National Nursery Rhyme Week

This week is National Nursery Rhyme Week and a few au pairs wanted to share some rhymes from their native language.

Here are their contributions with an English translation – a great opportunity for you to learn a rhyme in another language!

If you would like to learn more nursery rhymes in English, the BBC has put together a great collection that you can find here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/schoolradio/subjects/earlylearning/nurserysongs.

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Jaqueline, Ilford, Essexdutch

Evelien, Redhill, Surreyspanish

Gemma, Redhill, Surrey

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Celine, London

german

Lisa, Maidstone, Kent

Annual Au Pair River Cruise – Book NOW!

The date for the annual Au Pair River Cruise has been announced! Every year, Smartaupairs invites all au pairs who are placed with one of our host families to join us for the event. It’s extremely popular so we recommend booking your place as soon as possible!

Thames River Cruise

Sunday 17th May 2015

All day excursion from just £10 per person

Come and join hundreds 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 many 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, historic buildings, the famous 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.

  • 11am – boat leaves Festival Pier
  • 1pm – boat arrives at Greenwich
  • 4pm – boat leaves Greenwich
  • 5pm – boat arrives back at Festival Pier

The trip costs £10 per person or £12 for friends (non-BAPAA)

You must arrive by 10.45am as the boat leaves promptly at 11am from Festival Pier, in front of The Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. (Opposite side of the river to Embankment tube.)

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

If you wish to stay in London for the night of Saturday 16th May, hostel accommodation is available through International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London W1. (www.ish.org.uk) Telephone 020 7631 8310, quoting BAPAA.

Britt Boat Trip
Au Pair Britt won our photo competition in 2014. This is her entry taken in Greenwich Park.

Payment details: You can pay via PayPal (even if you don’t have a PayPal account) – go to www.paypal.co.uk and make the payment to finance@bapaa.org.uk. You must include your FULL name, the name of your agency in the UK (Smartaupairs) and your host family, plus the names of any friends going on the trip with you (stating BAPAA or non-BAPAA). You must print off the PayPal receipt or ticket and bring it with you on the day, as you will need to show it when you board the boat (tickets displayed on smartphones will not be accepted)! You must pay in advance for your ticket and refunds are not given.

Smartaupairs will be running a photo competition so REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR CAMERA!

Entries are to be emailed to aupairs@smartaupairs.com by 29th May 2015 and the winner will receive a £20 Amazon voucher. Click here to see some of last year’s entries.

Smartaupairs reserves the right to use any images from the boat trip for the purpose of future promotions.

Any questions? Please e-mail aupairs@smartaupairs.com

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.

 

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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.

 

Competition Winners Announced!

We launched two competitions during our Au Pair Introduction Day in London earlier on this month. In order to enter, au pairs were asked to send a comment or photo to summarise or represent their placement with their UK host family so far. Two prizes of £50 in Amazon vouchers were on offer and our winners are as follows…

Comment competition winner: Maartje from the Netherlands, who is currently placed in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

Maartje sent us a PowerPoint presentation to describe her placement so far, but it was the following comment in particular that we felt summarised the au pair program as a whole:

This is the house where I first arrived on Friday the 23th of August. The family did everything they could to make me feel welcome. And boy, did I feel welcome! In these first few weeks, I have been visiting London and making lots of new friends to make my stay in the UK even better! The children: this is the best part of being an au pair. Getting to spend lots of time with in my case, two beautiful young boys. We are very good at being serious but we are even better at acting silly. All of us are. Even though, they sometimes drive me crazy… this family, puts a big smile on my face! So this house is no longer my host family’s house, it’s our house now. It’s a place I call my home’.

Maartje's host family gave her a very warm welcome!
Maartje’s host family gave her a very warm welcome!

Photo competition winner:  Lena from Germany, who is currently placed in Fleet, Hampshire.

Lena sent us quite a few photos of her day out in London but this one was our favourite. A photo with the iconic red telephone box is a ‘must have’ for all au pairs 🙂

The winning photo entry by German au pair Lena
The winning photo entry by German au pair Lena

Congratulations to both girls and thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Here are some further excellent entries that we received:

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Anhang 5

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Anhang 1

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Anhang 6

If you would like to share your experiences of the au pair program at any time, please contact us on aupairs@smartaupairs.com. We love to hear your stories!

My first two weeks as an au pair

Mia, 19, is from Denmark and on 27th August 2013, she joined her host family in London.

She wanted to share with us the experience of her first two weeks with her host family as she has had such a great time and found them to be particularly welcoming.

Here’s what she had to say:

“On the 27th of August I went on the plain to London, it was my first time alone on a plane, so I was quit nervous. My mom drove me to the airport, where she said goodbye,  we hugged and I cried a little. It was a weird feeling to say goodbye, but at the same time I new that my stay in London would be a really good adventure!

