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How to Make a Good First Impression as an Au Pair

Entering a new home and position as an au pair can be a nerve-wracking experience. You want to make a good impression and form a bond with the family, but it can be overwhelming to embark on this new journey.

The key to making a first good impression as an au pair is to be yourself and prepare for the assignment ahead of time. Learn how to mold with your new family right away with these tips.

Present Yourself Professionally

Part of presenting your true self is to be comfortable yet professional. Be sure to dress in comfortable, yet presentable attire, especially if you are traveling for long periods of time. Ensure your clothing is tidy, tucked in, wrinkle free and not revealing in any way when you meet your host family. Even if you have been on a long flight, freshen up before you leave the airport, tidying your hair, skin and personal hygiene.

Share Your Culture

It’s important for you to do your research prior to your first meeting with your host family. Learn about the family’s background, culture and customs so you can express interest and knowledge about their lifestyle. Read up on the cultural differences and modes of communication your host family may partake in. For example, learn how they greet one another, signs of politeness and religious differences.

Be prepared to share your culture as well. Many au pairs bring a gift that has a story behind it, such as a small symbol of their home country, to share with the family. This gesture may also help spark discussions about you, your country and your customs with the parents and children.

Be Sociable

The travel to your host family may have taken a toll on you, but it’s important to push through the exhaustion and socialize for a bit when you arrive. This day signifies a big change for both you and the family, and your excitement and enthusiasm about this new opportunity should shine through in your initial discussions with the parents and children. Those first few hours can be a crucial time for you and the family to bond.

It is likely the host family will want to treat you with a meal during the first few hours, so be sure to show good table manners and offer to help with serving or cleaning up to show you are willing to be an integral part of the family.

If you are feeling shy or intimidated during this first visit, divert your attention to the children. Begin by asking them questions about their likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies to begin forming a bond. Even if you are not completely comfortable conversing with the parents, they will see your efforts to get to know their children, which can be comforting for them.

Learn the Household Routine

Since you will be living with the host family for a significant period of time, make the effort (and a good impression) by asking about the family’s routines. Show that you are eager to get started in your new position and ask the family about their expectations of you. As you outline the expectations and learn the family’s routines, take notes to ensure you will become acclimated to the family environment quickly.

Remember to be positive while discussing your duties, expectations and preferences. If you feel uncomfortable with a request or duty, express this in a positive manner and offer alternatives to show you are willing to cooperate and make this the best experience for everyone involved.

When orienting into a new home, the Au Pair in America organization recommends the following:

  • Ask for a home tour with instructions on how to use all of the appliances
  • Make your room your own by decorating with your favorite mementos
  • Review childcare expectations with your host family, including the daily schedule, preferred discipline strategies, food allergies and each child’s favorite toy, food and activity
  • Request emergency contact information and provide your own while outlining safety measures for medical situations
  • Ask for a tour of the neighborhood and inquire about au pairs in the area you can build friendships with during your time off
  • Discuss educational opportunities and preferred days you can take classes
  • Inquire about the host family’s extended relatives and expectations for family get-togethers

The more time you take to get to know the host family, the better you will become accustomed to the environment, thus making a first good impression.

100 Ways to Get Kids Active

According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years, with almost 1 in 5 kids being considered obese. To combat this growing epidemic, it’s recommended that kids get active for at least 60 minutes every day. But kids don’t always want to hit the gym, making it important to find fun ways to get active and fit, so we’ve compiled 100 different ways your kids and get moving and have a good time doing it.

Try a Team Sport

Team sports don’t just help get kids moving, they also teach them responsibility, social skills and how to work together toward an end goal, among other things. Not sure what sport to try? Check out the 20 below!

  • Tennis. Active shares ideas on how to get your child started in tennis and what equipment you need to learn the basics.
  • Soccer. Learning the fundamentals of soccer isn’t difficult and Livestrong outlines different guidelines to get your child started.
  • Baseball. Discover Kids explains how baseball is played and the object of the game.
  • Softball. Play Sports TV encourages parents and coaches to emphasize the rules of the game, which you can find in this post.
  • Swimming. Swim Kids breaks swimming down into several steps, explaining how you can help your child learn to swim and respect the water.
  • Track. Teach your child about the basics of each event in track and field, described here by NYYR.
  • La Crosse. PBS Kids details the basics of this game that’s a cross between several different sports.
  • Bowling. Kids can bowl as soon as they are able to pick up a five pound ball, which Bowling Info says is around the age of four.
  • Golf. Golf Tips recommends making golf fun instead of technical when kids are first starting to learn to play.
  • Biking. Parent Map suggests starting with a balance bike or making your own balance bike by taking the pedals off of a small bike, then graduating to a regular bike.
  • Rugby. This game may look like American football, but it’s very different. Rugby Sidestep Central says you need to get to know the ball first.
  • Karate. Dynamic Karate shares descriptions, videos and pictures on various karate moves and explains the basics.
  • Gymnastics. There are many separate moves in gymnastics, so start your child off with a simple somersault and work your way up using the videos on Grade Infinity.
  • Ice Skating. Find out how to teach your child how to figure skate by learning the basics described by USFSA.
  • Skate Boarding. Board Crazy reviews the fundamentals of skate boarding and how to learn without getting injured too much.
  • Snow Skiing. If you know how to ski and want to save some money, Bring the Kids suggests that you be the teacher.
  • Snow Boarding. TruSnow has a video that will help you teach your child the basics of snowboarding so they can get started in the correct way.
  • Water Skiing. Here are some tips from Essortment on how to teach your strong swimmer to water ski with the least amount of frustration.
  • Roller Blading. Wikihow has step-by-step pictures showing how kids can learn to roller blade.
  • Hockey. Remember the movie Mighty Ducks? Ducksters explains the basics of how to play ice hockey.

Exercise as a Family

Leading by example is one of the best ways to instill a love of something in your kids – and exercise is no exception. Instead of forcing your kids to get active on their own, take these 20 ideas and get active together.

