or snowman-making to keep the kids occupied. If you’re in a more temperate climate, you may want to check out nearby hiking for older children. If you live in the United States, state parks often have children’s educational programs during the winter—some of these are even held indoors!
- Rock Climb: Rock climbing is a great skill to teach kids because it offers them a chance to problem solve, be active, and boost their self-confidence. There is nothing like getting to the top of a wall, looking down, and seeing what you’ve accomplished. If you’re not an experienced rock climber, check out nearby gyms that offer lessons, kids days/groups, etc.
- Arrange Play-dates: Coordinating play-dates with other neighborhood children can be an inexpensive and easy form of entertainment. It’s a good idea to have some games and snacks on-hand just in case.
- Get Crafty: Visit your local craft shop for ideas on fun projects. Or visit websites such as hwww.enchantedlearning.com/crafts and www.busybeekidscrafts.com/ to get ideas of crafts to make with everyday household items. Ask the kids for their ideas, too. They may have always wanted to try papier-mâché, making a hat, or even something as simple as a paper airplane.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Although it’s been quite some time since I’ve been a nanny, I still remember the infamous question that made my skin crawl: “So you get paid to play outside all day?” Are you kidding me? Little did they know I spent many days on the job up to my ears in messy diapers and laundry while trying to figure out just what can be constructed with a can of glitter and a few popsicle sticks after school today.
Let’s face it: Mary Poppins has given nannies across the globe something to work towards. Although we can’t all be “practically perfect in every way,” we certainly try our best to mirror her rosy-cheeked disposition while tackling the terrible two’s and potty training. Being a nanny is not easy; it takes buckets of patience, armfuls of creativity for a rainy day, super powered multitasking skills, and a whole lot of affection, among other things. Not only are the parents trusting us with the lives of their children, nannies build life-long relationships with their families that ultimately come very close to the bond between a parent and child.
It’s important that you build a great name for yourself by being the best nanny that you can possibly be. Here are a just a few worthwhile suggestions about how to keep it professional while on the job.
Timing really is everything. We’ve heard it a thousand times before but it should never grow old! I used to think that my mother’s obsession with arriving early for everything was something I couldn’t wait to get away from. Thankfully, this trait has stuck with me.
It is extremely important to parents to know that they have a punctual, dependable person there for their children. If you’re asked to meet them at 8 am, show up ten minutes early. There is nothing wrong with being early, but everything wrong with being late! Not only are you on time when you show up early, you’re proving to the parents that you’re someone that genuinely cares about your job. If you’re going to be late, let the family know as soon as possible, and don’t make a habit out of it. Punctuality is key!
Since the families agree to respect your time with a paycheck, the very least you can do is respect their wishes. If the parents have guidelines for things like naps, time-outs, after school snacks, bedtime routines, etc., it is your job to respect these guidelines. Routines are not easy to set in place, and the last thing a parent wants is to pay someone to mess it all up! Remember, as much as you love those little ones as though they were your very own, you are an employee for the family, and need to show your willingness to adapt on a daily basis. Think about it; if you were working as a waitress and were constantly messing up the orders, you’d be fired in no time. Be a professional!
Look Who’s Talking!
I will never forget the first family I worked for, as I’m sure you won’t either. They absolutely insisted on letting their kids splurge on whatever sugary snack they wanted after a long day at school, resulting in two hyperactive explosions refusing to do any homework! I wanted so badly to say something to the parents, but was too afraid they’d think I was being disrespectful; after all, I was the nanny, not the mom. One day I mustered up the courage to sit down with the parents and asked if it was possible to provide a healthy snack instead. The family was open to suggestions after I explained my reasoning and the kids absolutely loved my idea of helping me whip up some homemade trail mix.
All I’m trying to say is that communication is key. If something is bothering you, let the family know. Since you are spending so much time with their children, it’s important to keep them up to date. As children grow, their needs and wants can change. Instead of taking it upon yourself or resenting the family for not understanding, give them a chance to listen. I strongly recommend a chat at least once a month with the parents to air out any concerns you may have. Sitting down with the parents provides a great opportunity to stay connected and is often much-needed adult time!
Those are just a few suggestions, but there are so many other ways to prove that you’re taking your job seriously. With so many directions to be pulled, it’s no wonder being a nanny is far from the easiest job on the planet. The children are depending on you to be a best friend, a replacement parent, and a partner in crime among other things. At the same time, the parents are expecting you to love, protect and care for their children while they’re away, and to respect their wishes. Although we can’t all be lucky enough to sport around a bottomless carpetbag of tricks, being a nanny is more than just a random gig to score for some extra cash. Being a true professional is paramount to your success!
If you would like more helpful information on subjects like the difference between nannies and au pairs or tips on what to expect as a first time au pair, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions on GreatAuPair.com.
If you are a family currently working with a nanny or looking to hire a nanny, you may want to read our helpful tips on how to create a great relationship with your nanny.
~ Fallon, GreatAuPair.com Customer Support Team Leader