Tag Archives: Canada

Where to Au Pair: Halifax

Halifax CitadelThis week’s edition of our ‘Where to Au Pair’ series will take us to Nova Scotia, one of the three provinces in eastern Canada known collectively as the Maritimes.

What the Maritimes may lack in city size and population when compared with their ‘big sister’ provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, as this article explains, they make up for in stunning natural beauty.

Let’s zoom in on Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital, and find out why it might be a great location for your future au pair placement in Canada!

Halifax Waterfront1. Proximity to the water

If you are used to living by the water, or have never had the chance to do so, Halifax boasts one of the most impressive waterfront walks in Canada.

While a Google Image search alone doesn’t even begin to do it justice, Halifax’s waterfront consistently ranks at the top of everyone’s list as one of the top things to do in the whole of Nova Scotia.

Halifax Public Gardens2. Public parks

Right in the heart of Halifax lies the famous Halifax Public Gardens, purportedly one of the finest examples of a Victorian Garden in North America.

Talk about a perfect place to stroll with your au pair kids or on your own to find a quiet escape from the bustle of the city!

Halifax Beaches

3. Access to beaches

You guessed it, proximity to water means proximity to beaches.

According to the article aptly titled ’25 things about the Maritimes that make the rest of Canada jealous,’ you are never more than an hour away from a glorious, saltwater beach.

Talk about some picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy views, too.

Halifax Festivals

4. Arts and culture events

The list of arts and culture events (from music and food festivals, to fundraising events and pride parades) is jaw-droppingly long for a capital city in such a small province, which leads us to hypothesize that there would never be shortage of fun and exciting things to do during your au pair placement!

Family service Halifax

5. High quality of life

The quality of life in Halifax is unsurprisingly high, as any Halifax local (‘Haligonian’) can attest to.

And frankly, how could it not be, given its idyllic location, its thriving arts and culture scene, its enviable of manicured public parks and heritage buildings hearkening a not so distant past, and the unbeatable access it provides to the rest of the naturally beautiful province and the Maritimes as a whole.

I don’t know about you, but as a Canadian, but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a location in Canada I want to visit more than Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the rest of the insatiable Maritime provinces.

Many thanks to the following useful articles and webpages:

Visit Halifax

Destination Halifax

TheLoop.ca

Find A Summer Au Pair Now

Family  picnicking together

Can you believe it? Summer is only a couple of months away!

The last day of school for most Canadian children falls sometime in June, which begs the question: have you found childcare for the summer yet?

Given that childcare in Canada is still considered to be in a state of crisis, it can be extremely difficult for Canadian families to find both affordable and reliable childcare, especially for the summer months.

So what can you and your family do to avoid being childcare-less come the day school lets out?

You can start by planning ahead.

woman reading to girl

The following are some suggestions for getting a leg up in your search for summer childcare:

1. Do your research.

Know your options, research those options, and perform due diligence.

Ask yourself questions like: will my child be safe in this environment? Will my child be happy in this environment?

2. Weigh the costs.

Can I afford sending my child to this daycare or summer camp facility? Will I be able to transport my child to and from this facility easily?

Does this facility offer enough daily coverage (in terms of hours of operation)? Will I be able to drop them off and pick them off on time without it interfering with my work schedule?

3. Talk to other parents.

The best way to find out about the qualifications or reliability of a childcare facility is by asking people whose children, or whose friends’ children, have already experienced it.

Facebook and other social media sites are great resources for this.

Host Family App jpg

4. Start the application process as soon as possible.

There is a good chance that many daycare or summer activity camps are already at capacity.

We’ve discussed this before, and we’ll reiterate it again: there is a bona fide childcare crisis in Canada, and unfortunately it seems like not even the new budget will make much of an improvement, or at least not until 2018 at the earliest.

However, there may yet be a saving grace for you.

Traveling WomanOne of the services we offer is the placement of au pairs (from either Germany, Australia, New Zealand, or Austria) with Canadian families.

An au pair is typically a young woman between the ages of 18 and 30 who comes to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa in order to live with a host family and take care of their children between 25-40 hours per week.

