Smartaupair of the Year 2016-7- Kirby from AUSTRALIA!!

Each year, we select one of our au pairs (based on host family nominations) to win the lovely Smartaupairs of the Year title. With a little bit of a drum roll, we would like to announce that…

Smartaupair of the Year 2016-7 winner is KIRBY FROM AUSTRALIA 🙂 

A MASSIVE WELL DONE TO KIRBY!!

Kirby has been living with her host family in Kent for over a year now (and will continue for another). She will receive a £200 gift card to Boots (her chosen retailer) 🙂

Of course, in our eyes, there are SO so many equally amazing au pairs out there, doing a fantastic job – and being a great “big sister/brother” to their host children so we also wanted to take this chance to also say a big thank you to ALL au pairs (whether nominated or not) for their effort and motivation, you are all great!!!

Below you may find both the host family nomination & Kirby’s own response along with some lovely photographs of Kirby & the host family. 

AuPair of the year award nomination: Kirby 

I first met our AuPair Kirby over Skype in February.  Being a single mum with twin 4 year old boys – we have a very busy household with a lot of energy and sometimes noise! I work full time – mainly from home, but need space and quiet.  I had a clear view on the things we needed as a family – along with being one of our family, loving, caring, organised, full of energy, the ability to be a great cook and have a touch of craziness (in a good way) was a must.  Kirby’s second interview with the boys on skype wow-ed us all – she was dressed as a pirate and kept the twins captivated for over 45 minutes – which is a miracle!

We immediately felt determined that she was “the one!” and flights were booked and she arrived from Sydney in March. For someone who has had to apply for a passport for the first time, she settled with ease and started her morning “walkabout” to gain her bearings, walking more than 5 miles each morning before breakfast. The boys fell in love with her, fighting to be her best friend.  The fact that she is so much fun, full of enthusiasm for everything – even the mundane – has led them to adore her and being an expert on Super Heros has added to their delight in our new AuPair.

Life with twin boys is very difficult to imagine, but Kirby has risen to the challenge with ease.  She copes easily with any conflict: able to distract them with other things. We both work on manners and school work together and Kirby brings exciting and interesting ways of looking at things.

Kirby is full of boundless energy – which is perfect for two very spirited twin boys, she designs boot camp exercises and sports in the park, has taught them how to bake the most scrumptious cakes and biscuits, built wands to make giant bubbles in the garden and helped teach them how to swim:  no day is ever the same.  There are treasure hunts, train track building, domino trails and interesting games to play to improve the boys’ reading, writing and numeracy.  In the background, she ensures the house is running smoothly, the laundry is done and the children’s meals are delicious and highly nutritious.  She has never been anything other than happy and full of joy, a pleasure for all the family. She is caring, loving and kind: often I overhear her reading to the boys and the little discussions they have – precious memories.

The children started school in September and Kirby has seen them easily through this transition and walks to school with them daily.  They always burst through the door after home time, often delighting in telling me what they found in the hedgerows from their walk home, as much as what they did at school! Kirby has developed a great rapport with the teachers and handles dropping each twin into their own class with the right books, gloves, hats, and so on – with ease. She never needs asking, floors get mopped, laundry gets done and the salads are chopped and in the fridge – it is as though she reads my mind.

Meanwhile, I have made a dear friend; she is like an older daughter to me.  Kirby and I will cook together – both with a love of cooking and healthy food, we have the same tastes in movies too and when the children are sleeping, we have made our way through quite a few films.  Kirby has joined us on our summer holiday and spent time in the French countryside with my parents and the boys.

Christmas this year saw a bout of tummy bug for the family including grandparents, and Kirby maintained her happy and energetic self, amongst the washing and Dettol, she ensured the boys had a fabulous Christmas despite it all and helped us all enjoy the break between Christmas and New Year. Santa even delivered her a special sack of presents – as she was on the good list too!

This year – both Kirby and I have signed up for the London Marathon to run for a charity; the long run training will doubtless require friends to step in and help with childcare, but we are working around each other to fit in our training plans.  It will be an amazing experience and one we both will never forget.  Her mother and Aunt have already visited this year – so this time – her brother and father shall be visiting, which will make our day all the more wonderful.

