Tag Archives: child

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!

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

 

 

Top 10 Ways to Communicate With Your Host Family

Thelpful-tipshe relationship between a host family and an Au Pair is a unique one because a balance needs to be found between being a part of the family and being an employee. The best way to find this balance and to make a successful placement is by having open communication. Frequent open communication between you and your host family allows for any issues to be resolved early and to help build a stronger relationship.

1)      Take the Time to Get to Know Each Other: Ask lots of questions, engage in conversation, and be curious! The best way you can build a relationship with someone is by getting to know them better. Both you and the host family need to be able to respond to one another in a way that fits both your cultural habits and your individual personalities.

2)      Don’t Wait: In order not to appear pushy, demanding or needy, some people try to be patient about their wants. As a result, they wait to ask for what they want until there is a lot of pressure built up behind the want. It’s always better to ask whenever you feel a want rather than saving up and asking only for the really important things.

3)      Choose the Right Time: Although we want to talk about our problems right away, we need to respect the other persons time as well. Ask the host parents when an appropriate time to talk would be. You want to choose the right time to have an important conversation so that there won’t be any distractions and it will be quiet.Au pair and child

4)      Practice Active Listening: This goes beyond just listening. Active listening means being attentive to what someone else is saying. The goal of active listening is to understand the feelings and views of the other party and to give them our full attention. So, make eye contact, use non-verbal hand gestures, restate to show that you are listening and give feedback.

5)      Do Not Assume: At the root of every misunderstanding is an assumption. We assume that people interpret things the same way we do. We assume when people communicate with us, relying on our past experiences and on our own limited frame of reference. We have equal responsibility to understand and to be understood.

6)      Don’t Generalize: Avoid using words such as “always” or “never”. These overstatements, or exaggerations, are usually inaccurate and they tend to provoke other people to “destroy” your argument. There is usually no factual evidence when someone overstates or generalizes.

7)      Be Specific: If you want to clearly get your message across to someone, you must be specific when talking to them. A big mistake that many people make when asking for what they want is asking in a way that is so vague and general that the other person has no idea how to fulfill your request.

Of-non-professional-nannies8)      Use “I” Language: Using “I” at the beginning of your sentence allows you to stick to what you know and take responsibility for what you say. “I think..”, “I believe…”, “I feel…”. These statements allow you to focus on what you are thinking and feeling rather than trying to get someone to guess how you are thinking or feeling. Remember: you cannot get in trouble for feeling something.

9)      Watch Your Body Language: When communicating with someone, be aware of your body language. You want to be standing/sitting with your arms and hands uncrossed, keeping your body facing them and maintaining eye contact. Standing/sitting straight up shows you’re alert and try to resist the urge to yawn, finger/foot tap or fidget around.

10)   Use Key Phrases: Try to use phrases such as “When you do this…I feel this…”or “I have some feelings to clear…” or “I appreciate you for…” These phrases can help you show gratitude or concern in a specific way. Again, using “I” at the beginning of your sentence shows that you’re taking on responsibility for the situation.

Spending the Holidays with Your Au Pair

The holiday season is a great time of year where we can enjoy family time, celebrate the season of giving and eat way too much pie without feeling guilty. This year will be even more special for you as your Au Pair may be celebrating her first Christmas in North America! Throughout our experiences in the Au Pair industry, we have come up with a couple of tips to help you get through the holidays relaxed, stress-free and all with a cup full of cheer!

Talk About Holiday Schedules Earlystockings

Your schedule may be filling up quickly due to another work party, school Christmas concerts or skating with the grandparents. We ask that you be mindful of your Au Pair as her schedule may be filling up just as quickly. She may even have plans to go down to Hawaii to celebrate Christmas on the beach. You won’t know what her plans are until you ask, and it’s never too early to plan out the holidays. So pull out the family calendar and, over a cup of tea, go through each day of the holidays. You will both need to be flexible during this time of year to accommodate each other’s needs. Your Au Pair should understand that their job comes first but in the spirit of the holidays, and to make your placement successful, you may need to work together to find a compromise so that both of you have an enjoyable holiday.

Christmas OrnamentInclude Your Au Pair in Your Own Traditions  

The holidays may be a tough time for your Au Pair as this may be her first time away from her family for Christmas. It’s always best to go into these scenarios with the mindset of, “If she can’t be with her own family, then she can be with her Canadian family.” Invite her to join in on your traditional Christmas morning skate or if you’re sending out a Christmas card, include her into the picture. Fill a stocking for her to make her feel included or get her to write a letter to Santa with the kids. Anything to make her feel at home and that she is wanted in your family.

Help Your Au Pair Adjust to the ClimateLetitia mitten

Holiday seasons are usually followed by harsh Canadian winters. Help your Au Pair adjust to the changes in the weather by getting her prepared. She may be use to having a warm, sunny holiday where she can open presents on the beach. If this is the case, go shopping with her to get her proper winter attire: scarf, winter mittens and a proper Canadian toque! This is when we need to remember the old Scandinavian saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Follow Some of her TraditionsGingerbread Man

This is also a great opportunity for you to learn about how other cultures celebrate the holiday season. Ask your Au Pair about some traditions that her and her family have. Try to include them into your holiday season as well! Ask her lots of questions about how she celebrates the holidays, any special songs she likes to sing, any traditional meals she likes to make. This will make her feel more welcomed and perhaps you can get a sweet treat in the process!

