19-11-2021Q&A with Ellie Bambury
Hey!! A few weeks ago, we mentioned that we were going to do a Q&A with Ellie …
The Ethos of the Program
As an au pair you join your host family, live with them, and help looking after their child(ren) and light household duties in exchange for full board and pay. You will have real responsibilities for caring for the children. At smartaupairs we do our absolute best to ensure that our families are loving, caring and welcoming towards their au pairs - and always require references and comprehensive information from families before they are accepted to the program. We have worked with many of our families for years and years so know them well :)
Smartaupairs specialises in placements in and near London areas (the commuter zone).
A Typical Au Pair Day
Most au pairs work a few hours in the morning, then have the middle of the day free, and then start again at around 3pm until 7pm. Au pairs also help with up to 1h of light household duties per day, this means that basic knowledge on how to put a dishwasher on, how to put the washing machine on etc is important. You also often cook basic meals for the children, so basic cooking skills (fresh, not microwave) are also important. Don't have experience yet but keen to become an au pair? It is never too late to learn, simply ask you family at home to help!
You normally have lots of time during the day to do attend a langugage class (if applicable), meet friends for a coffee and visit local town/city, go to the gym, see sights or just chill! It really is up to you.
We support you during your time in the UK, we organize events, help you find friends and in effect remain at hand to assist if you have any queries along the way. Check out our blog for the recent events we've been doing.
The Requirements - The Very Basics:
Other Important Requirements:
As an au pair you can expect the following program guidelines to apply:
Up to 30h week including babysitting (Monday to Friday)
Free time Saturday and Sunday (minimum 2 full days).
Up to 1h of light household duties per day (no more than 5h/week).
No sole care for children under 2, limited sole care for pre-school aged children
Placement completion BONUS of one week’s pay for all au pairs who have completed their full agreed placement duration (applicable for placements which are 6 months or longer in length).
Traditional Au Pair
Basic to good childcare experience and fair to good level of English.
Roles with more than 30h are no longer recognised as part of the traditional au pair programme by BAPAA.
Extensive prior childcare experience (combining both practical and babysitting experience, for example. nursery or school work background) and/or
Native English speaker with basic to extensive childcare experience.
The exact duties will vary by family, but most families expect some of the following to be part of the au pair’s duties.
Please read each family profile with care when you are searching for a family, and don't be afraid to ask additional questions if you are unclear about any of the expectations of the role.
Our key advice is that the balance of the au pair position should always be on childcare, rather than household duties.
Most host families combine au pair help with additional cleaner/ironing service.
Wake the children in the morning and get them ready
Prepare breakfast and lunch boxes for the children
Clean up breakfast dishes, put the dishwasher on
Help the children to tidy their rooms and to make their beds
Make sure children have books and homework for school
Drive or walk children to/from school (if needed)
Tasks while children are at school: shopping, light household duties, general tidy up
Prepare a healthy afternoon snack
Assist the children with their homework, initiate and supervise play
Help the children with their bath routine and help get them ready for bed
Prior to the arrival we advise families to prepare a detailed handbook, for which we provide a template.
It will outline the basic tasks and basic house rules so that expectations are clear and the au pair has a fair chance of not only meeting but exceeding your expectations.
Cleaning the oven, other than simple wiping out
Cleaning the car
Weekly shopping (other than online)
Clearing up after untrained pets
Making parents bed, cleaning parents bedroom
Ironing for parents/Parents’ laundry
Cleaning parents’ en-suite bathroom
Polishing silver and brassware
Cooking the family meal, unless the au pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this for the family.
How Many Hours of Household Duties is Acceptable?
The au pair does not replace a cleaner or a domestic help/take sole responsibility for household duties.
Therefore, the usual time au pairs may spend on household duties is up to 1h/day.
Joining in the normal family activities such as taking part in dinner time preparation and tidy up (provided that all family help) are not accounted towards household duties, but are generally considered tasks which the au pair would do as a member of the family. Similarly time spent on one’s own laundry/ironing and room tidy/cleaning does not constitute towards the 1 hour guideline.
