Monthly Archives: February 2017

Where to Au Pair: Fort McMurray

 

Alberta License Plate

To continue with our Where to Au Pair in Canada” series, we’re going to take you beyond British Columbia (where our head office is located) and into the vast and ecologically-diverse province of Alberta, affectionately known as the Princess Province or Wild Rose Country.

While the most well-known cities include Calgary (the site of the famous Calgary Stampede, or the ‘biggest rodeo in the world) and Edmonton (the province’s capital), we thought we’d introduce you to a smaller and lesser-known town which just might provide you with the ultimate, quintessential ‘Canadian experience’ you may be looking for as a prospective au pair.

Fort McMurray

Introducing Fort McMurray,  the gateway to the North.

Most famously known for its status as one of Alberta’s (if not all of Canada’s) greatest oil hubs, Fort McMurray is a generally underrated town that one might be all too quick to dismiss when considering an offer of employment from a Fort McMurray family.

The purpose of this post is to encourage you not to. As we mentioned in the first installment of our Where to Au Pair in Canada series, an important part of your placement as an au pair will be, undeniably, the location where you are living, working, and exploring. It is absolutely important to take it into consideration when you are deciding between multiple employment offers from Canadian families.

This is why we implore you to not pass judgment on a lesser-known city like Fort McMurray until you’ve had the chance to do some researching and investigating for yourself.

Fort McMurray Lake Macdonald

The following are some of the reasons why you should consider doing your au pair placement in Fort McMurray.

Full length of an extended family playing in the park

1. The people.

According to an au pair who is currently doing her placement there:

The people in Fort McMurray are very open. They are used to people from other countries and that’s why they are very friendly and interested in other cultures.

This account reflects what most visitors of Fort McMurray report about the town’s people: they are warm, friendly, open, and incredibly nice people.

Canadians are certainly known for their politeness and friendliness, and the people of Fort McMurray are no exception.

2. The small-town vibe.

There’s a reason the following song lyric is famous: “where everybody knows your name.”

Fort McMurray is one of those places, those tightly-knit communities where everyone knows everyone and everyone has everyone else’s back.

Fort McMurray is also home to a lot of families who are interested in or already have au pairs or other caregivers to help them get by on the day-to-day, making Fort McMurray a very family-oriented town with lots of outlets for caregivers looking to keep the kids in their care happy, healthy, and entertained.

Fort Mc Lake MacDonald (2)

The Hub, as recommended by the Fort McMurray Tourism office, as well as the MacDonald Island Park (pictured above), are two great places for au pairs and their kids to meet other au pairs, children, and their families, as well as have a lot of fun!

Fort McMurray Northern Lights

3. The access to outdoor activities.

From visiting the famous Athabasca Sand Dunes, to exploring and camping in Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, to snowshoeing and almost every type of winter activity in and around the city, Fort McMurray boasts a slew of different activities for your outdoorsy side.

These, among other activities, experiences, and other regional parks and destinations, make Fort McMurray a great place for the au pair who is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys winter, can handle some cold, and is enthusiastic about exploring the depth and breadth of Canadian climate and ecology.

4. The Canadian experience.

Nearby cities of Athabasca and Edmonton would make for great day- or weekend-trips, or, if you have more time before, during, or after your placement, a visit to Banff and Jasper National Parks via Calgary would be an incredible winter vacation!

Want to become an au pair in Fort McMurray, Canada? Contact your local placement agency in your country of residence and perhaps we’ll be working to place you soon 🙂

Thanks to Fort McMurray Tourism for all of their insight and guidance!

11 Reasons to Hire a Nanny

There is really no way to spin this truth: childcare is expensive.

When it comes to comparing the costs of modern childcare options, families are often stymied by how pricey the process of sponsoring and hiring a nanny can be.

But why do so many families across Canada (and around the world) prefer having a nanny to other types of childcare? There must be some reason. 

In fact, there are dozens of reasons. This article, for instance, lists a whopping 67 reasons, to be exact.

For the sake of brevity and conciseness, we thought we’d stick to what we think are the top eleven reasons to hire a nanny, instead of another form of childcare.

Who knows? Hiring a nanny might end up being the best thing for you and your family.

