What should you do if you think the children are sick?

It’s that time of year again…flu season, and au pairs might need an extra lesson on what to look for or what to do if he or she thinks the children are getting sick.

We are not talking about an accident or an emergency here, just the onset of cold or flu symptoms. Always have Poison Control and other emergency numbers (yes, even 9-1-1) posted next to your land line or help your au pair add them into his or her cell phone.

So really, what would you have your au pair do in your absence? Well, let’s start with the age of the child. The younger the child, the more dangerous the situation can be. That being said, make sure your au pair knows how to take the temperature of your child with the thermometer that you have. Most families have a digital thermometer that can be placed in the ear or under the arm. Make sure you have written down, if you have more than one child, what constitutes a fever for each age child, as this varies from infants to older children. Equally important to have clearly written down is what types and how much of each medication and how often it can be given to each child. This will avoid confusion in a stressful situation for your au pair.

Next, make sure to let your au pair know to start taking notes as soon as he or she feels the child is showing symptoms. This will help later if and when you need to call the pediatrician, so you aren’t guessing what symptoms started when. Have the au pair make notes as to the child’s behavior and appetite as well as any other symptoms that appear, such as runny nose, coughing, or rash, including the day and time these started. If the child seems warm, have the au pair take and record the fever, including the method used (under the arm, oral, in the ear). The more information the au pair can give you or the pediatrician, the better informed decisions can be made.

It is important for your au pair to decide when to call you at work or when to call the pediatrician. Discuss this individually with your children and their special needs in mind. Usually, parents do not need to be called if the child simply shows signs of illness such as a fever or runny nose, but children cannot be sent to school within 24 hours of having a fever. That means if a child has a fever on Sunday night, but not on Monday morning, it might still be a good idea to keep that child home to avoid spreading illness and give the child an extra day to rest, drink lots of fluids, and recover a bit before returning to school.

The top three things your au pair can do for your child when they are ill is to (#1) be aware and keep you aware of the child’s condition, (#2) keep track of the symptoms and treat them as needed, and (#3) to lovingly encourage the child to drink fluids and rest.

Above all, be understanding if your au pair is anxious about being left home with a sick child, but be proactive by leaving lots of written instructions and talking to your au pair about what to do in a variety of situations. Let him or her know it is okay to call you if they need to, or leave them an alternate number, such as a neighbor or grandparent, who could talk them through a question if you are unable.

I hope you and your family have a healthy and happy new year!

My name is Joan Lowell; I am the Go Au Pair LAR (Local Area Rep) for Providence, RI. We are accepting families anywhere in the RI, CT, MA region. Please contact me at jlowell@goaupair.com or 401-309-1925 for more information.

Go Au Pair currently has over 300 Au Pairs available out-of-country as well as some in-country; you can review their profiles for free at http://www.goaupair.com.

All Au Pairs pass a 17-point screening process including background check & personality profile, speak English (rated 1-5), receive 32 hours child care training in child development & safety, provide live-in care for children & perform child care related tasks like meal prep for kids, children’s laundry, cleaning children’s playroom & bedrooms. Full time Au Pairs work up to 45 hours per week & the total cost to you is about $340, or only $288 for a 30 hour part time Au Pair. Each Au Pair completes an educational component.

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