01-10-2020Ronja: A Thank you to My Host Family
The au pair program has continued, despite the challenges in 2020 and at Smartau…
"She has been such a massive help for us in such a short space of time. Thanks"
We are lucky to hear about everyday success stories each day, when we catch up with our current host families and au pairs during their time together.
We also organize competitions and awards to recognize those au pairs and host families who really go the extra mile....
We hope the below lovely stories will highlight how neither the host family or the au pair effort goes unnoticed!
Our most recent au pair of the year 2017-8 winner is Evelien from Holland who was placed with the Woodall family in late 2016, and has only just left in May 2018. She supported the family through their little boy George's cancer battle. You can read her & her host family story on our blog
Our au pair, Noemi Litten Rubio, is far more than an au pair. She is absolutely a member of our family that we all love. I think our 4 year-old son, Ethan, sums it up best when he says, “Noemi is not my au pair; she is my best friend, and I hope she is always my best friend.”
Noemi joined our family in September a few months after we located from New York to London. We were all still struggling to adjust to life in London, and prior to our relocation we had never had an au pair or any kind of live-in support. As a result, we were not the best at articulating our needs and expectations. New herself to London, Noemi set out to help us adjust. Most importantly, she took it upon herself to make sure she sought out opportunities for Ethan. She made an effort to engage with children and parents at Ethan’s school, arranging play dates. She thought up creative ideas designed around the school curriculum and Ethan’s interests to entertain Ethan, including designing a flower project given Ethan’s loves of the garden, teaching Ethan Spanish, arts and crafts, baking, and so much more. (See attached photos).
She has helped Ethan’s confidence grow day by day by encouraging him to keep practicing. When Ethan first arrived in London, he was reluctant to engage with other children, especially children he did not know. He would wait in line at the park for all of the children to clear from the slide before he tried. Just today, he proudly walked into a summer camp, which Noemi helped find, without knowing any other child and turned to Noemi and said, “I love you; you can go now.” Noemi has done all of this for Ethan while still looking after us in so many ways. She knows that I am a terrible cook, and often surprises me with dinner, especially if my husband is working late. She shops for my favorite things, always making sure that things are refilled before I even notice. She walks the dog (and treats her like a queen), because she knows we can use the help – not because we ever had to ask. Really, everything Noemi does that makes her so special, is just because she is Noemi.
We are going to miss her terribly when she heads off to school in the Fall, but she will always be our best friend as Ethan says.
Thank you for considering Noemi for this much deserved award.
Letter from Noemi:
My life with the Raads
It’s funny how people that were completely strangers to you, can turn into your second family in such a short time. That’s what happened to me with Ethan, Amanda, Shaun and Wrigley Raad.
I’ve been living with the Raads for less than 10 months and we went through a lot together: I cried and laughed with them, I learned a lot about their traditions, about their country, about childcare and even about myself. The amazing thing about the Raads is that they don’t treat you like staff. They let you your space and invite you to join them on days out or on special occasions. They include you in conversations that are not about Ethan, they don’t treat you like a child, they ask for your opinion about things and listen, they care about you and know when you need time alone. The Raads are funny, caring and full of love. In all this months the Raads not only helped me with my English, but also taking hard desicions, and realising what I want and what I don’t want. They have supported me in every little thing and they never judged me. I’ve grown up so much and that’s all thank to the Raads. If there was an award for the best host family of the year, the Raads would win it every single time.
Ethan Jaxson is the cutest kid on the planet. He’s funny, sweet and adorable. When I arrived here, Ines (the previous Aupair) just left and Ethan liked her so much, that I was really worried that he would have a hard time and he would hate me, but that’s not Ethan. He played with me from day 1, was always asking me questions and loved to try new things with me. We enjoyed exploring Fulham together, going on picnics, reading books in the library, baking new recipes, trying different kinds of food, fingerpainting, having our own inside jokes that nobody else understands… It’s true that it wasn’t always easy and that we had our ups and downs, but, through it all, he’s my favorite 4-years-old boy.