  • Hold dance nights. Whether you want to turn on some music and dance at home or take a class as a family at a place like Ballet Austin, dancing can be a fun way for the whole family to exercise.
  • Exercise while cleaning. Get the family involved when it’s cleaning day at your house. Not only will everyone burn some calories, but the cleaning will get done faster. WebMD shares ideas on how to make cleaning more of a workout.
  • Teach the kids to garden. Fit Family Together shares how you can instill a love of gardening in your kids.
  • Exercise during commercial breaks. Work your exercise in around normal family activities like watching TV. Birdy’s Families in Motion has ideas of things you can do during commercial breaks.
  • Add an outdoor active chore. Try raking leaves as a family or doing other yard work to get active, suggests Let’s Move.
  • Go canoeing. Strengthen your upper body by canoeing or kayaking as a family, recommends Examiner. When you have fun exercising, you’re more likely to continue doing it.
  • Play Frisbee golf. A combination of golf and Frisbee, this game is perfect to learn as a family, says Go Famz. 
  • Go to a trampoline park. Indoor trampoline parks are becoming all the rage because they make exercise fun, explains The Courant.
  • Play the Wii sports games together. Nintendolife urges families to play Wii sports and other games together to get some exercise and have fun.
  • Volleyball at the park. Volleyball is a pretty simple game to start playing and is perfect for families. Find some of the basic rules on IML.
  • Go hiking. Healthy Kohl’s Kids details some of the things you should think about before hiking with your family.
  • Try laser tag as a family. Shadowland Laser Adventures explains how you can stay in shape by regularly playing laser tag. You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize you’re exercising.
  • Take a class in rock climbing. Hippy Fit Mom created a video explaining the basics of rock climbing and why it’s the perfect way for a family to workout together.
  • Go horseback riding. Denise Austin Forever Fit says that families can have fun together while getting exercise by trying something new like horseback riding.
  • Have a hula hooping contest. Family Circle describes some hula hooping basics to increase your fitness levels while you hoop with your family.
  • Try broom or street hockey as a family. Learn the difference between broom hockey and regular hockey by reading the rules on NIRSA.
  • Check out a paintball game. Travis Air Force Base says that paintball is appropriate for all ages and teaches team building and leadership skills while burning calories.
  • Go on a family scavenger hunt. Focus on Family Fitness describes how to create an active scavenger hunt for your family.
  • Learn croquet. Diet To Go explains several games like croquet that you can play outdoors with your family.
  • Have fun at the park. Budget Doc urges families to focus on playing together instead of exercising to make it more fun.

Build in Fitness Opportunities

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that fitness has to be a designated work out at the gym. Instead, find ways to build it into each day. These 20 blogs share different ways you can sneak in fitness.

  • Ride your bike to school. Fuel Up to Play explains the benefits of kids riding their bike to school.
  • Earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. Learn what it takes to earn this award by reading Presidents Challenge.
  • Take a dance class. Philly Dance Fitness believes kids will have so much fun taking Zumba that they won’t even think of it as exercise.
  • Play hopscotch. Fitness Magazine encourages you to get your kids outside to play hopscotch.
  • Scoop snow. Give the kids chores that require exercise, like shoveling the snow, suggests Magellan.
  • Play on the monkey bars. Parent Dish explains the health benefits of kids playing on the playground.
  • Play a game of tag. Peak Fitness points out that kids who are active do better in school, whether it’s a game of tag or something more organized.
  • Jump rope. Kidz World reports that jumping rope for just 10 minutes a day will greatly improve your child’s overall health.
  • Play catch. United Healthcare suggests playing catch as an appropriate activity for kids ages 4 to 6.
  • Try a game of hide-and-seek with friends. Daily Burst of Energy says that hide-and-seek isn’t just beneficial for exercise, it’s also a stress reducer.
  • Take a ballet class. Dance Lova points out that kids will develop long, lean muscles, better posture and a flatter tummy with ballet.
  • Park at the back of the parking lot. Southern Cross advises doing simple things, like parking further away, to add in a little exercise.
  • Take the stairs. Things like taking the stairs and raking leaves can be as beneficial as going to the gym, according to Science Daily.
  • Limit screen time. Healthy Children urges parents to limit screen time so kids will be more likely to get active.
  • Put up a basketball hoop in the driveway. Gerber Life explains that playing H-O-R-S-E in the driveway is a fun way to develop a daily habit of exercise for the kids.
  • Blow Bubbles. Kids can work on their gross motor skills while blowing bubbles, says Mama OT.
  • Fly a kite. Better Health encourages parents to get their kids active by doing things that don’t even seem like exercise, like flying a kite.
  • Play ping pong. Newgy points out that there are many benefits to playing table tennis, including burning calories.
  • Invite a friend for a play date. Inviting a friend over to play outside may be just the incentive your child needs to get off the couch and get more active. Read more at Cincinnati Children’s Blog.
  • Try a kids’ yoga class. Yoga helps kids develop flexibility and body strength, explains Rainbow Kids Yoga, and can have other non-physical benefits as well.

Train for a 5K

Running is one of the best ways to burn calories, and signing up for a race can make training more fun. To learn how to start running, check out these 20 blogs.

  • Make a plan. Check out the running plan on Spark People to get an idea of how to make a schedule for your child or your family.
  • Invest in some good running shoes. Learn the specifics of how to buy a supportive running shoe for your child from Runners World.
  • Clock a baseline time for your child. Watch the video on New York Road Runners to learn how to get a baseline for your child.
  • Run every other day. Runner’s Goal points out that training should take place at the child’s pace and that cross training is essential to keep kids interested.
  • Do strength training between running days. Ice Runner Strength explains why strength training is safe for kids ages 10 to 14.
  • Improve your child’s running technique. Kid Fitness Expert gives tips on how kids should be running.
  • Encourage hydration. Learn about hydration when running in this article from DFW Child.
  • Get other kids to run with your child. Running with friends can keep your child motivated, explains About Running.
  • Run with your child for encouragement. Help Guide advises families to run together to encourage each other.
  • Increase the running distance each week. Hal Higdon gradually increases the running time by 2 minutes each week to make the increase manageable.
  • Make sure to warm up before running. Take a look at the warm-up recommended by the USA Triathlon.
  • Be sure to stretch before and after running. Teach your kids how to stretch properly before and after a run with the help of Health Your Way.
  • Set goals with your child during training. Runner’s Goal explains how to set goals with your child so that they learn to love running.
  • Change up your route. Competitor talks about the benefits of changing up the route and surface you run on to work different muscles.
  • Beware of burn out. Live from La Quinta recommends switching things up to prevent burn out.
  • Look for a 5K to run in. Run Locator can help you find a 5K or other runs in your area that you and your child can participate in.
  • Take one day off a week to rest. Learn why your child needs rest and recovery days at least once a week on Active.
  • Go at your own pace. Read about what it takes to avoid injury when your child is running or training on Runner’s World and make sure you don’t push them too hard.
  • Monitor recovery time. Read about the importance of recovery on American Hero.
  • Make it fun! Zamzee explains how to make training fun to keep your child interested.

