Summer at Smartaupairs

Summer is such a busy time for an au pair agency – and LOTS has happened over the past months.

As many au pairs are arriving we are also organising monthly events to help everyone find friends.

Here are some snaps from our more recent events including trip to the Harry Potter studios,  coffee meetup in London & a picnic🙂

 

Special thanks to arranging these events goes to our lovely Veerle – she has just sadly left us on Monday and we’ll miss her greatly.

Here are a few photos from her last day + one extra photo of her working hard on her final internship report with Tuuli (along with a glass of Sancerre).

 

To learn more about Smartaupairs – why not visit our homepage: http://smartaupairs.com/

Au Pairs on Why Their Host Dads are Great!

We asked au pairs to nominate their host dads for our Father’s day competition

Below are the two winning entries to receive our little prize (and who does not like wine and cheese…)

Fathers Day

With this, happy Father’s day for all the dad’s (and host dad’s out there) from all of us at smartaupairs.

Nomination by Xilja:

Hi smart au pair team,

 I think my host dad is great, because ever since I got here things haven’t been easy. He had to teach me everything two months ago when I first got here, while he also took care of his wife with brain cancer and his two children. He is very open en very nice to me and makes my time here easy. My hostmom passed away two weeks ago and he took care of the entire funeral while still being there for his children. He’s doing such a great job with everything that’s going on and that’s why my host dad is great!

Love,

Xilja 

Nomination by Julie:

I would to introduce my hostdad: Peter. This competition is completely for him because is a very special hostdad. Peter is a fantastique cooker( he’s doing the best Chinese food, I had never eat in my all life) , a banking worker, the best partner to watch football on TV and an incredible dad with his children.

When I came in England, he was waiting for me at the train station and he was the most smiliest person I had ever seen. He had always supporting me and always gave me a lot of advices for the life in London, my job and my English. Even, when he comes home late, he always come to see me and said Hello and How are you.Peter always treated me like a real member of his family, spend time with me( to talk, playing Xbox, watching tv) asking me if I’m alright and helping a lot when I was injured. His the best hostdad because went I broke my toe 1 month ago, I was on crushes and I was really sad, he had trying to make me laughed during all the day to make me forget what had happened to me.Just for that  He is the best hostdad. I would love Peter received this present, to said a big thank you to him to be always really nice, funny and always supporting me😀.

With this present, he can know his the best dad and hostdad😀. So happy Father’s Day everyone, and particularly to my hostdad Peter!! Julie xx

Au Pair Boat Trip + Eurovision Meetup Photos

Another two great events were organized the weekend gone.

First, the Eurovision Meetup – Never did we expect it to be SO popular, but with a little bit of imagination we found our space at the very front of the stage to enjoy the show.

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Second, our annual BAPAA Boat Trip!

Over 300 au pairs took part on Sunday – we travelled from London Embankment to Greenwich and back in a lovely sunny weather. There was even a film crew by BAPAA (the British Au Pair Agencies Association) to film the day – we will share their production as soon as it is published. Until then, we hope you enjoy the little slideshow we put together..

Big big thanks for all the au pairs who joined on the day!

Thanks so much for organising such a fabulous day! I had so much fun and made so many lovely new friends. And the weather just made it all the more amazing! Georgia from Australia

I had an amazing day yesterday with my girls in Greenwhich and really enjoyed the boat trip. Steffi from Germany
 Until the next event!

Au Pair of the Year 2015-6 Trine from Denmark!

A HUGE congratulations to Trine – Smartaupair of the year 2015-6 winner! 

Trine Smartaupairs

Trine is from Denmark and she joined her host family autumn 2015.

What is the Smartaupair of the Year Award?

Each year, host families are invited to nominate their au pairs both in our own annual au pair of the year competition, as well as in the international IAPA au pair of the year contest.

Why? To simply recognize the hard work and dedication of the au pairs!

Trine has received a £200 gift card to Oliver Bonas along with a huge well done for being such a great au pair🙂

As always, a word for all our au pairs – whether you were nominated or not, we just want to say that your hard work does not go unnoticed – We speak with so many happy host families every day to know that each of you make a real difference to the lives of your host families, so thank you!

The nomination letter by our Shepherd family:

Trine Rasmussen – Au Pair of the Year 2015-6

We first met Trine over a Skype interview. We knew straight away that she was the right person to be a part of our family. As we were new to the au pair system, we invited Trine over for a weekend in London to experience some time with our family and to see some of the London sights. From the get-go, it was obvious that Trine was going to fit right in. The boys immediately warmed to her and were fighting to be the one to hold her hand.

We have 3 young boys, so our family life is hectic, busy and at times very noisy! My husband and I both work so we knew that the au pair role in our family was going to be demanding. It has been so wonderful to know that Trine has everything under control whilst I am at work. When I come home, everyone is home safely from school (a 1 km walk away), laundry is done, beds are made, toys are tidied, the children are fed and everyone is happy!

