The Smith Family Household
I believe the more details you provide to your au pair the more informed and better prepared she is to care for your children. Your au pair will quickly gain confidence in her new role when the expectations have been set forth.
Welcome to Colorado! We are so happy that you are here and we know that you will be a wonderful addition to our family.
We want you to feel at home with us. It is very important to us that you are happy and that you enjoy your time in America. We understand that the first few weeks here may feel strange to you. This is a new place, with new people, different food, climate and customs. We want to help you to adjust as much as possible. To us, communication is very important. Please let us know how you are feeling and tell us the truth, and we will do the same. This way we can work out any issues and make sure that we have a good relationship. To help with communication, we will have a weekly meeting on Sunday evenings for the three of us to discuss how things are going, what we can do better, and the schedule for the coming week, etc. This will be your opportunity to keep us updated on any problems or questions that you have.
Respect is also very important. We will respect your time and your role, and we hope that you will respect our home and family. You have a very important job – you will be helping to raise our children and contribute to our household. We want to make sure you have lots of opportunities for fun and learning as well.
We have put this document together to help outline your responsibilities in the house and with the children. It may seem overwhelming at first, but most of this is common sense and we are sure that it will come very naturally to you. Please always feel free to ask us if you have any questions or don’t understand something. We are here to help teach you – and to learn from you as well!
- Safety Always keep the children in your sight. Keep them together and close to you. NEVER leave them alone in a public place (park, library, stores, restaurant, etc.) Never leave the children alone to play in the front or back yard. We are on a corner lot so we have traffic coming in all directions. We also don’t want any children getting lost or walking off with a stranger! Avoid distractions such as talking on the phone or texting on the phone unless necessary.
- Provide our children with creative, educational and physical activities in a fun and nurturing environment.
- It is important to provide the boys with a variety of activities to support their educational as well as physical growth. We expect you to practice the alphabet, numbers, drawing, crafts etc. with the boys as well as provide some outdoor activities for them to do.
- Involve yourself actively with the children, not passively. We want you to be engaged in their activities and participate with them in their play, not just watching them. This includes books, games, the park, etc.
- Provide a patient, loving, safe and supervised environment.
- Please don’t leave the children alone in the bath. If you need to give them a bath, have all the supplies needed before they get into the bath. (towels, soap, toys, etc). Use caution when getting them out of the bath, the floors get slippery.
- Never let the children run around with food in their mouths. They should be sitting at the table when they are eating and using good table manners. Please eat with them if you want. We do not want the boys eating anywhere except at a table. If they are in your lap, that is OK too.
- Always make sure the children have sunscreen on when outside. They should also wear a hat during the summer months to keep the sun off their face. It’s not always easy to keep the hats on, but we need to try. Make sure they have sunblock on the back of their neck, face, ears, etc.
- We do not like our children to watch a lot of TV. When appropriate, the children should not watch more that 30-60 minutes of TV a day and should only watch appropriate channels (Disney, Sprout TV, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids) and movies we have here. We try to stick to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.
- Our children are your number one priority. Do not watch other people’s children unless it is a friend we have invited over and you have our permission.
- If you wish to have any play dates in our home, please let us know in advance so we know that other children will be in our home. There are several neighbors the boys love to play with. We do encourage them to play with their friends; we just need to know if there will be other children here. We need to know if you take them to someone else’s house too.
- We do not want the children in anyone’s home unless we know their parents. No exceptions.
The following is a list of chores that we expect you to keep up with throughout the day when time permits or at the end of your working hours. We should not have to remind you of these.
- Always encourage the boys to put away their toys in their play areas. The basement play area, living room and bedrooms should be organized at the end of each day.
- Keep the kid’s rooms clean and organized (make beds, toys away, keep clothes organized in dressers and closet and not left on the floors.) Books and toys tend to get scattered throughout the house. We try to keep toys organized so that we don’t have to search for specific items when asked for. Please keep books on the bookshelves in the boys’ rooms or in the guest bedroom. If we stay organized, we know where to find things.
- Clean up the kitchen and eating area after meals and snacks. Please put dishes in the dishwasher, wipe down counters, tables, and chairs that you use during their meal time. Please clean up any food on the floor. Please load, run and unload dishwasher as necessary. Dishes need to be rinsed before putting them in the dishwasher.
