Category Archives: Tips for Families

Realistic Expectations when Hiring a Live-In Caregiver







Check out our top 7 tips for realistic expectations when you hire a Live-In Caregiver.

  • Acknowledge that your nanny has arrived in Canada for the first time. You will need to teach her everything she is required to do, from how to use the washing machine to what to feed the children.
  • Do not assume she will know what needs to be done. Just like in any other job where you are the supervisor you will need to delegate tasks.
  • Understand that the culture shock may be overwhelming; the weather, the food, the size of the home, the appliances, the cleaning products, the language, the relationship Canadian employers have with their nannies and the way they raise their children will all be different. This may leave her completely at odds when trying to deal with a Canadian family.
  • Be patient. It may take several months for the nanny to settle into her job and into your home.
  • Be reasonable. Do not expect your nanny to be able to do more than you could.
  • Creating fair working conditions will help your nanny feel settled and secure that she is with a “good employer.”
  • Your nanny may also have realistic expectations of the position. Canada is sometimes seen as an attractive place to work because it is “easier” than other places. It is your responsibility to set the ground rules for the position and ensure your nanny knows what is expected of her.

Every placement is different, whether this is your first Live-In Caregiver or you’ve had multiple nannies in the past. Each placement will take time to settle but the above tips will help you find your groove and set up reliable routines with your Caregiver!

Au Pair vs. In-Home Caregiver

We’ve put together a side-by-side comparison between Au Pairs and In-Home Caregivers. Check it out to see which form of childcare best suits your family’s needs.

Au Pair In-home Caregiver
•   Must have childcare experience, preferably outside the family such as babysitting, tutoring, completing an internship in a daycare/preschool •    Many have a minimum of 1 year of full-time work experience as nanny, an early childhood education and 1 year of work experience in the according field, or a 6 month care giving training course
•   Main responsibility: childcare

•   Assists with child-related household duties including meal preparation, doing the children’s laundry, and helping to keep their rooms clean


•    Main responsibility: childcare and housekeeping

•     Always live-in •    Option to live-in or live-out
•     10 – 12 months, sometimes 6 months (Dec-Mar) •    2 years
•     Between 18-29 years of age •    No age limit, majority are between 25-45 years
•   High school graduates (ECE certificate for Au Pair Professionals) •    Usually high school or post-secondary education in nursing, midwifery or teaching

•     No additional costs

•    Family must pay for the caregiver’s roundtrip flight as well as healthcare coverage until eligible for provincial health coverage and LMIA costs.
•   Applicant must complete a medical exam and police clearance(s) prior to entering Canada •    Applicant must complete a medical exam and police clearance(s) prior to entering Canada
•   Comes to Canada for a “cultural exchange” – more like a big sister to your children •    An In-home Caregiver may also offer in-home elderly care or disabled adult care
•     Has a driver’s license •    Rarely has a driver’s license
•   Proficient in English as a second language or native speaker •    Proficient in English as a second language
•     Au Pair is paid minimum wage •    Caregiver is paid median prevailing wage
•   Room and board are deductible, the amount depends on province •    Room and board cannot be deducted
•   Working hours range from between 25 – 44 hours per week •    Caregiver works full-time between 40 – 48 hours

•   No additional paperwork needs to be submitted to Canadian Embassy or Service Canada

•    Canadian Embassy processing the application requires potential employers’ Notice of Assessments to determine eligibility, letter from employer, Proof of Identity and Address
•     No Labour Market Impact Assessment required •    Labour Market Impact Assessment is required
•     No advertising required •    Advertising using at least four different methods of recruitment
•     Processing times range between 5 – 16 weeks •    Processing times range between 6 – 9 months

Interested in getting an Au Pair or In-Home Caregiver? Contact us as 1-800-820-8308 or [email protected]

Books to Read with your Host Kids!




Inspiring a love of stories is one of the most helpful tools you can give to kids as they learn to read.  Mastering literacy is a big step to independence in children’s development and it’s no easy task. There is often a large amount of pressure for kids as they begin to practice this new skill, which can act as a deterrent.

Because of this it’s extremely important to make reading fun! Take the time to sit down with your host kids and make reading time quality time. Engage them in the story and have them help you as you read it together. It’s a great opportunity to work on your English as well! If children view stories as something exciting they get to share with you, they’ll enjoy practicing instead of grumbling and complaining about how difficult it is and getting frustrated by the amount of work they have to do.

