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Choosing Childcare

Choosing Childcare

It is probably true to say that childcare is one of the most stressful areas of modern parenthood. Choosing the right type of childcare and the right child carer is therefore among one of the most important decision you will probably have to make and it is vital that you get it right.

Failing to choose wisely from the outset may result in you having to change your arrangements down the line which, in turn, can have a negative impact on your child. Ideally, with the correct information and guidance you will be able to change daunting task of finding suitable childcare into a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Find suitable childcare is a big decision and should not be left to the last minute. Good childcare places are often snapped up and if you don’t plan ahead early you may well find yourself having to wait several months for a place at the nursery or childminders of your choice.

The nature of your child will have a huge impact on your choice of childcare setting and it is vital that you understand the impact that good quality childcare can have on children generally, such as encouraging confidence and independence and helping them to cooperate with each other and reach their full potential.

Dear Future Host Parents,


Are you a busy parent looking for flexible and affordable one-on-one childcare in the comfort of your own home? Do you need help with childcare related household duties? Are you interested in bringing the world to your children by introducing them to foreign traditions and food as well as a second language? Are you in need of childcare help within the next 3-16 weeks?

If the answer to all, or even some, of these questions is yes!, it might be time to consider hiring an Au Pair from overseas.
The term “Au Pair” is French for “equal to”, meaning that the relationship between you, your children and an Au Pair should be a reciprocal and caring one. An Au Pair is typically a young woman who takes care of your children and does light housekeeping for up to 12 months. Because hosting an Au Pair is as much a cultural exchange program as it is a childcare program, we refer to each of our clients as a host family. As a host family you will welcome an Au Pair into your home to be an extended family member, include her in
activities and meals and introduce her to the “Australian way of life”. In exchange, your family benefits from a caring and dedicated caregiver who can offer so much more than simply childcare.
Does an Au Pair sound like the right fit?

Contact us today and get started! We are looking forward to placing an Au Pair with you soon.

Motives for working with children

For many girls choosing to be an Au pair in Australia, a childcare job is simply an easy transition to the world of work and a way of acquiring a higher standard of living than is normally possible in one’s early working years. In addition to your own room , you may have your own TV, the use of a car, and the chance to accompany the host family on exotic holidays. There will  be  no  need  to worry  about  organising  or paying  for transport  to  work,  finding  accommodation  and  all  the  other  headaches.

Au pair in Australia reading a book to girl

In addition to the worthy goals of learning a language and experiencing a foreign culture, many Au pairs simply want to see the world and can’t afford a straight holiday. Jane Newel was a trained nanny with two years residential experience  in  Britain  when  she  noticed  an  advertisement  in  a  national newspaper for an experienced nanny to care for a three-year-old girl:

It was January when I saw the job advertised and I was immediately interested because it involved a lot of travel. The winter blues were getting to me since I was extremely fed up with the British climate and longed for some sunshine

Others are less concerned about the climate and are trying to escape from a difficult or boring situation at home.

I was engaged to be married at the time the job was offered, but I jumped  at the chance because I felt uncertain about marriage and needed some time alone to think.

It can also be a very good way for young women to assert their independence from over-protective parents. Some au pairs learn to appreciate their own families more after intimate acquaintance with another family

DECIDING TO GO

Some questions that you should be asking yourself when trying to decide whether or not to pursue the idea of working as Au pair for an Australian family should be answered at a very early stage. You will probably be asked many of these questions by our agency questionnaire, so it is worth thinking them through ahead of time.

How much do you like kids? Jessie Lane, who spent an enjoyable three months au pairing in France, makes this point:

Before you go, ask yourself, do I really love children? If you can tolerate all their moods, good and bad, their rudeness, not to mention spite, then you will be all right.

If you have had very little exposure to young children, try to arrange some since you may discover that you lack the appropriate quantities of patience to take charge of them for an extended period. If you do have experience of children you might give some thought to what age group you most enjoy. Nannies often have a favourite age, though every stage brings its own pleasures and problems. For example, babies can be carted around on private errands and you may find that they adapt to you more quickly than older children. But you might also find their dependence restricting and miss not being able to hold a conversation. A job as an au pair with school age children (except in the summer holidays) allows much of the day free. The more flexible you can be the better; you don’t want to limit your choices too much, for this will make it harder to find a suitable job.

