Our Top 5 Tips for Finding Au Pair Friends in the UK

Welcome to all au pairs who joined their host family in January! ūüôā

An important part of settling in is finding friends in your area. Here are our top 5 tips on how to find friends in the UK.

  1. Join the Smartaupairs Facebook group

Our Facebook group is the perfect place to meet other au pairs in the UK. Au pairs often post here when they first arrive to say ‘hello’ and to find out who is living close to them. Plenty of au pairs are looking for friends here, whether they would like some company on a weekend trip overseas or are looking for someone to meet for coffee. Only au pairs placed through Smartaupairs are accepted into the group, so you can be sure of who you are speaking with.

  1. Use our ‘County Lists’ to find the au pairs who live closest to you

We email the relevant list(s) to au pairs upon confirmation of their placement. You can always access them through the Facebook group too, where they are regularly updated. You will be able to see the au pairs who live closest to you and make contact with them via email.

  1. Join aupairfriends.com

This is a great website, which all au pairs placed through a BAPAA agency have access to. Therefore, if you are living in a slightly more rural location with fewer au pairs around, this could be a valuable resource for you. Register using our agency password.

  1. Download the Excuses to Meet app

Excuses to Meet have recently launched this app, designed to make finding au pair friends much more convenient for you.

Again, you will need our agency password to register with the BAPAA au pairs group (please request this from our team – it does change from time to time due to security). There is also a wider au pair community which is available for all au pairs!

  1. Attend a Smartaupairs event

We regularly hold events for au pairs and you are invited to every one! These range from the big events such as an Introduction Day in September and Boat Trip on the Thames in May with other BAPAA agencies, to the smaller events, e.g. coffee mornings, a day trip to Canterbury, a picnic in one of the big London parks. Below you can see some photos from our recent events!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cooking & Nutrition Training for Au Pairs

Do you need a bit of extra help in guiding your au pair in how to prepare meals for the children?

Here are two great courses which are suitable for au pairs!


Egg & Soldiers Cooking Courses
Egg & Soldiers Cooking Courses

Book by e-mailing:¬†susannah@eggandsoldiers.co.uk –¬†Egg & Soldiers offer ¬£10 discount if you refer to smartaupairs.

Babyem Food & Nutrition
Babyem Food & Nutrition

Book Here: http://babyem.co.uk/nanny-cookery-course-introduction-to-food-and-nutrition-for-children-and-young-people/

Switching from a Nanny to an Au Pair

Rebecca Robinson, editor of national parenting site www.theworkingparent.com, has written this guest post for the Smartaupairs blog. The Working Parent offers advice and information to parents juggling work and family, covering a huge range of topics from pregnancy to childcare, mortgages to family holidays.



Switching from a Nanny to an Au Pair

There are many childcare options out there and parents will choose what is best for their circumstances and their family. While the most common forms of childcare are nurseries and childminders, these aren’t always suitable for everyone; some parents just need additional help with childcare in their own home, or want the flexibility of hours that a nursery or childminder can’t offer.

What can a nanny offer?

Nannies and au pairs offer parents the flexibility of childcare within the family home and both have different roles and responsibilities to each other, which is why many choose to switch from a nanny to an au pair when their children get older. Fully qualified nannies will have qualifications in childcare and work experience enabling them to care for children from birth and beyond. You can opt for live-in nannies or a nanny that doesn’t live with the family and just comes into the home during their contracted hours. For the additional experience and qualifications, you can also expect to pay much more for a nanny.

Why opt for an au pair?

An au pair on the other hand, will be coming into your family from a foreign country to learn the language, help out with childcare and earn a little money whilst doing so. They aren’t employed by you or paid a salary in the traditional sense, instead they’re paid ‘pocket money’ to reflect the duties and childcare help they offer in the home. This usually works out considerably cheaper than a nanny. Au pairs are expected to help look after older children and should never be solely responsible for a child under 2 or for children with significant additional needs.

Moving from a nanny to an au pair

Because of these differences and especially when children start school, many families switch from having a nanny to an au pair. There is no longer the need for specialised qualifications as children grow older and au pairs can provide the perfect combination of flexible childcare and help in the home, along with the opportunity for children to learn a new language. Au pairs are keen to brush up on their English and many parents are keen for their children to also pick up new skills from their au pair too!

As well as childcare, au pairs are also expected to help out in other areas a nursery or childminder could not, such as helping the children get ready in the mornings, assisting with homework, light house work duties or other tasks while the children are at school and assist with bath and bed routine.

More flexibility

Au pairs can also offer more flexibility as children get older and many families choose to host an au pair during the summer holidays. For many families, and especially those with several children, this can prove a much cheaper option than other forms of childcare such as summer camps or childminders. For working parents, this can be a great option which relieves the stress of finding suitable childcare that fits in around working hours during the summer.