Kirby is truly one of the family here, the boys adore her and I don’t know what we will do when it is her time to return to Australia.  She has been such a positive influence on all of us, including me – we really hit the jackpot when we interviewed that pirate on Skype all those months ago.

Kind Regards

Claire

Kirby’s response – bound to make you smile!!  

We love her down to earth honest approach – let’s face it, there are days which are harder than others, all part of life!

Honestly, where do I even BEGIN..

I guess from the first night I talked to Claire and the boys over Skype – my initial thought being ‘Man, what have I gotten myself into! I hope I can match their awesome level of crazy…’

Ha! That thought was immediately wiped away when I met them in person…these were definitely my people.

I touched down in Jolly old England. Ahhh, I remember it well – my main thought being ‘Damn! 9 degrees! That’s nearly snow temperature! HA! Wasn’t I an idiot. Skip past a short car trip back to my new home of two years…and as soon as I stepped through the door and laid spread eagled on the sofa, I knew this wouldn’t be JUST a house to live in, but a mighty fine home.

As the weeks passed, what I first thought were going to be two, little, golden-haired gremlins, turned out to be two of the coolest little guys I’ve ever looked after, and it has been my pleasure to look after them. Of course we have the odd ‘GAH, YOU’RE DRIVING ME ABSOLUTELY NUTS!’ moments, but come on, what family doesn’t. And that’s what they have become to me. I’ve seen William and Alex go through the transition from ‘little school’ to primary school and it has been AMAZING seeing how much they’ve matured into top little gentlemen. I’ll ask them about their day, what they had for lunch, that seems to be their favourite part, and mostly the big question of ‘Ooooo, who’s your girlfriiiiend?’. I feel that not only will any future girlfriends have to go through Claire, but they will definitely have to pass the ‘Kirby test of awesomeness’, because there is no doubt, that in 20 years time, i’ll STILL be in constant contact with my England family.

Ahhhh, and Claire, what can I say about Claire, she is an absolute stunning human being, with a deadset pistol of a personality. She can make me laugh, fire me up when I’m feeling sluggish and always has a good story for me. The amount of times it’s felt like we have been on the same brainwave is insane, it’s as if she can tell what I’m thinking and I can tell what she’s thinking, whether it’s about what to have for dinner, what TV show to watch, what activity to do with the boys and even the occasional ‘ahhh, does your butt hurt from running today, as well?’

This year was my first year away during the Christmas period, and yes, my mother in Australia made very sure that I was at least a little bit homesick…BUT, that was short lived after waking up to my own personalised Santa sack filled with everything screaming Tangerine (inside joke) and watching the boys excitement as they opened their own presents…of course the real kicker was drinking Buck’s Fizz in the kitchen with Claire and laughing about anything and everything, while preparing my first ever British Christmas lunch. It was an amazing memory I’ll never forget, with a family I’ll never forget, Claire really is MUCH more than just a host, she has been my family while I’ve been here, and I’m sure I’ve been like family to her.

Now up to date in the household, we’ve just welcomed a puppy called Narla, she is REALLY testing all of us at the moment, but I have no doubts that we can handle anything now. I am very keen to see what this last year brings, but I’m also very sad that I only have one year left with this absolute goldmine of a family, I’m so glad I picked this family and would do it again a million times over 🙂

 

IAPA Conference in Munich

The weekend gone, Tuuli, Chloe & Robyn from Smartaupairs attended the IAPA Conference in Munich.

IAPA stands for the international au pair agencies association – and it brings together au pair (and youth travel) organisations from all over the world.

It gave us the chance to meet many of our current and also prospective new partners.

Around our meetings, we also loved getting to know the city (which we thought was beautiful!!), the lovely Bavarian/German food (OK, here we might divide opinions), and the great German beer.

Here are some photos from the 4 day journey!

Hover over the photos for captions.

 

Au Pairs Nominate Their Host Mums for our Mother’s Day Competition

We would like to wish a fantastic mother’s day for all the mums (and of course in particular our lovely host mums)!

