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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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! 🙂

 

Top Ten Meals to Cook for your Host Children

Au pairs are often asked to assist their host family in cooking an evening meal for the children. Basic cooking skills can be expected but we recommend that families put some time aside at the beginning of the placement to go through a few of the children’s favourite recipes with the au pair to make sure they have got the hang of it.

We asked our au pairs what evening meals go down best in their household. Here are the top ten responses!

“My host children love cooking. Together we make a great spaghetti bolognese. Italian food is their favourite” – Mathilde, French, au pair in London

Pasta and pesto with sausages. Really simple to make and tastes really good”Elin, Swedish, au pair in Hertfordshire

Jacket Potato with Baked Beans & Cheese is easy to make and my host kids loved it”Tamara, Austrian, former au pair in Oxfordshire

Gemma, a Spanish au pair in Surrey sent us this photo of a quiche that her host children enjoyed:

cooking-blog-photo

 

“My kids love pasta with mushroom sauce, homemade pizza, fish gratin with vegetables and also chilli (with a twist):

Cinnamon Chilli

  • 500g mince
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tins tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Fry the garlic and onion and add the mince until it’s done
  2. Add tomatoes and cinnamon and season with salt & pepper (and other spices if you want to)
  3. Simmer for at least 30 minutes (but longer is better)
  4. Add the beans about 30 minutes before serving
  5. Serve with bread, rice or a jacket potato (and maybe some natural yoghurt and guacamole)”

Carina, German, au pair in Kent

 “We like to cook fajitas on Friday nights. We cook the chicken with peppers, onions and spices and then serve with lots of little dishes of grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, lettuce and tomatoes” – Diana, Italian, au pair in Surrey

“A really simple meal is pasta bake. I make a tuna and sweetcorn one with melted cheese on top and the boys always eat it all!” – Maartje, Dutch, au pair in London

“When we have enough time in the evening, we make pizzas together. The kids like to get involved. We use tomato puree on the base and choose from toppings including chicken, peppers, onion, mushroom, ham, pepperoni and cheese”Hannah, Australian, au pair in London

 
“My kids love roasts and it’s actually quite easy to prepare it just takes some time. My host dad told me the trick to put a ‘butter paper’ (the paper that the Butter is wrapped in when you buy it) on Top of the chicken. This keeps the chicken juicy and prevents the Skin from getting burned. You put the chicken in the oven for about two hours. About 30 min before you take the chicken out, you take off the paper, so the skin can crisp up. 
You can also put some whole potatoes on the tray with the chicken so you get baked potatoes. Or you Cut them in wedges, in half, … But they need less time than the chicken itself, so you need to time it right 🙂
You can use any vegetable your kids like. My host children’s favourites are runner beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower… I simply boil these or just roast them as well. (Sliced and roasted carrots and parsnip are great).
I serve the food with gravy which I make from granules 🙂 “
Alina, German, au pair in Hampshire

“Today I made a cheesy cauliflower and pasta bake for the second time and the girls loved it”Laura, German, au pair in Surrey

We have lots more ideas for simple meals on our Pinterest page and in our Au Pair Guide which is sent to all Smartaupairs prior to travel.

Happy Cooking!

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!”

********************************************************************

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 🙂

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

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

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.

Smartaupairs Au Pairs & Holiday Season – Captured in Photos!

Can you believe we are ONLY 12 days into 2017!

After New Year, we asked our au pairs to share photos which captured “Christmas/holiday season spirit” – here are some of their lovely productions.

Again, near enough impossible to select a winner as all entries are lovely – however it had to be done (we ended up doing a draw!)

Congrats Esma, Anna-Lena & Valentina (your prizes will follow shortly).

 

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