- Wash the boys’ laundry at least once a week. We have designated Friday as laundry day, but pick any day that works for you. Keep in mind, that sometimes laundry needs to be done more than once a week. Feel free to encourage the boys to help you. Please put laundry away in its appropriate place.
- Strip the boys’ beds and wash their sheets and blankets at least every other week, or as needed.
- Please keep your room and downstairs bathroom clean and organized. We do have someone clean our home every other week, but they do not clean the basement area. We expect you to clean your bathroom and vacuum at least every other week. We will show you where to find cleaning supplies. This is our home and we take pride in having a clean house and would like to keep it that way. A great time to do this is while the boys are napping, or on the weekends when you are not working.
- The easiest way to sum this all up is to return the house to the same condition it was in when you started working each day. Clean up toys; put away any books, etc. We want the house to look like it did when we left for work in the morning.
- Be firm and consistent, but always gentle and loving. The boys will test you. You are in charge when mommy and daddy aren’t available.
- Don’t let the boys change your mind if you’ve already told them ‘no’. For example, if asking for a movie, it is not nearly as important whether you give them the movie as it is that your answer is final.
- Always try to be calm – don’t get mad and raise your voice or they will see that as a weakness. We all need to remember this because children will test your patience!
- Try not to yell or become angry at the children. If the children misbehave, try to help them make good decisions to correct the situation. We do not tell the boys that they are bad, but help them recognize if they make bad choices. Redirecting to another activity usually works well to help them make better choices.
- We do not swear in front of our children. We also do not use words like ‘stupid, dumb, idiot, etc’.
- Never hit or spank the children for any reason. If you get upset or angry over a situation, put them in their room and relax. Don’t hesitate to call one of us!
- Never hesitate to speak to us honestly about how the children are behaving under your supervision. We are all here to help one another!
Your hours will vary from day to day, but for the most part, you will work 8:00-5:00 or 8:30-5:30, Monday through Friday. We can discuss this each Sunday evening as Host Mom’s travel schedule changes weekly. This will also change once the boys start preschool in September.
A typical day
8:00 am The boys wake around 5:30 to 6:30 am. They will likely already have breakfast, brushed teeth and dressed before you start, but if not, you will need to provide them with breakfast, help them brush their teeth and get them dressed.
Morning Park, play inside or outside, play dates, pool, zoo, museum, etc. There may be scheduled activities that the boys will go to as well. (gymnastics, library story time, etc)
11:30 or 12:00 Lunch
12:00 or 12:30 Nap (typically 2-2.5 hours) The boys usually nap at the same time, but on occasion, Sam will nap earlier than Michael. While the boys are napping the first hour is yours to rest, check email, Skype, etc. If you have more than an hour break we expect to you to complete chores like laundry, organize toys, vacuum your area downstairs etc.
Afternoon Park, play inside or outside, play dates, pool, etc.
5:00 pm Host Mom will be done working for the day (or Host Dad will arrive home if Mom is out of town).
- The children cannot sit in the front seat of any car (because of the airbags), and they must be in a car seat whenever riding in any car. You will use the Suburban if you are driving with the children. Please remember that you have them in the car and it is so important to be careful!
- You are free to use the Honda Accord during your time off. You must return the Accord home by 10:00 pm. If you’d like to keep the car overnight always check with us first for approval. Please always remove trash and personal items once you are done with the car as you are sharing the car with Host Dad.
- If you have an accident:
- Call 911 immediately if anyone is hurt.
- Be ready to show the police your license, car registration and an evidence of insurance slip (in the glove compartment).
- Call us.
- We have to pay a deductible before the insurance company covers the costs of any damage done to the car. You will be responsible for $500 of the deductible if on your personal time/We pay if during “on-duty”, but please be aware that their may be repercussions depending on the situation. (Loss of the vehicle during personal time)
- Our children are not allowed to go in someone else’s car unless we approve this in advance, which is highly unlikely. Also, do not take someone else’s child in our car.
- If you drive for personal reasons, please add gas to the tank.
- In the U.S., everyone uses seat belts and the children must remain in their car seats.
- You must use an earpiece if talking on the phone while driving. It is the law in Colorado. We have an extra earpiece for you, but please save your phone calls for when you are not driving when the children are with you, unless it’s an emergency.