The best part about hiring an au pair is that they are flexible; as they are live-in (unlike nannies, who are either live-in or live-out), it is easy for them to adjust to your schedule and act as a reliable third parent on your parenting team.

Plus, the relationship they will cultivate with you and your family over the course of their placement will become like that of an extended family member, an older sibling for your children to play and spend time with.

International Nannies currently has only a handful of profiles of au pair applicants who are available to come to Canada, but we are confident we will be receiving many more in weeks leading up to summer.

All you have to do to start the process of hiring an au pair is by filling out our Host Family Application (pictured above), which will allow our team to get a better sense of your family’s unique childcare needs for the summer.

Interested? Give us a call today at 1.800.820.8308.

Or email our head office at [email protected]

Don’t wait until the last minute!

Where to Au Pair: Saskatoon

SaskatoonThe largest city in Saskatchewan, Canada’s central prairie and boreal province, Saskatoon was founded in 1882 and has been a cultural and economic hub ever since.

A vibrant city with a rich cultural and historic heritage, Lonely Planet ranks Saskatoon as the top place to visit in Saskatchewan, we thought it would be perfect for the next edition in our Where to Au Pair series.

The following are some of the reasons to consider Saskatoon for your au pair placement:

Saskatoon Meewasin Valley

1. Natural diversions

The South Saskatchewan River winds through downtown Saskatchewan, affording its citizenry with easily accessible riverside paths which are perfect for both winter and summer strolls with the family or a midday escape from the bustle of the city.

In the same vein as the natural diversions provided by the river, in the Meewasin Valley there are 60 kilometers of trails popular amongst walkers and cyclists that are lined with picnic areas.

Given the photo above, it shouldn’t be surprising to find out that Meewasin comes from the Cree (First Nations) word for beautiful.

Boomtown

2. History

Neighborhoods like Riverdale and Nutana boast scattered heritage buildings that recall their amalgamation into the rest of the early town of Saskatoon.

Saskatoon also boasts Canada’s longest indoor street, known affectionately as Boomtown (pictured above), a recreation of the town Saskatoon was at the beginning of the 20th century.

This site is part of Saskatchewan’s Western Development Museum, a four-museum network with various locations that recall and display records of the social and economic development within the province.

Saskatoon also has a significant Indigenous population which the city honors in part through the Wanuskewin Heritage Park just northeast of the city centre.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Youth culture

Saskatoon is also home to the University of Saskatchewan, one of the top research universities in Canada and the largest in the province with just under 24,000 students.

Not only that, the median age in Saskatchewan (35.5 years) is four years younger than the rest of Canada, meaning about half of the population is under 35 years old. And given that nearly half of the province’s population resides in Saskatoon, the chance that you as an au pair would be able to connect with people your own age is high.

SK Vibe Music Festival

4. Arts and entertainment

Saskatoon boasts a whopping 65 annual events and festivals that take place year round, even during the sometimes harsh winters!

Tourism Saskatchewan claims that the province’s community spirit is ‘legendary,’ so it’s definitely worth checking out!

For a complete list of things to do and sites to see in Saskatoon, check out their website!

Sources

Tourism Saskatchewan

Tourism Saskatoon

Wikipedia.

 

What Is An Au Pair?

sm_iStock_000016296271Small

Source: http://www.smartaupairs.com/aupair/tips.aspx

Almost all of us can recall a time during our childhood where our parents hired a babysitter or nanny to come watch us and our siblings for the evening while they enjoyed an evening out.

Many of us even worked as babysitters or nannies back in high school, eager to make some quick cash and find some sort of independence while we still lived under our parents’ roof and abided by their rules.

But how many of us here in North America had the opportunity to be an au pair while growing up?

imagesHC4DF0LE

Source: http://www.antlerlanguages.co.uk/au-pair/

Some of us, including myself, hadn’t even heard the term au pair, until we had the chance to travel or study abroad and familiarize ourselves with other cultures. Having worked as a babysitter and nanny for a number of families for almost ten years, I know for myself that I would’ve been exceedingly interested in being an au pair if I had had the chance either between high school and university, or after my postsecondary studies altogether.

