Sample Handbook 2, from a Host Family with Cultural Care

Starling fabric

Dear AP,

Welcome, welcome, welcome! We are so happy and excited that you are finally here! We hope that your year with us is exciting and rewarding. We look forward to a great relationship between you and our family. To help make the year go smoothly, we all need to do what we can to ensure open communication, consideration, and cooperation. Please feel free to talk to us at any time if you have any questions, concerns, or complaints. If there is anything you do not understand, just ask us. Remember that this is new to all of us!

Like any new situation, the first few weeks will probably be the most challenging. Once we settle into a routine and you become familiar with our family and our home, it will get easier. If you are having difficulty with anything, including being homesick, let us know and we will do all we can to help.

We hope that you find your room comfortable – you are welcome to hang pictures or do whatever you want to really make it feel like “home” to you. If you need help hanging anything on the walls, HostDad will be happy to help you. Please let us know if there is anything else you need to help you feel comfortable.

On the next pages, you will see some information that we have put together in a “household handbook” that we got from Cultural Care. We have tried to include as much information as we could think of, but please let us know if you have questions about anything. After you’ve had a chance to read through this handbook, we can sit down and go through it together to make sure you understand everything.

Once again, welcome! We are looking forward to a wonderful year!!

Love,

HostMom, HostDad, Child1, Child2, and Child3


BASIC FAMILY INFORMATION

1. Address:

2. Home phone number:

3. Cell phone numbers:
HostMom:
HostDad:
AP: (see below for guidelines for cell phone use)

4. Host parent work phone numbers:
HostMom:
HostDad:
If you need something, it’s fine to call either one of us at work. For HostMom, use her office number, as she does not get a good cell phone signal at work. For HostDad, try his cell phone first, because he is not usually at his desk.

5. Local childcare coordinator name and phone number:

THE CHILDRENBirds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

1. Activities that our children enjoy, and we encourage, include:
Child3: Having someone read to her or sing songs to her. Playing with her dolls or her dollhouse. Pretending to have a “tea party.” (She will “make tea” for you and then you have to pretend to drink it, then ask for more. She’ll “make tea” over and over again for a long time! She loves it when you make comments like, “mmm, that’s yummy tea” or “Ouch, it’s hot! Will you blow on it for me?”) She loves to go shopping, so it’s okay if you take her to the Mall or the store with you sometimes – just not all day or every day. She likes to play with puzzles and loves coloring and doing craft projects. In nice weather, she likes to go to the playground – we’ll show you where some nearby playgrounds are.

Boys: Most days, the boys will be in school, and you’ll only have a little time with them in the morning before school. On those days, they usually read or play together – you don’t need to do much to entertain them. Just make sure they don’t fight with each other. We prefer that they do not watch TV or play video games before school.

On days when they don’t have school, if the weather is nice, we like them to spend at least part of each day playing outside. They are allowed to go outside by themselves to play with their friends or ride their bikes or skateboards. They must always wear a helmet when riding bikes or skateboards. They can also play on the neighbor’s trampoline, but the rule is “no rough play” on the trampoline. It’s helpful if you can look out the window every once in a while if they are on the trampoline to make sure they are not wrestling or playing other rough games.

Both boys also like to read – Child1 likes to read to himself, and Child2 likes to read to other people (like you and/or Child3). They also like to do craft projects, play board games, or play hide-and-seek. Both of them, but especially Child1, like to build things with blocks or Legos, and to play with Child1’s Bionicles. We try to limit them to about 30 minutes of TV and 30 minutes of video games per day, but if it’s very bad weather and you are stuck inside, it’s okay to let them have a bit of extra TV or video game time.

2. Our children are allowed to play at the homes of these families:
The boys are not allowed to go inside anyone’s house in the neighborhood unless they come home and ask first. They are only allowed to go into the homes of their friends whose parents we know. Right now, these friends are K***, T***, G***, C***, and J***. If they ask to go to someone else’s house, please call HostMom or HostDad first and we will decide if it’s okay.