This year, we continued our tradition of asking au pairs to nominate their host mums in our Mother’s Day competition. In the nomination, we simply asked au pairs why their host mum is special/why they should win the above Waitrose mother’s day hamper.

The winning entry is from Annalena, Germany – she nominated her host mum Mercedes (Kent):

Why my hostmum is the best hostmum!

From the first day when I arrived, my hostmum was really welcoming and friendly (my hostdad was too, I will just not mention him in here because it’s about Mother’s Day, but he would definitely deserve a hamper too! :)).

I have visited my hostfamily for a few days in October before I came here in December, and I already knew this is the right family for me! This short visit was to get to know each other and right away I felt like I have known them for ages.
They were literally welcoming me with open arms!

I am their first Aupair, but they make me feel really comfortable in their family! They treat me like a real family member and include and integrate me in almost everything! And that is what was really important for me when I chose my family!
Once she called me ‘her big daughter’ which describes our relationship pretty good. I am like her two personal helping hands standing next to her all the time what ‘an older daughter/sister’ would probably be too!

If someone asked me to describe my hostmum in one word, I would definitely say ‘superwoman’!
Not only that she is having a 23 months old girl and two little twin girls; they were born three weeks ago and already now she looks amazing! But also that she still keeps managing everything even when it’s a really stressful and tiring day. Of course there are days more exhausting than others, but I know that we are all pulling together to make the best out of it everyday (especially for the little ones)!

My hostmum is only ten years older than me which is pretty cool because she is more like a friend than like an authority person! We enjoy having film nights with chocolate and ice cream and talking about any new gossip. Moreover, I can always talk to her (and my hostdad) about everything and I always know they are listening!
Her name is Mercedes which is spanish and means ‘compassion’. You can interpret this as ‘being concerned of’ or ‘being interested in’ others needs and I think this really suits her personality because she is always there for others if they are dealing with any kind of a problem or having any concern; it doesn’t matter if it’s her family, friends, me or maybe even a stranger, she always tries to find a solution!
I also want to mention (because I think the following is not self-evident!) the little things like asking how I am every morning or saying thank you for all of my work in the evenings which makes my hostmum/hostfamily the best hostmum/hostfamily I could ever asked for!

All these reasons make me feel like home, remember me that my work is appreciated every day and confirm my decision to live as an Aupair in England with a total stranger family in the beginning, but turning out to be my second one!
I just want to say thank you for everything she/they has/have done for me so far! You are the best and I really enjoy living with you. ❤’

Nomination by Cecilie from Denmark – Host Mum Isabelle (Surrey)
As soon as I saw that you could nominate your host mom for Mother’s day I just knew that I had to write to you about Isabelle. She is such a loving person always doing her very best to make everybody else feel good and make everybody else’s life easier. So I really think that this time someone should do something for her. She definitely deserves to win because she is not only the best mom for her to kids but she is also the very best host mom. I can always talk to her and it is so nice that she is sincerely interested in me. She’s interested in my personal life in Denmark but most certainly also my life here. She always makes sure I feel welcome if they are going somewhere as a family. Even when she is having a bad day or is very stressed she never lets it out on us she still makes sure to do what ever she can to help the children. She is always so sweet, helpful and glad even when she is having a hard time herself. I can have very personal talks with her and just as I talked with her about the other day even though I have only been here for a bit more than 2 months it feel much longer because I’m already such a big part of the family and everything just seems natural with me being here. She takes her job as a mom very serious but she is also very good at it.

So a very big and beloved thank you to you Isabelle not only for opening your home to me but also your heart! I will be forever grateful for you having me here.
Love from Cecilie

Nomination by Lisa from Germany – Host Mum Kerry (Kent)
When I saw this Mother’s Day Special, I knew exactly that my host mum Kerry deserves this 100%!
After our first (and only) Skype Call, I knew right away, that I would love to work with this family and I was so happy, when they thought the same!
From the day I arrived, my host mum made sure, that I felt welcome and part of the family!
She’s here for me no matter what, and I know that I can talk to her about everything.