How much are you prepared to put up with? Could you cope with a major loss of privacy? Au pairs are occasionally made to share a bedroom with the children, which can be a shock to anyone who is not used to sharing. How much do you value your free time? In theory au pairs work no more than 8 hours a day, whereas a mother ‘s help position is more like a full-time job.

What kind of lifestyle are you seeking? If you have visions of working for a celebrity family, living in the lap of luxury in some sunny part of the world, you are almost certainly going to be disappointed. And even if such a situation did materialise the reality might not match the anticipation. Rich and celebrated families can be very demanding, and you may have to work extremely hard for your material perks, with little free time to enjoy them. Furthermore if you look for au pair jobs on your own you take the risk to be treated like a servant than a family member.It all depends on the situation and on your own individual goals and aspirations.


What families are looking for

Who is Elegible?

The greatest attraction of looking after children for many au pairs in Australia is that it is one of the easiest ways to fix up work abroad, since the demand for au pairs in Australia is so great. It has been estimated that about half of all women with children in Australia work full or part time. Most families prefer au pair candidates to have had some practical experience of looking after children, but most are prepared to consider anyone with a genuine liking for children, a positive attitude towards domestic chores and a reasonably mature character. We require at least one reference which simply testifies to your reliability and common sense.

An experienced au pair claimed that to do the job well you need a ‘sense of humour, the patience of a saint, a liking for children and the ability to leap over toy buildings in a single bound’. A love of children is an obvious prerequisite, and will cover up a multitude of sins. But other qualities which parents are looking for include a mature attitude to assuming responsibility. All parents want to feel confident about leaving their children in the care of another person, so they are looking for someone who is sensible, trustworthy, able to assume control, and who will report major mishaps as appropriate.

Australian Families want somebody reliable who will drive carefully, remember to lock up and who will not invite guests indiscriminately into the home. they also expect to be able to trust you, not only with their valuables but with money for shopping, children’s treats, etc. Any accidental damage in the home should immediately be admitted and an offer to replace it tendered. Most agencies have encouraged families to take out liability insurance on their au pair or nanny ‘s behalf which should cover major problems.

A cheerful disposition is greatly valued in family situations. All parents want a warm, healthy atmosphere in their homes, and are disconcerted by girls who are moody or volatile. A calm approach to life in general and little disasters in particular is what is called for. Live-in helpers who are reduced to hysteria by the sight of a spider or the squeak of a mouse won ‘t do their charges any good.

Personal hygiene is just as important as making sure the children are kept clean and tidy. Parents resent it if you don’t clean up after yourself, even if it is in your own room or on your day off, though none is likely to go as far as the wife of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was reputed to make her nanny wash her hands up to 300 times a day.

A large number of agencies including our agency, and families absolutely prohibit smoking among their staff. Read more about the requirements to be an Au pair with our agency. If you are a smoker but serious about nannying, you might want to consider giving up. It is no good pretending that you never touch cigarettes when you obviously do. Even if you manage to bluff your way into a job, you will be climbing the walls once you start and are not able to smoke freely. If you try to do so secretly, there’ll be all sorts of tell-tale signs. Non-smokers have very sensitive noses.

All children have a tendency to be early risers so it helps if you are too.If you are a night hawk by nature, you will have to exercise self-discipline and resign yourself to reorganising your habits and your social life.

Au Pairs, Nannies and Mother’s helps

The terms au pair in Australia, mother’s help and Australian nanny are often applied rather loosely, so it is worth spending some time clarifying the varying roles. All are primarily live-in jobs in Australia, concerned with tending to the needs of children, contributing to their emotional and mental development and imposing discipline when necessary.

au pair caring babies

Australian Nannies are usually thought of as having some formal training, in particular the NNEB (National Nursery Examination Board) certificate. There are however ‘nanny’ positions open to women who have no paper qualifications but who have substantial experience of working with children. Nannies have sole charge of the children and are responsible for chores directly relating to them. They usually live in and command a full-time salary, since they will be on duty around the clock except on one or two days off per week. Daily nannying (i.e. live-out) is also a possibility after you have gained considerable experience. Salaries vary enormously at this senior level

Mother’s helps will sometimes have sole charge but more usually will work alongside the parents, usually the mother. They will assist wherever necessary and be expected to perform a variety of tasks, not only related to the children hut also to the household generally, including housework and/or cooking. They may be paid on a par with a trained nanny. The hours are normally eight hours a day, five and a half or six days a week plus several evenings of babysitting.