My host mom and her child, Aiden who is almost 5 years old,  were waiting for me at Heathrow Airport in London, they had brought me flowers and Aiden had made me a ‘’welcome card’’ with glitter for me. Really sweet of him. When we got to the car I went to the right side, but then my host mom asked me if I wanted to drive, and then I looked into the car and saw that I was standing at the drivers side. I laughed and said no! I quickly went to the left side instead. It is so weird that everything is opposite when it comes to the traffic, but you get used to it very quickly.

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When we got to the house in Brixton, we got some champagne, Aiden got children´s champagne, to celebrate me coming to London. We sat down at the kitchen table and got something to eat, we talked and it was really nice. It was a bit late and Aiden had to go to sleep, so I gave them my presents, I had brought from Denmark, before he went to bed. My host mom got Medusa cupcakes (danish design) and Aiden got playmobile pirates. They loved their presents and we had so much fun playing with it, Aiden almost started crying that is how much he laughed.

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The next day My host mom and Aiden took me around Brixton, so I could see how it was. I saw all the nice stores, the Brixton Village with a lot of really nice food and and restaurants. We also sat down to get a bite of food and later we got Italian ice cream. I also got to see the cinema and the library, where we went to read some books. Aiden really likes the library and he didn’t want to leave, so his mom allowed him to take out some books. Later when Aiden was at his dad’s house, the girls from across the street knocked on our door and they gave us some birthday cake. Really nice of them! Me and my host mom then went to make coffee and hot chocolate. Afterwards I went to unpack my stuff.

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Thursday was my first day alone with Aiden, it was really fun, we played a lot of board games, read a lot of books and played with his new pirates. He is so easy, and I’m so glad that I don’t have big problems with him. We also read a Planes magazine, because at 14.00 we were going to the cinema to see Planes. My host mom met us there, and it was a really nice activity to do together and I love going to the cinema.

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On my first Friday my host mom had a party for me, where she invited the neighbours and some of her friends. It was really nice to meet all these new people, I also got to meet one of my host mom’s friend’s au pair, which was really nice. Me and Aiden had made cupcakes for the party, it was really fun, and he loves to help in the kitchen. We had a really good time decorating them.

Saturday Aiden was at his dad’s house, so me and my host mom went to the Brockwell Park to play rounders with some of her friends (The park is also the perfect place to go for a run). It was so much fun, everybody  was so sweet. It was so lovely to get out and see the park, and to play around with a group of grown-ups! We made two teams, Team Lohan and Team Britney. I was on Team Lohan and we won! After the game we went home to the people who planned it all, we got something to drink, eat and I got to taste Pimm’s, which is a popular drink in the UK. Afterwards me and my host mom went to see Siro-A, which is a group of six performers, who dance and mime with a lot of really cool video, light and sound effects.  After that my host mom showed me China Town and The Ritz.

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 Tuesday was Aiden’s first day at school. He looks so cute in his uniform. His school is only 5 min. away, so it is really easy to follow him to it. Tuesday was a really hot day, so when Aiden got home, we had a water fight, everyone got really wet, but it was so much fun.

Wednesday I joined the gym, it is a really good gym and it has a swimming pool! At the evening we went to a Portuguese restaurant with my host mom’s parents, they are really sweet, and her father is so funny.

Thursday we went to a park after school with a really nice playground. My host mom invited a mom and her three kids back to our house for a playdate. (Her middle child is in the same class as Aiden). The two girls from across the street came over as well. While Aiden had been at school I had filled up his swimming pool, so all the kids just went in it.

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All the kids splashed water at me, it was so much fun and a really good day. In the evening I went to football practice for the first time, I had been searching online for a club I could play in, so I could keep playing football. I met some really nice girls from the area, they were all very welcoming and friendly. Sometimes after practice they go to a bar for a drink, so I think it is a really good way to meet people and to get out and experience new stuff.

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On my second weekend  me and my host mom went to Bray near Maidenhead to visit a friend of hers. We went out for dinner at the Heston Blumenthal’s place, where we got some really delicious food, a couple of good drinks and afterwards I went clubbing with his daughter and her friend. We had such a good time, and it was fun to see how they do it in the UK. It’s a little bit annoying that the clubs close earlier than what I’m used to in Denmark, but luckily we had a blast anyway.

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I have no problems with my host-family, the kid is so easy and it is very rare he gets mad or starts crying. For the most it’s when he has lost a game against his mom! I’m already starting to feel like a part of the family, and I’m so glad that I haven’t felt homesick yet. Of course I miss them all back in Denmark and sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on stuff, but I already know that this year will be so special and I will get so many new experiences, which I wouldn’t get back home. I have already made a lot of plans with other au pairs, and I can’t wait to see more of London and go on new adventures with them.