Even though she’s always really busy with her job and organizing other things, she makes sure that I know what I have to do and is always here to assist me, when I need help with a recipe or other things.
I think she appreciates what I am doing and now I want her to know, that I really appreciate being here with her and her family!
She always makes sure that I am okay, or asks if I need anything before she goes shopping.
My host mum is an amazing cook and an even better baker. She makes the best cakes ever! She spends hours doing them for friends, colleagues or family and really pours her heart into it, to make every cake different and special. She is always here for everyone and I think she deserves this little Mother’s Day special, because it’s time that she gets something back.

I feel so welcome here and I couldn’t have asked for a better host family, and that’s mostly because of my great host mum (&host dad of course)!
I would be so happy, if Kerry gets this great package and I think she would be happy as well!

Thank you so much Kerry!!!

Nomination by Malin from Germany – Host Mum Kathryn (Hampshire)
Kathryn was my host-mum from summer 2014 until summer 2015 and she still is my hostmum in every way – even 439 miles apart! I just remembered my arrival at London Heathrow airport when she and my little boy picked me up and immediately made me feel welcome and home, I never even thought that any of these people could not be loving or caring to me in any possible moment. Just never! And it really never happened: If I had trouble getting somewhere, if I was homesick before Christmas or even if I just didn´t know what to do, they just jumped in and helped me in very way you can think of!

I can´t tell you all the funny, serious or unclear chats we had about everything – always leading us to a very confusing but all-laughing conversation-end! Kathryn helped me expand my English to a level I never thought of – although it´s getting a bit rusty here in Germany again! But never mind because I know where to go to see my second British home! And I regularly do, because not seeing these lovely people would break my heart!

Nomination by Thi from Sweden – Host Mum Jo (Buckinghamshire)
My host mum Jo, she is a super woman! She is a hard working and a very busy woman, but always friendly and kind to me, to her family and to everyone.  She is a lovely mum to two kids, a good wife to my lovely host dad and the best host mum and friend to me. Since my first day here in UK she has always been helpful, friendly, funny and a very welcoming person. She makes me feel very special and important. We can laugh together like teenagers and have a good conversation, but the best thing with Jo – I know she is always here for me if there is any problems, today and always. Even if she is very stressed or busy with lots of things to do she always takes time to help and share thought with me.

I’m very thankful for my fantastic host mum Jo. She is a good role model and definitely a special super hero in my life. I know It’s so many great host mums in the world but I would love to give my host mum Jo the Waitrose Mother’s Day Hampe with lots of love for all the hard work and for everything she has done and still doing for me.
Thank you so much!!
Best wishes
Thi X

Nomination by Josefin from Sweden – Host Mum Paula (Buckinghamshire)
Paula is a really SUPER MUM!
She is on the go all the time, while she runs her own business, she takes care of everything else, cooking, grocery shopping, exercising, get involved in important issues, go to meetings, and also takes care of three sometimes four children plus a dog!

Paula is really a great inspiration!
And has been amazing since the first day I came here. She received me with open arms and welcomed me into her lovely home, and she has created a safe point for me here and I can call her home and her family a home, for a little while. That’s is something very important.
I would love to give her this gift as a thank you for all the hard work she does!
So here’s a HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to a SUPERWOMEN/ SUPER BUSINESSWOMEN/SUPERMUM

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.
XX

Photos from Our Recent Smartaupairs Coffee Meetups

As many new au pairs have arrived over the last months we have organised three events in London to help everyone to get to know each other and to find new friends. After all, having great friends is a huge part of the whole au pair experience!

In each of the events, we have done some fun activities in groups – including an all time favourite people bingo (if you are a smartaupairs au pair – you’ll know what this is about!!)

Here are some pictures of our events – if you look really carefully, you can find Tamara, Isabelle and Tuuli (from the smartaupairs team) in the pictures too!