Being an au pair is a unique opportunity to gain not only experience in childcare, but also to immerse oneself in another culture and, in many cases, become a part of a family. So how do you become an au pair?

To become an au pair, there are a series of qualifications you need to have. An au pair typically:

  1. Is between 18-30 years of age (though the majority are between 18 and 21).
  2. Has a high school education (or higher).
  3. Has some experience in childcare (typically as a babysitter or as a volunteer in an early childhood setting such as daycare or preschool).
  4. Has a valid driver’s license (though this is not always necessary).
  5. Is interested in both childcare and cultural exchange.

Our research shows that the majority of those who choose to work as an au pair do so as a gap year, either between high school and university, or during their university studies, not unlike those university students who choose to do a semester abroad during their university studies.

Both studying abroad and being an au pair are incredibly valuable experiences to have as a young adult, yet it is only in the past couple of decades that young people are choosing to be an au pair for a year either instead of or in addition to studying abroad.

Young mother on a swing with baby

So why should I consider hiring an au pair?

It has become increasingly difficult to find suitable caregivers for children these days, due in part to the financial burden it can pose upon a family, but also to the somewhat daunting challenge of finding a kindred individual whose personality meshes with your family’s.

This is where we come in.

internationalnannies-logo

One of the services we provide here at International Nannies & Homecare Ltd. is a comprehensive au pair placement program.

Our placement coordinators work with families all across Canada and match them with a carefully-screened au pair candidate from different countries around the globe. We get to know your family and assess your childcare needs, and then proceed to match you with one of the dozens of au pairs whose applications we continue to receive every day, especially during our peak time, June to September.

We take on the often burdensome task of finding a suitable caregiver (in this case, that of an au pair) so that you can spend more time with your family.

Parents giving piggyback ride to children

So why might an au pair rather than a nanny be more preferable for a given family?

  1. Because an au pair can work anywhere from 20 to 44 hours and is paid at minimum wage (province-dependent), having an au pair can be cheaper than having a nanny.
  2. There is significantly less paperwork involved in contracting an overseas au pair than there is for a nanny, which allows for au pairs to be processed by us and other agencies within 3 to 16 weeks as opposed to 7 to 9 months.
  3. An au pair is more likely to be interested in more than just childcare: they are interested in a cultural exchange, that of their native culture and that of their host family’s.

Is an au pair the right option for my family?

For more information, please check out our website http://www.internationalnannies.com or give us a call at  1.800.820.8308.

 

Ways to Cure Homesickness

This blog post is a follow up to one we wrote back in September called Signs of Homesickness. If you have not already had the chance to read this blog, go ahead and give it a read now. 11055286_852724174811348_151014661267300399_nDon’t worry, I’ll wait…. Welcome back! I hope you found that blog post of be an informative and useful tool to help you process being away from home and in a new culture. Now that you know the signs of homesickness, we want to be able to help you deal with homesickness. As the previous blog mentioned, homesickness is “the distress or functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment object such as parents.” This is a very normal thing that happens to people who travel. We just hope these tips can help you manage your homesickness so that you can continue to enjoy your Canadian life!

1. Share your home life with your new life

Sometimes when were in a new surrounding we want so badly to be present and find ways to fit in that we forget about our own past life and experiences. It’s important to remember where you came from and talk about things that can connect your home life to your Au Pair life.

Talk about your family, school, traditions and culture with all of the new people around you. Don’t be afraid to show pictures or bring up a conversation about politics and how they differ from country to country. Anything that will make a connection between your home life and your new life.

2. Make yourself busy by creating a routine

Your host family will provide you with a weekly schedule of when you need to provide childcare and light housekeeping but make sure you add your own flare to the schedule. Wake up 15 minutes early to stretch or enjoy a coffee, walk to the library the first Tuesday of the month to get a new book, sign up for a weekly spin class.

By making your schedule your own and creating routine, you’re committing yourself to your new home and finding your own community.