Child3 should not go to anyone’s house without you, unless it is a “playdate” that I have arranged in advance. If you make friends with other au pairs who care for children close to Child3’s age, it is fine for you and Child3 to go to their homes together, or to invite them to our house.

3. We encourage good behavior in our children by rewarding them with:
Our main reward is praise. It’s helpful to try to notice and praise as much good behavior as you can – the more they are recognized for good behavior, the more they’ll give you! (For example, if the boys are playing nicely together, it’s great to say, “wow, boys, I love how nicely you are playing together and how well you are getting along!” But sometimes you have to remind yourself to do this, because it may seem easier to just leave things alone if they seem to be going well.) For extra-special good behavior, sometimes we will reward them with extra TV or video game time or a special snack.

4. When our children misbehave, you may discipline them by:
We usually give a warning or count to 3 if a child is misbehaving. Then, if the behavior continues, we give them a “time out.” Child3 gets a time out by sitting on the steps or in some other place that you decide, for two minutes. When her two minutes are up, you should remind her why she was in time out and then ask her to say she’s sorry and then give you a hug. (If she gets up from the step before you tell her she can, you should take her back and put her back on the step without saying anything.) The boys get time outs in their rooms, one minute for each year of their age – so for Child1, 10 minutes, for Child2, 6 minutes. If they keep misbehaving or refuse to go to their rooms, you may take away one of their toys or tell them they may not watch TV or play video games.

For certain behavior, like hitting or biting or spitting (something Child3 has started to do a lot lately), they should get a time out right away without a warning or counting to 3.

As much as we wish our children were perfect angels, they are not! We want you to feel comfortable disciplining the children. They need to understand that they must listen to and respect you the same way they listen to and respect us, and that they do not make the rules. Please tell us if there are behavior problems that you need us to help you address with the kids. However, if you have problems with them during the day and feel like you were able to resolve them yourself, you do not need to tell us every little detail of what happened! If you feel like it is “over” by the time we get home from work, you do not need to tell us about it.

5. When our children are upset, this is what works best to calm them down:
Child3: Holding her and rocking her in your arms, or sitting in the rocking chair in her room, or letting her lay down so you can pat her back. Sometimes if she’s gotten hurt, she likes it if you “scold” the thing that hurt her – for example, if she bumps her head on the table, you might go over to the table and say in an angry voice “mean table! You hurt Child3!”

Boys: Usually just talking to them and letting them tell what happened and express their feelings. If they will let you, you can hug or hold them.

If any of the kids are upset or hurt and can’t be comforted, you can always call HostDad on his cell phone or HostMom at work. Sometimes it helps them if they can hear one of our voices on the phone.

6. Our children enjoy eating the following snacks and meals:
Child3: Always watch her while she is eating to make sure she doesn’t choke. She loves to eat, and will eat almost anything. Some of her favorite things are: any kind of fruit, especially apples (with peanut butter to dip in), clementines (like little oranges), and bananas; lunchmeat (ham, turkey, etc.); cheese; frozen waffles (cooked in toaster); macaroni and cheese; any kind of pasta/noodles. She doesn’t like tomatoes, but she always forgets and asks for them if she sees someone eating them! It’s fine to let her try it, but just be ready for her to spit it back out again! Child3 should drink milk, juice, or water only – no soda. When she has juice, it should be mixed about half-and-half with water. Sometimes she asks for chocolate milk if she sees the boys having it – she can have milk with just a tiny bit of chocolate mixed in.
Child2: He eats almost anything and will usually tell you what he wants. He usually eats cereal for breakfast. His favorite is Special K. On school days, HostMom makes his lunch for him to take to school. He usually wants a snack when he comes home from school – something like fruit or cereal or a granola bar is fine. On days when he doesn’t have school, he likes things like macaroni and cheese, turkey sandwiches, hot dogs, or peanut butter and jelly. Child2 is allowed to drink milk, juice, or water. He is allowed to have chocolate milk one time each day. He is allowed to have soda only on special occasions or as a special treat for good behavior.
Child1: Child1 is a very picky eater, but he will usually tell you what he wants. He usually eats cereal for breakfast and brings lunch (made by HostMom) to school. On days when he does not go to school, he likes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a salami sandwich (just plain salami on bread, with no mayonnaise or anything else). Sometimes he likes grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni and cheese, but sometimes he doesn’t, so it’s best to ask before you make it! He also usually likes to have a snack after school. Child1 is allowed to drink milk, juice, or water. Like Child2, he is allowed to have chocolate milk one time each day. He is allowed to have soda only on special occasions or as a special treat for good behavior.

