Antonia is a winner! Nominate your au pair next month

Every month our host families from all over Australia have a chance to nominate their au pair to win our Au Pair of the Month competition. Antonia is a winning au pair and here is the lovely nomination from her host family.

Antonia from Germany is, above all, a beautiful, generous and divine human being. Her extreme gentleness, faultless care, and boundless generosity flow over and she brings an incredible energy to our household and our lives. We outright love Antonia, and we all feel so very loved back by her – especially my two children. They arrive home from preschool and school and call “Antonia!!!” as the first thing when they walk in the door. Antonia is there with a smile and a cuddle for them and they just adore her, as do I.

Not only is she incredible with the children but she is an amazing help to me around the house – cooking, tidying up the kitchen, helping with the kids rooms, helping with the laundry. She is fabulous with the routines of the house and so reliable in everything she does. For the first time in 6 years I go to the gym a couple of mornings a week, can work more effectively, and go on a date night with my husband once a week – all because of the beautiful Antonia.

In 6 months have never seen her grumpy or in a bad mood. She is the most selfless, beautiful, appreciative and happy person. We as a family feel honoured to have her living with us, and I can only say that I dread the day we have to say goodbye – and that will be the day we start thinking of a holiday to Germany to go visit her.

She is the most outstanding Au Pair. Thank you Antonia. We love you. Riedl family, NSW

 

How Hosting an Au Pair Could Solve Your Daycare Woes

 

The hefty cost of childcare forms a large part of a family’s budget, but still many parents find themselves unsatisfied with the level of care that their children are receiving for the exorbitant prices. With growing group sizes and ever changing views on parenting styles and discipline practices, it can be difficult to find a childcare option that satisfies your child’s individual needs and aligns itself with your family’s values.

Hosting an au pair not only offers an affordable solution to the problem of flexible work schedules and after-hours care, it also allows you the opportunity to create a caring environment where your child is looked after by someone you can trust and who can ensure that your views on parenting and discipline are respected and applied consistently while those important foundations are being laid.

Cost effectiveness

 For many years, hosting an au pair seemed a luxury of the upper class and families resigned themselves to the fact that when they returned to work, their children would start their school career and begin life in the classroom where they would be taught the fundamentals they needed to be successful in the school system. Now however, parents have begun to realise that while daycare and before and after school care provides their children with structure and a solid foundation for learning, there is still a great need for one on one attention and care in the early formative years that the formal classroom is unable to provide.

More and more families are realising that an au pair can be a very viable option for everyday families who are turning to this form of childcare as an all-in-one daycare, after school and babysitting option. Considering the value that an au pair can bring to your home, in terms of flexible hours, one on one care and cultural enrichment, this can be a more cost effective option than other traditional forms of childcare.

Less exposure to illness

 While attending daycare may provide a source of social interaction for your children, there is no denying that children who attend daycare centres are much more exposed to childhood viruses and illnesses than those who receive in-home childcare. In a classroom full of children who are learning to share, your child is more likely to get sick more often and this means a miserable child, time off work and expensive doctor bills as well as numerous doses of antibiotics and over-the-counter remedies. In-home childcare means your child can build up their immune system without being bombarded with one illness after another and having to potentially rely too heavily on medication.

Consistency

 Not only does hosting an au pair mean consistency in terms of who cares for your child both during the day when you’re at work and at night when you’re taking some time out with your spouse, but it also means consistency in the kind of care your child receives too. Having an au pair living in your home means you’ll be able to demonstrate the kind of parenting philosophy that you think is right for your children and you’ll be able to ensure that this is applied consistently even when you’re not there. You can spend time choosing an au pair who thinks the same way you do and make sure that your children always know what boundaries are in place and what kind of morals and values you expect them to live by no matter who they are with.

These are just some of the reasons that families are considering hosting an au pair as an alternative to other traditional forms of childcare. To find out more about why hosting an au pair could be right for you, or to start the process of finding the perfect fit for your family, contact Smart Au Pairs today.

Visitors from Europe learn more about Au Pair in Australia

We had a great week sharing insights into our Au Pair in Australia program with two of our partner agencies from Europe. We look forward to lots more lovely au pairs travelling to Australia in the next few months and we know they will be well informed, thanks to all of the hard work and learning we did with Samantha and Kerstin.

How to Find the Perfect Au Pair for Your Family

So you’ve decided to host an au pair but are nervous about the prospect of having someone new in your home. It can be daunting inviting a new person to share in your life but, if you find the right person, your au pair could become a part of your children’s life that you don’t remember living without. Here’s how to make sure you find the perfect match for your lifestyle and your family.