When I first arrived to their home last September, I was terrified. The driver that had brough me from the airport left me in front of the door with my suitcases and I was so nervous that I thought I was going to throw up. Now the throw up feeling comes back everytime I think that in a few weeks I’ll be going home and leaving the Raads. Noemi Litten Rubio
Host Mum Maisie:
In the time between interviewing prospective Au Pairs and the start date, my husband and I separated, though have had to continue living in the same property. Enter into the family Irene from Holland. At eighteen, she embarked on an adventure and also a potentially difficult situation, challenging for those of us with far greater life experience.
Irene displayed, from the outset, a fantastic maturity. She has coped admirably with a difficult situation, coping with angry and upset children, supporting our parenting and never losing sight of the reason she joined us – to provide quality childcare and enjoy a cultural exchange.
I have been constantly surprised and delighted by her innovativeness. I returned from work to find Irene had made 24 ‘Cookie Monster’ cupcakes with the children, and on another occasion beautifully coloured macaroons. Irene takes the children and dog for long muddy walks, sometimes through parts of the woods where I’ve never taken them before. She genuinely enjoys ‘inset’ days and school holidays, as she can spend quality time with the children. Irene regularly produces little ‘treats’ and motivators from her room, hidden away from when she first left Holland. These small gifts are well thought out, and are used to reward and encourage good behaviour. Together we have put together a reward chart, but it was Irene that suggested the ‘big’ rewards should be one-to-one time just with her – which all three children has now enjoyed tremendously. A Saturday shopping trip to town (sacrificed from her free time), with coffee and a cake, and a chance to meet other Au Pair friends is so exciting for a small child!
Irene has been challenged nearly every day with difficult behaviour from one child or another, but has retained her sense of humour and commitment to all three of them. There have been occasions where I have spent time coaching and mentoring her within her role, discussing how she has tackled situations and likely consequences during this development time for her. There have, however, been other times when she has (rightly) challenged the way I have reacted to events. She earned my respect very quickly by the way the way she ‘upwardly managed’ me at times – with sensitivity and maturity, always focussed on the best for the children. She completes her designated duties without reminder, and then looks around to see where she can add value to family life. She has taken on the care of family dog – she would love to have a dog, and so instead dotes on ours; feeding, grooming and exercising her.
Irene’s place in the family has become a strong and calming force, and she has contributed to the family immensely. Now preparing for the sale of the family home, and the potential disruption of moving schools and areas, Irene has supported my position and that of the children at every turn. She is un-fazed by the thought of moving away, rationalising by saying that she is here to be with me and the children, regardless of where we live. The knowledge of this support has comforted and helped me greatly on the journey forward.
When initially employing an Au Pair a couple of years ago, I anticipated some of the things to come – the relief of flexible childcare, the cultural benefits to the family, the fun of having a young adult in the home, the bond the children would establish, the good days and the days when it didn’t work out so well. What I hadn’t thought about was how, with the right person, my life could be so much easier and so much more fun! Across the cultural and age gap I have forged a strong friendship which will endure for many years to come.
Au Pair Irene:
My au pair experience
My au pair year started well; I quickly found a family meeting my preferences of two parents,
three kids, pets and not too many household chores. However one month before my start, they
told me they were divorcing, and asked if I still wanted to come. I had such a good feeling about
my family and I would be there for the kids, so I decided to continue.
My first two weeks I had the children for the whole day, because they were on school holidays.
This was a challenge at time. It was a new environment, with a different language and dealing
in a different way with problems. The kids were difficult at times and I realised that I was no
longer a child in a family but one of the adults. I had some ups and downs, but with patience
and support, from both parents and children, I found my place not just as an Au Pair, but as part
of the family.
I really enjoy the holidays, this was already from the start – some think it’s hard work and don’t
know what to do, but in my opinion you can undertake big projects for which you don’t have
enough time on school days; from crafts or baking(like cookie-monster-muffins) to having an
adventure to the woods. Of course it’s hard work and there are moments everyone is annoyed
with each other, but there’s enough time to make up and to start another project.