7. Additional information about the children:
Child3: Child3 is a very happy and loving little girl. She is very close to FormerAP, so she may be sad and missing FormerAP for the first few days that you are here. However, she is also very social (after being shy for the first few minutes with someone), so I’m sure she will become attached to you very quickly. We would love to have Child3 learn Spanish, so after the first few weeks you are here (once she is comfortable with you), we would like to have you start speaking Spanish to her all day. You should still speak English to the boys, although they will probably also like it if you teach them some words in Spanish. (Especially if Child3 starts speaking Spanish, we’ll all need to learn some words so we know what she is saying!)

Both of the boys adore Child3, and they are usually very good with her. It’s okay if you ask them to play with her for a few minutes while you do something, as long as you can still hear what is going on in case she gets hurt or tries to do something she shouldn’t do – she doesn’t really listen when the boys tell her “no”!

Child2: Child2 is also a very happy child. He usually doesn’t play very well by himself – he often needs someone else to play with him or entertain him. The biggest problem we have with Child2 is that he often fights with or bothers Child1 (taking Child1’s toys or messing up something Child1 is playing with). We try to encourage the boys to play nicely together, but sometimes it’s best to keep them apart.

Child1: Child1 is a more serious child than Child2 or Child3. Child1 will probably be the most difficult of the three kids for you to get close to – he is very independent and not as affectionate as the other two are. Don’t take it personally – that’s just how he is; but I hope you’ll keep trying, as he really is a wonderful kid once you get to know him! Child1 is usually very quiet, and he likes to play or read by himself a lot. (This is part of the reason he and Child2 fight – because Child1 wants to play alone, but Child2 wants to play with him.) Child1 loves to write and has a wonderful imagination and a great vocabulary – I know that you also like to write, so this is something that you and Child1 have in common.

Both boys: Both of the boys have something called ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder. They both take medicine for this, which helps a lot. Without the medication, they can be very difficult to deal with, and have a very hard time in school – they have trouble listening, sitting still, paying attention, and focusing on tasks. Both boys take a pill in the morning when they wake up – we will take care of this. Child1 also takes a second pill in the afternoon after school (at about 4:15). We will show you where the pills are kept so that you can give him his afternoon pill when he gets home from school.

HEALTH & SAFETYBirds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

1. The fire extinguisher is located:
In the kitchen on the side of the desk. (We’ll show you.)

2. Our fire evacuation plan is:
Get all of the children outside, and get the dog outside if possible. The boys know that the meeting place in case of a fire is in the next-door neighbors’ (the H’s – we’ll show you) driveway, so if they run out before you, they will meet you there. Once you know that everyone is safe outside, use your cell phone or a neighbor’s phone to call 911.

3. In the case of a medical emergency, you should call 911 and then:
Call HostDad on his cell phone, because his job is much closer and he will be able to get home more quickly. If you can’t reach HostDad, call HostMom. Please note that if you call 911, you will need to give them our address, so you should make a point of memorizing the address.