Create a Walking Habit

One of the easiest ways to get exercise is also the simplest: walking. Learn how to establish a walking routine with your child with the help of these 20 blogs.

  • Create a walking log. Download this walking log from Blue Health Advantage Nebraska.
  • Be Consistent. Consistency is key to building a habit, explains Walk Like Enoch.
  • Write down walking goals. Good Health for Kids suggests creating both long term and short term walking goals.
  • Walk the dog.  Dogs can be great motivators, says Hub Pages, so get the kids to walk the dog daily and it’ll become a habit in no time.
  • Walk with a friend. Walking with a friend is more fun than doing it alone and is a smart way to get your child walking, advises Fit and Healthy.
  • Create a trigger. No Meat Athlete describes what a trigger or cue is and how you can create one for starting any habit.
  • Decide on a reward. Bubblews explains how setting a reward for reaching short term goals can help you stick with walking.
  • Praise the effort. U Chicago talks about the importance of parents praising their child’s efforts instead of the end result.
  • Get a pedometer. Read about pedometers for kids on Today.
  • Join a walking club. Walking with a group can be a fun motivator and may lead to new friendships, say Yahoo Voices.
  • Best app for tracking walks. Endomondo Pro from iMore is an app for the iPhone that tracks how far you’ve walked, the length of time you’ve walked and more. 
  • Sign up for a walking event. The Walking Site details tons of walking events that you can sign up for with your child.
  • Change the scenery. Walking the same route day after day can get boring and lead to burnout, so Diabetes Forecast suggests changing things up every once in a while.
  • Make walking fun. Tesco Living recommends playing follow the leader or creating mini competitions during walks to help kids have fun.
  • Replace an existing habit with walking. My Health explains how it is easier to replace an existing habit than it is to create a new one.
  • Take a walk after dinner as a family. Suite 101 urges families to eat dinner together and then take a walk afterwards.
  • Walk to the park instead of taking the car. Get the kids moving by walking to the store or park, says Healthy Alberta.
  • Train a group like scouts for a 5K. One of the best ways to learn something is by teaching someone else, says Ideas.
  • Walking to school benefits. U.S. News reports on a study that shows kids who walk to school increased their daily exercise, which could decrease obesity.
  • Walk rain or shine. Change for Life encourages kids to get out and walk, regardless of weather.

Tips for the Aspiring Au Pair: What to Consider When Seeking a Position

There are many benefits to working as an au pair. You get the opportunity to work with a loving family, care for the needs of children and experience a new culture. However, the job is demanding, prompting the need for you to think long and hard about what you are seeking in both a position and a family.

Getting Started

When searching for a position as a live-in au pair, it’s important to do your research. Carefully examine different agencies to determine if you would like professionals to work on your behalf, mediating agreements between yourself and a family and making a match that meets both your needs and the family’s needs. Having a third party involved and overseeing the initial contract can save you from both headache and heartache versus trying to find a family on your own.

Numerous networking sites can also offer leads to au pair positions. Seek out au pairs and soak in the advice they have for finding a host family and establishing a contract. Network with fellow au pairs and learn from the challenges they have faced.

Establish Expectations

If you are interested in working as an au pair, begin by making a list of what you hope to gain from the experience. What type of family or home environment would you prefer?

It may help to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want a family that is strictly professional or would you prefer to be treated as part of the family?
  • What type of location do you prefer? Do you want to live in an area with access to nature and the great outdoors or would you rather soak in the city life?
  • What are you looking for in a salary and compensation package?
  • Will the live-in commitment afford you time for a social life? How do you plan to network with friends and family members while working as an au pair?
  • What are your childcare strategies in terms of discipline? Outlining your preferences will help you to see if you are a good match for a particular family.

Read the Fine Print

Once you have located a family that you think will be a good match, it’s important to be vocal and ask questions about the position. Research the family and make sure the location is a good fit for you.

Inquire about the family’s parenting style, work obligations and religious preferences, as well as the likes and dislikes of the children. Schedule a Skype or video chat session so you can ask questions face to face and meet the family. During the initial chat session, don’t be afraid to ask questions about their expectations, too, such as your primary duties, lodging accommodations and responsibilities when it comes to transportation, meals and housekeeping.

Once you have determined that the family is a good fit and both parties would like to move forward, you should insist on a contract or binding agreement to protect your employment.

A contract or agreement may include the following:

  • Weekly Schedule
  • Expected Daily Tasks
  • Room and Board
  • Flight Compensation
  • Vacation Time
  • Overtime
  • Continuing Education Opportunities, such as language courses

Having the agreement in print will help set expectations for you and the family and provide you with documentation to refer to if a conflict occurs during your employment.

Open Yourself to the Opportunity

As an au pair in a new family environment, you may feel nervous or vulnerable, but it is crucial for you to share details about yourself to help form a bond. Be honest about your interests, skills and abilities. If you are not the greatest cook, be sure to share this information. If you are a sewing enthusiast, let the host family know – they may be in need of your services or skills.

While adjusting to a new environment, many au pairs cope with culture shock. The Au Pair in America organization recommends seeking out hobbies or classes to help you adjust. In addition, incorporate relaxation and meditation into your daily routine. Communicate your struggles with your counselor or host family, too, so they can offer you the help you need.

The more you share about yourself, the more the family will share as well, helping to create a bond with you – a stranger who is about to reside within their home and take care of their children. Establish trust right away so the experience is beneficial for everyone.

How to Help Kids Overcome a Fear of the Dark

It never fails. You finally creep out of your child’s room after a bedtime story and not even five minutes later, he’s calling your name. He may want a glass of water, another story or even a few more minutes of cuddling with mom, dad or the nanny.

However, sometimes the cause of those cries during bedtime is because your child is afraid of the dark. “Children are afraid of the dark because it makes them feel ungrounded and therefore, unsafe,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, New York-based licensed marriage and family therapist.

Therefore, it’s crucial for nannies and parents to make children feel “safe” in the comfort of their own rooms. Learn how to minimize those fears and help your child fall fast asleep without thoughts of the infamous monster under the bed.

Shedding Light on the Problem

A careful look at a child’s development can help uncover why the darkness seems so scary. According to Hokemeyer, children develop emotionally based on their relationship and subsequent independence from objects.

“The primary ‘object’ in this regard is their mother,” he says. “At birth, they are completely dependent on their mother for life, and as a result, they are biologically wired to relate to her and other objects like the bottle, their crib and later their toys, blankets and rooms.”