If you can nurture their love of reading as they grow, steadily choosing material that will keep them engaged, soon they’ll be picking out books they can read on their own, and happily do so. Even if reading is not a hobby they continue later on in their lives, it’s one of the best building blocks you can give children when it comes to their education and imagination – few things inspire and challenge quite like a good book!

Encourage your host kids to explore their school library and even talk to their librarian about what books they are interested in. When they get home from school, set aside a time when you can snuggle up on the couch and read the books they checked out that week.

Another option is the city library. Plan a weekly trip – this is also a great place to connect with other Au Pairs or meet up with your host kids’ friends. Look up the library online and see if they have scheduled story time or music/playtime (if you have younger host kids). Check out a few books for the week and you can also teach your host kids about borrowing and returning.

If you’re at a loss for good reading material, check out some of these great reads:

5 years

Not a Box

No David

Elephant and Piggie


Peanut Butter and Cupcake

6 years

The Paper Bag Princess

You Are Special

The Lorax

Strega Nona

The Wartville Wizard

7 years

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

The Frog Prince Continued

Cinder Edna

Junnie B Jones

Fantastic Mr. Fox

8 years

Horrible Harry


Toad Rage

Dragon Rider

Wayside School is Falling Down

9 years

Charlotte’s Web

The Chronicles of Narnia


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Spiderwick Chronicles

10 years

The Circle of Magic



Ella Enchanted


11 years

Harry Potter

Ender’s Game

The Hobbit

Percy Jackson

Song of the Lioness

Managing Expectations








Expectations are what we hope will happen in the future based on our past experiences, what we’ve heard from other people or even what we thought we heard from others. It’s important to communicate your expectations so that you can make them realistic.

Reality vs. Expectations – Expectations and reality are two separate entities. Reflecting on what you want out of your placement and how to achieve that can help narrow the gap between the two. Understanding the differences between them will save you from disappointment.

What are your expectations? – Take some time to write out what your expectations are. Be specific and try to come up with a plan or strategies for meeting those expectations. Remember to include expectations for yourself as well as your Host Family/Au Pair.

Communicate – Sit down with your Au Pair/Host Family at the beginning of your placement and talk about what both parties are hoping to accomplish. Be as honest and open as possible, encouraging the other party to contribute. We recommend having sit-down meetings regularly throughout your placement and making expectations a topic to discuss each time.

Be open-minded – Realize that not all of your expectations will be met, that you will have to make compromises here and there, and that’s okay! Life has the habit of turning out differently than we anticipate or imagined. Be flexible and understanding, take everyone’s expectations into account, and roll with it. Even if your placement is not meeting your dream expectations, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure or a bad match. It just requires a different perspective to enjoy the journey and experience as it is.

For example: if you believe the way things should be done is 4+4 and instead your Au Pair/Host Family does things 2+6, you could focus on the fact that it is not how you know/want it to be, or you could realize that the outcome is still 8.

Often times the only difference between a mediocre placement and a fantastic placement is a good attitude.

How to Say “Common Sense” in 5 Languages






English: common sense

German: gesunder menschenverstand

French: bon sens

Spanish: sentido común

Italian: buon senso

Your common sense is your natural ability to make good judgments and to behave in a practical and sensible way. Common sense is a big part of what makes a match successful. It’s often the little things that make the difference between a happy placement and a rocky one, and taking those small things into consideration will make you a better Au Pair and/or Host Family.

Some helpful tips for good common sense are:

  • Think Before You Act/Speak

Consider all the possible outcomes and make your decision with everyone’s best interests in mind. If you’re expectations are not being met, think about how to find a solution and move forward instead of venting your frustrations.

  • Communication

Often times common sense is inhibited by ignorance. For example: cheese is much cheaper in Germany than in Canada, but if you’ve never purchased cheese in Canada you wouldn’t necessarily know that, and if nobody tells you – you’re unlikely to make the discovery on your own. Au Pairs are here to learn about Canada; host families, this is your opportunity to teach them. If you notice small tidbits are putting strain on your placement, open a dialogue and discuss them. If your Au Pair is putting all of the cheese you got as a special treat on their sandwich, speak up! In contrast, if you’re an Au Pair and you don’t understand why your host family is unhappy that you’re making a cheese sandwich, ask them why! It’s the best way to learn.

  • Understanding

Take the time to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. If you are able to consider where they are coming from or why they like to do things a certain way, you will be better prepared to make good decisions.