4. The children are allergic to the following:
None of the children have any allergies that we know of.

5. Home entry policy:
If someone who you do not know comes to the door, please do not let them in. If it is someone who is dropping off a package, you can take it, and sign for it if necessary. You are welcome to invite your friends over (either during work if they care for kids close to our kids’ age, or during your free time), but we would prefer to meet them first, before you invite them into the house when we are not home.

6. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding safety:
Whenever you take the kids anywhere in the car, the boys should be in their booster seats with their seatbelts on (they can do it themselves) and Child3 should be buckled into her carseat (we will show you how to do this). It is never safe to leave the children in the car by themselves if you are out somewhere. (For example, if you go to the store, you must take them inside with you because it is not safe to leave them in the parked car.) If Child3 falls asleep in the car and you do not want to move her, it’s okay to leave her in the car in the driveway for a VERY short time if you want to run into the house to get a book or magazine, and then you can just sit and read in the car until she wakes up.

Please lock the doors to the house when you leave, and make sure to bring your keys. (Even if we are home when you leave, you should bring your keys in case we are not home when you return.)

Never allow Child3 near the stove or oven if you are cooking something. Also, please turn the handles of any pots and pans on the stove away from the front of the stove so that the kids cannot reach them. Never leave the kitchen while you are cooking something.

There is a First Aid kit in the coat closet in the hallway. We will show you where it is.

Keep a close eye on Child3 with the dog, and never leave her alone with him. Sometimes, she will hit him or pull on him or try to take his toys away – he has never purposely hurt her, but I do not want to take any chances.

WORK SCHEDULEBirds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

1. In general, your work days and hours will include:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 7:30am to 4:30 and Tuesday/Thursday from 8:00am to 4:30 (with a break from 9:15 to 11:30 while Child3 is in school). HostMom will usually be home before 4:30, but it’s helpful if you are “on duty” for a few minutes after she gets home, so she can change clothes, etc. Occasionally, HostMom will be a bit later coming home from work, but she will call to let you know.
We may also occasionally ask you to watch the kids on a weekend evening so that we can go out to dinner, but this will be planned in advance and probably won’t happen very often. (And we will make sure that we never ask you to work more than 10 hours in a day or 45 hours in a week.)

2. The chart below represents the children’s weekly schedule:

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1. Information about giving notice of not being able to work:
Please try to give us notice as soon as possible so that we can make other arrangements for childcare. If you are feeling sick at night and think that you will not be able to work the next day, it would be very helpful to let us know that night. If you start feeling sick in the middle of the night, please leave a note on the kitchen table for HostMom to see when she comes downstairs in the morning. If you start feeling sick after HostMom has left for work (at 6:30am), please tell HostDad as soon as you hear him downstairs in the kitchen – before your scheduled work time.

2. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the au pair’s work schedule:
In the morning, you should be upstairs in the kitchen, dressed and ready to work at your scheduled start time. You may eat breakfast before you start work, or you may eat with the kids.

You will have two weeks of vacation time during the year. We ask that you please give us at least at least one month advance notice of when you plan to take days off, so that we can make other arrangements for the kids. (We already know about and have agreed to your trip for your brother’s wedding!)


Birds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

HOUSEHOLD RESPONSIBILITIES

1. The following chart represents your household chores:

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1. Areas to pay particular attention to:
Please do not use any kind of chemicals on our kitchen countertops. They can usually be cleaned with just a cloth and water.

Please do not leave open food containers or empty/used glasses or dishes in your room. This will attract bugs and mice.

Try to get into the habit of cleaning up with Child3 after each activity, before you move on to something else. This will make it easier to keep her room (or the kitchen, playroom, etc.) clean and will also teach her to clean up after herself.

2. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the au pair’s household responsibilities:

We will explain to you how to use the different appliances in the house (vacuum, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.). Please feel free to ask questions about anything you are unsure about.

