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.

Convenience

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.

Familiarity

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.

Cost

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.

Convenience

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.

 

How to Make the Most out of Hosting an Au Pair

So you’ve found an au pair! You may be excited about finding someone you really like to help you tackle life as a working mum and even more excited about your children getting to interact with someone you know they’ll love too. Hosting an au pair is a great experience for many families and many of these families take full advantage of the wealth of knowledge their au pair brings with them. Here’s how to ensure your au pair experience is a memorable one for your au pair and your children.

Prep for success

Before your au pair arrives, take some time to get to know a bit about them and prepare your children by telling them all about the new person who is about to come and live with your family. Making sure your children know what to expect can help them to adapt more easily as this can be a big adjustment for a child that may have had you as their primary carer until now. Get your children involved in getting the house ready for you au pairs arrival and talk to them about ways they can make their new friend welcome. This will help them get excited about the experience while helping you get everything in place.

Immerse your kids in culture

Tell your children a bit about the country your au pair comes from and encourage them to ask questions and learn new things from their au pair. One of the greatest advantages of hosting an au pair is that it broadens your children’s horizons and exposes them to a world much larger than their own. Show them how exciting this can be and chat to your au pair about ways they can learn about each other or activities they could do that they may not have had a chance to experience before. Perhaps you’d like your children to learn a few bits of a foreign language or broaden their food horizons. Chat to your au pair about ways you could facilitate this and you’ll be surprised at what they come up with!

Sharing is caring

Let your children learn more about their own culture by encouraging them to show your au pair what it’s like to be an Australian. Have them think of ways they can help their au pair fit in in Australia and what activities they think their au pair would enjoy. By sharing their experiences, they’ll grow confident about their cultural identity and be open to learning about the cultures of those around them.

Lead by example

Show your children how you want them to treat their new au pair by treating your au pair with warmth and respect from the start. This is a great way for your children to learn about respecting all forms of authority and accepting people from all walks of life so be sure to show them how you want them to behave around their new au pair and make sure you make it clear that they are to listen to their au pair and respect their authority at all times. This will make life much easier for your au pair and will prevent your children from testing the boundaries too much as they know that their au pair has the support of mum and dad too.

For more information on how to make the most of your hosting experience, or to start the process of finding an au pair, contact Smart Au Pairs today.

How To Balance Your Au Pair’s Hours And Pocket Money

Two important aspects of having an au pair help to look after your children relate to the hours that your au pair will work and the pocket money that you will pay.

Pocket money varies depending on the number of hours and the level of experience of your au pair. However, there are some guidelines for pocket money which have been recommended by International Au Pair Association.

If you are working with an Australian-based au pair agency to find an au pair to assist with your childcare needs, they will provide you with comprehensive guidelines and answer any questions that you have about hosting an au pair, how many hours you can expect them to be available and how much pocket money they should get.

As a host family, when you have an au pair to stay in your house you will provide full board and pocket money in return for the au pair providing you with an agreed amount of childcare and doing some light housework. Full board would cover all home based costs, such as gas, water and electricity usage, groceries and takeaway or restaurant meals out with your family. Your au pair would usually have use of a car to take children to school or other activities if needed and may have the opportunity to join you on a family holiday if you go away during the time the au pair is staying with you.

It is important to remember that au pairing is a cultural exchange where an au pair wants to be part of your family and experience living in Australia.

When deciding on the amount of pocket money you will pay, some things to consider are the au pairs previous experience in childcare, the number of hours that they will need to help out, their education and ability to speak English and the level of responsibility that you require from them.

An au pair who provides a basic role would be available for up to 30 hours a week, usually split over five or six days and would be paid a minimum of $170 per week. Most families pay about $200. During these hours they would help with childcare, which can include doing the school run, helping with homework, playing with children and they can do babysitting and light housework.

If you want your au pair to be available for longer hours – up to 35 hours a week – you will pay a minimum of $255 a week in pocket money. These hours often work better for parents who work shifts and would include the same responsibilities as already mentioned. You may also ask your au pair to do some family cooking, such as making meals for the children if you are working.

Some host families choose to have an au pair who is paid an additional amount and has more experience dealing with children, is prepared to stay with a larger family, or who can provide sole care for babies between one and two years old.

Your au pair may want the opportunity to earn more money than the stipulated weekly pocket money. You may be able to help her to do this by assisting her to find babysitting work for your friends, for example.

To have your questions about how to balance your au pair’s hours and pocket money answered, contact Smart Au Pairs, an Australian au pair agency that provides families a dependable childcare option.

5 Top Tips To Focus On Your Business While Working From Home

Being a mum that works from home definitely has its benefits, but it can also be challenging. Some women find that it is very difficult to really focus on their work because there are just too many things that provide a distraction. Here are our top 5 tips on how to be more productive when working from home.

  1. Schedule and have a ‘to do’ list

If you know that your schedule includes time for work, for yourself and for doing things around the house, it easier to focus on your business when you need to. A schedule also alleviates stress from worrying about when you’re going to fit in other things, like housework and homework with your kids.

Start your day or your week with a ‘to do’ list that is realistic, but itemises all the tasks that need to be completed on that day, or during that week. If you do it the day or week before, then you start your work session with the list in front of you and get can straight into focusing on the most important tasks and help to avoid frustrations.

It’s important to allow for some flexibility, however. You will need it when something takes longer than you anticipated, something more urgent crops up or there is a contingency such as a sick child who is home from school.

  1. Prioritise and delegate

Working mums often find themselves needing to prioritise – cleaning the house or taking the kids to the park one afternoon, for example – and in some cases lowering your standards and being a little more flexible about some things.

However, it can help you to focus more on your business if you are able to delegate or outsource. It may be worthwhile to have a cleaner once or twice a month so that you free yourself up from having to do housework. The time that you would have spent on housework you can instead spend on your business. You could also get your children involved with age appropriate chores around the house such as tidying up and unpacking the dishwasher.

  1. Create a defined office space

If you are working from home and have children it is best for you to have a separate room where you can work with the door closed. However, at the least it is important to have your own space, with a desk, where you can create a suitable working environment. This will help you to be more focused when you sit down in that space, as well as prevent those seemingly constant interruptions from your kids.

  1. Disconnect from the online world

It’s so easy these days to be distracted by social media and personal calls and emails and once you have been distracted it is even more difficult to get back into work. So don’t be tempted to hop onto Facebook or Instagram every five minutes – this is never a good use of your business hours. You can even get add ons for your browsers that will block certain sites during certain hours that you specify  which is great if you aren’t very disciplined with this. If you can, pop your phone on silent too so you aren’t constantly checking your emails every time you hear it ping.

  1. Have childcare options that are dependable

When you run your business from home it may be tempting to try and balance caring for your kids with doing your work. However, it is not an easy option and can be stressful for you and your children, and makes it very difficult for you to really focus on your business.

You may have family members nearby who can help out or you could consider sending your children to a local childcare facility. Another option is to host an au pair, who is a young person from overseas who lives in your home and has the added benefit of providing you with greater flexibility. The au pair can take your child out to activities or the park, allow you to work outside of your regular hours, babysit over weekends and allow you to attend evening functions (all hours are predetermined with the au pair though). Au pairs can also do the school run and transport older children to after-school activities or help with homework after school.

 

Australian au pair agency, Smart Au Pairs can help you find an au pair who can provide dependable child care for you so that you can focus on your business while working from you. Contact us to find out more and start your au pair search today.