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 🙂

 

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

Tuuli & Chloe from Smartaupairs visit Partners in Holland & Germany

Tuuli & Chloe, the head consultants from Smartaupairs visited some of our top Dutch and German partner agencies over the course of Wednesday – Friday last week.
What is a partner agency you might ask?
For an au pair agency like smartaupairs, a partner agency will the agency abroad whose role is to vet the au pair and to ensure correct understanding of the program, before sending the applicant profile over to us in the UK. A significant amount of work goes into applicant preparation before any potential host family will be able to see the application.
It is incredibly important for us to maintain strong relations with our partners abroad. For one, they are in the key position of vetting the au pairs. Secondly, it is important for us to be able to provide any feedback we have received from our families to the sending agencies and similarly take on board any feedback from the agency/au pair perspective. All of this is incorporated in the continued process of program review and improvement for all parties.
We really are lucky to work with such wonderful partners abroad and hope to meet many more next year!

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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!