On nights when you eat dinner with the family, we would appreciate your help with getting ready for dinner (pouring drinks, helping with the kids’ plates) and cleaning up afterwards (clearing the table, loading the dishwasher). We do not expect you to do everything yourself, just to help out.

Birds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

PAY & VACATION SCHEDULE

1. What day of the week will the au pair be paid?
Friday afternoon/evening.

2. Upcoming family vacations:

As much as possible, we try to include our Au Pairs in all of our family vacations. For some vacations, we may require you to go if we need a certain amount of childcare on the trip. For other vacations, if we don’t have a specific need for you to work, we will give you the choice about whether you want to come or not. If you come with us on vacation, we will discuss in advance what your work schedule will be on the trip. Any trip you take with the family will not “count” as part of your vacation days.

3. Good (suggested or preferred) times for the au pair to take vacation:

After you go home for your brother’s wedding, we would prefer that you not take any additional days off before June. Please give us at least one month advance notice of when you would like to take time off.

4. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the au pair’s pay & vacation schedule:

When you first arrive, we will pay you in cash each week. After you have gotten a Social Security number, we will help you open a bank account. Once you have a bank account, we will either pay you by check or by electronic deposit into your account.

Birds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

FAMILY CAR POLICY

1. Automobile insurance information:

2.Our car insurance is through State Farm Insurance. Our agent’s name is _______. If you are in an accident, it must be reported to our insurance company as soon as possible. (The number is xxx-sss-zzzz, but if you just tell HostMom or HostDad about it, we can take care of calling.) If you are involved in an accident with another car, please be sure to get the other driver’s insurance information (name and address of driver, name of insurance company, phone number of insurance company, insurance policy number). The other person will also ask you for your insurance information, which you can find on a card in the glove box of the car. (We can show you where this is.) If you are in an accident, please do not admit fault to the other driver or anyone else at the accident scene. (You should tell the truth about what happened, but do not say, “I’m so sorry, it was all my fault!”)

If you have a car accident during your work hours, we will pay for any damages to the car, even if the accident was your fault. If you have a car accident while you are off-duty, and it is your fault, you will be responsible for paying for the damages up to $250. (This is a fee charged by our insurance company, called a “deductible.”) If you have an accident while off-duty and it is not your fault, you will be responsible for paying for the damages up to $125. (We will pay the other half of the deductible.) If you have a car accident, it may increase the price of our insurance for several years, so please drive very, very carefully! If you have an accident that is the result of driving in an unsafe manner, we will have to reconsider your use of our cars, or may require that you take a safe driving class.

3. Au pair car usage:
Before we allow you to drive the car on your own, or with the children in the car, we will take you on some “practice drives” until we are comfortable with your driving ability and knowledge of the “rules of the road.” You will need to obtain a Maryland driver’s license within your first few months here. There is a written test and a driving test in order to get your license. Our LCC, L***, will give you a copy of the book that you will need to study to pass the written test. Please study it so that you are ready to take the test soon. We will pay all of the costs associated with you obtaining a Maryland driver’s license.

When you are working, you will be driving our minivan, which has Child3’s carseat and the boys’ booster seats in it. We will try to make sure that you have enough gas in the van every week, but if you ever run low on gas, please fill it up and then give us the receipt so we can pay you back.

During your free time, you may drive the Volkswagon bug. (This is a “stick shift,” or “manual transmission.” If you don’t know how to drive this kind of car, HostDad will be happy to teach you.) We will make sure that the Volkswagon has a full gas tank every Friday afternoon, and if you use it over the weekend, you should fill it up again on Sunday afternoon or evening. Unless you drive someplace very far away during your weekday evening free time, we will not expect you to pay for gas in the Volkswagon during the week.

If you have a problem with one of the cars (for example, it breaks down, gets a flat tire, etc.), please call us and we will help you. Also, please tell us right away if one of the cars seems to be having a problem or needs maintenance.

4. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the car policy:
The law in Maryland requires everyone in the car to wear seatbelts at all times. If you drive anywhere with your friends, please be sure that everyone follows this rule. Please also be aware of the speed limit and other traffic and parking rules – if you get a ticket for speeding or some other driving or parking violation, you will be required to pay the amount due.

If you are going out somewhere during non-work hours and plan to drink alcohol, you may not use the car. It is dangerous and illegal to drive a car after drinking alcohol. Please do not allow anyone to drink or have an open container of alcohol in the car – this is illegal, for passengers as well as the driver.

Please lock the car doors when you park the car anywhere, including in front of the house.

Please do not talk on your cell phone while driving. If you need to make a call, please pull over to a safe place on the side of the road to do so. If the phone rings while you are driving, please do not answer it – wait until you get to where you are going and then call the person back.

DIRECTIONS

We will show you how to get to places like the kids’ schools, the hospital, the Mall, and the Starbucks where a lot of Au Pairs go on Thursday nights. You will also have the use of our GPS navigation device. (Please be sure to always put the GPS away in the glove box when you park the car, so that no-one sees it and breaks into the car to try to steal it.)

Birds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

1. How do you prefer your au pair to bring up concerns and issues?
We hope that you feel comfortable with us and want you to feel free to bring up any questions or concerns with us at any time. If there is something that is bothering you, please talk to us about it right away so that we can resolve the issue, rather than waiting and perhaps having the problem get worse.

2. If your au pair has a concern he or she has a hard time voicing, you suggest:
If there is something that you do not feel comfortable talking to us about, you can either write us a note or an email, or you can call L***, our LCC, to talk to her about it, and then she will talk to us about it or help you resolve the issue.

3. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the au pair’s communication:
We think that the best way for us to have a successful year together is to make sure that we talk about any problems or things that are bothering us right away. Please do not feel scared or nervous about coming to us with any problems or concerns that you may have.

If something (good or bad) happens during the day that you think we should know about, please either write it in the “Daily Communications Log” or tell HostMom or HostDad when we come home.

CURFEW & HOUSE RULES

1. General curfew information:
On work nights, please be home by 11:00pm so that you are not too tired for work the next morning. (If you need more sleep in order to be rested and ready to start the day at your scheduled time, please come home at whatever time is necessary in order to be fresh for work the next morning.) On nights when you don’t have to work the next day, please be home by 2:00am (1:00am if you drive our car) or let us know ahead of time if you want to stay out later or plan to stay overnight at a friend’s house. If you have not told us that you will be late, we will worry if you are not home by 2:00am (or 1:00am with the car).

2. House rules on going out at night and dating:
We trust that you are mature enough to decide how to spend your free time. However, we want you to be very careful about your safety. Never get into a car or go somewhere with someone you don’t know. If you are ever in a situation that feels dangerous, PLEASE call us, no matter what time it is, and we will come to pick you up.

3. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the curfew & house rules:
You are allowed to spend the night at your friends’ homes, as long as we know where you will be, we have the phone number there, and you have permission to stay over.

RULES ON SMOKING

1. Can the au pair smoke outside, in front of the children?
No, please do not smoke at any time/place in front of the children.

2. Can the au pair smoke in front of the children at all?
No.

3. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the rules on smoking:
If you choose to smoke during your free time, away from the house and the children (and not in our cars), that is fine. If you do smoke, or if you go out someplace where other people are smoking, please wash your clothes right away to get rid of the smoky smell.


VISITORS & GUESTS

1. Family policy on hosting friends and family from out of town:
You are welcome to invite friends or family to visit from out of town. Please just talk to us about it in advance.

2. Can boyfriends/girlfriends come to visit?
During work hours, please do not have any guests over to the house without talking to us about it first. Generally, we do not want guests in the house during your work hours unless they are other au pairs or friends caring for children, who come over for a playdate.

