Managing Food Budgets With An Au Pair

When you welcome an au pair into your home, you will be responsible for giving them safe and secure board and accommodation. Naturally, your household expenses will rise and with that your grocery budget. Enough food is an integral part of feeling safe in a home and as with any members of the family you should ensure that your au pair will be well nourished and happy with the food they have access to.  But if you are managing a tight budget and have cost constraints, you also want to avoid spending more than is necessary or buying too many luxuries, and it may be essential to manage your food budget well from day one.

As you plan a food budget that includes your au pair, begin by considering your au pair’s food needs just as you would for any other member of your family. An au pair will want enough food, healthy and nutritious food, food that caters for any dietary restrictions or food allergies, not forgetting to food that they actually like!

You should also weigh this up against your concerns. These may include:

  • – Overspending on expensive and luxury items
  • – Wasting money on food that doesn’t get eaten
  • – Planning for meals, buying ahead of time and having food available as planned
  • – Combining their eating preferences, habits and culture with your family’s food culture.

Once you have considered these aspects you can start to calculate what it will cost extra to feed another adult in your home.  Look at your family’s weekly food spending and calculate how much of that is spent on each adult. For example, if you spend 25% of your weekly budget on each adult then you can expect to add at least 25% for the au pair. Leave some room in your budget to allow you to buy their favourite food and treats and for extra items like sauces or condiments which they may use regularly.

With a clear food budget and strategy in mind, the next step will be to communicate this clearly with your au pair and try to ensure that there are no misunderstandings regarding your or your au pair’s expectations toward food. The following suggestions can make the process easier.

  • – Communicate your expectations about food early on. Go through your food pantry and fridge with you au pair and discuss a typical week’s meals for your family.
  • – Let your au pair tell you their food preferences, routines, likes and dislikes.
  • – Buy weekly, especially in the beginning. This will help you avoid unnecessary waste.
  • – Plan your menu with your au pair. This will give them a better understanding of how you use each food item and if you will need anything for a specific meal.
  • – Give your au pair the option to buy some extras, within limits, just as you would allow extras and treats for your family.
  • – If your au pair has a very different food culture from your own, you can encourage them to try eating your food as part of their experience of getting to know a new country and its cultures.
  • – Speak to your au pair agency for advice. They may have very handy suggestions or figures available to assist you in managing a budget.

Smartaupairs is an au pair agency in Sydney that specialises in finding and placing au pairs with host families across Australia. Throughout their thorough process of au pair background checks and screening, their team aims to match au pairs perfectly with families. They also provide extensive training and preparation material, as well as continuous support to the host families and the au pairs to help make the au pair experience as happy as possible for all parties. If you are interested in finding the perfect au pair for your family, register on their website or call 02 9451 3888 for more information.

Top 5 Reasons To Be An Au Pair In Australia

Being an au pair in Australia is very popular and for good reason! There is so much to love about being an au pair in Australia from the sunny weather to the friendly people and the stunning landscapes. Here are our top 5 reasons to be an au pair in Australia.

The Climate

Even the winters in Australia are quite mild compared to a European winter. So no matter what the season, there will be plenty of opportunity to leave the house and enjoy the outdoors. Australians love being around the water, so ensure you pack your swim wear and enjoy many of the local pools and clean white beaches.

The Homes

Many host families live in lovely homes – some will have large gardens or pools and some host families live near the beach or the bush. Australians love being in the outdoors, so many homes feature outdoor kitchens and relaxing indoor/outdoor rooms or alfresco areas – giving an au pair a very different experience to European living.

The People

Australians have a reputation for being welcoming, friendly people. The Australian culture has a strong social focus – so there will be opportunities to expand your social circle beyond just your host family. Join a team sport or social club and enjoy the famous Australian hospitality.

The Food

Australia is famous for its fresh produce (including seasonal fruits and vegetables, seafood and wine) so au pairs are encouraged to make the most of the fresh local produce on the doorstep. Check out the local food markets and ask your host family for local restaurant recommendations or food and wine tours in your area.

The Opportunity To Explore

Australians love to travel and explore and it is likely your host family will want to show you the tourist hotspots in their area. Throughout Australia there are many campsites and visitor centres, so going on day trips and exploring your host state is easy to organise – and a great idea to do with fellow au pairs on a weekend or during some time off. Some au pairs in Australia are lucky enough to also accompany their host family on holidays around the country or internationally, so will have the opportunity to see even more of Australia and possibly even other countries too..

Smart Au Pairs is an au pair agency in Sydney that specialises in finding and placing au pairs with host families across Australia.  Many of the Smart Au Pairs team have themselves been an au pair or nanny and/or spent time living, working and studying overseas, so they understand au pairs and strive to achieve the best match possible for both host family and au pair. If you are interested in becoming an au pair, register on their website or call 02 9451 3888 for more information.


