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.

german-2

Jaqueline, Ilford, Essexdutch

Evelien, Redhill, Surreyspanish

Gemma, Redhill, Surrey

french

Celine, London

german

Lisa, Maidstone, Kent

Smartaupairs Introduction Day 2015

Yesterday, the Sunday the 27th of September saw our Annual Smartaupairs Au Pair introduction Day take place.

Nearly 150 au pairs attended which was a fantastic turnout! Present from Smartaupairs were Robyn, Chloe, Tuuli and Sandra and we also had two experienced au pair helpers Johanne and Lara who are currently au pairing in Kent.

We had lots of different social games for the day and we hope many au pairs found new contacts from other local au pairs during the event.

Here are some photos from the event 🙂

Thank you for all who joined us!

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Paperplanes Activity! 🙂

Here are some of the photos submitted by the au pairs themselves!

Amanda Rebecca SevdaSandra12047117_918712951507992_2362347851365203830_nDaphneDaphne2

Photo Competition Winner Announced!

The annual Smartaupairs photo competition was opened at the end of May, when many au pairs joined us for the BAPAA Boat Trip.

Since then, we have received a number of lovely photos and it’s been really difficult to choose a winner! Finally, we selected Marlijn from the Netherlands who will receive a £20 Amazon voucher.

Marlijn Wibbelink

Here’s what Marlijn said about her photo:

We are 5 Dutch girls and on 27th April we celebrate ‘Koningsdag’ (Kingsday) in The Netherlands and this is a BIG event. This used to be ‘Koninginnedag’ (Queensday) but when our queen abdicated we changed it. We had to miss this huge event in the Netherlands but luckily the Dutch people weren’t forgotten in The UK so we had a great night ! We even went in the tube like this, a lot of English people were looking like : ‘what is this’ haha ! We had a lot of fun 🙂

Thank you to everyone who sent a photo to us – here are some more of our favourites!

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

Birkbeck Research Report – BAPAA’s Response 

 #aupairproject and the official Au Pair Scheme in the UK and Au Pairing after the Au Pair Scheme

On 16th October 2014, BAPAA were invited to attend a breakfast briefing at Birkbeck University where Dr Rosie Cox and Dr Nicole Busch presented their findings of a recently completed research project on Au Pairing, migration and childcare in the UK.

Following this launch of findings, Au Pairing in the UK has come under the public spotlight with negative articles in National Newspapers and radio show discussions.

The #aupairproject research has especially highlighted the dangers for both Au Pairs and host families using ”Internet only platforms” where there is no self-regulation at all. Using an Internet matching site there is no agency to mediate and oversee an Au Pair placement ensuring the rules of the Cultural Exchange are followed. There is no support on offer to the Au Pair or to the host family, no benefits for the Au Pair or for the host family, no emergency helpline or agency number to call if the Au Pair or host family are having problems and in need of assistance.
We are grateful to both Dr Cox & Dr Busch for exposing these findings as it really does reinforce BAPAA’s ongoing concerns relating to the internet recruitment of Au Pairs.

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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.

2

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.

6

 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.

4

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.

5

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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Where au pair?

So many au pairs like to be in a busy environment of a city or a town, as these places are generally easy to make friends with other au pairs, close to language classes and a social life. Some of the au pair favourites where we make regular placements are London & Greater London, Canterbury, Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Brighton, Bournemouth, Colchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, York and Harrogate.

Au pairs in the countryside or in a village usually settle very well if they have access to a car, also in their spare time, and are close to a town or city.

We also often have requests from au pairs to be in coastal towns, especially those known for good language schools such as Margate and Ramsgate. We also get requests for Hastings, Blackpool, Norfolk, trendy Brighton (again), but also the picture-postcard villages of Devon and Cornwall are popular with au pairs.

The location of the host family is often very important to an au pair, especially before arrival. We always try to explain that we try to match people, not places, but we do appreciate that the location plays a bit part, especially for some candidates.

Pictures this, a Spanish au pair, who at home can walk out of her house every evening and meet up with friends outside her front door, walk straight into town/city center and meet up with yet more young people, for example in places like our popular short break destination Barcelona, would find it hard to settle in the English countryside, where the car must be used for every journey and meetings are more likely to be planned in advance.

In general, the above applies to Spanish au pairs, Italian au pairs and Turkish au pairs the most. Also, if you have travelled to Turkey for example, you may have noticed what it would be like to live in the ‘Turkish countryside’. It is mostly empty, the main exceptions being elderly people, who continued to live in the countryside whilst the younger generation moved into town. So for a Turkish au pair, the countryside brings up pictures of old people growing vegetables, so not very appealing for an au pair experience!

In general our most flexible au pairs are our German au pairs and our Dutch au pairs. They are very open and often already speak good English. This means they are less daunted by the ‘task’ of making friends and also they tend to be confident drivers, so provided they can have use of the car, they are usually quite flexible about their location.

French au pairs from small towns, countryside or Alpine regions (!) are also usually fine with a less urban location.

We also often have au pairs who ask to be placed with a family with horses. ‘Horse au pair’ is getting more popular for girls who want to be like a live-in groom with the chance to do lots of horse riding but usually the au pairs are happiest placed in a family where they can look after children and help with the horses also. So far we placed Dutch au pairs and German au pairs with interest in horses and our Swedish au pair agency tells us that many of their candidates love riding too!

And then we have many male au pairs, also usually very flexible about the location and confident drivers. Au pair couples are mostly placed in rural locations, as these are the homes where often one au pair can help with the children and the other au pair can help in the garden and with the animals for example. They have each other for company and will be less concerned about meeting other au pairs.

Final note on location, no matter where you are placed, smartaupairs will help you to find au pair friends nearby. We share an online service www.aupair2aupair.com and every au pair who is placed though our service received a passport to register. This allows you to search by postcode which au pairs are close to you and contact them to arrange a meeting. This service is shared with all member agencies from the British Au Pair Agencies Association, so we have au pairs on this service from more than 25 agencies making it a safe place to meet other au pairs, first online and then in person!