Think about your family unit

Think about your family and the type of lifestyle you lead. What are some of the things that make your family unique and what’s important for someone new to know before agreeing to come into your home? Thinking honestly about what is important to you will help you find someone who has similar interests and values and this can make the process a much more enjoyable one.

Think about your children

Once you’ve looked at your family unit as a whole, think about your children and the kind of person they would feel comfortable with on a daily basis. Who do they interact well with already and what characteristics do these people possess that make them accessible and draw your children to them? Looking for an au pair that has similar qualities will help your children to identify with them more easily. Be sure to think about the types of activities your children enjoy and make sure you find someone who will be able to enjoy these activities with them. For example, if your child enjoys drawing and painting then looking for someone with an artistic mindset will help your child find something in common with them right away.

Think about your future au pair

Think honestly about what characteristics you want to see in your child’s au pair. What are some of the things you look for in a care giver and what characteristics are not negotiable? Do you want someone who has a background in child care or is someone who has a great personality and natural rapport with your children more important to you?  Remember, your au pair is going to live with you and your children so make sure that you think about what kind of person you want to interact with on a daily basis. Thinking about this before you begin the interview process will allow you to only choose candidates who meet your specific requirements.

Be honest

The most important part about finding the perfect match is being honest about what works and what doesn’t. This is important during the selection process but is also vital once you have selected your au pair. If things are not going as you had hoped, be honest with your au pair about what you have observed and what they could do to make your children more comfortable. Also encourage them to be honest about how they are finding the experience. Hosting an au pair can be a very rewarding experience if done correctly and you want to make sure that neither of you spend the next few months unhappy about the arrangement. The perfect match is out there! It’s all about finding someone who suits your family so just because one person doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that the whole process isn’t for you.

Take time

Take time to get to know your au pair and allow your children enough time to adjust to the new person in their lives before deciding to make a change. All great relationships take time and a bit of work so give your au pair a chance to make what could be an enormous difference in your lives.

For more information about how to make the most out of the hosting experience or to start the process of finding the perfect au pair, contact Smart Au Pairs today – your local Australian au pair agency.

Spotlight on au pairs as childcare rebates dwindle

As childcare rebates run dry, families are increasingly turning to au pairs for childcare.

Nicole Kofkin, chief executive of au pair agency Smart Au Pairs, has seen an increased demand for the service over the last few years.

See full story by Loren Smith from NewsCorp Australia on www.earlylearningreview.com.au

International Au Pair of the Year

Here are our 3 nominations we selected from our very lucky families who nominated their phenomenal au pair to be in the running for the International Au Pair Association, Au Pair of the Year.

For this, we want to say CONGRATULATIONS to the au pairs below. Here is a taste of what their host families said:

Shabnam

shabnam

Shabnam quickly developed genuine relationships with our two children. Her keen sense of humour, together with an amazing knowledge of child behavior and a wisdom beyond her years combine to form the perfect mix of qualities for an au pair. In fact, I’ve picked up quite a few tricks from Shabnam along the way that will be useful in the future. For example, Shabnam has a great way of getting my 5 year old son to turn his behavior around by using humour. A well placed joke from Shabnam can change my son from being an overtired uncooperative monkey into a well behaved happy boy within minutes!

She also has an amazing sense for knowing when things are getting hectic with the kids and swooping in to help. For example, the other day I was home with the kids and Shabnam was off duty. I had to take an unplanned work call, meanwhile my 1 year old was carrying on and making the phone call very difficult for me. Shabnam appeared out of nowhere, took my daughter in her arms and off to play. She even changed my daughter’s dirty nappy – something no off-duty au pair should have to do!!!

We have found not only an exceptional au pair who has consistently gone above and beyond, but a lifelong honorary member of our family ….and a trusted friend.

Johanna

johanna

Within weeks of her arrival I transitioned from home schooling my 4 young children to running a medical imaging business full time. At only 18 years of age, Johanna was able to calmly and efficiently run the household and care for the children. She maintained their exceptionally busy extracurricular schedule driving tirelessly to multiple locations every day, helped them with music practice, homework, organisation and down time.

Fostered discipline and character development, took kids on morning runs, prepared breakfast, lunches and tidied! Johanna took care of all house hold chores, shopping and prepared amazing meals and baked treats.

Johanna has been most responsible, trustworthy and thoughtful person Johanna went above and beyond her duties every day with a wonderful surprise of handmade truffles, personalised ginger breads made by the children and precious photo mugs and calendar for presents!