Vivian will organise au pair orientation

In July we welcome back our beloved Vivian from the Netherlands. Vivian previously completed work experience with Travel Active in The Netherlands as well as with Smartaupairs Australia during her course of Tourism and Leisure Management.

As she is now studying International Tourism Management and Consultancy, she has another opportunity to join Smartaupairs and help us to provide au pair support during the busiest arrival months.

Vivian’s CV is an impressive collection of activities, travel and adventure including volunteering in the Netherlands as a swimming instructor and youth scout leader and further afield teaching English to children in China as a volunteer and an internship in Argentina with a sustainable Tourism company.

As soon as Vivian arrives in Sydney, she will be looking after our au pairs and make it easier for them to get settled quickly and find friends nearby. We know this is a very important part of our au pair program and we offer regular Meet & Greet opportunities in collaboration with our travel agency Backpackers World Travel.

Top 10 Experiences Not To Miss In Australia On Your Gap Year

Every day in Australia will be a day very different to the European lifestyle – the weather is fantastic and the Australian people easy-going and friendly – but there is so much more for au pairs to experience. Add these top experiences to your not-to-miss list during your Au Pair Australia adventure.

1. Learn How To Surf

Australians love the beach – the clear waters and clean white sand really make the Australian beaches something special. So why not make the most of the location and learn how to surf? Surfing lessons are held at many beaches throughout Australia and even if you don’t master the skill, it’s still a fun experience not to be missed.

2. Do A Food Or Wine Tour

The fresh produce in Australia is amazing, so whether you love fruit, chocolate, cheese or wine, you are sure to be delighted. A food or wine tour is a great day experience, allowing you to taste all of the local delights and is also a great way to spend a day with friends or fellow au pairs (and the best part is you can enjoy responsibly without worrying about who is going to drive). Popular areas for food and wine tours include the Hunter Valley for au pairs in New South Wales, the Barossa Valley in South Australia or the Swan Valley and Margaret River region in Western Australia.

3. Visit Sydney

If you can organise even a weekend trip to Sydney in New South Wales, you can cross off a number of popular tourist hot spots. Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, walk up the stairs of the world famous Sydney Opera House and soak up some sun on one of Australia’s most famous beaches, Bondi Beach.

4. Learn About The Indigenous Culture

Take part in an activity or tour to learn about the Aboriginal people and their vibrant culture. Discover the beauty of Aboriginal art and sample ‘bush tucker’ or traditional Aboriginal food. Ask your local visitor centre or go to the Tourism Australia website for information on available experiences near you.

5. Go Camping

Many Australians go for weekend getaways and camping is an affordable, fun way to really experience the great outdoors. There are many campsites all over Australia and many have facilities such as powered sites and showers to make camping more appealing to those who do not want to rough it. The brightness of the stars in an Australian sky away from the lights of the city is truly something worth seeing.

6. Meet The Local Wildlife

You cannot come to Australia without meeting a kangaroo! There are many amazing wildlife parks and animal farms that allow visitors to get up-close-and-personal to some of Australia’s friendliest wildlife. Australian zoos are also great to visit and will have many species of Australian wildlife to see.

7. See A Show

Australia has bred some impressive talent (think Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth), so ensure you experience some of Australia’s awesome entertainment industry. Go see a musical or live show at one of the many theatres or take in an Australian movie or two.

8. Visit The Great Barrier Reef

It is one of the wonders of the natural world and stretches 2300 kilometres – if you get a chance to visit the Great Barrier Reef, take it! With over 3000 individual reef systems and hundreds of tiny tropical islands, it will be an experience you will never forget.

9. Get The Adrenaline Pumping

Australians love adventure so if you want to do something a bit different, the options are endless – from bungee jumping to skydiving, horse riding to jet boating, Australia has it all.

10. Go To A Sporting Event

Australians love their sport –and the atmosphere at a big game can be just as exciting as the game itself! AFL (Australian Football League), basketball, rugby and cricket all attract big crowds, so find out from your host family what sports are on during your stay, adopt a local team to support and enjoy the experience.

Smart Au Pairs is an au pair agency in Sydney that specialises in finding and placing au pairs with host families across Australia.  Many of the Smart Au Pairs team have themselves been an au pair or nanny and/or spent time living, working and studying overseas, so are able to offer support to ensure your au pair experience is fun, rewarding and memorable. For further details on becoming an au pair, register on their website or call 02 9451 3888 for more information.


Can An Au Pair Be A Great Alternative To Out Of School Hours Care?