Checklist for Host Families

The arrival of your Au Pair or Nanny is a very exciting time for every family! You’re welcoming a new member into your home and introducing them to your lives. Amidst getting to know each other and helping them settle in, you will also be explaining about your children, their routines, and the ins and outs of your daily schedules. To make this easier, we’ve compiled a checklist of important topics for parents to go over with their childcare providers:

Parenting Styles and Disciplining

  • Do you use positive reinforcement?
  • Do you take away privileges when your children aren’t listening?

Household/Family Rules

  • Not just for your kids but also for the adults in the home

Bedtime Routine

  • Do your children have a lights out curfew or sleep with a nightlight?
  • Do your kids have a special stuffed animal or blanket?
  • Are they allowed to stay up and read or have a snack before bed?

Using the Car

  • Is there a schedule, should they ask first?
  • Who pays for gas?

Inviting Guests Over

  • When is a good time?
  • Is it okay if you’re not home?


  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Home address and landline number

Communication and Expectations

  • When will we get together to talk again?
  • What do you expect from your time in Canada and as an Au Pair/Nanny?
  • What are your expectations as a parent?

Getting Back into School

The end of the summer approaches and inevitably, the school year is creeping up on us. But instead of panicking and trying to squeeze every last drop of freedom out of the last days of August, try out a few of these techniques to make the transition back into structured routines and scheduled days a little easier on both you and your kids.

  1. Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

Instead of waiting to enforce an early bedtime until the night before school starts, try getting your kids to bed a half hour earlier than they have been during the summer, and waking them up an hour earlier as well. We find there is less grumbling if you plan fun activities that they’d have to get out of bed to enjoy – maybe head to the waterslides or have a beach day. The adjustment period usually takes about a week but it’s worth it to ease into a decent school schedule and it will help your kids start off the year with lots of energy.

  1. Set a Budget for Supplies

We’ve all been there: you head out to buy pencils, erasers and paper but you somehow come home with a new backpack, pencil case, folders covered in cute cats, light up runners, a 30 piece set of felt markers and a superhero lunch kit. We understand, it’s hard to say no and it’s part of the fun! But if you are hoping to keep your purchases on the inexpensive side this year, set a budget and talk about it with your kids. Let them know how much money they have to spend on non-essentials so they can pick out one or two things more exciting than HB pencils but will understand before you get to the store that they will have to be selective.

  1. Read Books about Going to School

Especially if this is your child’s first year of school! Reading together about what to expect will help soothe their worries if they’re feeling anxious, and get them excited about all the fun they’ll have. Some great titles to check out are: The Kissing Hand, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School, First Day Jitters, The Berenstain Bears Go to School, and The Pirates Guide to First Grade.

  1. Brainstorm Ideas for Lunches

Check out Pinterest for some creative and healthy ideas for pack lunches. Get your kids involved and make a list of options that they approve of and you can refer back to throughout the year. Pack lunches can be so much more than a sandwich! If your kids are old enough, teach them how to make some of the recipes or put them in charge of assembling everything in their lunch box and packing it in their backpack.

  1. Get Excited!

Excitement is infectious! Talk to your little ones about what to expect; make it a family discussion by having your older children share their favourite experiences from their first year of school. Talk about what kind of extra-curricular activities your kids would like to try this year and search for good programs. If you’re excited, your kids will be too!

Dealing with Separation Anxiety


Separation anxiety is anxiety provoked in a young child by separation or the threat of separation from their primary caregiver. Whether it starts early or late, whether it’s mild or severe, separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development and because we know it can be a stressful journey, we’ve put together a few tips to help families cope.

We recommend starting small! Practice in your home environment with a friend/babysitter by leaving the room for a short amount of time before returning. If your child cries, have your friend comfort them and let them know you will be back shortly; you can also call out to let them know you are still there and will just be a few minutes. As your child becomes accustomed to your small absences, you can increase the time you are away. Eventually your child will learn that they are still safe even when you are not present and that you will always reappear.

If you will be leaving your children with a childcare provider for long periods of time make sure that you have prepared them and yourself for this change, especially if this is the first time you will be doing so. You may have practiced short absences with your child and readied them as much as possible for this next step, but it’s not uncommon for parents to forget that they may also feel anxious or even guilty about leaving their child for the day. Make sure to talk to your child’s caregiver about your feelings and let them know you might call to check in with them or would like to receive updates throughout the day. Find a way for you to stay connected during your absence so you can be more at ease and able to concentrate when you’re out.

Be sure to say goodbye before you go. You may do this before your caregiver arrives, you may do it right before you head out the door, every family is different and you will have to find what works best for you, as long as you take the time to acknowledge your absence with your child so they are not caught off guard when you are suddenly not there. Some children react badly when they know you’re leaving, but regardless of how upset the child is, sneaking out only adds to anxiety, increases the fear of abandonment, and breaks down the child’s sense of trust.