Au pairs in Australia are in a different category, though many of their duties overlap with those of a mother’s help. The official purpose of the arrangement from our agency Au pair Australia, is to provide single women and men aged 18-27 with the chance to study a foreign language and culture while living as part of a family. Technically that means it is not possible to be an au pair in your own country or in one whose language you share, though there are exceptions, as in the case of the Au Pair in America scheme which is open only to English-speakers. Au pairs are meant to work for no more than 45 hours a week over five days, plus two evenings of babysitting, and get pocket money of not less than $180 a week in most countries. Unlike nannies and mother’s helps, au pairs in other countries do not sign a contract since the arrangement is an informal one. All our Au pairs sign a contract with the Australian host family, prior to their arrival. Au pairs should be treated more like family members than employees. An au pair has much less responsibility for the welfare of the children than does a nanny, and is not normally expected to take sole charge of a newborn.

Holiday au pairs usually work from December to February and accompany the family on their holidays. Since the children are out of school, there may be less free time than during the academic year and often no chance to study a language. Otherwise the same rules should apply as for ordinary au pairing.

These are in broad outline the kinds of live-in childcare positions with which this article is concerned. The kinds of arrangement into which families and live­ in helpers settle are in fact infinite, and many of the guidelines and definitions set out in the pages which follow are open to interpretation and subject  to all kinds of  permutation.  Two  common  variations  are the  demi pair  and  au pair plus. The demi  pair in Australia  works  a maximum  of  three  hours  a  day,  plus  some babysitting, in exchange for accommodation and meals. The au pair plus merges with the mother’s help since she is often required by households with  two  working parents  who are away from home the whole day but she usually gets paid  less than a mother’s help because she may not have had much childcare experience. The average weekly pay depends on experience and working hours.

All of these definitions can very easily  become  blurred,  for  example  a number of jobs advertised as nanny positions in Australia are really mother’s help jobs  in disguise, i.e. there is more housekeeping than would normally be involved in a nanny job.

To simplify matters,  the  term  ‘au  pair’  is used  most  often throughout,  since this post is aimed primarily at those who want to go abroad to work. But much of what is said about au pairing is equally relevant to nannying either in Australia or  abroad.

How to be an Au pair

Miryam Aubert  director of the Au pair Agency Au pair Australia, has both worked as an au pair through the UK, Canada and in Australia. She has hosted au pairs as a parent to help care for her children and has seen the au pair relationship from both sides. She has seen when things go well and when they go very badly for au pairs and the host family. She often gives advice to both prospective au pairs and prospective au pair families and has decided it’s time to weave the advice into a short blog.  This blog has a selection of tips on how to be a great au pair and how to find a family that will embrace your visit and draw you into their family.

Au pair jobs in AustraliaMany young people love to travel but unfortunately it can be an expensive hobby. Living and working as an au pair in Australia can be a great way to travel affordably. Not only that, you also get to embed yourself in the home life of the country and meet locals, whereas on a backpacking holiday you might find yourself surrounded by other travellers. It’s a great option for people you love children and enjoy being part of a family. What is an au pair? The term au pair comes from French and means ‘on the same level’. The au pair lives with the family in the role of a big brother or sister to younger siblings.

They have a set number of hours each week which they spend on child care and usually take on some level of household chores. In most cases you’ll be in a home where the parents work but in some cases you might be in more of a mother’s helper role.

This is particularly common if there are a few young kids at home such as families of multiples (twins, triplets etc.). It’s a role where your jobs might change week to week or even day to day as the families needs change. The au pair will generally eat meals with the family and receives full board and accommodation. as well as a ‘pocket’ money allowance each period that they can save or spend on their own needs. In some households the au pair may also have the use of a car. This can vary a lot between families as you may find that some families have a more formal employer-employee relationship with their au pairs, and others have a more informal relationship. How much do au pairs get paid?

The going rate for au pairs will change from country to country and will also depend on the numbers of hours that you do each week as well as the number and age of the children in the household.
You may also be able to negotiate a higher rate if you have formal qualification in childcare and/or first aid. Extra experience such as working as a nanny, tutor or babysitting may also let you negotiate a slightly higher rate than an unexperienced au pair on a gap year.

Generally, the rates go up in areas where there are issues getting au pairs such as remote parts of Australia or farms. Au pairs with multiple children in their care, or very young children to look after such as twin babies may also receive more money. Au pairs are in high demand in some areas, and can be in oversupply in popular metro locations.