As any working parent will know, trying to arrange care for your children outside of normal school hours can be a nightmare, especially if you work full time. The cost of these services can also be prohibitive for some families, particularly if you have more than one child. But are there any alternatives for before and after school care?

One of the most affordable alternatives to before and after school care is hosting an au pair. An au pair is a usually a young person from a foreign country who lives with your family for a few months (3 to 6 months mostly) to experience a different culture, country and often language. In return for accommodation and meals in your home, they can provide around 25-35 hours of child care support and light housework. Their duties can include dropping the children at school in the mornings and picking them up in the afternoons – and this is where your family can benefit from not having to resort to often expensive out of school hours care.

Using before and after school care may work well during term time, but what about during the school holidays? Not all schools offer vacation care so you may be forced to make alternative arrangements. These changes of environments can sometimes be stressful for children, and choosing to hire an au pair can go a long way to ensuring continuity of care during both the school term and periods of holidays.

A great time of the year to get an au pair is around the school holidays. Most working parents need to use vacation care during the holidays but if you have an au pair, you may be able to use it less or perhaps not at all. An au pair may be able to work during the day as per the agreement you decide upon with them before the start of their placement. Of course au pairs are not meant to work full time, unless they are appropriately financially compensated – a reputable au pair agency can help you to iron out the details before you decide to welcome an au pair into your home.

Smart Au Pairs are able to help you find an au pair that will blend seamlessly into your family and offer your children (and you!) a culturally enriching experience that they will value for a lifetime. All au pairs are fully screened to ensure your children are in safe hands while you are away from them. Get started on your au pair search with Smart Au Pairs and say goodbye to high childcare costs today.

How to welcome your au pair

We are often asked about the best way to welcome a new au pair into the family. We’d love to hear what’s worked well for you and your au pair?



Meanwhile,  here’s 3 steps to our ‘secret sauce’




1) All au pairs receive ample information from the agency in their own country where they start their journey. Some agencies even organise a full day au pair workshop!




2) Even more information is provided in our Au Pair in Australia Training Manual packed with information.




3) Final ingredient is yours! We help you to make a great Family Handbook, as this will explain to the au pair how YOUR family works! Your handbook is critical for au pair training and important for reference throughout.




Some of our experienced host families even get the kids involved in au pair training!




We give all of our host families and au pairs lots of helpful information to make settling in as easy as possible.

Au Pair Orientation tip from Brisbane host mum

My number one tip is to take the day off work for your au pair’s first day in the family… and spend the day giving her an orientation to your home, suburb, and the city, using public transport (preferably without kids).

By the end of this day she should know that you are interested in her well-being, and that you are approachable. Then she will feel safe to come to you when she has questions or when something goes wrong.

And that means you can sort out most problems that arise straight away, prevent home sickness and get her settled in quickly! …what is good for the au pair is also good for you.


Marea, Brisbane


PS – Au pairs have been a fantastic solution for us, and a (mostly) very positive experience. 🙂

3 Reasons Why Hosting An Au Pair Could Help You Achieve The Ultimate Work Life Balance

As a businesswoman and a mother, you work hard to maintain a healthy work life balance. You want to realize your potential in the workplace, but also want to be the best mum you can be for your kids. Hosting an au pair could help to ensure that your time at home with your children is good quality time and that your goal of being the perfect working mum is realised.

A helping hand

The biggest advantage to hosting an au pair is having someone on hand to help out with those mundane tasks that seem to eat away at your time. An au pair can help with things like making the kids’ bags are packed for school, tidying up after the kids while you’re at work and making sure that cake is picked up for the cake sale on Friday that you almost forgot about. This means that when you get home from work, you can spend time with your children and catch up on the day without worrying about all the administration that can really get in the way of quality time.


Another reason an au pair can be great for a working mum is that they’re able to work their schedule around yours. As a businesswoman, you know that sometimes ‘predictable’ is just not the name of the game and an au pair will be able to work the flexible hours you need during the week. They can adapt their schedule from week to week and you will know that you always have a reliable and familiar person around to help out when you need it.


Your children will have the added benefit of having one main caregiver besides you. This means that they can build up a relationship with their au pair and have one person looking after them after school as well as babysit when you and your partner need some quality time too. The main advantage of having one trusted carer is that you can make sure that your au pair knows exactly what your expectations are and your children will know that the rules stay the same no matter who’s in charge.

Hosting an au pair can really make a difference in a working mum’s life. To find out more about the benefits of au pairs and to start the process of finding the perfect au pair for your family, get in touch with Smart Au Pairs today.

Top 5 Tips For Successful Au Pair Hosting

Hosting an au pair can be a very rewarding and positive experience for both your family and the au pair. However, adding a new guest to your household can be challenging, especially if your relationship doesn’t start off on a positive note. To help you get it right from the start, we have compiled a list of our top tips for making au pair hosting a success.