An unforgettable big sister and role model, a heart full thank you to Johanna’s family for sharing her with us!

Helena

helena

My children love playing games with Helena, jumping on the trampoline, going to parks, the zoo, animal farm, and science museum with Helena, as well as splashing in the pool and going to the beach.

Helena is a very calm, thoughtful and kind. To stop our eldest daughter being scared at night she bought a dream catcher as a Christmas gift. Ryan, our resident super hero, also loved his gift of Avenger underpants. She tries to empower the children and makes sure their views are taken in to account.

Helena has made a huge impact to our lives. Not only has Helena been fantastic at having fun with the children, her nature and experience means she is firm and good at keeping order. Meal times have stopped being so crazy and the things I had given up on whilst overwhelmed with the pregnancy were re-introduced. Helena is both a wrestling buddy for Ryan and an extra person to chase and hug. Keira loves having her nails done and playing shopkins with Helena. Lara loves extra cuddles.

Despite the chaos of the last few months, Helena has kept life stress free and organised. She has gone above and beyond a normal au pair’s help. We are truly lucky to have had Helena during this period in our lives.

 

 

Au Pair Cultural Exchange

The Au Pair in Australia Program is currently under review with the ATO, Fair Work and Immigration.

It is our intention to get official recognition for the au pair program as Cultural Exchange under an informal arrangement and therefore be excluded from employment responsibilities and newly introduced backpacker tax.

 

Back To School: The Perfect Time To Hire An Au Pair

With the school holidays over and a new school year beginning, it’s time to get back into your routines. The thought of getting the whole house ready and to school and work on time can sometimes feel overwhelming but have you thought about hiring an au pair to lighten the load?

Having an extra pair of hands in the morning and afternoons is something that most families wouldn’t turn down, but often the idea of having an au pair seems out of reach to many. Au pairs these days are now not just for the elite and are even becoming a much more affordable option than childcare and before and after school care for many families with young children.

Au pairs are usually young people, mostly females in their late teens or early twenties, from a foreign country. They travel to a different country and live with a family to experience a new culture. In exchange for free board and lodgings, and some pocket money, they help out with the children and sometimes with light household chores.

Hosting an au pair can be such an enriching experience for the whole family. Children get to experience a person from another culture, not just for a few hours, but over a few months. This interaction means they could pick up a few words or phrases from another language, learn all about the country their au pair comes from, and perhaps even sample some delicious home cooked meals from their home country.

Along with cooking dinner for the kids, light household duties can include tidying up, doing the children’s laundry and picking up some food shopping during the week. Making the kids breakfast and packing their school lunches in the morning gives you extra time to get ready for work without being stressed about who is eating what and how long it takes!

School runs can also be done by your au pair, either on foot if you live close enough or if you are lucky enough to have a spare car for the au pair to use, they can drive the children to school and pick them up at the end of the school day. After school, the au pair can take the kids to any extra-curricular activities or help them with their homework and start preparing dinner. The time while the kids are at school is free time for the au pair to get to do some sightseeing or just relaxing in their new surroundings.

If you like the sound of hiring an au pair and having an extra pair of hands at home, get in touch with a reputable au pair agency like Smart Au Pairs. Based in Sydney, they are able to find you the perfect au pair for your family. With a thorough vetting process, you can be sure that your au pair will be the right fit for you and your children.

Top 5 Ways To Make Your Au Pair Feel At Home

When you host an au pair in your home, it can take a while to get used to having a new person in the sanctity of your family space. As strange as it may feel for you, it can also be a very unsettling experience for your au pair. Most au pairs have not yet moved away from home, or perhaps even left their home country before, so to fly half way across the world to live in a new country, a new home and with a new family can be very daunting for them as well. There are some really simple things you can do to try and help your au pair to feel welcome and at home with you and your family.

Let Them Keep In Touch With Family & Friends

Upon their arrival at your home, it’s a good idea to let your new au pair Skype or FaceTime with their family. They will more than likely want to have a quick video chat with their family to let them know they have arrived safely at their new home and are ok. Seeing a familiar face can help to ease your au pair’s nerves about being in a strange new place and help with their transition from their home to yours. Remember to set some simple ground rules about internet usage at home but never let your au pair feel like they can never call home, especially when they are feeling a bit homesick.