Equally if the child has some extra needs such as a disability the au pair may get paid more for the work. If you are eager to help out families with disabilities it can be good to get qualifications and experience before you leave home, as this can help parents feel more confident into your abilities to deal with the extra challenges of looking after a child with disabilities. The pay is negotiated between each family and the au pair. It’s important when comparing the packages that each family is offering to consider items such as paying for a mobile phone, use of a car, paid time off, use of a public transport card and internet access.

Sometimes you will find that you have a lot more expenses in a home that offers more money and as a result you’ll have less money to save or explore. In order to get an idea of how much au pairs get paid in Australia, they are usually paid between $6 ad $7 AUD per hour plus accommodation and meals.

Want to travel but don’t have much money

“I would love to spend a year in a foreign country as au pair in Australia, but i don’t have much money!” I hear this all the time from people interested in hearing more about au pair programs. The Au pair experience is different from other trips abroad. It is relatively inexpensive as the basic thought behind these programs is a balanced ”give and take” approach. The term ”au pair” is french for ”reciprocity”. The host family that takes you in and welcomes you into their family gives you the opportunity to experience the wonders of a foreign country, integrate into a new culture and make new friends along the way.

Mother and child relaxing in the city parkIt sounds really simple, but leaving family and friends behind and adjusting to a new family marks the beginning  of a new chapter in one’s life. if you want to to have a successful and enjoyable time as Au Pair in Australia, you will need to be ready to try new things, leave familiar things behind and be open to change.

Preparing for your Au pair Experience in Australia.

The preparations for your stay abroad as an au pair begin long before you leave home. It is best to start planning the basics of your trip about a year in advance. This time is used to mentally prepare for the upcoming trip. Think about what language you would like to improve and which countries you are interested in. Gather information on the culture, language, politics and history of your top3 or so favorite countries. By familiarising yourself with the history of a country, you will have a much easier time understanding certain traditions and customs. Consider how long you would like your stay to be. The longer your stay, the deeper and more familiar you will become with your host country’s culture, language and overall lifestyle. Generally, an au pair program lasts for at least six months and most last a whole year . In the USA, the guidelines are clearly defined and an au pair stay lasts at least 12 months over the summer, but this depends on the respective country’s entry requirements.

General Requirements:

-Single and childless
-At least 18 yrs old
-Adequate language skills ( sometimes only English skills are required – even in countries with different official languages)
-Valid ID and passport (validity should extend at least a few months beyond your planned return date)
-Physical and mental fitness
-Childcare experience
-Reliable and responsible character
-Clean criminal record certificate.

Message from John:

An Au pair in Germany
John tells of his experience:

”I can still remember it like it was yesterday: The dream of travelling to a foreign land. For me it didn’t matter where it was – I just wanted to be out there, exploring the world and seeing how people live on the other side of the earth. The first time i heard about the au pair program in Germany i jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t even hesitate for a moment. I knew that this was my chance and i dove in head first.”

Childcare experience can be gathered through internships at childcare facilities, babysitting work or tutoring as well as assisting or leading at a children’s camp or sports center. This is a very important requirement, as childcare will be among your main tasks as an au pair and should not be overlooked. Your experience will need to be backed up with references. Practical experiences within your own family and references from relatives are generally inadequate.

Encourage eating fruits and vegies

Does your tot turn his nose up at fruit and vegies? 

You love your little to bits. He’s full of energy and growing into a happy, healthy and little child. There’s just one small snag – he pushes most fruit away, baulks at trying a carrotimages stick and dry retches at the mere thought of eating broccoli. If this is your child, you’re in good company. Heaps of parents and au pairs struggle to get their children to eat at least one serve of fruit or vegetables each day. Can we put this food group on hold and hope that one day the littlies will just grow into it like a comfy pair of shoes? Or do we batten down the hatches and prepare for the nightly battle, hoping to emerge triumphant having successfully force-fed all the four-years-old out there their daily greens? Neither options is going to be successful in the long term, so it’s time to put away the war paint and find some better solutions to this age-old battle between parent and child.

WHY PERSIST?