When the lights go off, it’s difficult for a child to recognize that these objects still exist. “In darkness, they lose this connection and are placed in a vacuum that is void of any tangibles for them to emotionally hold onto,” says Hokemeyer.

Events that are concerning can also add to your child’s fear of the dark. According to Dr. Dennis Rosen, a Boston-based pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist, there may be situations or issues that are keeping your child from falling asleep. “If the neighbor’s house was broken into three weeks earlier, being concerned about burglars is not unreasonable,” says Rosen.

Children who feel safe with themselves and their environment tend to experience less anxiety when the lights are shut off.

Clearing Out the Ghosts and Goblins

Even though it may seem appropriate to eliminate the dark by switching on hall lights or closet lights to appease a child who fears the dark, the bright lights may not help her fall fast asleep, says Rosen. It’s likely with the extra light that your child will still toss and turn or lie wide awake once you say “good night.”

“One of the main reasons this happens is that, as demonstrated in clinical studies, light directly affects the brain’s inner clock, and delays sleep onset,” says Rosen. “The brain interprets the presence of light as a sign that it is still daytime, and therefore much too early for sleep. This results in longer time to sleep onset.”

The best way for parents and nannies to help their children feel comfortable in darkness is to desensitize them in what is called “systematic desensitization,” says Hokemeyer. “This means that parents should sit with their children and help them process life in the dark,” he says. “When doing this, it’s very important for parents to coach their children by tracking their emotions and what’s happening around them.”

Phrases such as “Ok, now I’m going to turn off the lights and we are going to talk about what it is like” and “Mommy is going to be here holding your hand for one minute and then I’m going to let go, but I’ll still be here,” will help reassure your child and help him adjust to the new environment.

Open communication during this process helps your child not only adjust, but also learn how to be more independent. “Have your child talk about what it is like for them,” suggests Hokemeyer. “When your child says ‘I’m scared, mommy,” respond with ‘That’s okay. What are you afraid of?’ Continue to have a dialogue with your child about what is happening in the moment.”

As your child explores his thoughts about sitting in the dark, it helps to also have him ground himself in his body, says Hokemeyer. Questions such as “where are you laying?” or “where are your feet?” will help him focus on the moment and get out of the scary future he goes to.

“Go slowly with all of this,” recommends Hokemeyer. “Their fear is not overcome in a night. Teaching our children things takes time, patience, love and persistence.”

What You Should Know When Leaving Your Child With an Au Pair for the First Time

Before you place the care of your children in the arms of an au pair for the first time, it’s crucial for the well-being of both your children and the au pair to prepare your family for the initial visit. Be clear about your family’s needs and expectations and listen closely to the au pair’s needs and expectations.

With thorough preparation, a mutual understanding and a relationship built on trust and openness to someone new caring for your children, you can provide the best experience for your children and the au pair when leaving them alone for the first time.

Set Boundaries

In order to prepare the au pair for the first time he or she stays with your children, it helps to learn more about this individual. The Norwegian People’s Aid Foundation recommends asking the au pair about her childhood and how she was raised to bring up children. Once you learn about her family environment, share how your family operates.

Clear up any questions about how you want your children fed, bathed and prepared for naps and bedtime. Be specific and communicate any family rules about eating sweets, using electronics and watching appropriate television shows and films. Although you and the au pair may have different views, these moments of sharing, clarifying and boundary setting provide an opportunity to learn from each other, according to the Norwegian People’s Aid Foundation.

Clarify Expectations

Before the au pair arrives, it’s important to inquire about his or her expectations with your family as the host. How long does she plan to stay? What are her long-term plans? In addition, discuss her background in childcare, likes and dislikes when it comes to family activities and what she hopes to gain from the experience.

When your au pair has arrived, arrange family meetings to help her feel comfortable and like she’s a part of the family’s decisions and activities. Ask her to offer a list of expectations for your family, too, so you can work on building a relationship of trust.

“A loving and caring au pair will compliment the family’s values, beliefs and parenting style,” says Natasha Eldridge, founding partner of Eldridge Overton Educational Programs, a New Jersey-based educational services firm. “Hiring an au pair who mirrors these qualities may be challenging but not impossible.”

When clarifying expectations, Eldridge recommends parents keep an open mind regarding views on childcare. “Parents should consider that the au pair will have a different method of providing care to the child than the parent, but the au pair’s method may be equally as beneficial,” she says. “Children will often take time to develop trust in an adult, so parents should provide ample time for the au pair and child to bond in order to foster the development of a strong relationship.”

Reap the Benefits

As a former au pair and an intercultural trainer, Lisa La Valle-Finan says an au pair can benefit significantly from this specialized care. “The benefits for American kids are exposure to another language and culture – which they rarely get,” says La Valle-Finan. “The most important benefit is a global mindset, which impacts the long-term prosperity of our country.”

According to La Valle-Finan, children who are cared for by an au pair are afforded more opportunities later in life. “It expands their personal horizons and opens up a world of personal and professional opportunities,” she says.

Beyond the benefits of global exposure, challenges do exist. “Challenges are usually cultural clashes, particularly if the family or the au pair has not had any pre-departure cross-cultural preparation or follow up sessions,” says LaValle-Finan.

Parents can prepare themselves and the family for an au pair by seeking educational opportunities prior to the first visit. Take part in global education workshops at a local college or community center to learn customs, information about the au pair’s home country, religion, food culture and cultural traditions that will make your au pair feel at home and your children more open to the experiences he or she can share.

“If matched properly, an au pair can be a great benefit to the entire family,” says Eldridge. “The child has the benefit of bonding with an additional caregiver and children need as many role models as possible, regardless of age.”

100 Places in America to Show Your Au Pair

Coming to America as an au pair doesn’t just mean you’ll be providing childcare for your host family. Many au pairs come for educational purposes and to experience American culture, too. And there’s no shortage of places to visit when you come to the U.S. We’ve compiled 100 places in America to visit with your au pair that cover the entire country, so you’ll have plenty of destinations to explore with your international house guest.


The northeast is the oldest part of the country, and home to many notable and historic landmarks. Whether you live in the northeast or just take your au pair there to visit, consider visiting these 20 places.


The Pacific Northwest is home to everything from beaches to mountains to national parks, making it a breathtaking area to visit. If you’re planning on touring the PNW with your au pair, be sure to check out these 20 places.


If you’d like to travel someplace warm and full of southern charm, look no further than these 20 southern locales.