Make Their Room Homely

When you host an au pair, you need to be able to provide your au pair with their own bedroom. A shared bathroom is perfectly acceptable but a shared bedroom is a no-no. Au pairs need to have their own space to retreat to when they are at home but not working. By adding some homely touches to their room, you can really help your au pair to feel welcome and wanted. Something home made by the children is always a winner, such as a picture, hand-written letter or colourful banner. A travel guidebook about your home city would also be much appreciated or perhaps a welcome basket with some tasty local treats and some handy toiletries.

Draw Up A Weekly Family Schedule

Write down your typical family schedule for a week and pop it on the fridge or the family noticeboard so the au pair has an idea of what needs to be done and when. It should include details like timings for your children’s school drop off and pickups, any after school activities or evening babysitting (if it’s going to be a regular part of their agreed hours). Having a handy schedule will make it easier for them to get into a routine and know when things need to be done.

Let Them Know What Your Children Are Into

Being a newcomer to your family, your au pair will not know very much about your children when they first start. Giving them a helping hand with some tips about what your kids are into will go a long way to helping them settle in and it will also help your children to feel comfortable and happy with their new caregiver. Whether it’s their current obsession with learning all the Frozen lyrics, drawing endless pictures of Toothless (dragon fans will know what we are talking about!), baking cookies or just going down to the local park, it all helps. You could even get a notebook for your au pair and jot some of your ideas down in there. Pop a couple of maps of the local area in it as well – very handy for any journeys they may be undertaking regularly. Meal ideas are another great source of information if your au pair is going to be making lunch or dinner, especially if you have a fussy eater.

Take A Little Time Off    

One of the best ways to help your au pair settle in is to take a few days off at the start of their placement with your family and do things with them. This way your au pair can learn all about you and your children without the pressure of having to know what they are doing from the start. It will take a few days for them to get to know your kids so by doing this together they can get a feel for your style of parenting and hopefully try and mirror it when you aren’t around.

If you are interested in hiring an au pair, get in touch with Smart Au Pairs, an Australian-based au pair agency, who can help you find your perfect au pair for your family. Browse our website where you can find out everything you need to know about hosting an au pair in your home.

 

Why Choose An Au Pair?

With so many different options available for child care these days, it can be hard to be sure you are choosing the right type of child care for your family. All children thrive in different environments, but did you know you could hire an au pair to look after your children in your own home? A live in au pair will usually stay with your family for 3-6 months and live with your family during this time. Their duties can include looking after the children (not normally children under 2 years old though) and doing school pick up and drop offs as well as helping with homework, preparing dinner and getting the children ready for bed. There are a number of benefits to choosing live in au pair care, so let’s explore a few of them now.

Affordability

One of the main reasons why people often choose to hire an au pair instead of using traditional care like before and after school care, is simply how affordable it is compared to other types of child care. If you have ever had a child in long day care or family day care, you will know rates can vary but usually start from $80 per day and can even be upwards of $100 a day in some areas. Even with the child care rebate this is still a hefty amount to be forking out. Au pairs on the other hand are much more affordable. Depending on the number of hours your au pair works per week, pocket money starts from as little as $170 per week.

Flexibility

Having the ability to adjust your weekly schedule is another key benefit of choosing an au pair instead of traditional day care. With other formal care options often having set hours and rates per day, if you only need care for a few hours a day, using long or family day care can be an expensive option. With an au pair, you can determine what hours you need your children to be looked after and when, and set your weekly schedule around that, instead of the other way round. So many parents these days work around their care arrangements, and don’t realise they can set their care arrangements to work around them.

Cultural Experience

Au pairs come from foreign countries and therefore bring a completely new culture into your home. Your family will get to experience this new culture and have the opportunity to learn all about your new au pair and their home country. If they speak a foreign language, they could even teach your children a few new words or phrases. Perhaps they could also treat you to a traditional meal from their country one evening when they prepare dinner – who could resist trying an authentic French Coq Au Vin or a delicious Spanish paella?

Quality Family Time

Hiring an au pair also allows you to ensure that the time spent with your family is always quality time. Having a live in au pair means having an extra pair of hands around the house to help out with light housework, tidying and keeping on top of the children’s laundry, and most mums wouldn’t say no to that! Being able to spend quality time with your children means less stress and more fun for everyone. Some au pairs can also provide evening babysitting as part of their hours (if discussed before they start), so parents can have some quality grown up time too. If you don’t have family or friends who can babysit for you, it can be difficult to have a night out together, as well as expensive if you have to pay a babysitter.

If you think an au pair may be just the solution you are looking for, get in touch with the Smart Au Pairs au pair agency today and find out how they can help you find the perfect au pair for your family. With years of experience in matching screened candidates with host families all over Australia, they are well placed to help you find your next au pair.