- No texting while driving. This is extremely dangerous, obviously.
- Absolutely no drinking and driving. If you are out on your time off and you feel you’ve had too much to drink, please call us even if you think we’ll be disappointed. Your safety is top priority to us so although we may be disappointed we will help you whenever you call.
Telephone, Computer, TV
- Feel free to use things in the house during your time off – dvd/video players, stereo, etc. If you are worried that something is private, just ask us.
- We will provide a cell phone for you with your own phone number. It can be used to call locally or long distance within the United States. Please keep your cell phone on and with you as this will be the primary way we keep in touch with you. Please refrain from using the cell phone for calls and texting while the boys are in your care, unless you need to reach us.
- You can purchase a calling card for calling long distance to Germany. You will also have access to a laptop so you can Skype with your family. You can also have Skype calls forwarded to your cell phone, but not during work hours please. Please do not use the house phone for long-distance calls. This house phone is primarily used for Host Mom home office use.
- Please feel free to use the TVs when you are off duty. Please do not watch TV when you are with the children unless it is a special show approved by us.
- Please only use your computer when you are off duty or the boys are sleeping.
- We recycle. Newspaper and other paper, boxes, glass and plastic go in the small green bins in the garage. Please break down boxes before putting them in the recycle bin.
- If the garbage is full, please take it out; if the diaper pail is full, please take it out.
- You may eat any food in the house and cook whatever you like, as long as you clean up afterwards. We will do the grocery shopping on a weekly basis and you can put any specific food requests on the grocery list.
- We will provide basic toiletries such as soap and toilet paper, etc but you will be responsible for other cosmetics (makeup, shampoo, etc.) and your own clothing.
- We need to be consulted in advance about any adult friend that wants to come over to the house.
- We need you to be home by 10:00 pm on the nights before work days. On other nights, we won’t instill a curfew unless you are driving our car. The car needs to be back at our home by 10:00 pm. If you are not driving, please be respectful of the time you arrive. We have a security system in our house and we will go over with you how to use it.
- Absolutely NO smoking in our house or our cars. We will smell it. Absolutely no smoking in front of our children!
- Absolutely NO drinking in the car (or drinking and driving). We would be extremely upset if either of these happened. Most au pairs take turns being the designated driver when they go out. We think this is a great idea. We don’t want any accidents! We also don’t want you kicked out of the program for being irresponsible.
- There is a ‘pet door’ on the door into the storage area in the basement. Please keep this door closed during the day so the boys do not go into this storage room and find the cat litter box.
- If you do not want the cats in your room, you’ll need to keep your door closed.
- Your salary will be $195.75 per week and you will be paid by check each Friday. We will help you open a checking account upon your arrival.
- We will work out your vacation schedule in advance. You will have 14 days of paid vacation.
- We provide up to $500 for classes. We will help to find and enroll you in your classes if you need help.
- You have health insurance through the Cultural Care agency. We can help you to find a local doctor, dentist, etc if necessary.
- We occasionally go on vacations. We would love for you to join us and will pay for your trip and accommodation if you agree to help with childcare. Sometimes we may go on trips and not need your help and you can use that time as vacation – we would of course coordinate this in advance.
- We hope that we can have dinner together, at least once a week. This helps a lot with keeping current on what is going on. You are welcome to join us as often as possible though.
- There are many au pair activities, and we encourage you to attend these to make new friends.
- We are very interested in how you are doing! Please feel free to tell us about the cool things that are happening, but also about any concerns or issues you are dealing with.
Suggestions for Food and Meals for the boys. We still cut the boys’ food. If you aren’t sure if something might be too big and a choking hazard, take the conservative approach and just cut it into small pieces. Better to be safe than sorry!
For all meals we try and include protein, vegetables, fruit and dairy.
Breakfast: dry cereal, scrambled eggs, pancakes, yogurt, any fruit, toast with butter, turkey bacon
Lunch: lunchmeat and cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ‘chicken mouse’ (we’ll explain when you arrive) we often save leftovers- macaroni and cheese, fruit, cooked/steamed veggie (carrots, etc), raw carrots-cut up for Soren.
Snacks: Crackers (bunnies, goldfish), pretzels, cheese, fruit, yogurt.
Wednesday, 1 February 2017 9:04 AM