3. Write!!

Get a journal and start to write every day. Okay, maybe you don’t have time to write EVERY day but try to write a couple of times a week. Don’t just write in the super exciting new things but also write about the not so positive experiences so you can reflect back on them and see how much you’ve grown!

You should also write about all of the reason of why you decided to come to Canada. This will help to remind yourself on any bad days when you feel the homesickness creeping up of why you picked up and left everything familiar to be in a new and foreign place.

4. Make a “To-do list”Mom and daughter working

Climb a mountain, eat poutine, play hockey! Canada has so much to offer and it’s yours for the taking. Make a wish list or bucket list of all the things you want to do while you’re in Canada and work towards getting them done. By doing this, you have the opportunity to work towards something rewarding. Also, you could share you list with others engaging them to work with you on achieving these goals and inspiring them to make their own. You may not reach everything on the list but you will have done more than if you did not make the list.

5. Get creative!

Get your creative juices flowing! Create a video of your new neighbourhood, write a song about the new places you’ve seen, write a blog! Like creating a “to-do” list or something to work towards will help get your mind off of being away from home and help exercise your creative brain for when the kids need a new idea.

6. Do not develop FOMO

We are in a generation of connectivity.  No matter where we are or what we’re doing, if we have a cell phone in our pocket, we are connected to the world. Although this can be a great way to stay in touch with loved ones, it also creates a new phenomenon called fear of missing out (or FOMO).  FOMO is the feeling of anxiety that occurs when you think you will miss out on something exciting or huge if you don’t attend. For example, “I’m super tired but if I don’t go to the party I might miss something really important.”  This is developed from always checking social media, calling home frequently and Skyping with friends. Although these can be great ways to stay connected, in moderation, it’s important that you keep your mind in one spot. When we can constantly check in to see what our friends and family are up to this can cause us to desire to be back home rather than making your own adventures where you are.

What is important to remember is that your home is not going anywhere. Your work permit will run out eventually and you only get this one opportunity. Make the most of it and get off social media (after reading this blog of course)!

7. Do something you love

Bring your hobbies overseas with you! This is another great way to connect your home life to your Au Pair life. Like to run? Join the local running group. Passionate about music? Join the local church choir. Love reading? Join a reading club.

OR start something you’ve always wanted to try! This is your opportunity to grow as an individual, to broaden your skills and talents. Luckily as an Au Pair, you do not have the time consuming responsibilities of owning a home, car or running a family on your time off. Use your free time to engage in your passions.

8. Make your new home a home

It is important to your host family that you feel comfortable in their home. If you’re hungry, go get a snack out of the fridge. If you need to do your laundry, don’t be afraid to ask how to use the machine. If you need a listening ear, engage in a conversation.

You should also find ways to make your space your own: put up pictures, make a reading nook or just add some special mementos to your room. Some Au Pairs will only have their room as their own “private space” so it’s important to make it a special, comforting space where you can retreat to at the end of a long working day.

Traveling Woman9. Talk to those in similar situations

Lastly, find others around you who are travelling and away from home. This may be another Au Pair, a member of your community or even your host parents. Open up about being homesick and you’ll quickly find out that it is just a part of being abroad and it is totally manageable.

A Suitcase Full of Adventures, Stories and Experiences

We love hearing stories from our Au Pairs in Canada, especially those who have change throughout their time with the host family. Here, we want to share another Au Pairs testimonial to her time here in Canada. She is a German girl who came to Canada to find adventure but she was able to experience so much more. Laura Testimonial part 1

My name is Laura. I’m 19 years old and from Germany. After graduation, most of my friends started studying right away, but I wanted to explore the world, to have a great adventure and to be able to tell an awesome story. Since the first time I heard someone mention that they were an Au Pair, it turned into my dream to become one. I like to spend time with children, and being able to live in another country while spending time with my host child and traveling appealed a lot to me. When my family and I visited Canada for the first time, I was very impressed by this country and its amazing nature. Canada is a huge country, the second largest in the world, and I only saw a tiny part of it in Ontario, but it was already enough to impress me. I was sure I wanted to be an Au Pair in Canada. Being an Au Pair is a great opportunity to explore a different country, to get to know its culture and lifestyle, to meet new people, to spend time with children, to travel and to improve the language.