Every au pair should have 2 full and consecutive days off per each week (typically Saturday & Sunday).
The weekend time is the main time for the au pair to socialise and meet friends.
Occasionally, the host family may need help for additional hours, and we ask this to be paid extra.
Holiday Entitlement: 4 weeks paid holiday per 12 month period + bank holidays. If the au pair placement is for a shorter time, holiday is calculated pro-rata at the rate of 1.66 days per month.
UK National Holidays: BAPAA recommends that au pairs are to be given UK national holidays as free time.
Sometimes, even with the best of planning and preparation, things do not go to plan. We are matching people after all!
If you are unhappy for what ever reason, you can always talk to us as your agency, or your host family for support.
It is absolutely vital for you to communicate with our team openly about any worries you might have, this way - we can best help you and work out a good solution :) We completely understand that bringing up concerns with your host family can be daunting - however we also know that open and good communication is often the key to resolving issues! In most cases, when we help au pairs to address any worries with their host families, the most common response from the host family is "I wish she/he had told me sooner".
We will always first try to see what can be done to improve and fix the situation, however if this is not possible - we offer a replacement option, which means that we would help you to move to a new host family.
We do also provide a 247 emergency line and you will be able to reach Tuuli (our manager) on her mobile out of office hours.
If the personality match is not right, we can usually help you find a new host family and a new au pair for the family, so in effect, we can relocate you!
If you cannot continue your placement and need to return home, we ask you to give at least a two week notice to your host family, to allow them to find alternative childcare.
I am in England since the end of August and I really love England! But I had to change the host family and it was not so easy to deal with that kind of experience.
Nevertheless, I had great support from the smartaupairs team and they took my problem serious. They sent me new family applications very soon and I found the perfect family for me! My new family is very nice and I have a very good relationship with my host mum and a good one with the kids :) It is amazing how quick you improve your English skills while being abroad. I am really looking forward to the next months! Saskia, Au Pair from Germany
What Costs Should You Consider?
It is SO MUCH safer to use an agency as we also vet our families and also interview and reference check them. We can never remove the chance of mismatch completely, however we certainly make it a lot safer for all involved to take part in the program. We look after you while you are in the UK!
Smartaupairs does not charge au pairs. However, you will be responsible for covering:
What documents Do You Need?
"I have been in London for almost a month now, and it has been so amazing! my host family showed me Brixton and took me out for dinner in the Brixton village the day after I came. I have also met My host-mum's parents, and we went out for dinner too. On my first day alone with my child, we went to the cinema to see planes, it was super fun and i loved it. On my first weekend my host-mum threw me a welcome party where se invited all her neighbours and some of her friends it was really nice, and I got to meet an au pair too. She is living with one of my host-mum's friends. the day after the party i went to play rounders with a lot of my host-mum's friends, it was really fun, and it was nice to get out and see the Brockwell park, where I run alot. I have also been to the theatre to see Siro-A, which was really cool. I also went clubing with one of my host-mum's friends' daughter, she is a year older than me. it was reallt fun to get out, and see how they do it in England :)"
"Being an Aupair - what is it like? Hard to say, as every day is different. But each day is interesting aswell, and so far I had a lot of fun here! The family is great, the children as well as the parents, and I also love Brighton with it's Lanes, Cafes and of course the seafront. Also, you have lots of opportunities to make friends and spend some time out. And if you go to the language school, you can improve your English and make friends at the same time. Despite you become really grown up, independent and learn lots of things about yourself if it is your first longer period of time abroad without your family. Of course it is not always easy, some days can also be a struggle, but for me it is a great experience so far that I wouldn't wanna miss! "
"My experience so far has been really good, my host parents are very accommodating and make me feel quite at home. As with every job there are ups and downs, but mostly ups, moving to the other side of the world has been exciting, scary, fulfilling and whatever other emotion you could think of. I have met so many amazing people and the decision to come over here and work as an au pair is by far one of the best decisions I've ever made."