Fun piggyback ride

1. Nannies are experienced caregivers.

In many cases, nannies have had years of experience in childcare and often have other educational and professional experiences that enhance their abilities as your child’s caregiver.

A lot of overseas nannies have children of their own in their home countries, and choose to work as nannies in Canada or elsewhere in order to provide for those children and one day fund their travels or even immigration into Canada.

2. Nannies are available for long-term commitments.

Many overseas nannies stay with their families for at least two years, and sometimes even longer.

This can provide you and your children with desirable continuity and lead to a more comfortable childcare arrangement than one in which turnover and transition are more likely to occur.

3. Nannies are flexible.

This is probably the reason most families cite as the most important one that factored into their decision to hire a nanny in the first place.

We get it! Raising children while working full-time is no picnic, and parents find that having a nanny affords them with much more flexibility than a daycare or another type of caregiver can.

You can create your nanny’s schedule based around your schedule, and most nannies are used to week-to-week schedule changes therefore they can be very adaptable if and when you need to adjust their working hours.

4. Nannies help with housework.

One of the benefits of having a nanny as opposed to a babysitter or another form of childcare is that they help with housework.

This includes basic clean up related to the children’s activities, preparation of meals, the general maintenance of their rooms and play areas, and additional chores as needed.

While the primary role of a nanny is a caregiver for your children, rather than housekeeper, nannies expect to do a little bit of both, especially in situations where the children are at school or sleeping.

5. Nannies can be live-in.

This scenario is not only convenient, it can also foster a more familial bond between your family and your nanny, giving your children another trustworthy adult to rely on as well as keep them safe and happy.

6. Nannies can act as a third member of your parenting team.

Let’s face it, parenting isn’t easy!

It can be incredibly helpful to have a third parent figure in your children’s lives who spends almost as much time as you do with them (and sometimes more) and knows what they are like and what their needs are, both for day-to-day happiness and personal growth and maturation.

It can be difficult to keep a babysitter or a daycare centre helper in the ‘parenting’ loop about what your child needs, especially when it comes to discipline, but due to the nature of a nanny (especially a live-in nanny) there are likely to be far fewer inconsistencies between the raising and parenting of your children.

7. Nannies help you maintain your household.

As the previously cited article describes, “Your home is under control when you walk in the door.”

Can you imagine coming home to a clean house, happy and healthy children who are doing their homework or whatever it is they should be doing that moment, and all you have to do is greet your children and help with dinner (if the nanny hasn’t already begun making it)?

All of this is possible if you decide to hire a nanny!

woman holding a cute girl8. Nannies can take on the role of date night babysitter.

Provided those hours she spends ‘babysitting’ your children don’t lead her to exceed her full-time limit, with a nanny, you eliminate the need of calling a casual or part-time babysitter to watch your kids while you take an evening off!

9. Nannies can be affordable similar to day care costs.

For most daycare, for instance, you pay per child, whereas with a nanny, you generally do not pay for the number of children.

In addition, if you miss a day of daycare because your children are sick, you are still have to pay for that particular day. With a nanny, she will be there to work and take care of your kids whether they are healthy or sick.

10. Nannies provide one-on-one attention.

Your child is guaranteed to have more one-on-one attention and care if looked after by a nanny.

While the socialization aspect of daycare is appealing, it can often to your child feeling neglected or less than stimulated. A nanny makes her career out of being a nanny and can provide activities tailored specifically for your children and their needs, and can adapt with other activities and strategies as needed, rather than have to depend on what the majority wants or needs.

11. Nannies can be like an extended member of the family.

There are so many success stories of families whose relationships with their past nannies last a lifetime.

And, after all, as Julia Quinn-Szcesuil says, “your nanny loves your kids as fiercely as you do and will do everything in her power to make them happy, healthy, and secure.”

What more could you want for your children?

Family jumping

Au Pair Do’s and Don’ts

Covered front porch of theold craftsman style home.

Being an au pair is distinct from other babysitting, nannying, or homecare services because of its very nature: you’re not just working for the family, you are living with and sometimes becoming a part of the family.

Depositphotos_33461501_m-2015

As such, there are certain things to keep in mind that could be the difference between your au pair placement being decent or being exemplary.