All children need fruit and vegies every day as a part of the healthy diet. These foods provide essential fibre (‘roughage’) to keep your little one’s bowels and digestive system working. Constipation can lead to many long-term health issues and can affect your child’s appetite and lead to pain and irritability. A recent study has suggested half of all Australian children do not have adequate intakes of fibre and in a survey by The Gut Foundation, just under half of all mums said their children suffered bowel problem on a regular basis. Fruit and vegies are also the main sources of vitamins C, B1, and B2 for healthy growth, development and immune systems. Starchy vegetables such as potato, sweet potato and corn and fruits provide carbs for fuel, providing energy. The unrefined nature of fresh fruit provides instant vitamins and minerals as well as protective antioxidant. The edible skin is valuable too, as the vitamins are found just a few millimetres underneath.

THE BITTER TRUTH

Children have a preference for a sweet taste from birth, which is why vegetables tend to be the most difficult food to get them to eat. Repeat exposure to vegetable flavours flavours at an early age increases the likelihood of acceptance, while offering your child overly refined foods containing excess sugar and salt will only make the job harder. Start by settings realistic goals, making meals tasty using familiar bridging flavours such as dipping sauces (tomato sauce, guacamole, or light mayonnaise) and buying in season, as these foods are much cheaper and taste better,

WHEN VEGETABLES ARE SCARY…

For many children, fear of an unknown food is a big hurdle. Often you’ll need to offer a new fruit or vegie several times (up to 10 or 15) before your child is comfortable with it.

Try with your aupair the following steps to introduce a new food item:

NIGHT 1: Place a small piece of the cooked vegetable or cut fruit on the plate with the rest of your child’s meal. Ask him to bring his lips (for little ones ask them to kiss it, older kids just press it to their lips). The lip area is very sensitive and this brings the food to the nose where your child can smell that it’s not offensive.

NIGHT 2: Ask your tot to hold the vegetable or fruit on his back teeth. Here the tongue can pass over it for the first taste.

NIGHT 3: Ask him to place the vegetable or fruit on his back teeth. At this point he may be willing to bite down and if so, praise him. This builds confidence that the food is okay and will not make him sick. If he doesn’t bite down, leave this to the next night.

NIGHT 4: Get your child to chomp down on the vegetables or fruit down with or without a bridging flavour such as a sauce or yoghurt.

ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?

While you’re still encouraging your little to try fresh fruit and vegetables, keep up his intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals, with these ideas…

FOR VEGETABLES

  • Offer legumes such as baked beans or chickpeas blended to make hummus on crackers or pizza bases, or a spread.
  • Grate veggies into main dishes such as chicken bites or meat balls.
  • Use vegetable juice drink – you can buy poppers that contain one serve of fruit and veg. While these provide some vitamins and minerals, they do lack the fibre of fresh fruit and vegetables, trough.

FOR FRUIT

  • If fresh fruit won’t go down the hatch, try offering dried or semi-dried fruit as a snack.
  • Ask to your au pair to make fruit puree and mix it into plain yoghurt or bake into muffins or scrolls.
  • Use commercially available pouches containing pureed fruit and vegetables, looking for ones with no added sugar, preservatives or colours.

While these are good ideas as you wait for your tot to take a liking to the fresh stuff, the following aren’t the best…

  • Store-bought hot chips. They’re popular with kids and adults, but potato wedges and chips aren’t replacement for vegetables as they’re low in fibre and high in fat and salt. A healthier alternative is to make your own by leaving a part of the skin on the potato and baking or barbecuing.
  • Store-bought fruit drinks. Fruit juices and drinks aren’t recommended for kids as they provide excessive amounts of sugar and kilojoules without the fibre or fresh fruit. A healthier alternative is to make your own by blending a serve of fresh fruit such as strawberries, mango or melon with ice to make a frappe.
  • Fruit jellies, straps or tubes. These are essentially lollies containing small amount of fruit sugar a healthier alternative is to make your own jelly by adding dissolved gelatine to pureed fruit. Pour into fun moulds and leave to chill in the fridge. Hang in there! Most kids go through tricky eating patches, but with persistence you’ll eventually win him over.

Improve your communication with your Child

Mother and child relaxing in the city parkOver time, we earn our children’s trust in other ways: following through on the promise we
make to play a game with them later, not breaking a confidence, picking them up on time.
At the same time, we extend our trust to them by expecting the best from them and believing in their fundamental goodness and potential.
As parents and au pairs, we trust in the power of human development to help our child grow, learn, and mature. We trust that although our child may act like a child today,
he or she is always developing into a more mature person (just as, hopefully, we are.) We
trust that no matter what he or she does, there is always the potential for positive change.
Trust does not mean blindly believing what your teenager tells you. Trust means not giving
up on your child, no matter what he or she does.
Trust means never walking away from the relationship in frustration, because you trust that she needs you and that you will find a way to
work things out.