Benefits of an au pair with school age children

For parents of school age children, having an au pair is financially a great option.

It’s clear that as children grow older and their requirements change, switching from a nanny to an au pair is a natural progression that can suit families both financially as well as with the needs of the children and parents. For more information on hosting an au pair, click here.


Getting to know our partner agencies

We are often asked how we find, screen and prepare our candidates for the Au Pair in Australia program.


We do this with help from our trusted partner agencies in the country where the au pair comes from.


This means that the au pair gets guidance and preparation for the au pair experience in her own language and with a thorough understanding of her culture and of the destination she is travelling to. It is thanks to their dedication to the Au Pair in Australia program that we have such great au pairs and that we can continue to grow the program whilst maintaining our high quality.


Last week, the World Youth & Student Travel Conference took place in Sydney and many of our partner agencies visited Sydney for this conference. The team at Smartaupairs wanted to make them feel very welcome as these agencies had travelled such a long way to get here.  We invited our agencies to visit our office, mingle with our team and see a bit of Sydney on the way.

Thank you to Anna, Patricia, Stephanie and Matthias from Germany, Joan from Denmark, James from the USA and Simona from the Netherlands for taking time out, hope you enjoyed your visit!

Buckinghamshire – Au Pair & Host Mums Meeting!

“12 au pairs and 10 host mums met last night at the welcome meeting. Most were Smart au pairs families. We had a great time. I hope you enjoy the pictures!¬†Lindsey”

Lindsey has been a smartaupairs host mum for several years now and is among many host families we currently have in Buckinghamshire!

We think it is a great idea to get the other host mums and au pairs together – see the pictures from the event below:

Buckinghamshire host families
Buckinghamshire host families
Buckinghamshire au pairs
Buckinghamshire au pairs

How to register your au pair with Ofsted

A number of our host families have enquired about registering their au pair with Ofsted in order to make use of childcare vouchers.

There are many different stages to Ofsted registration and it can be a fairly lengthy process (usually 12-14 weeks). Please note that the process cannot begin until your au pair has arrived in the UK.

break for fruits

Current guidance on the subject from the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA) is as follows:

  • The au pair or nanny should call Ofsted and tell them that they want to become registered under the voluntary Ofsted registration scheme for home-based childcare.
  • Ofsted will send out a form in the post to be filled in.
  • The form must be returned with a valid Paediatric First Aid Certificate (further information below).
  • Ofsted will carry out a police check (even if the au pair already has a CRB).
  • If the person has lived in the UK for less than 5 years, then he/she will have to get a ‚Äėgood conduct letter/ certificate‚Äô from his/her embassy which needs to be written in English or translated into English by an authorised translator. This depends on the country of origin of the au pair or nanny, so check with Ofsted first. Ofsted confirm that it is also acceptable for the¬†au pair or nanny to get a police check from¬†their country of origin¬†and send it to Ofsted, but it must be an official document, on letter-headed paper, stamped and translated into English by an authorised translator.
  • Ofsted will then send through another form (called a verify form) that must be taken to the post office, together with a form of ID (eg passport) so that their identity¬†can be checked.
  • The application fee, currently ¬£103, must be paid.
  • Annually, on the anniversary of the registration with Ofsted, the fee becomes payable again, as long as the au pair wants to remain Ofsted-registered.
  • The au pair also needs a childcare (or similar) qualification from their home country, or from the UK, which is equivalent to level 2, or they must enrol on a Common Core Skills and Knowledge course (further information below).
  • The au pair is also required to have personal public liability insurance, most households have an insurance which would not cover the au pair if she has an accident so she would need to acquire on of her own.

Smartaupairs recommends Babyem’s Ofsted compliant courses:

Common Core Skills and Knowledge Training


The common core skills course is accredited at level 3 through Open College Network, providing au pairs registering with Ofsted with an official childcare qualification and covers the 6 common core skills areas required by Ofsted.

These areas are:

  • Communicating with children, young people, their parents and carers
  • Child and young person development
  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child
  • Supporting transitions
  • Multi-agency working
  • Sharing information

Ofsted compliant Paediatric First Aid


The paediatric first aid course covers all the necessary requirements for registration with Ofsted. Course content is as follows:

  • Planning for first aid
  • Dealing with Emergencies
  • Resuscitation of babies and children
  • Recognising and dealing with shock
  • Anaphylactic shock/Electric Shock
  • Bleeding, burns and scalds
  • Choking
  • Fractures

Au pairs and cooking with kids

Cooking with kids for au pairs
Cooking with kids for au pairs

With most of our host families asking us about au pairs who can help with meal preparation or simple cooking; we explored ways to make this easier for the au pair. 

In looking for simple recipes that are relevant to Australia, I was most impressed by the 4 ingredients range. In plain English and without too much fuss the lovely recipes are explained. Rachel, the author, who is a mum herself, believes in simply healthy food and even created 4 ingredients for kids!

