Take Advantage of Your Summer Re-Sets: Revise expectations

by cv harquail on June 27, 2011

Every year, I know it’s coming, but I’m never ready when it arrives… I’m not talking about Christmas (though, I could be).

I’m talking about summer recess. Vacation for your school kids, and a new routine for everyone

Last Weds. was my kids’ first day of summer recess, and already I’m going crazy. All those things that were routine are now askew. Everything from getting up to practicing the piano has to be rescheduled, renegotiated, and reconsidered. That was all stuff I was supposed to have figured out, oh, like about three weeks ago.

201106231730.jpgI hope that you’re not caught short the way I’ve been, and that you’ve remembered our conversation from this time last year. Remember when we talked about how important it is to help your au pair reorganize your kids’ schedules?

Remember how the summer brings a whole new set of expectations, attitudes and challenges?

Most of us will need a summer plan that includes:

  • A new daily schedule, with wake-ups, naps, trips to the park, day camp drop off, etc. all lined up.
  • A new weekly schedules, with M-F plans if the days have different activities (e.g., swim lessons on Tues/Thurs)
  • A 10-week outline of what happens which week (e.g., Harry Potter camp vs. art camp)
  • A 12 weekend plan — when you’re going to the shore, when you’ll be at home, when you know you need your au pair for a Saturday night, etc.
  • A plan for your family vacation & trips
  • A plan for your au pair’s vacation time, if any will be taken in the summer
  • A schedule of visits and guests (Grandma in July, your au pair’s sister the first week of August)

Am I forgetting anything?

We’ll also need to help our au pairs, our kids and ourselves to a little psychic reset.201106231729.jpg

  • You might work more at home but still need your au pair on duty.
  • Your au pair might have the kids for 8 hours straight 5 days a week, after getting used to having the middle of the day to herself.
  • You might travel every weekend to your lake house (lucky you!) and expect your au pair to come with you– or not.
  • Your kids will want to stay up late since it’s still light out, and they won’t want to get into their car seats in a stinky, sticky, steamy minivan.
  • You’ll need a treats policy or a large wad of cash to manage the twice-daily drive-bys of the Good Humor truck.
  • Your au pair may need to be on duty at poolside, when she’s only ever spent pool time on the chaise lounge with her eyes closed.
  • You’ll want to have a vacation, and have your au pair be on duty chasing kids while you catch up on your Real Simple back issues.

Am I forgetting anything?

Use Summer Recess for Re-Sets

We can use all this reorganization to our advantage, though, if we think ahead about how we’d like things to change, how we’d like our kids to grow, how we’d like our au pair’s responsibilities to grow, how we’d like our family to flourish in this summertime space.

So, rather than think of it as craziness, thing of it as a time for re-sets. Re-set your plans, your goals, your expectations, your assumptions, while you do whatever planning and reorganizing might be necessary.

See also:
What’s the cure for “Summer Fever”?
4 Ways to Reduce “Seasonal Schedule Shift Syndrome”
10 Days of Work that Might Surprise Your Au Pair
Is it Cultural, Generational, or just Me

Swimming Time
from YoZeFiNe
The end of a busy day
from sirbranderson


Jeana June 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm

This is so true! In our family book, which is forwarded to aupairs our family was considering matching with, I included a section on summer. In our family, summer is a totally different schedule. Totally! In my opinion, harder on our aupairs, than the school year. Great topic to be proactive!

Taking a Computer Lunch June 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm

The last 3 APs have ended their year in August. In my book there is nothing harder on an AP than to have to ramp up their work in what they anticipated to be wind-down. I’ve written about this elsewhere – warn your APs in April that their routine will change in June! (My handbook states that the only summer vacation may be taken while both kids are in sleep-away camp – and I make sure that the other vacation days are used before the end of school – even if I have to threaten to assign them myself!)

In my book – better to spontaneously reward a hard-working AP with an unexpected day off than to schedule down time. Tell her the previous Friday (so she has time to make plans), “You know, I’ve appreciated how hard you’ve worked this summer, I’m going to play with the kids next Friday so you can have the day off.”

NorAupair June 29, 2011 at 3:53 am

Hello :)

While I agree that the family needs to reschedule for summer, I don’t aggre with the hard part for the au apair.And I’m not a workaholic,believe me. I’m in Norway,and my host kids (2 girls and a boy, 2,4 and 8 yrs old) are off school/kindergarden. It’s really nice that now we don’t have to rush in morning to be on time.Still we get up early as usual and having breakfast,and then playing,playing,playing and even more playing,outside in the yard,down the lake,or up in mountain forest (we live in the countryside) or at near by beach.And when it’s time for household chores they sit with me in the kitchen and painting while I’m cooking, or sometimes we cook together,it’s so fun!!or they watch their favorite dvd sometimes.And on the weekends we are out an about to various destinations with my HM (HD is working offshore on rotation on 5 weeks away and 5 weeks at home). We’re waiting for HD this week, it will be so nice to be all together again. I have planned all sorts of activities for my kids to give my HP some time alone and then we’re going on a cruise all together.

I think summer it’s a really nice time for families and au pairs,that each part should take advantage of.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

My AP has a 25 kg child that has to be lifted, fed, changed, etc. Much harder work in the summer when she’s not in school than the 10 1/2 months that she is in school. On the other hand, her gym routine need not be so long to stay in shape!

Tristatemom June 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

Dear NorAuPair,

just wanted to tell you that you sound like a wonderful AP!!
I still have hope that our new AP will resemble your approach and attitude. Can you tell me what your hostfamily does to bring out this great AP in you?

NorAupair June 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Thank you Tristatemom,

I believe that we have very good chemistry with my HF. They are wonderful people by all means. The most important thing still for me,is that from the very first moment they did their best to make me feel as a 4th daughter, a big sister. I receive love and respect from them. I’m not expected to do even the half that I’m doing,but I do my best every single day and I feel happy to do it.

However I have to admit 2 things.I am a 28 yrs old au pair with 10 yrs of experience in childcare.I have been doing this as a nanny/babysitter/au pair/ and I’m a music/dance teacher working with a wide age range so I know about them a lot,though you never really know a lot when it comes to children.This is one thing.
2nd is that the first time I tried to be an au pair..I was rather a disaster the first 3 months.While I was doing very good with the kids, I was so homesick and missing my boyfriend and I was all about msn (no skype when I was 18).I was lucky enough that I wasn’t sent back home,instead my HM who was herself an au pair in the past sat down with me and through conversations and her guidance I got through it and opened my eyes to the wonderful world of au pairing.

Since then I realized what it takes specifically to be an au pair.I keep contact with most of the families that I have worked, and 2 of them visited me in the summer, and we had a merry meeting.This is the last time for me as I reach the max age.So I enjoy even more every minute. I know I got off topic,but I had to explain it.

NorAupair June 29, 2011 at 9:34 am

Honestly now…I’m not trying to be the smart one here,but as au pairs/caregivers this is what we are expected to do.Lift and chase and change and feed and much more.One of my kids is over-weighted (she is encouraged from all of us to eat healthy and exercise through fun activities) but this doesn’t make my life harder.Their favorite game is to lift them high and take turns :) though they get dizzy after a while but they keep asking for one more turn..

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