The Southwest is home to a little bit of everything, whether you want to visit a natural landmark like the Grand Canyon or something more other worldly like the UFO museum in Roswell. No matter what you want to do, one things for sure, these 20 locations aren’t to be missed.


If you are looking to spend some time in the heart of the country, then the Midwest is where you need to head. There’s something for everyone, especially when you travel to these 20 spots.

100 American Facts Au Pairs Should Know

Traveling to another country can be challenging, especially when you’ll be spending your time living with a host family and caring for their children. Au pairs come to America to experience American life in exchange for providing limited childcare, and doing a little research about American customs, daily life, and history beforehand can help make adjusting to this new culture a little easier.

History Lessons

America is rich in history, and knowing a little about pivotal historical events can help you to better understand the principles, laws and customs the country was founded on. Dates, milestones and facts are important to learning how America came to be as it is today.

  • The assassination of President Abe Lincoln—The untimely death of this United States president was devastating to early Americans, as cited on Listverse.
  • The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776—This is arguably one of the most important dates in American history; learn more about it from Gilmer ISD.
  • The Revolutionary WarGilder Lehrman Institute of American History discusses this war, which was fought from 1763 to 1783.
  • The American flags official colors are Old Glory red, white, and Old Glory Blue—You can learn more historical facts from List 25.
  • The American Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787History has many facts regarding the Constitution.
  • The word “America” was first applied to the new world after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci in 1507—More important dates can be found on Teen Web.
  • America’s first president was George Washington in 1789—A detailed timeline of important American dates can be found on Dates and Events.
  • President John F. Kennedy, considered one of the most beloved presidents of all time, was America’s 35th president in 1961—Find all the other presidents on Fact Monster.
  • December 15, 1791 marks the ratification of the Bill of RightsTimeline defines this as one of America’s most important accomplishments.
  • From 1775 to 1783, the American Revolution occurred—More information about American wars can be found on American History.

Famous People

From political figures to popular figures, this list covers just a few of the many famous people who live in the United States. Everyone on this list played an important role in the history of America and embodied the drive to be the best, a desire that has become indicative of American culture. Read more on these 10 sites to learn about some of the important people who have helped shape America.

  • Elvis Presley—Hailed as the king of rock and roll in America, Presley is just one of many famous men in American history listed on Emsworth.
  • Neil ArmstrongFamous Persons of the Past and Present pays tribute to the first man to walk on the moon.
  • Susan B. AnthonyKidport examines Anthony, who fought tirelessly both for women’s right to vote and African Americans right to vote.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.—He was a key figure in changing and improving the rights for African Americans using peaceful means, according to Teachers.
  • Amelia EarhartMr. Nussbaum takes a look at the many accomplishments of Earhart, from setting multiple aviation records to attempting to fly around the world.
  • Oprah Winfrey—She is part of the Top Living Influential Americans list found on The Atlantic, and is considered one of the wealthiest people in America.
  • Thomas JeffersonFreedom Shrine looks at the man who was not only the third president, but also the main author of the declaration of independence and the face of the two dollar bill.
  • Steve Jobs—You’ll learn all about Jobs, who was co-founder, CEO and chairman of Apple Inc. and a major inventor and pioneer of the personal computer era, on Ranker.
  • Sitting BullHow Stuff Works takes a look at one of the most famous Native Americans in history.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe—This author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was instrumental in advancing the rights of African Americans, as listed by Quizlet.

American Foods

Spending a year in America means you’ll get a chance to indulge in plenty of popular American cuisine. Typical American fare is rich in flavor, and there are regional specialties to be found across the States. To truly experience American culture you have to try at least a few of these dishes once.

  • TwinkiesCNN lists this snack as one of America’s guilty pleasures.
  • Corn Dogs—An American invention, this portable food is a favorite of children that is commonly seen at fairs, says Business Insider.
  • New England Clam ChowderToday Food explains that even though this soup, which is commonly found in Massachusetts, wasn’t invented there, it’s become a popular American staple.
  • Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits—This southern favorite is a decadent breakfast item that made Delish’s list of all-American foods.
  • Chicken Fried Steak—Considered cowboy comfort food, this southern classic is extremely popular in Texas, explains American Food Roots.
  • Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza—While Italians may have come up with the pizza, Americans came up with the deep dish pizza, states Deadspin.
  • Coddie—This less expensive version of the crab cake is made of cod fish instead of crab meat and is a staple in Baltimore, according to the Baltimore Sun.
  • Whoopie PiesHuffington Post pays tribute to these sandwich-like cakes.
  • Mac and Cheese—A favorite food among American children, PBS Food lists it as common American comfort food.
  • S’Mores—Chocolate, toasted marshmallows and graham crackers form America’s favorite camping dessert. You can find directions for how to make this campfire classic on What’s Cooking America?

American Music

It’s not uncommon for hit music to see international fame, so many of these songs may already be familiar to you. If you’re joining a family that has tweens or teens, knowing some of the top pop songs can be beneficial. Know these songs well enough to sing along and you’re sure to forge a bond with the tweens and teens in your host family.

  • Roar by Katy Perry—This popular song is a top Billboard hit.
  • Royals by Lorde—This single has appeared on Top 40 Charts for 126 weeks and set a record for the youngest artist to have a number one single.
  • Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke—This tween and teen favorite was on the USA Singles Charts for 28 weeks.
  • Wake Me Up by AviciiLet’s Sing It ranks this song in the top 10 chart in the U.S.
  • Applause by Lady Gaga—A chart topper for America’s Music, this popular song is loved by tweens and teens alike.
  • Highway Don’t Care by Tim McGraw—This country song was ranked number three on Taste of Country, and features Taylor Swift and Keith Urban in addition to McGraw.
  • Life is a Highway by Rascal FlattsGreat American Country included this song in its top 20 road trip songs of all time.
  • God Bless the USA by Lee GreenwoodCountry Music ranks this song in the top four patriotic songs ever written.
  • Mine Would Be You by Blake Shelton—He may be a judge on The Voice, but this popular country artist hasn’t forgotten his roots and is still putting out songs that are topping the Country Top 40.
  • Independence Day by Martina McBride—This song is listed by The New 103.7 as one of the top songs about America of all time.

American Video Games

Video games are an important part of the lives of kids today, especially American kids. USA Today reports that 91% of kids ages two to 17 play some form of video game on a regular basis. These 10 games are among the most popular kid video games.

