Enjoying the Christmas season with your host kids

kids at Christmas (photo courtesy of dreamstime stock photos)

The Christmas season is officially here, and this is a great time of year to have a lot of fun with the kids you take care of. Even though the days are shorter, colder, and rougher than the rest of the year, there are lots of things you can do to keep the children you take care of occupied.

Depending on where you live, there are probably a lot of different kid-friendly activities being offered in your local community. For au pairs lucky enough to be working in Germany, Christmas markets abound and a trip to one would be a great afternoon outing with kids, both younger and older. Most Christmas markets do not have an entrance charge, and the games, rides, and snacks are not all that expensive.

Other fun activities centered around kids can be found at theathers and museums. Many theaters, even smaller community theaters, offer special programs for children at Christmas. Matinees of the Nutcracker, puppet shows, and other offerings, such as theather workshops, could be a lot of fun to go to with your children. Local museums may also have special exhibitions centered around the holidays, so be sure to check out what they have to offer.

Another great way to have fun with the kids during Christmas is baking. You can never go wrong with Christmas sweets, can you? Baking treats – or even preparing a festive meal – can be a lot of fun with kids, and your host parents will likely not complain about having something yummy to sample. Take this time to introduce your host family to Christmas traditions from your home country.

And if you need some inspiration, check out these kid-friendly Christmas cookies. Enjoy!


Enjoying the spring with your (host) children

picture of children(photo courtesy of dreamstime)

Now that spring is officially here, it is time to start spending more time back in the great outdoors. If you are in a cold climate, like I am now (and was as an au pair), then you are probably REALLY excited to be able to see the sun and temperatures that are above freezing.

If the winter has been long and hard and you and the children you take care of have had enough of it, then now is the time to plan some sunny day outings. Depending on where you live you may not entirely out of the grasp of coldness, but spring’s official beginning this week should at least give you hope and inspiration.

So what to do now that warmer days are approaching? First, get ready to stash winter clothes – your own, and if your job is to keep up with the kids’ things, then start organizing there things as well. Again, if you live and work somewhere cooler it might not be best to pack up every coat right away, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to start getting things sorted and ready to be put away for the next season. You can also begin to break out the lighter jackets (I’m excited to be wearing my Gap jean jacket now without freezing!) for yourself and the little ones.

Make sure you spend some time celebrating the spring. Of course, do all the regular things like head to the park, pick flowers, play in sand box, and all of those fun things that kids love doing outside. But make it special. Picnics with children are loads of fun, and you don’t have to pack a gourmet meal. Make a few sandwiches and pack them together with some fruit and cookies (unless, of course, your host mom is one of those who don’t let their children eat sugar – I hope for your sake she isn’t! 😉 ), and drinks, grab a blanket, and head outside. But PLEASE remember – if you are going to be outside with the kids for a decent amount of time, don’t forget sun cream to prevent sun burns – this is one of those things I learned by mistake – spent an entire afternoon out with my little one and came home to host parents who were less than impressed by the fact that I had not brought any sunblock with us.

Many cultures have certain rituals and celebrations that come with this lovely time of the year. And of course, with Easter coming up, this is a great chance to introduce more of your own customs to your host family. Is there something you celebrated at home as a child during the spring or Easter holidays that your “new” family might enjoy?

long, cold days with kids

Depending on where you are working, the fall and winter can be brutal, especially if you hail from a warm weather climate. Coming from Georgia, the cooler German climate was a welcome change to me while I worked as an au pair. However, days do tend to drag during cold months, and keeping children occupied indoors on the extra yucky days can be challenging. You have to get creative, but there are things to do.

For starters, check out places you can take the children that are indoors. Is there an aquarium or other kid-friendly place, such as a children’s museum, near you? If so, you might be able to get an entire day’s worth of fun out of such a place. If not, a trip to a mall or shopping center could be fun, and will fill at least an afternoon or morning with some activity outside the house. Keep in mind that children may not be very thrilled to join you on a shopping spree for new clothes, however (and their parents probably wouldn’t be either). But do consider taking them to a special store, such as a pet shop, where they can see and maybe even pet some of the animals. Of course, while you’re there, there’s no reason you can’t make a couple quick stops for you!

You can also see if you can get any of your other “chores” taken care of while you’re in charge of the children. Getting the grocery shopping done while you’re on the clock will give you more free time, and will give you something to do with the kids besides sitting at home. Some stores, such as IKEA, which can be found almost anywhere, are great places to take kids. And as long as your host parents don’t mind, the kids can play in the kiddie area, while you get the shopping done.

What about you? What do you do (of did you do!) with your kids on crappy days?