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Here are some of the selfies sent to us from au pairs who continued to explore London together, after the meetup 🙂

We look forward to more fun events with all of our au pairs! 🙂

 

Smartaupairs Au Pair Survey Results & Testimonials 2017

We recently did a survey with our au pairs – here is some of their
feedback 🙂 

LeonieSmartaupairs gave me the best match of family you could have! I’m so happy with my family and the support from Smartaupairs!”
Leonie from Germany
 

I‘m glad Smartaupairs was my agency in the UK. I felt fully informed, the guide was very eliza1helpful! I spent the best summer in London with an amazing host family. Thank you! x”
Eliza from Poland

“I am really happy with mariella1the way Smartaupairs is looking after me. I feel like I could email or call them anytime if I were not getting along with my host family. Luckily I am very happy with the family I work for and live with”
Mariella from Germany

“Keep up the good work and giving us all the informajenny1tion we need. I’m really glad that my year will be a good one because of Smartaupairs.”
Jenny from Germany

Great team! Really helping with problems etc! Such a good experience that I went for a second time 🙂
Britt from the Netherlands

“It was really easy to find the perfect larissa1host family with Smartaupairs. You had great matches.  Thank you very much!”
Larissa from Germany

 

Comments on our team: 

“Robyn Smith – She always got back to me , very helpful and great at being in touch”

Tuuli – when I had to leave the family because they were awful. Tuuli was very helpful and caring”

“I was in contact with Sandra, she is really nice and she did her job pretty well.” 

“I have been in contact with Gladys Ngadao. She has been really nice and helpful, when i needed some help.”

“I’ve had a lot of contact with Veerle (which was nice because I’m Dutch as well) :)”

“Salla contacted me several times making sure I am feeling good and everything is working out right. She helped me looking for a language school as well. She is a really kind and friendly person! Thanks so much for all your support!!”“I was in contact with different people and they were all super nice and helpful! :)”

“I have been in contact with Tuuli most of the time. She has been an amazing help!”

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The below questions asked whether the au pairs felt they could easily contact us for help during their placement, whether overall they were happy with their choice of agency (Smartaupairs or sending agency abroad), and whether they felt the overall communication was sufficient.

It is important for us to ensure we are approachable for our au pairs and tailor our support based on our au pair feedback.
support
We work with top agencies abroad who supply au pairs excellent support material already at the very early stages of their application, In addition, Smartaupairs provides the au pairs an extensive au pair guide & au pair listings and lots of other tips for connecting with other au pairs
The above question addresses how prepared the au pairs felt ahead/during their au pair experience.
preparation
Other interesting stats:

studying

This statistic is perhaps a little surprising – there seems to be a near 50-50 division between those who do/do not attend a language course.

friends

Other means of finding friends which were mentioned were: meetup.com, family & previous au pair recommendations, language classes, excuses to meet app, smartaupairs own meetups & local au pair pub evenings for example.

We did also gather a list of recommended language classes which is issued directly to all confirmed au pairs along with our other support material 🙂

Welcoming Tamara to Smartaupairs

We are really pleased to welcome Tamara to the Smartaupairs team as our intern!

Tamara has been an au pair in the UK herself and therefore knows exactly what it is like from the au pair’s point of view.

She will be assisting our team in au pair support and will be there to offer advice and guidance to au pairs throughout their application process and placement. She will also be helping to organise some upcoming events!

Tamara is a native German speaker and also speaks Italian and English.

Here is her message to all of our au pairs:

Hi 

My Name is Tamara, I’m 24 years old and I’m from Austria. I have studied International Cultural and Business Studies in Passau, Germany. Before I went to university I have been an au pair myself. I have spent an amazing year in the UK living with a host family in Oxfordshire.

I’m really happy to be back in the UK and I’ll do my very best to help all of YOU current au pairs to make the most of your stay!

tamara

Smartaupairs Does Santa Dash

Have you ever witnessed this many Santa’s in one place? Nor had we… 🙂

Tuuli, Chloe and Luisa (one of our brave au pairs!) took part in the London Santa Dash run yesterday – organised by the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. Luisa ran the 5k, and Tuuli and Chloe braved the full 10k stretch.

Luisa had her own support crew of other au pairs to cheer her on! 🙂

Despite the freezing temperatures, nearly 3000 runners took part, all dressed in Santa or other Christmas outfits (reindeers, elves, sledges were also spotted..)

It was such a wonderful event for an even greater cause.

To donate to the Great Ormond Street Hospital – please follow this link: https://donate.gosh.org/