  • Pokemon XAmazon ranks this video game as one of its top sellers. Similar to previous Pokemon games, this one allows you to feed and care for your Pokemon.
  • Guitar HeroForbes lists this music-based video game as a favorite among kids and adults alike.
  • Just Dance Kids—According to What to Expect, making video games a family activity can help kids reap the benefits of video games without the negative consequences.
  • MinecraftTween US recommends this game for tweens because it encourages the player to create a virtual world and work on a team to achieve a common goal.
  • Dance Dance RevolutionThe Washington Post notes that this game is one of the top games that kids are playing.
  • Re-Mission 2: Stem Cell Defender—This video game helps cancer patients visualize what is happening inside their body, according to Scientific American.
  • The Magic School Bus: OceansUSA Today lists top video games for young kids by age.
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask—This game, which makes kids and adults use their deductive reasoning, made Nintendo Life’s list of top 10 3DS video games.
  • Animal Crossing Wild WorldChildren’s Technology Review has rated the top 100 video games for kids, and this one made the cut.
  • Wii Boxing—Since video games have been blamed for an increase in childhood obesity, games that encourage exercise have surged in popularity. This game is one of the most intense, according to Journalism NYU.

Playground Games

Some of these games might be familiar to you and some might not. These sites explain the American version of the games so you’re ready to play with your American family. Brush up on the rules of these games and you will be all set.

  • TagAmerican Profile explains this game that requires three or more players. The object is to have one person who is ‘it’ tag another player, who then becomes ‘it’.
  • Hopscotch—Using only chalk to draw a board on the ground, hopscotch is simple to play and good exercise, describes Spoonful.
  • Giant Marbles—Just like its miniature counterpart, Giant Marbles requires a big circle with balls in the middle and a big basketball, says She Knows.
  • Hula HoopingThe Coca Cola Company makes some suggestions for traditional playground games to get kids moving.
  • Four Square—For this game you need a ball and either a four square court or a piece of chalk to create your own. More rules for the game can be found on H2G2.
  • Kickball—Played like baseball, this game allows the “pitcher” to roll the ball over home base. The player who is up then kicks the ball and runs to first base. More playground games can be found on Wise Geek.
  • Capture the Flag—This game works best with a good sized group because you need to divide into teams and try to grab the other teams flag without being tagged. Geek Dad explains the details of the game.
  • Red Light Green LightBright Horizons points out that many playground games contain learning opportunities, such as learning to follow directions in a sequence with this game.
  • Duck, Duck, Goose—A simple group game where kids sit in a circle and one child who is ‘it’ walks around tapping the kids on the head and saying duck, duck, duck until they finally say goose and get chased around the circle. More details can be found at Let Children Play.
  • Bouncing Boxball—This modified version of table tennis is played outside and uses hands instead of paddles, explains Education.

American Laws

It’s important to make sure you are aware of the laws surrounding au pairs, J1 visas and being in America. Many families will also need you to drive, so it’s crucial to be aware that an international driver’s license isn’t always enough and to know the traffic laws in America. Read more about American laws in these 10 sites.

  • J1 Visa—According to Work Permit, au pairs need to have a J1 Visa, be between the ages of 18 and 26 and live with the host family.
  • Proficiency in spoken EnglishLegal Information Institute indicates that au pairs in the U.S. must be proficient in spoken English to qualify for the J1 Visa and the au pair program.
  • College coursesAu Pair Mom explains the school requirement of the au pair program, which requires that au pairs take at least six hours of college courses.
  • Minimum of 32 hours of professional childcare trainingJ-1 Visa details the requirements for participating in the au pair program and the training that is required.
  • DS-2019Travel State Gov explains what a DS-2019 is and why it’s necessary for you to have one.
  • Legal drinking age—Read more about why the legal drinking age is 21 on Choose Responsibility.
  • Medical Insurance—According to Insubuy, medical insurance is required for au pairs under a J1 visa.
  • State and Federal Taxes—The IRS explains the tax requirements for a J1-visa visitor. If you make over $3300 in a year, you will be required to file your tax form and pay taxes.
  • Driver’s Licenses—The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement explains how you go about getting a driver’s license.
  • Seatbelt LawsThe National Safety Council explains the state-by-state requirements when it comes to seatbelts.

American Holiday Customs

Spending a year in America allows you to experience all of the different holidays the country celebrates. Different cultures in America celebrate different holidays, so while one au pair may experience Christmas, another may observe Hanukah. Some holidays are really big affairs, while others are just an excuse to take a long weekend. Read through these 10 articles to learn about different American holidays.

  • Thanksgiving—This holiday is held on the last Thursday in November and is typically celebrated by eating turkey and all the trimmings. Learn more about Thanksgiving on Holidays.
  • Christmas—Learn more about how Christmas is celebrated on How Stuff Works.
  • Valentine’s Day—February 14th marks this holiday that is dedicated to telling your loved ones how you feel. More details on Valentine’s Day traditions can be found on Time and Date.
  • St. Patrick’s DayYahoo News explains more about the holiday in the U.S., which is typically celebrated by wearing green and eating and drinking green foods and drinks.
  • EasterIndobase explores both the religious and non-religious celebrations surrounding this holiday.
  • Memorial Day—Originally, this holiday was to allow people to pay their respects to those who died in service to their country, but now it’s mostly celebrated with picnics and barbeques to kick off the summer, explains Communities.
  • Independence Day—Learn more about this July 4th holiday, which is typically celebrated with picnics, barbeques and fireworks, on Independence Day Fun.
  • Labor Day—The first Monday in September marks this holiday that symbolizes the end of the summer. Read the history behind this day on U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Halloween—Celebrated on October 31st, this day marks a day for the kids to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating. More details on what trick-or-treating is can be found on Parents.
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day—These two days are set aside to honor Mom and Dad, and you can learn about their history on Immihelp.

Educational TV in America

Depending on the parents, the kids you care for will probably be allowed to watch a little educational television. The programs listed here teach everything from the alphabet to the habitats of alligators. Most of the shows listed are for preschoolers, but others are for older elementary kids. Several of the shows that made this list won awards for outstanding children’s programming.

  • Sesame Street—This children’s show has been on TV for 44 years and has strived to teach young children numbers, letters, Spanish and more, according to PBS.
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—Created for the preschool set, Mr. Rogers has been on the air longer than any other children’s show, indicates The Top American.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy—Just as you might think, this show teaches children about science in a fun way, explains Edudemic.
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog—This show is still airing in reruns, indicates TV, and is aimed at preschool children to teach them morals and good behavior.
  • Myth Busters—Created for an older audience of 4th through 6th graders, this show examines popular myths like swimming after you eat, explains Education in America.
  • The Magic School Bus—This show is based on a children’s book series that allows kids to look at educational questions in a new way. Read more on Ranker.
  • Arthur—This series promotes literacy and examines how Arthur and his friends handle social problems, says WMHT.
  • Word Girl—Not only is the hero on this show a girl, but she wins battles by using her brain and her large vocabulary, says Common Sense Media.
  • Wild Kratts—This more recent show first aired in January 2011 and features two brothers who have special suits that can change them into any animal. TV Tropes says kids can learn more about animals in this fun-filled way.
  • Jane and the Dragon—Books by the same name inspired this series that teaches kids simple lessons while still entertaining them, explains News Max.