The familyTrine1 

Trine is always on hand to help out with the madness of bath / homework / bedtime. It’s difficult to give attention to all 3 children at the same time. Trine takes that pressure off by playing games like ‘hide and seek’ with our youngest, or helping with reading and homework for the older boys. This means I can focus some time on each of the children. This is what makes a truly great au pair: allowing parents to enjoy every moment with their kids, rather than focusing on all the chores that need to be done.

This year, with Trine around, I’ve even had time to volunteer as the PTA rep for my son’s class, giving me the opportunity to meet other parents and develop a better understanding of the activities at school. My husband often works late, and it’s been wonderful to have company in the evenings when Trine and I share dinner and chat about just about everything, or even watch ‘girlie’ programmes together.

Trine and meTrine 2 

Trine is always responsible, positive, flexible, reliable and always willing to help. She brings a sense of calm, happiness and love that makes everything run smoothly. Trine has been an amazing support to our family and has shown maturity beyond her years. We have such a wonderful relationship with Trine, she is most definitely part of our family. And most importantly, the children adore her. They kept saying how much they missed Trine when she went home at Christmas time. Trine acts as a big sister to the boys – much needed in a predominantly male household – but also fulfils the role of oldest daughter. We care tremendously for Trine and we know she feels the same about all of us.

Trine adapted to life in London and the UK seamlessly. The pace of life in London with a busy family can be overwhelming, but Trine has taken it all in her stride. Trine has shown incredible courage and an ability to tackle things head on. Within her first month, Trine made huge efforts to develop friendships with au pairs that she met through school and the local au pair network. Trine was invited to write a blog describing the journey of an au pair from day 1. Trine’s blog is full of useful advice to help new au pairs from Denmark settle, including how to avoid homesickness and how to make sure they integrate quickly into their new home and culture. It’s clear from the way that Trine settled so well that she has much to offer to newcomers.

Trine with the boysTrine 3

Trine has introduced our family to Danish culture. On arrival, Trine won everyone over when she arrived with thoughtful gifts for the children including a picture book with words in Danish. Trine explained to the boys that Lego is Danish and with that, they were smitten! She brought traditional Danish treats and often cooks Danish meals for the children – ‘Frikadeller’ is their favourite. It’s been a wonderful experience to share Danish culture with Trine, and in exchange to share our own British and French cultures. For example, Trine has been excited to try some new foods, and as big foodies, we are keen to share these experiences with her.

Trine is always there for the important events in our family including the first day at school, school and Christmas plays, and birthday parties. We have enjoyed visits from Trine’s family, including her dad, brother, uncle, aunt and cousins. We always want them to feel at home in London, so they are always welcome to stay with us. Trine will be coming skiing with us this March and we really hope she enjoys spending time with the kids on the slopes. It’s wonderful to share these family memories with Trine.

The fact that Trine has become such a treasured member of our family is an amazing bonus we did not expect from the au pair programme. We very much hope that Trine will continue with us for a second year, not sure how we will cope without her!

Trine with the boys in London

Trine 4

Trine’s response to the family nomination:

I’ve always been told, that family is where life begins and love never ends – and that’s why I’m 100% sure, that the Shepherds have become 5 new family members to me.

6 months ago I arrived in London with a thought that this year would be nothing but a job to me – but honestly it became everything else than just a job. When I first applied for an au pair job, I never imagined I would end up with a family I truly care about and where all 5 members care tremendously for me as well. The amazing thing about the Shepherds is, that they make you feel safe. The parents are very concerned about you, and want you to feel like; you’re a part of this family. They include you in everything, but at the same time, they value that you have your own time to do what you want, with your own friends. They care very much about you, and take you in as their own daughter. Alex and Pete have been unbelievably supportive, and when I’ve had horrible experiences, they’ve done whatever they could to make me feel loved and safe  – and for that I am so grateful.

The boys I’ve been looking after is 3 young boys with a lot, a lot, a lot of energy. We’ve had so much fun, and every night with the different games, cuddles and laughs  – is what made me feel like a part of the family, and not just a staff. Every day when we walk home from school, and they all fight to tell me about their day, those are the times that makes me feel so appreciated and loved. I don’t think you can find 3 boys who are more loving, fun, energetic, exciting and wonderful, even if you looked all across the world.

Me and the boys

Trine & boys

When I arrived one thing was particular important to me; and that was to be open-minded. Having in mind, that it takes time to bond and to create a new life in a new family. I had to make an effort – seek friends myself, and not just expect them to come to me. Before I knew it, I had a lovely network and a lovely life here in London with the Shepherds.

Even though I still have 6 months left, I feel empty whenever I’m thinking of my life without this family. I hope and pray for, that I will carry them in my heart forever, and that they’ll always remember this year and the experiences we’ve shared, because I know that I will.

Love Trine

BAPAA Au Pair River Cruise

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Come and join 100’s of other BAPAA au pairs on a private boat trip to Greenwich. You will travel past famous bridges and historic buildings along the river from Central London, with exciting views of Westminster including the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, and then head downstream through the City to the Thames Barrier, Greenwich and back again.

At Greenwich you will have time to have a look around – there are lively markets, restaurants, historic buildings, the famous Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and Meridian Line, the Maritime Museum and a beautiful park with wonderful views over London.  Bring a picnic or buy lunch in Greenwich.