In your next welcome pack, you will find one of her 4 ingredients cookbooks. We hope you will encourage your au pair and your children to ‚Äėget cooking‚Äô.

Here are 7 reasons why we encourage au pairs to cook with kids:

1) In most households, the kitchen is where the action is. Sharing the kitchen with children encourages their interest in cooking.

2) Cooking is a great way to bond, chat and learn from each other. 

3) It’s a fun way to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits.

4) Cooking makes you creative and confident about food.

5) Children learn other skills such as planning, maths (as weighing, measuring and timing) in a playful manner

6) Food is a great way to share your culture.

7) Your entire family gets to eat lovely food! (and its cheaper than buying ready-made)

Please also share our safety tips for cooking with kids with your au pair

Part of cooking with kids is teaching them kitchen safety. Here are some basic safety rules to get started:

1. An adult should always supervise cooking until you are certain that the child is old enough to handle the responsibility.

2. Always wash your hands before starting.

3. Keep a safe distance from a hot stove top and oven. Turn pot and pan handles towards the back of the stove to prevent accidents.

4. Avoid sampling raw eggs or meat.

5. Let the child practice cutting with a butter knife and graduate to a sharper blade only when you both feel comfortable.

BAPAA Au Pair Boat Trip 2013

Smartaupairs attended the annual BAPAA boat trip in London last Sunday, along with hundreds of au pairs placed all over the UK.

Despite the typical English weather, a great time was had by all!

The boat departed from Festival Pier at 11am and after a two hour trip past Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge and other beautiful historical buildings and famous bridges, arrived in Greenwich.

We visited Greenwich Market and had some lunch next to the river.

We love attending this fabulous event and know that it is a great opportunity for au pairs to make lifelong friends.

Please see below some photos from the day!

Smartaupairs TeamImageImageImageImage

What every host mum needs to know!

Screen shot 2013-02-13 at 3.41.05 PM

10 top tips to au pair success

With so many people discovering the benefits of hosting an au pair, we thought we would help with our simple Top 10 tips for au pair success.

1 Be realistic; she is not supernanny…

Your au pair will try her best but it she is not a childcare expert. Don’t expect perfection from day one. Prepare a handbook and guide her with your know-how.

2 Saving time makes sense

The number one benefit of having an extra paid of hands in your home is saving time; enjoy gaining more quality time with your family and maybe even with your partner.

3 Why mums love the au pair program

Hosting an au pair generally costs at least 50% less than any other help with childcare or light housework. In exchange, she may need some extra time to get familiar with her duties.

4 Don’t make assumptions

Give clear and specific instructions; use to-do lists, timetables and ‚Äėhow-to‚Äô guides for more complex tasks. Why not take pictures of the full school uniform and the perfect lunch box?

5 Invest time in training & developing

Prepare a handbook. Talk her through it page by page, then show her task by task. Talk about safety with the help of our Child Safety Guide.

6 Split and share your tasks = teamwork

Treat your au pair as a member of the family. Split and share light housework & cooking to avoid au pair overload (and maybe get a cleaner for the ‚Äėheavy duty‚Äô stuff)

7 Build trust & show interest

Build up trust and try not to micro-manage. Build a relationship through regular communication. Ask about her day with the kids, the friends she has made and her plans for the weekend.

8 Give praise for a job well done

Receiving praise will make your au pair feel valued and help her gain confidence. It will strengthen your relationship and make her want to go the extra mile…

9 Always pay on time

Paying your au pair on time every week will help her budget for her personal time, away fro the family. Free time is critical to re-charge her batteries to start the next week with a smile J

10 Have fun and learn from each other

Have fun and enjoy time with your au pair. Ask about her family, home, hobbies, studies and her future plans. Most au pairs have inspiring ambitions and a gap year is only the beginning!

Are you thinking of getting an au pair to help in your family?

UK families can register here for au au pair

Australian families can register here for an au pair

How to Find, Train and Keep the Best Au Pair for Your Family by Nicole Kofkin

Au Pair success
Pocket Guide to Au Pair Success

Our book is nearly finished, the editor has finished the first 2 parts and part 3 and 4 have been promised by tomorrow ūüôā

Is this au pair book right for me??

This introductory guide is written with first-time host families in mind. If you are new to au pair hosting or what you know is only from ‚Äúa friend of a friend,‚ÄĚ this guide is for you. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to get started and get it right. After reading it, you will know if au pair hosting is the right childcare solution for your family and how to go about finding the right au pair.

¬†The book will be an e-book in an easy to print A5 format. It has been designed to be easy to read ‘on-the-go’ on your phone or ipad. Cant wait to hear your feedback. As soon as we have the book, we will let you know how you can get your free copy.

Are you thinking of getting an au pair to help in your family?

UK families can register here for au au pair

Australian families can register here for an au pair