Mia

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Free Overviews of our Available Au Pairs

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We are always looking for better ways to introduce our au pairs.

– and now, we have started our own pinterest board to display au pair overviews so that you can have a better idea of some of the applicants we have on our books, even before you register with us.

Click here for the smartaupairs pinterest page to view some of our most recent applicants:

http://pinterest.com/smartaupairsuk/au-pairs/
(you do not have to be a member of pinterest to view our page)

Here’s an example of an overview of one of our current candidates:

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Please contact us on 0800 917 8166 or info@smartaupairs.com if you would like a personalised shortlist of candidates.

All the au pairs shortlisted will have their full presentation (pictures, letter, references, checks) viewable for you!

My Au Pair Experience in the UK

Tabitha from Germany joined host family in Essex in September and has been reflecting on her placement as it comes to an end. She wanted to share with us the positive experiences, as well as the challenges she faced during her placement.

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“All in one I find that, being an AuPair was the hardest and the greatest thing I have ever done in my life.

 

It was hard to leave my family, friends and boyfriend behind, to live in another country with another language. I came in this really nice family, who made me part of their family and now I have got a family in Great Britain. We had our bad days, but I really appreciate that they have always been there for me and that they taught me so much.

 

When I just came I looked only after one child. She wasn´t easy to manage in the first few weeks, but we got to know each other and now I´m really feeling sad to leave her.

 

I got to know my host mother. She was so nice to me and she became a really good friend of mine. I went with her to a lot of pregnancy courses and she also took me to some parties, what I found really great. Especially that one Indian party for Diwali. For that , my host mum put me in one of her old Indian costumes. I will never forget that day, there was Indian dance, Indian food and everyone had to take their shoes off, what I found was really strange. Also we had always our little, colourful lunches and our nice talks. Now I can talk about everything with her and I´m really going miss her so much.

 

When the baby was born I had to do so many things, that I had to grow up over night. My host mother gave me a lot of guidelines, which helped, but it was still exhausting to manage and organize everything. My host family let me go home to spend Christmas with my family as a treat. That was so great, but it was so hard to leave my family a second time and when I was back it was worse than in the beginning. In March it got easier, my host mum was recovered, the baby was sleeping and feeding went well and my family came to visit me in London. Also everyone got enough sleep.

 

The last two months were the best of the whole time. Finally it got warmer and the children grew more and more. I´m really looking forward to go home, but I can´t be really happy about that, because I will miss my family. I still don´t know how to say goodbye. The girls mean a lot to me, and also my host parents. All these times when we had nice evenings together, or when we just talked while we had dinner.

 

Also they taught me so much about healthy living and healthy food. I learned so many new recipes. We had a big variety of food. Nearly every day we had a different type of food. We had British, Indian, American, Thai, Italian and in the end eventually German. So I learned how to cook of all different types of food. And I couldn´t cook very well before, so my host mum had to be really patient with me, because I needed time to learn and there was once, that I let the garlic burn. Also I learned some Indian cooking from the childrens grandmother and from the cleaner.

 

With the different types of food I also learned much about the Indian, American and British culture. So I celebrated my first Diwali, the festival of lights, with them. We went to “Nanny´s” house and had lots of nice, fresh, Indian food. There were some more family celebrations, like birthdays, or for example when my host mum´s sister came from America. So they took me often to “Nanny´s” house, like I´m allowed to call her. That is another thing, I really appreciate, that I can call the children’s grandmother “Nanny”. One day she just came to me and said, she is Nanny, I can call her Nanny. I was so surprised, because I always had this thought in my head, that I´m just “the Au Pair”.

 

But I was more than just the Au Pair. For a long time, I thought it would be politeness, when my host mum introduced me as her friend instead of her Au Pair. Or when she made me tea, or all the times when we shared a drink and we had our “movie night” on Friday. Then when baby was born, I was just too exhausted to see, to realize how much I might mean for them. Now I can see. All that time, I was more than just the Au Pair. And to know that, is more than I ever thought would happen. I mean it is actually a part of the Au Pair program, but still, not everyone does this. Some families wouldn´t do that, and so I’m really grateful, that I could be part of a really nice family.

 

I´m very grateful for all, what my family taught me. I will never forget that important part of my life and I´m so glad, that I could shared it with my new British/American/Indian family. They will now always be a part of my life, because they taught me just so much, what will go along with me in my life.

 

I really hope, that we can stay in contact and can visit each other so I´m able to see, how the girls grow up.”

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If you would like to consider becoming/hosting an au pair, we can help! Contact us on 0800 917 8166 or info@smartaupairs.com.