American Movies

These movies may have gained worldwide recognition, but they got their humble beginnings here in America. Most of the movies on the list are older movies that represent America in one way or another. The one constant in all of these movies is that good continually triumphs over evil – a popular theme in American films.

  • Grease—This movie may have come out in 1978, but BuzzFeed notes that many American references have come from the film.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark—This film is a 1981 classic about a college professor turned archeologist who gets into all sorts of trouble, indicates IMDB.
  • Star Wars—There were several chapters to the saga, and this movie is an iconic movie in America, as shown on Filmsite.
  • Field of Dreams—This movie was about a farmer who built a baseball field in the middle of his corn field because he heard a voice telling him to do so. Learn more on Time Out.
  • The Wizard of Oz—Since its creation in 1939, this movie about a girl in Kansas that ends up in a new world called Oz has been shown at least once a year, according to AMC.
  • Harry Potter—There were many movies about Harry Potter, but Chamber of Secrets was a bit more kid-friendly and made the top 30 movies on Famous Why.
  • The Breakfast Club—This teen movie came out in 1985 and has been referenced in many other movies since. Read more about the movie on List Verse.
  • The Godfather—An American mob boss passes the business over to his son, who isn’t that thrilled about taking over; learn more on Examiner.
  • Hunger Games—This more current film features the courage that Americans love to cheer about. More background on the movie can be found on NY Times.
  • Gone with the Wind—Maybe the most quoted movie of all time, you can read more about this iconic southern film on TCM.

Daily Fitness for Families: Promoting an Active Lifestyle for Your Children

The thought of squeezing in daily fitness for you and your children may seem far-fetched when the hustle and bustle of life leaves you yearning for time to relax, but it’s not impossible to carve out time during your day for it. In fact, nannies and parents can combine quality time with fitness time on a regular basis by coupling daily activities with creative exercises.

Build Exercise Into Everything You Do

According to Tara Marie Segundo, New York-based fitness expert and personal trainer, the key is to incorporate exercise into your regular routine. If you have a few moments here and there, take advantage of those small pockets of time for movement and the time will add up, she says.

“At the grocery store, carry two baskets rather than push a cart,” she suggests. “It’s an instant arm workout and your heart will beat faster while carrying a heavy load.” Grab a basket for you and one for each child while picking out your favorite foods to tone up your arms. Pick up the pace, too, and take a brisk walk through the store while filling up those baskets.

You can also pick up the pace entering and exiting stores to get your heart rate up, says Segundo. “Park your car out in the boonies and walk far and fast to the stores,” she suggests. “Wear comfy sneakers so you won’t be tempted to slow down.”

Keep your sneakers on while at home to maximize your opportunities for workouts. Opt for outdoor activities and chores that will get you moving versus sitting, suggests Segundo. “Using a riding lawn mower? Why bother?” she says. “Use a lawn mower that you have to push and get moving.” Take turns cutting the grass and share the benefits of both an arm and leg workout.

Indoor chores can provide a strenuous workout for the entire family, too. “Set a timer and challenge yourself to go as fast as you can,” says Segundo. “You will not only finish in record time, but you will get out of breath.”

You and the kids can also increase your heart rate while vacuuming, dusting and mopping, says Corinne Crabtree, wellness expert and founder of “While vacuuming, rather than walking, you can do walking lunges forward, backward and to the sides,” she says. “As you dust, stay in a squatted position like you are holding the squat. Squat up and down as you dust and reach.”

Incorporating exercise into your daily cleaning may also help spruce up the dirtiest areas of your home. “Rather than mopping with a mop, get on your hands and toes with a wet rag and dry rag,” says Crabtree. “Plank walk across the floor scrubbing with the wet and drying with the other. This will not only tighten those abs, but it strengthens your shoulders and chest.”

Use What You Have Available

Keep up the family’s momentum by tackling the stairs to strengthen your quads while cleaning. Make it fun for the kids by marching up and down to your favorite tunes. Segundo suggests setting the timer and running up and down the stairs for 3-minute intervals multiple times throughout the day. “Keep track of your efforts and watch the minutes add up,” she says.

You don’t need a gym membership or a home full of exercise equipment to get the best workout. Instead, turn your body into a gym. “Do jumping jacks, jog in place with high knees or spring for a jump rope and jump like crazy,” says Segundo.

Take a random break from work or play for some resistance training with the kids. “Use your body weight for quick spurts of resistance training, such as squats, push-ups, abdominal crunches, plies or isometric exercises,” says Segundo. “Your body will remember every contraction.” You can even turn the exercise session into a lesson by having the kids count each squat or push up and recording it in a family exercise log.

Get creative with canned goods and increase your strength with some weight training. Give each child a canned food jar and work out arms together. You can even incorporate exercise into a game of pass the canned good after five reps.

“Exercise need not be formal,” says Segundo. “The body tallies up all the movement you do. If you always move every chance you get, you will burn calories when you would otherwise be sedentary.”

How to Deal With Au Pair Home Sickness

A true au pair is a young woman, ranging in age from 18-26, who joins a family from abroad for one to two years to become not only their children’s caregiver, but also an extended member of the family with whom they’ll be residing. Families sign a contract vowing to make the au pair (whose French translation “on the par” signals that they are not meant to be looked at as a mere employee) part of family gatherings, trips and celebrations.

Unsurprisingly, as some of these young au pairs might not have ventured from home before, the change of environment and distance from loved ones can be difficult. Regardless of the best intentions and most inclusive actions by the host family, there may come a time when your au pair becomes homesick.

Try these tips to help your au pair feel at home, in her home away from home.

A Taste of Home

One of the biggest and most jarring changes, and one that could actually be causing low levels of physical discomfort for the au pair, is the change in diet. A difference in portion sizes (and not wanting to appear rude), heavy or fried foods, regional spices (or lack thereof) and unfamiliar produce could all contribute to an au pair feeling uncomfortable. Etiquette itself could also cause your au pair to feel ill at ease. Because the regulations and policies regarding au pairs dictate that meals are to be shared, this is not simply solved by eating separate meals.