If your child is still having difficulties with your absence, consider leaving behind a transitional object. This could be a blanket, a teddy, or a personal item such as Mommy’s bracelet, Daddy’s watch, etc. – something of comfort to help a child feel more secure and remember that you will be back soon.

Remember, overcoming separation anxiety is a gradual process that takes a different amount of time for each child. But you will all get through it and pretty soon the time they spend with their caregiver will be a positive and exciting part of your child’s routine that everyone looks forward to.

How to be a great Nanny employer!


How to be a great Nanny Employer!

It’s a nanny’s world out there meaning that if you find a good nanny – hold on to her!

1.) Follow provincial labour standards with regards to hourly pay rate, overtime, vacation time etc. This is so simple and is yet the number one issue of contention between nannies and employers. It is what she is entitled to, and anything else simply won’t do!

 2.) Show your appreciation … and often! Nanny employers are also busy families, but take the time to show your nanny, this special person who cares for your children on a daily basis, how grateful you are for helping you run the household more efficiently.

3.) Provide regular raises and bonuses for continued good work. If a nanny is from overseas, purchase a flight to her home country to enable her to visit her family. Provide monthly bus passes to help your their nanny socialize on her time off or give birthday and Christmas bonuses.

4.) Have respect for her position as a nanny and appreciate that it is an important job! Even she may not always want to work as a nanny forever, but nanny traits like being trustworthy, organized, reliable and being patient are traits important for all jobs.

 5.) Communicate well with your nanny and let her know she can talk to you openly too. Don’t let little problems escalate out of control. Try and schedule regular nanny performance reviews, where you and your nanny can sit down and discuss any issues.

6.) At the end of the day, just remember – A happy nanny means happy children, and a happy you!

Reasons to Hire a Nanny or Au Pair Through a Full Service Agency

Au pair and child

Many parents who are considering hiring a nanny or au pair wonder if they should use an agency?

As we’ve discussed at length in a number of blog posts so far this year, the Canadian childcare crisis is very real and even though the new federal budget introduced a series of proposals which would in theory increase the number of childcare spots available as well as make those spots more affordable, it’s unlikely that any changes will go into effect until 2018.

If this is so, what are Canadian families to do?

In consideration of the number of childcare options potentially available to families, the following are some of the reasons why it might be in your family’s best interest to hire a caregiver (such as a nanny or an au pair) through an agency like us.

Family service Halifax

1. Convenience

This is the main reason families come to us: we save you time so that you can spend it with your friends and family.

We handle all the particulars of the Au Pair application and placement process so that you don’t have to. Because trust us: it is no easy job finding the ideal Au Pair or caregiver for a particular family.

Let us bring you the wisdom of our twenty years of experience as a caregiver placement agency and help you find your perfect match.

2. Reliability

The bottom line is this: we only place caregivers and au pairs who have been thoroughly screened by us or one of our partner agencies abroad.

All of our applicants undergo an extensive screening process (including background checks, medical exams, and character references) and all of them have previously verified experience working with children (or the elderly, in the case of our caregiver program).

So, while sites like Craigslist and Canadian Nanny might be the more popular way to find childcare these days, with an agency like us, providing you with a greater peace of mind is part and parcel of our commitment to you.

3. Practicability

Hiring a in home caregiver such as an au pair or nanny can provide you with the quick fix you need if you’re stuck in a jam.

Our au pair placement process can take as little as four weeks! Check out some of the profiles we have available now.

One of the other benefits of hiring an au pair or a nanny through an agency like us is the opportunity for a replacement. It’s not a particularly enjoyable topic of conversation, but unfortunately, not all caregiver placements work out.

This is why we have measures in place to provide you with replacement au pair or nanny, should you need one. It is not often that childcare options provide you with such a reliable backup.

4. Support

An invaluable part of our services includes providing ongoing support to you and your caregiver before and during their placement.

One of the most rewarding parts of our job is keeping up with all of our clients and caregivers by phone and email to make sure everything is going as smoothly as possible and that the line of communication between Employer (family) and Employee (caregiver) is always open.

To put it simply: we are here for you, your family and your caregiver.

These are all of the things that we, a longstanding caregiver placement agency, can offer you when it comes to reliable, affordable childcare.

Give us a call today to find out more: 1 (800) 820 8308.

Canada Wide Coordinators for Personal Service