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage.

Think of your child as a plant who is programmed by nature to grow and blossom. If you
see the plant has brown leaves, you consider if maybe it needs more light, more water, more fertilizer. You don’t criticize it and yell at it to straighten up and grow right. Kids form their view of themselves and the world every day. They need your encouragement to see themselves as good people who are capable of good things. And they need to know
you’re on their side. If most of what comes out of your mouth is correction or criticism, they won’t feel good about themselves, and they won’t feel like you’re their ally. You lose your only leverage with them, and they lose something every kid needs: to know they have an adult who thinks the world of them.

Remember that respect must be mutual.

Pretty obvious, right? But we forget this with our kids, because we know we’re supposed to be the boss. You can still set limits (and you must), but if you do it respectfully and with empathy, your child will learn both to treat others with respect and to expect to be treated respectfully himself.

family_parentsOnce when I became impatient with my then 3 year old, he turned to me and said “I don’t
like it when you talk to me that way.” A friend who was with us said, “If he’s starting this early, you’re going to have big problems when he’s a teenager!” In fact, rather than challenging my authority, my toddler was simply asking to be treated with the dignity he had come to expect.
Now a teenager, he continues to treat himself, me, and others, respectfully. And he chooses peers who treat him respectfully. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

Think of relationships as the slow accretion of daily interactions.

You don’t have to do anything special to build a relationship with your child. The good — and bad — news is that every interaction creates the relationship. Grocery shopping, carpooling and bathtime matter as much as that big talk you have when there’s a problem. He doesn’t want to share his toy, or go to bed, or do his homework?
How you handle it is one brick in the foundation of your permanent relationship, as well as
his ideas about all relationships. That’s one reason it’s worth thinking through any recurring interactions that get on your nerves to see how you might handle them differently.
Interactions that happen more than once tend to initiate a pattern. Nagging and
criticizing are no basis for a relationship with someone you love. And besides, your life is too short for you to spend it in a state of annoyance.

Communication habits start early.

Do you listen when she prattles on interminably about her friends at preschool, even when you have more important things to think about?

Then she’s more likely to tell you about her interactions with boys when she’s fourteen.
It’s hard to pay attention when you’re rushing to pick up food for dinner and get home, but if you aren’t really listening, two things happen. You miss an opportunity to learn about and teach your child, and she learns that you don’t really listen so there’s not much point in talking.

Don’t take it personally.

Your teenager slams the door to her bedroom. Your ten year old huffs “Mom, you never understand!” Your four year old screams “I hate you, Daddy!” What’s the most important thing to remember? DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY!
This isn’t primarily about you, it’s about them: their tangled up feelings, their difficulty controlling themselves, their immature ability to understand and express their emotions. Taking it personally wounds you, which means you do what we all do when hurt: either close off, or lash out, or both. Which just worsens a tough situation for all concerned.
Remembering not to take it personally means you:
• take a deep breath
• let the hurt go
• remind yourself that your child does in fact love you but can’t get in touch with it at the
moment
• consciously lower your voice
• try hard to remember what it feels like to be a kid who is upset and over-reacting.
• think through how to respond calmly and constructively

Helping Your Child Get a Good Night’s Sleep

garden-Stock-PhotoA full day of school can use up a lot of your child’s energy.  Add in homework and extra-curricular or social activities, and your Au pair can see why adequate rest is important to keep those little bodies thriving.

While each child is different, these guidelines can help you spot if your child’s sleep schedule is on track for her age. This chart includes naps.
1-3 Years: 12 – 14 hours per day
3-6 Years: 10 – 12 hours per day
7-12 Years: 10 – 11 hours per day
12-18 Years: 8 – 10 hours per day

Just how important is sleep to your child’s ability to focus in school?  In a National Sleep Foundation experiment, children were asked to go to bed later than normal for a week, and then were asked to spend no fewer than 10 hours in bed for another week. During the week of later bedtimes, teachers rated these kids as having more academic problems and more attention problems.