Strike up a conversation with your au pair and ask what their home mealtimes look like socially and nutritionally. Part of the relationship between an au pair and her host family is sharing the different cultures to enhance both your children’s experience and that of the au pair. Ask what her favorite meals are. If they’re difficult to prepare, search out a local restaurant for takeout.

Because regulations preclude an au pair from household duties not relating to the child (so no asking them to cook a dinner from their homeland), make preparing a meal together a fun family experience. Search out a grocer that carries key favorites or sweets from home for surprises and designate a special cabinet or spot in the pantry for the au pair to store her own favorite foods.

Teach the Tech

In this day and age, physically being miles apart does not need to equate to being emotionally distant. Load Skype onto the family computer, if your au pair did not bring her own, and designate a private place and time (with consideration for time zones) for her to connect with family and friends from home through videochats.

Call your telephone provider and ask about special international program add-ons. Some unlimited options (especially those that designate particular countries) cost only a few dollars per month. Going the extra mile to ensure your au pair knows she is just a phone call away from her support system from home might relieve a lot of isolation and loneliness.

Familiar media from home might be sorely missed.  Connect to your local library’s online system – many are interwoven with a wider network where books, including foreign editions, can be requested and picked up locally when they arrive. Many libraries also offer eBook loans, and some even offer loaner eReaders that might offer a wider array of their favorite authors. Consider a free or minimally priced subscription to Spotify or similar online music sites where international artists are featured.

Adding international channels to your cable or satellite service can help them stay abreast of news items of note, while Netflix and Hulu Plus can be perused for soap operas, sitcoms, dramas and foreign films from the UK and other nations so the au pair can feel connected to her peers back home.

That’s the Ticket

Depending on where your au pair hails from, a ticket home for a quick visit midway through her stay might refresh her emotionally and be worth the short break from her services if it means a happier household. If visa complications or price makes this impossible or impractical, offer to let a loved one visit for a long weekend (or week, depending on your comfort level). Decide ahead of time what works for your family. If an in-person visit is not workable, consider researching the postage rates from the au pair’s home country and offer to cover a quarterly postage-paid care package from home.

Be the Change: Showing Children How to Fight Pollution

In a world where technology rules and children are engaged by smart phones, video games and web surfing, it’s difficult to see beyond their own needs. As a nanny or parent, though, you have the opportunity to use technology to promote ways to give back, preserve the environment and fight pollution by incorporating these lessons into your child’s daily routines.

With a few suggestions to reduce consumption, recycle and promote organic products, you and your children can make a difference locally, nationally and internationally in a crusade to “go green.”

Electronic Shut Down

As technology advances, it’s likely your children have outgrown gaming systems, old computers and outdated cell phones. According to e-cycle St. Louis, a nonprofit organization promoting technology recycling, nearly two million tons of used electronics are discarded each year, including an estimated 128 million cell phones.

The benefits of donating your e-products are many:

  • Conserves Natural Resources: Metals, computer circuit boards, glass and plastics from your electronics can be reused to make new products.
  • Supports the Community: When donating your unused electronics, recycling organizations often refurbish computers, televisions and cell phones for use in non-profit agencies and schools. Many cell phones and electronics are also donated to low-income families who cannot access or afford technology.
  • Creates Local Jobs: Boost the economy by recycling. Many new businesses are forming in the recycling industry, creating more jobs for people who can recover recyclable materials.

Water Conservation

A long, hot shower or a bubble bath filled to the brim may be a comforting end to the day for you and your children, but the waste of water is a barrier to fighting pollution. Teach your children to conserve water by cutting the length of showers and limiting the depth of baths. Discuss how water conservation can eliminate excess waste and overflow throughout the community.

In addition, reduce urban runoff by reducing outdoor watering habits, recommends Pamela Crouch with the Orange County Coastkeeper in California. According to Crouch, ensure that your sprinkler nozzles are aimed properly so water does not run into the street.

Avoid washing your car in the driveway as well, warns Crouch. As soapy water makes its way from your driveway to the streets and eventually into storm drains, it gathers pollutants and goes unfiltered into nearby water bodies.

“Parents should not have to worry about whether or not it is safe for their children to play in the nearest lake, river or shore, but because of the pollution problems caused by urban runoff, they do have to worry about these things,” says Crouch.

As you discuss water conversation with your children, ask them to look up statistics and images online that show the devastation that pollution brings to lakes, rivers and oceans. A picture says a thousand words and hopefully images of pollution will speak volumes about environmental concerns.

Recycling Rally

In an effort to teach the entire family about how to preserve the environment and fight pollution, it’s important to make recycling a priority. Everyday household items that you typically toss in the trash can be sorted and recycled at community centers or on your curbside. Inquire with your city resource center to see if recycling is available in your community, alongside your weekly trash pickup.

The next step is to get your children involved in identifying household items that can be recycled, such as papers, plastics, glass and metal. CleanScapes, a recycling company based in Seattle, Washington, offers the following list of recyclables:


  • Cardboard
  • Office paper, including windowed envelopes, color paper, file folders and post-it notes
  • Mail, magazines, mixed paper
  • Newspaper
  • Paper bags
  • Paper cups
  • Phone books & paperback books
  • Shredded paper (in clear plastic bags)
  • Wrapping paper (non-metallic)
  • Paper cartons
  • Juice boxes, Tetra Paks & aseptic containers
  • Milk cartons
  • Paper or frozen food boxes


  • Bottles (all colors and numbers)
  • Food containers and trays
  • Clear or colored plastic milk jugs
  • Dairy tubs
  • Pill bottles (no prescription vials)
  • Plastic cups
  • Lids (3 inches or wider)
  • Plastic plant pots
  • Plastic buckets
  • Plastic bags (shopping, newspaper and dry-cleaning bags when bagged together)
  • PVC pipe (white only)
  • Household rigid plastic items, such as furniture and laundry baskets


  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum foil & pie tins (clean)
  • Tin cans
  • Ferrous scrap metal
  • Other scrap metals (less than 2’ x 2’ x 2’)


  • Bottles
  • Jars

According to Jim Lewis, former staff in the aluminum industry in Pittsburgh, recycling makes a difference. “Not only does recycling save energy and decrease pollution, it also saves space in landfills,” he says. “Recycling is a simple and easy way to go green everyday in the house. Curbside recycling is easy and families can recycle some materials at scrap yards and turn their trash into cash.”