During non-work hours, you may have friends come over whenever you want. We want you to feel like this is your house, too – and we will look forward to meeting your friends! Please make sure that you and your friends are quiet after the rest of the family has gone to bed.

3. House rules on having overnight guests:
Please talk to us in advance if you wish to have a friend stay overnight. No male visitors may stay overnight unless they are family members (your Dad, brothers, etc.).

4. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the Visitors & Guests section:
Please do not allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol in our home. This is illegal, and we could be held responsible if something happened to them after they were drinking in our home.

Birds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

TELEPHONE & TV

1. Rules on long distance phone calls:
You may call anyone anywhere in the U.S. from our home phone. Please use a phone card for international calls. We will be happy to help you obtain a phone card.

2. General phone etiquette:
If someone calls during dinner, please ask if you can call them back when we are finished with dinner. Please ask your friends not to call on the home phone after 9pm – they may call you on your cell phone instead.

If someone calls during the day while we are not home, you can choose whether you want to answer it or let the person leave a message on our voicemail (the voicemail will pick up after about 4 rings). If you answer it and the call is for one of us, please write down their name and number so that we can call them back, and be sure to give us these messages daily. (The “Daily Communications Log” is a good place to write these messages.)

3. Talking on the phone while caring for the children:
It is fine for you to talk on the phone while Child3 takes a nap and the boys are in school. When Child3 is awake and/or the boys are home you may make/answer calls briefly, but please pay attention to what the kids are doing and do not talk on the phone for longer than 5 minutes.

4. Au pair cell phone (if applicable):
Please do not use your cell phone for international calls. You may use it to call anywhere in the United States. We pay for 300 minutes per month, if you go over that amount, you will be expected to pay us the additional charge (45 cents per minute). You can find out how many minutes you have used by dialing #MIN on your phone. Text messages are not included in your calling plan minutes, and they cost 20 cents per message sent or received. You will be expected to pay for any text messages you send or receive.

The main reason we are providing you with a cell phone is so that we are able to reach you when you are with the children. Please be sure to keep your cell phone with you at all times, and make sure you keep the battery charged.

5. What kinds of programs can be watched in front of the children/in public spaces?
Please do not watch anything with violence, sex, or bad language in front of the children. You are free to watch more “mature” shows or movies on the television in your room.

6. What kind of programs are the children not allowed to watch?
We do not allow them to watch shows with violence, sex, or bad language. The main channels they watch are the kids channels (61 to 65) and the Discovery Channel (39).

7. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the Telephone and TV section:
We will show you how to use the television and DVD player in your room and in the Rec. Room.

COMPUTER & INTERNET USAGE

1. When is your au pair allowed to use the computer? How often?

You may use the computer during work hours while Child3 is sleeping and the boys are at school. (Note that if you choose to use the computer during work hours, you will still be expected to satisfy your household duties, either during work hours or during your free time.) We have two computers, a laptop in HostDad and HostMom’s bedroom and a Mac in the basement. When Child3 is asleep, you should use the laptop so that you can hear Child3 when she wakes up – you can either use it at the desk in the bedroom, or you can remove it from the docking station (we’ll show you how) and bring it down to the family room or kitchen if you prefer.

During non-work hours, you may use the computers at any time – just be aware that we all need to share them.

For both computers, please do not download any programs from the internet.

2. When going online, things to consider include:
Do not give our address or phone number to anyone you don’t know. If you have a blog or other website about your au pair year, please do not include any identifying information about our family. (You can make up fake names or call us the “P” family, with kids “A,” “J,” and “M.”)


Birds in Turquoise by Erin McMorris at Bee Square Fabrics { Quilting fabrics for the modern crafter }_1235042497358

EDUCATIONAL COMPONENT

Au pairs are required by the U.S. Department of State to enroll in an accredited post-secondary institution for not less than six academic credits or its equivalent. Host families are required to pay the cost of this course, including texts/books up to, but not more than $500.