I will skip the part with applying as an Au Pair, waiting for the work permit and finding a host family because it wasn’t very exciting except the part with the host family. Waiting and hoping every day for getting my work permit and finding a host family was really fraught but worth it.

After two goodbye parties with my family and friends and saying goodbye to my parents and my sister at the airport, my adventure began in February 2015. I flew to Vancouver on my own and had my Orientation Day there. On the same day, my host family, consisting of my host parents and my eight year old host child, would pick me up, and we would take the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island, my new home. I was very nervous and excited, but it was gone soon when I met my host family. I felt so welcome and familiar right away, and all my worries were gone.

Laura Testimonial part 2Now, after living already 11 months in Victoria, I know being an Au Pair in Canada is one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I haven’t regretted it once. I made so many new and incredible experiences and found a second home and a second family. My first impression about my host family being a lovely, kind and funny one has never change. Every day we have lots of fun, a lot to laugh about, and I’m part of this awesome family. For my host child and I, it took a little while to get to know each other, but now, we have a close relationship, and I will miss him when I leave. We have lots of fun together, and I enjoy spending time with him. Most times, I take care for him before and after school. Before school, I make sure that he is ready in time and drop him of at school, only a short walk from home. After school, I pick him up again, and we do some fun stuff, like going for a bike ride or to a playground. Despite of taking care of my host child, I had many opportunities to travel. For a few days, I went to Seattle, US, a ferry ride away from Victoria, and often to Vancouver, a ferry ride away as well. I also explored British Columbia, a province in Canada, and found amazing spots. For almost one month, my host family went to Europe, and I decided to stay in Canada, instead of visiting my own family in Germany. I came to Canada to explore this country and not to go back to Germany during my vacation. I travelled almost the entire month and went to the Canadian Rockies with an organization. The Rockies are amazing, and I enjoyed exploring them in a group of young adults. As well during this month, I explored whole Vancouver Island with another Au Pair. We went to Tofino and did a three days hike close to Port Hardy. During this hike, we carried all our stuff which we needed for three days and slept in the woods and at the beach. I never imagined I would do such a long hike without any connection to the world. However, I was impressed by it and the nature and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again because it is an incredible adventure. We had luck to meet only a wolf during this hike and to see a bear during the drive. During my host child’s summer breaks, my host family and I went camping and flew to Hawaii for one week. Even though Hawaii is really beautiful, I’m still more impressed by Canada. I celebrated all the holidays, like Christmas or New Year, with my host family, and I enjoyed it.  For me, it was weird to unwrap the presents at the morning of Christmas Day (25.12) and to have no fireworks on New Year’s Eve, but I had a great time and made new experiences.

My time went by so fast, and I can’t believe that I’m leaving Canada in less than one month. I made so many great experiences I never imagined and I will miss everyone I met. I really enjoy my stay in Canada, and I can’t say I like it here; rather, I love it here. Victoria is a wonderful city with a lot to offer and to explore. Everything is close by: Downtown Victoria, woods, ocean, lakes, hills, nature, the mainland of British Columbia and the US. I have the nature right in front of my doorstep with a lake close by, woods and deer, squirrels and racoons in the backyard. Canada is awesome, and I’m really feeling home here. I love the nature, the city of Victoria and the mentality of the Canadians. When you leave the bus, you shout Laura Testimonial part 3“Thank you!” to the bus driver through the whole bus. Everyone greets you and talks to you. I improved my English a lot. First, it was challenging for me to speak English the whole day, but now, it’s no problem whatsoever. I was shy to speak English at the beginning because I made a lot of mistakes, and still now my English isn’t perfect. However, I learned to just speak English and not to care about my mistakes. The Canadians are impressed by my English skills and by the fact to be able to speak more than one language.