  1. Set ground rules

Every household has its own rules and most au pairs will find it easier to adapt to living with your family if they have a clear idea of what the basic rules are. You should consider your guidelines carefully and write them down. Take some time to sit down and discuss each rule with your new au pair. Ground rules can minimise future misunderstandings and conflict. Your house rules should include guidelines about the care and safety of your children, your pets, mealtimes and food preparation, telephone and internet use and other aspects such smoking and alcohol, telephone and internet use, and visitors.

  1. Outline your expectations clearly

One of the first things you should do is to introduce your au pair to the household and to clearly outline their duties. List all their tasks and duties, but remember to also be reasonable with your expectations. This may include:

  • – Childcare duties like driving to school, helping with homework and keeping children engaged.
  • – Suitable activities for the children and how they can be disciplined.
  • – Working hours and off days.
  • – Light housework duties such as doing laundry, preparing meals for the children and grocery shopping.
  • – Personal expectations regarding your relationship, behaviour and reliability, mutual respect and privacy.
  1. Be open to suggestions and feedback

Once you have communicated your expectations and ground rules to your au pair, they will likely have their own questions and feedback about it. Give them time to think about their role in your home and your expectations and make it clear that they are welcome to voice any concerns or suggestions that they may have at any time. You may not always agree with their feedback, but keep an open mind and be willing to negotiate or compromise if necessary.

  1. Communicate regularly

The key to a good relationship with your au pair is regular and open communication, and not just about work! Show a genuine care and interest in their life. Ask her how their day was, talk about their interests and hobbies, and make them feel welcome in your presence. If they feel supported in your home they are also much more likely to share any troubles or concerns they are facing.

  1. Be reasonable

Mutual respect is the key to a successful working relationship with your au pair. Be kind and patient with your au pair and treat them how you would like to be treated. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your au pair by asking them to do things that you wouldn’t want to do. Keep in mind that misunderstandings and errors may occur, but that it is also part of the learning experience. Also remember that while your au pair may be helping you look after your children, they are away from home and may need you to take care of them at times too.

Selecting an au pair who fits in well with your family is one of the most important steps in ensuring a successful and smooth au pair hosting experience. The team at Smartaupairs can assist you in every aspect of placing an au pair in Australia. With the backing of candidate agencies from around the world, they will provide you with a choice of hand-picked and screened candidates, assist you with the candidate interviewing process, and help make the au pair’s arrival as smooth as possible. They will exceed your expectations with their helpful arrival pack and by keeping in touch throughout the process. For more information visit their website or contact the Sydney au pair agency at 02 9451 3888 today.

How Hiring An Au Pair Can Work For Single Mums

Being a single working mum can be hard. You have to do the enormous job of both parents, go to work and still find a way to spend quality time with your beautiful child or children. Hosting an au pair could be just the thing that you’ve been looking for to help you get that extra set of hands you’ve been craving.


You may think that with all the expenses of raising your kids by yourself, hosting an au pair is just not in your budget. When compared to the cost of using other types of daycare and after school care for the same hours, hosting an au pair can actually work out to be a very affordable option. It also minimizes the time you may have to take off work to ferry children to and from commitments and can save you money when you’re children are home from school with yet another case of the flu.


Hosting an au pair is a very flexible option that allows you to structure your childcare around your schedule. An au pair is able to change her schedule to suit your family’s needs and is more flexible and accommodating towards changes you may have to make in your work schedule.

Saving Grace

Being a single mum means you’re often stretched to the limit and sometimes even simple things like getting the kids ready for school can seem like a real balancing act. Having an au pair to help with the simple but time-consuming things like making the kids’ lunch for school and making sure their homework is done before dinner means you can spend the extra time with your children without sweating the small stuff.

A Friend in Need

Having an au pair living with you can take some getting used to, but most of our clients form a bond with their au pairs that becomes a lasting friendship. Having someone there to help out with the kids and who understands when they’re having a tough day can make the world of difference in a mum’s life. Your au pair will become part of the family and can be a valuable ally when things get tough.

New experiences

As a mum, you want to expose your children to positive influences from the world around them and introduce them to new cultures and ideas. An au pair can be a positive role model for your children and having someone from a different background share your life can help to broaden their horizons and teach them about the wider world around them.

For more information about hosting an au pair and to find the perfect match for your family, visit the Smart Au Pairs website or call them on 02 9451 3888.  They have successfully matched hundreds of families with their ideal au pair over the years and are confident that they will be able to help you too!

Smart Au Pairs is a Sydney-based au pair agency who specialises in matching host families with their ideal au pair who can help them crate a harmonious balance between family and working life while providing children with a stable base and source of childcare within the home.