Ultimately, your placement will be what you make it; that said, it is important to keep in mind that nobody is perfect, and neither your host family nor your agency expects you to be perfect. All anyone expects is that you try your best.

Customer and client sitting at desk or business people talking a

1. DO communicate.

Communication between families and their au pairs is often the most important factor of a placement.

DON’T bombard.

That said, as important as it is to communicate with your host family (who is, lest we forget, your employer), it is also just as important to know when not to come to your family with a problem.

The important thing to remember here is to read the room; there is a chance that the last thing your host mom or dad wants to do when they first come home from work is to have a long-winded discussion about what their child did that day that needs to be addressed, or about that vacation you were hoping to take in a few weeks’ time.

Don’t assume that a given moment is a good time to talk; rather than bombard your host family with any number of questions at any given time during the week, first ask them when would be a good time to have a discussion.

Family  picnicking together

2. DO participate in family activities.

For an au pair, the cultural exchange and family integration are significant factors in their decision to become an au pair in the first place.

The odds are that your family will invite you to participate in family activities, whether that be family dinners or family outings, and it is more than okay to go along with them! This will provide you with the opportunity to get to know your family better and get a better sense of who they are.

DON’T isolate yourself.

As positive as engaging in family activities can be, it is also important to have your own private and social life outside of your family’s home.

It can be rather uncomfortable for a host family when their au pair is always around. It is not that you are not welcome in their house, you do live there after all, but it can be uncomfortable for a family to feel like they’re the ones solely responsible for entertaining you.

Plus, we all want our privacy sometimes, which is why it’s good both for your family and for you if you engage in community or social activities outside the house.

3. DO be flexible.

While we encourage our host families to give their au pair a fixed schedule, it is also important to keep in mind that life happens, especially when it comes to children.

Be aware of this and do your best to adapt to your family’s needs.

DON’T let yourself be taken for granted.

That said, it is the responsibility of your host family to give you advance notice of any changes to the schedule.

Whether this be a sit-down to let you know that your hours on a particular day or week will be different, or a phone call to say they’re running late but will be home soon, you do have the right to ask your host parents to communicate those changes to you and with appropriate notice.

You are allowed to speak up if you feel your host parents aren’t being as communicative as you wish them to be! And if that doesn’t work, that’s what your placement coordinators are here for; never hesitate to contact them!

Cheerful woman using smartphone relaxed on sofa

4. DO keep in touch with your family.

Being homesick during a placement is entirely natural! A good way to combat that is by staying in contact with your family and friends from your home country from time to time.

DON’T be glued to your devices.

This is common sense; we encourage both our nannies and our au pairs to not be on their phones during working hours. A check-in during lunch or during a break? Absolutely.

But in general, it is good practice in any job setting to keep your phone, laptop, and/or tablet away during your work hours and putting your full attention to the task at hand, in this case, caring for and ensuring the safety and happiness of the children.

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5. DO experience Canada.

Take advantage of your time off and go places!

Canada has so much more to offer than you know, and the first step to experiencing it is to get out of the house and go explore your town or city.

Ask your host family for ideas! They’re probably the best reference for what to do in your area since they’ve lived and worked there for an extended period of time.

DON’T forget that you are here first and foremost to work.

Just as you should explore as much as you can, you also must honor your contract with your family; being an au pair is your job and should be your first priority.

As we always emphasize to incoming au pairs, use your common sense. If you get invited to a party that’s starting late on a Wednesday night but you know you start at 6:00 the following morning, you may want to reconsider going.

If you have a weekend off and there’s a chance weather conditions will affect your ability to get home in time for work on Monday? You may need to reconsider.

Female customer support operator with headset and smiling

6. DO rely on your placement coordinator!

If you have any questions or clarifications about anything whatsoever during your placement, do not hesitate to contact your placement coordinator!

We are here for you. It is part of our job to make sure your placement goes as smoothly as possible.

DON’T rely solely on her.

It is our job to help you and guide you through your placement. That said, part of being a good au pair is to be proactive and use your own judgment to make decisions in a given situation.

You should not need to contact your coordinator for everything that comes up. We advise instead that you rely on your support system as a whole. This includes your host parents, your coordinator, other au pairss in your area, and even your friends and family back home!

You do have what it takes to be an exceptional au pair. You just have to believe in yourself 🙂

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