1. Nearby Institutions:
The closest school is Local Community College. We will show you how to get there.

2. Options for transportation:
You may drive the Volkswagon to and from your classes.

3. Things to consider when choosing classes:
You should not sign up for any classes that begin earlier than 5pm on weekdays, to ensure that you have enough time to get to the school after your work hours.

4. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the Educational Component section:
L***, our LCC, will have more information for you about what classes are appropriate to satisfy your requirements. We are also happy to help you choose what class or classes you should take.

CULTURAL EXCHANGE

1. Opportunities to share your culture with the family:
We are all looking forward to learning more about your country and your culture. We would love to see pictures of your home and family, and hear about your holidays and traditions and things that are different in Venezuela than they are in the U.S. If you like to cook, we would love it if you would make some traditional Venezuelan foods for us sometime. We also hope that you will speak Spanish with Child3, and that you will teach the boys and HostMom and HostDad some Spanish as well!

2. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding the Cultural Exchange section:
We are looking forward to sharing some of our culture with you as well. If there are any specific American holidays or traditions you would like to know about, please ask!

OTHER

1. Please use the additional space provided below to include further pertinent information regarding any other issues:
Please try to turn off all lights and appliances when you leave a room. We are charged for our usage of electricity and our bills can become quite costly if we leave the lights on all the time. If we have the heat on in the winter or the air conditioning on in the summer, please be sure to keep the windows closed so we do not waste electricity by heating or cooling a house with open windows.

The kids are not allowed to eat or drink anywhere in the house except the kitchen. When you are working, we would like you to follow this same rule. When you are not working (and not with the kids), you may eat or drink in the basement or in your room, but please do not leave any open food containers or empty/used glasses or dishes around as they will attract bugs and mice. Please clean up any spills immediately.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Danuta Dienst January 7, 2011 at 10:18 am

Are you able to write mroe on this subject please?

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vicky January 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

this is exactly what I would like a Host Family to send me during the matching process as it is very helpful to get a sense what to expect and what it will be like.
Thank you

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Flygresa February 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

hi… i didn’t agree with some of the things, nevertheless i do enjoyed the article in general… this article was actually recommended to me by a good friend at myspace and he ended up being right. really good read! Regards, Flygresa

Reply

NoVA Host Mom February 16, 2012 at 2:51 am

I’m curious, just what did you not “agree” with? You do realize that this is an example of one Host Family’s house rules? Generally it is not for the AP to pick what rules to follow at their HF’s.

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AtlantaHostMom February 25, 2012 at 1:42 am

Amen NoVA Host Mom. I’m tired of the AP feeling this is her Spa year! I think the family handbook is excellent and very nice! I’m trying the AP program one more time, but if I get another princess then I will never do it again. Ours ended up presenting herself as a from a wealthy ZULU Tribe from South Africa! Hillarious!

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TiredMama February 16, 2012 at 3:18 am

I think it was spam…

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NoVA Host Mom February 17, 2012 at 4:24 am

Ah. Hard to tell on that one. Usually it’s so much more, um, imteresting. ;)

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cory March 12, 2012 at 5:59 am

Thanks for a great resource, my au pair and I are first timers and it is great to have a starting point that she can read through and hopefully give her a good insight into how our family works…thanks for saving me a lot of time trying to get all my points into a well laid out document.
GREAT!!!!

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Nicole August 31, 2012 at 8:21 am

The content of this handbook is very informative and a great help for first time hosts. It covers things I would have forgotten to discuss with my future Au Pair, except through trial and error. Thank you for sharing this template.

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Eddi October 3, 2012 at 11:34 am

Thanks for the article. I will be incorporating it into my handbook for my AP that arrives on Sunday. We are both first timers, so I’m definitely NERVOUS. Great article!!!

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Sonja October 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Thank you for this. Really helped me to get started too :)

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Akiko November 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Thanks for this resource which is so helpful to prepare Au Pair to welcome.

Reply

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