I was just stunned to learn this morning that there are only 12 weeks until Christmas. 12 Weeks!!! While my Jewish friends have been celebrating their new year, I have been stumbling along oblivious to how quickly the fall has been flying by…. so thank goodness that blogger Tsh over at SimpleMom.com reminded me that it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. [Tsh is starting a series on preparing for Christmas , (that’s her badge, left) in case you want some ideas!]
Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic or any blend of religious and spiritual traditions, the Winter Holiday time is soon upon us/you. For many of us, this is a busy season of parties, shopping, eating, VACATIONING, and visiting. For most au pairs this is a time of topsy-turvy schedules, traveling, lots of new family members, and missing home and family. There is a certain tristesse at holiday time, replete with a longing for what we remember, some wondering about what will come, a focus on family and friendships, and even the mix of anticipation and regret in the approach of the new calendar year.
And what does any of this have to do with you and your Au Pair? Oh, so much more than you think. So, start planning now, to make many of the decisions easier. Consider….
Location: Let your au pair know as soon as possible where you will be over the holidays (at Grandma’s? In St. Barts? (if only….)) and whether she will be coming with you. Whether she goes with you or stays home, she may need to make plans to celebrate and relax while she’s off-duty. If she’s going with you, give your family a heads up so that your au pair has someplace to sleep and some privacy. If you’re at home the whole time, how will your family’s plans affect her (e.g., sharing a bathroom or car with Grandma, your sister’s children also here…)?
Days you absolutely need her/don’t need her on-duty: Now is the time to remind your Au Pair that back when you interviewed her she agreed to work New Year’s Eve — or to tell her that she’s free to make plans that don’t include your car and/or her driving . Now is the time to look at your own calendar, identify which Saturday night you’re throwing your Christmukkuh party, and let her know she’ll be on duty- or not.
Cultural Exchange: Are there things about your holiday celebration that you can teach her about? Can you explain to her how the whole Santa thing works in your family? Are there any holiday traditions from her culture that she might want to share with you? How about any great family recipes?
School Events: Are there concerts, assemblies, or parties that you’ll need her help with, or that you’ll invite her to attend?
School Vacation: Do you anticipate changing her typical work schedule (e.g., from afternoons to full days while the kids are home from school and you’re still at work)? Will she have any weekends free?
Religious services: Will your au pair want or need to attend religious services on Christmas or Christmas Eve? Will she need your help to schedule this in or to get transportation? Will she be singing in the Choir and really want you to come and hear her?
Plan Ahead Projects: Will you want her to help your children write holiday cards? Make family gifts? Shop for teacher presents?
Gifts for her: Now is the time to start taking candid photos for the album you want your kids to make for her. And, you want to start looking for an assortment of gifts for her, that are high in thoughtfulness and not too pricey.
There is much more to say about holidays/vacations and your au pair relationship, and we can go into greater detail in future posts. This first post should help warm you up, and maybe even help to prompt a more intentional, mindful holiday season for all of us.