Here’s how your Au pair can encourage healthy sleep habits for your child:

Finish homework and dinner with enough time for the family to unwind a bit before bedtime. Make sure your child’s room is relaxing and safe with no electronics or screens to distract him at night. Just as you baby-proofed when she was little, do some investigating to make sure her room isn’t a source of hidden toxins or allergens. Choose an organic mattress and wash sheets and bedding often with a natural laundry soap.
Set a specific bedtime working backward from what hour your child must wake up to get to school on time (or the time you typically begin homeschooling) and allow for the age-appropriate number of hours your child needs to rest.
Create a predictable bedtime routine.  A younger child will need more guidance through his nightly routine, while an older child can begin practicing self-care.

Your Au pair’s routine could include:

• a warm bath
• brushing teeth
• reading a book together
• following a guided meditation designed for kids
• sing a calm song
• last call for bathroom trips and a drink of water
• good night snuggles

Building a Great Relationship with your child

A9R7AACWant to be a great parent or a great Au pair? Want to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved kid? Want to live in a home where discipline becomes unnecessary?
The secret is to create a closer connection with your child.
“What do you mean? Of course I love my kid, and I tell him so all the time. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need discipline!”
It isn’t enough that we tell our children we love them. We need to put our love into action every day for them to feel it. And when we do that our kids need a lot less discipline!
“But what does that mean, putting our love into action?”
Mostly, it means making that connection with our child our highest priority. Love in action
means paying thoughtful attention to what goes on between us, seeing things from our child’s point of view, and always remembering that this child who sometimes may drive us crazy is still that precious baby we welcomed into our arms with such hope.
“Doesn’t that take a lot of energy?”
It takes a lot of effort to fully attend to another human being, but when we are really present with our child, we often find that it energizes us and makes us feel more alive, as being fully present with anyone does. Being close to another human takes work. But 90% of people on their deathbed say that their biggest regret is that they didn’t get closer to the people in their lives. And almost all parents whose children are grown say they wish
they had spent more time with their kids, however with the busy life most parents face, finding more time with our children is more difficult, having an Au pair in Australia to give you an extra hand at home is so helpful and lets you spend more quality time with your children.

“Being fully present? How can I do that when I’m just trying to get dinner on the table and keep from tripping over the toys?”
Being present just means paying attention. Like a marriage or a friendship, your relationship with your child needs positive attention to thrive. Attention = Love. Like your garden, your car, or your work, what you attend to flourishes.
And, of course, that kind of attentiveness takes time. You can multi-task at it while you’re making dinner, but the secret of a great relationship is some focused time every day attending only to that child.
“This is all too vague for me. What am I supposed to actually DO?”
Start right for a firm foundation.
The closeness of the parent-child connection throughout life results from how much parents and au pairs connect with their babies, right from the beginning.
For instance, research has shown that fathers who take a week or more off work when
their babies are born have a closer relationship with their child at every stage, including as teens and college students. Is this cause and effect?
The bonding theorists say that if a man bonds with his newborn, he will stay closer to her
throughout life. But you don’t have to believe that bonding with a newborn is crucial to note that the kind of man who treasures his newborn and nurtures his new family is likely to continue doing so in ways that bring them closer throughout her childhood.

Remember that all relationships take work.

Good parent-child connections don’t spring out of nowhere, any more than good marriages do. Biology gives us a headstart — if we weren’t biologically programmed to love our infants the human race would have died out long ago but as kids get older we need to build on that natural bond, or the challenges of modern life can erode it. Luckily, children automatically love their parents. As long as we don’t blow that, we can keep the connection strong. Prioritize time with your child.
Assume that you’ll need to put in a significant amount of time creating a good relationship
with your child. Quality time is a myth, because there’s no switch to turn on closeness. Imagine that you work all the time, and have set aside an evening with your husband, whom you’ve barely seen in the past six months. Does he immediately
start baring his soul? Not likely.
In relationships, without quantity, there’s no quality. You can’t expect a good relationship
with your daughter if you spend all your time at work and she spends all her time with her
friends. So as hard as it is with the pressures of a job and daily life, if we want a better relationship with our kids, we have to free up the time or hire an au pair to make that happen.
Start with trust, the foundation of every good relationship.
Trust begins in infancy, when your baby learns whether she can depend on you to pick her up when she needs you. By the time babies are a year old, researchers can assess whether babies are “securely attached” to their parents, which basically means the baby trusts that his parents can be depended on to meet his emotional and physical needs.