No More FOMO: An Interview with Letitia B.

Letitia CollesumWe’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Right? Well what about, “You don’t know what you’re not missing until you return.” Through my experiences, I’ve noticed so often that young adults are afraid to leave their home, friends, family, boy/girlfriend because they think that they will miss out on some big event that will happen while they’re away. There is such a culture of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that people don’t take chances anymore. Everyone is sitting idle by their phone waiting for the next best thing to happen but aren’t willing to take their own leap into adventure! Here’s the thing: when you travel and come back home, things usually stay the same. And if there is a major event, you’re only a Skype call away.

Recently, I’ve had the chance to talk to Letitia B who was just an Au Pair in Italy! Letitia is a 19 year old from a small town in South-Western Ontario. I was able to ask her a bit about herLetitia Italy experiences as an Au Pair, what the best/worst parts were and why young adults should take the plunge into traveling abroad!

1) Can you please tell us a little bit about your experience as an au pair?

I spent January  to May in Italy, living with the sweetest and most incredible family in Turin, a big city in Northern Italy, bordering Southern France. I was looking after and teaching English to two wonderful and very unique girls.

Valentina, the older sister, is a very independent, free-spirited and an intelligent 5 year old. While Viola, who is 3 years old, is a more affectionate girl who loves to joke around and make everyone around her laugh. The area they lived in was really great too, the mountains were an hour drive north and the seaside was an hour drive south.

2) What did a typical day look like for you?

Both girls had school from 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Monday through Friday, so this required me to wake up each morning between 7:00a.m. and 7:30 a.m., have the girls up and dressed by 8:00a.m. and we’d leave for school around 8:30a.m. My family lived just outside of the city, on the hills in a beautiful little  area called Cavoretto, which had a small school that was only 10 minutes walking distance from home. After dropping the girls off, I would usually go with my host mother, Francesca, to the gym, to the market or shopping. I’d walk into the city on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s for Italian courses, and then stay afterwards to have lunch or hangout in the park with friends I made in class. Having friends from all over the world definitely enhanced the experience, I miss each of them so much! Also an an Au Pair you have weekends free to travel or do whatever you feel.

3) What made you want to be an Au Pair?

My older sister was an Au Pair in Hungary after she finished high school, and I knew that I didn’t want to start University right after graduating. I realized in October that I wanted to travel during my year off, started looking at being an Au Pair in November, and left for Italy right after New Years. I realize how spontaneous everything was, and I think that’s what made it so exciting, I can’t stand the anticipation of waiting!!

4) What was the best part of being an Au Pair?

Being an Au Pair is easily the best job in the world. It allows you to combine travel with work, you get to  explore another part of the world, hangout with kids, make some pocket money for your travels, and live with a really awesome family (most families are awesome because they’re willing to invite practically a stranger to come live with them and take care of their children.)

My family went to Oman for vacation in April, and I was able to go backpack around Italy for the few weeks that they were gone. It definitely showed me what the rest of Italy is like, I saw cities like Verona, Venice, Rome, Florence and Bologna. There are no tourists in Turin like there are everywhere else. It’s a beautiful and timeless city and remains my favourite in all of Italy!

Letitia Child5) What was the worst part?

I couldn’t say there was a ‘worst’ part. I was homesick, which did suck. I’m very close with my family and it was hard being away from them, but making new friends who are going through similar experiences and feeling like you’re a part of your host family makes the experience and transition way easier. It’s strange realizing, now that I’m home, I’m actually homesick from living there too:  my friends, the foreign city and the feeling of being on my own in a way. I guess I wish that my experiences weren’t just stories and that my family could have been there to live it all with me.

6) What advice would you give to young adults looking to live abroad?

Don’t be scared! You will regret not travelling and seeing the world. Even being overseas for a short amount of time made me realize how much of the world I want to see. The truth is, and I was told this so many times: is that when you come home it feels like nothing changed while you were gone, you haven’t actually missed out on everything like you thought you would. When you go abroad you will experience culture shock, and that’s inevitable, but the best thing you can do it just accept it all. Coming home brings on the reverse culture shock, and its’s so weird.

7) Now that you’re home, what do you plan on doing?

Leaving. I’m doing a year at Wilfrid Laurier University, then I plan on going to Australia or New Zealand to Au Pair again, and afterwards to backpack through Southeast Asia. School can wait.

8) Was being an au pair everything you expected it to be?

Yes and no. All of the expectations were the same, although I thought it would feel more like a job. I felt more like a family member than anything, Valentina and Viola were, and still are, my little sisters.

9) Are you still in contact with the family now and will you go back to visit?

I still talk to my family often, we Skype and text as much as possible. The father, Antonio, is a Geographer and recently got a job in Bolivia, so they packed up their stuff and moved there in the beginning of September (cool right?). They’re a really great family and have such a surreal and spontaneous lifestyle, I was so lucky to be a part of it. I ABSOLUTELY plan on seeing them again, I’d love to see how the girl’s English will improve.

10) Looking back at who you were before you left for your year abroad, how have you changed since?Letitia mitten

Again, all I want to do is travel now. My mom had to convince me to go to school this year. One thing I’m very careful with is spending and saving money now. I’m definitely more keen to spend my money on travel than physical things.