Schedule for the Day

10.45am – Boat leaves Festival Pier

1pm – Boat arrives at Greenwich

4pm – Boat leaves Greenwich

5pm – Boat arrives back at Festival Pier

You must arrive by 10.30 am as the boat leaves promptly at 10.45am from Festival Pier, in front of The Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.  (The opposite side of the river to Embankment tube.)

Nearest tube station: Waterloo or Embankment.  Nearest mainline train station: Waterloo.

How to Book?

The trip costs £10 per person for BAPAA au pairs and £12 for friends travelling with them (non-BAPAA).

Please contact Smartaupairs to reserve your space & to pay for the ticket(s).

If you wish to stay in London for the night, hostel accommodation may be available through International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London W1. (www.ish.org.uk)

Photos/videos taken during the day may be used for BAPAA promotional purposes in future.

Host Families Explain Why *Their* Au Pairs are Special..

We asked our families to nominate their au pairs for our annual au pair of the year award earlier on in the year, and we were really happy to see so many families take their time to write lovely stories about their au pairs.

The award is there to acknowledge the work of au pairs – and to say thank you🙂

The difficult part in every competition is selecting the one winner – this year, the winner was Trine Rasmussen from Denmark (her story will follow in due course).

However for now, we wanted to highlight all the lovely things our families said about their au pairs so here are a few select snippets from the runner up entries – all au pairs who were nominated also receive a personal thank you note from our team!

Lisa on her au pair Maria (Danish au pair, 21):

“Despite her years, Maria is so methodical and mature in her approach to her job, but has a natural maternal softness which makes her a fantastic carer and a great friend to my children – they adore her and she makes them feel valued.”

She is my angel, we found such a gem in Maria and are so grateful that she chose to come into our family – we dread the day that she leaves us to go on to her next adventure but don’t doubt that she will be enormously successful in whatever it is she does.

Louise on her au pair Alex (German au pair, 19)

Alex has made a difficult period of change in my life so much easier to manage. He takes Isaac to school on the bus every morning, collects him each afternoon and keeps him entertained until I arrive home three hours later. The pair of them have wonderful adventures during their afternoons together. I’ve come home from work to a house full of cookies, or a train set that has been hacked to carry food from the kitchen to the living room, or a set of homemade Christmas cards. Alex feeds into Isaac’s love of invention and exploration and encourages him in his curiosity.

Murray on his au pair Lieke (Dutch au pair, 19)

She has been a friend not a au pair and the kids love her. She has a very bubbly nature, always smiling very polite always willing to help. I feel I have known her for years. 

Marie on her au pair Nimet (German au pair, 20)

Nimet genuinely enjoys looking after our daughter, whom it is evident has developed a close and loving bond with her, which we are confident will continue for many years to come.

It is so lovely to return home from a long and weary days’ work to see a happy child, a happy dog and a nice, clean home.

We truly do appreciate all the hard work that Nimet does to help our family.  We see her as a member of the family and feel so lucky to have an au pair as wonderful as she is.  We can’t imagine how we coped without her and feel that we will remain good friends for many years to come. 

Marta on her au pair Franzi (German au pair, 19)

Most importantly Franzi is enthusiastic about the work she does, always volunteers with tasks, and is always willing to help. Franzi does everything so well and fast. For us Franzi is the best! I am dreading the time when Franzi would have to leave us to go to a university. One thing is for sure — Franzi you have a family in London that will always be very, very happy to see you!

Puja on her au pair Lisa (German au pair, 19)

When I come home from work the kids are fed and ready for bath time and bed. Everything runs smoothly with Lisa, which makes are home a happy home. 

She is great with the kids, ensuring discipline and good manners but can still have fun with them.

Sally on her au pair Verena (German au pair, 19)

And all I have to say is Verena is going to read Harry Potter and they run to get their pyjamas on, then sit quietly together, completely content as she reads them the next thrilling installment (we could never get them interested in Harry Potter, though we tried for years).

Vanessa on her au pair Kathrin (German au pair, 18)

It was just so nice to see how our 10 months old child jumped into her arms when  she got  back from Christmas holidays, and our 5 years old was asking for her everyday that she was away, couldn’t wait to get her out of the car on her return. Of course he also prefers when she picks him from school rather than anyone else, they seem to have a special bonding. She enjoys playing with them, playdoh or legos, and she is very patient and gentle with our baby, who loves being in her arms too.

Overall, we are loving the au pair experience, and I think Kathy s personality really helped to make everything easier. It is our first au pair, and we will be looking forward to have many more different experiences with other au pair in the future, but it will be hard for all of us to say goodbye when times come.

Liane on her au pair Sophie (Australian Au Pair, 22)

“She’s almost like a ‘cool aunt’ to the children – sensible enough to look after them but close enough in age to hang out, laugh, and watch silly videos. She’s taught them a lot about the world, both traditional facts but also savvy about growing up with the challenges and opportunities of today’s digital world.”

If you would like our help in finding an au pair – please visit http://www.smartaupairs.com or call 0330 111 9266