During my last 11 months, I made my own Canadian life and got to know so many new people. For me, it won’t be easy to say goodbye to my host family, to all the people I met during my stay, to my Canadian home and to Canada in less than one month. However, it doesn’t have to be a goodbye forever, and it won’t.

I really recommend everybody to take the opportunity and to go overseas. I left my family, friends, my German home and Germany 11 months ago and didn’t know what to expect in Canada, but I will return to Germany with a suitcase full of adventures, stories and experiences. Being an Au Pair in Canada is an incredible adventure and a great lifetime experience. I got to know a different country, culture and people and learned a lot about myself while finding a second family and home.

My Dream Is Coming True: Jule as an Au Pair in Whistler, BC

I decided to be an Au Pair pretty early. I love being with kids and wanted to explore the world after I passed my A-Levels. Why not going to Canada as an Au Pair? After almost a year of preparation, a lot of paper work, waiting, skype calls, up and downs I finally got my lovely host family. The family consists of 4: my host mom Lesley; my host dad Matthew; Sedona (4) and Alex (2).Julia Whister

My adventure started in August 2015. Saying goodbye to my family and friends was really tough for me, that is why I was incredibly glad that I wasn’t alone during the flight. Myself and 9 other girls were flying together from Germany to Vancouver, Canada. All of us were really excited as we left our families and friends behind to live in a new country, with another language, without knowing anybody and 9 hours time difference. It was a completely new world to us. We stayed 3 days in Vancouver and had our orientation-days there. We got a lot of information, a tour through Vancouver and had time to explore this awesome city on our own. To do that we rented bikes and had a ride through the wonderful Stanley Park. The girls who had been strangers two days before were turning into friends really fast.
The “day of the days” was coming and we should meet our families. Because I’m an Au Pair in Whistler my family picked me up at the hotel. I was so glad about not having another flight like most of the other girls. Instead of flying to the other side of Canada I was waiting in front of the hotel and got incredibly nervous. The moment I met my host mom and the kids in real life for the first time all of it was gone. I felt so welcome from the first second we met. This feeling shouldn’t leave.

Julia PumpkinsThe first weeks were really special. Lesley is a teacher, but she wasn’t at school for the beginning of my time. We had a lot of time for exploring Whistler, figuring out where everything is and most important of all we had time to get to know each other. Especially for the relationship between myself and the kids this time was awesome. Since Lesley is back at school the kids and I go to the library, playgroup, parks, riding our bikes, go to the playground, play in the snow etc. We do every possible activity, enjoy every day and share awesome experiences. Every day is a great adventure and it is never getting boring with my little ones. Because I’m all day long with the kids we’re pretty close. It’s breathtaking that I got the possibility  helping them to explore the world, seeing how they develop every day, learn new words or riding their bikes-being part of their life. I’ll never forget all the awesome moments like the first hug, the first kiss or the first ‘Jule I love you’. After 2,5 months here I went with two friends on our first trip to Vancouver. We stayed there for 3 days and had a lot of fun. The moment I was coming back home the kids were getting totally crazy because they were so happy that I’m back again. I got a lot of hugs and Sedona made some ‘Welcome Back Cards’. They missed me and the moment I realized this these two little kids made me almost cry.

 

I didn’t only fall in love with my family, I fell in love with Whistler, too. It’s breathtaking every day.

Where else is everybody totally excited about the ski opening and just talking about it all day long since beginning of October? Where else is one of the first questions ‘are you a skier or Julia Familyboarder’? Where else you could get out of the bus with two kids and stay totally calm if you see a bear on the other side of the road?  – just here in Whistler.

This was the perfect choice for me and I never rued or will rue it. I found a new family, new friends and a second home. I’m glad that I got this possibility and I will never forget this fabulous time. I’m looking forward spending the next 7 months here and I’m so excited what time will bring.

Thanks to my family and my Canadian family, my great German agency AIFS  and the Canadian agency International Nannies for supporting me, giving me this chance and answering all my questions every time.

If you’re interested in becoming an Au Pair, take your chance, register and spend the best year of your life abroad. Don’t miss this chance!

Cheers, Jule