When school started it was a completely different story! I get the kids ready for school, spend
time doing chores and then have time to myself. During the time to myself I meet friends and
we go for a coffee or we explore England. But whatever we do we always have a lot of fun
together. Afterwards I collect the kids from school, spend time playing and finish by making
supper. This may seem like an easy job, but to manage the kids when they misbehave makes it
hard. I have learnt to anticipate when times might be difficult, and try and head off problems.
An extra challenge is the divorce where my host family is going through; there are times when
things aren’t great, but I try to stay focussed on the reason why I’m here: the kids.
I keep a good relationship with both host parents. I have a good friendship with my host mum,
we can talk about everything and we regularly go for a coffee. She said once: ‘When I employed
you I had never thought we would have so much fun together and I hope we’ll stay in good
contact after this year.’ I never expected such a good friendship with her, so I am really pleased
with it. With the children I have a lovely time and I try to give them a great year, which we will
always remember. Also with my friends I’m making great memories. And I am really glad that
I did continue with this host family. They all made me feel at home, so much that even my
dreams are in English!
Also featured in Working Mums Magazine
Trine is from Denmark and she joined her host family autumn 2015.
The nomination letter by our Shepherd family:
Trine Rasmussen – Au Pair of the Year 2015-6
We first met Trine over a Skype interview. We knew straight away that she was the right person to be a part of our family. As we were new to the au pair system, we invited Trine over for a weekend in London to experience some time with our family and to see some of the London sights. From the get-go, it was obvious that Trine was going to fit right in. The boys immediately warmed to her and were fighting to be the one to hold her hand.
We have 3 young boys, so our family life is hectic, busy and at times very noisy! My husband and I both work so we knew that the au pair role in our family was going to be demanding. It has been so wonderful to know that Trine has everything under control whilst I am at work. When I come home, everyone is home safely from school (a 1 km walk away), laundry is done, beds are made, toys are tidied, the children are fed and everyone is happy!
Trine is always on hand to help out with the madness of bath / homework / bedtime. It’s difficult to give attention to all 3 children at the same time. Trine takes that pressure off by playing games like ‘hide and seek’ with our youngest, or helping with reading and homework for the older boys. This means I can focus some time on each of the children. This is what makes a truly great au pair: allowing parents to enjoy every moment with their kids, rather than focusing on all the chores that need to be done.
This year, with Trine around, I’ve even had time to volunteer as the PTA rep for my son’s class, giving me the opportunity to meet other parents and develop a better understanding of the activities at school. My husband often works late, and it’s been wonderful to have company in the evenings when Trine and I share dinner and chat about just about everything, or even watch ‘girlie’ programmes together.
Trine is always responsible, positive, flexible, reliable and always willing to help. She brings a sense of calm, happiness and love that makes everything run smoothly. Trine has been an amazing support to our family and has shown maturity beyond her years. We have such a wonderful relationship with Trine, she is most definitely part of our family. And most importantly, the children adore her. They kept saying how much they missed Trine when she went home at Christmas time. Trine acts as a big sister to the boys – much needed in a predominantly male household – but also fulfils the role of oldest daughter. We care tremendously for Trine and we know she feels the same about all of us.
Trine adapted to life in London and the UK seamlessly. The pace of life in London with a busy family can be overwhelming, but Trine has taken it all in her stride. Trine has shown incredible courage and an ability to tackle things head on. Within her first month, Trine made huge efforts to develop friendships with au pairs that she met through school and the local au pair network. Trine was invited to write a blog describing the journey of an au pair from day 1. Trine’s blog is full of useful advice to help new au pairs from Denmark settle, including how to avoid homesickness and how to make sure they integrate quickly into their new home and culture. It’s clear from the way that Trine settled so well that she has much to offer to newcomers.
Trine has introduced our family to Danish culture. On arrival, Trine won everyone over when she arrived with thoughtful gifts for the children including a picture book with words in Danish. Trine explained to the boys that Lego is Danish and with that, they were smitten! She brought traditional Danish treats and often cooks Danish meals for the children – ‘Frikadeller’ is their favourite. It’s been a wonderful experience to share Danish culture with Trine, and in exchange to share our own British and French cultures. For example, Trine has been excited to try some new foods, and as big foodies, we are keen to share these experiences with her.
Trine is always there for the important events in our family including the first day at school, school and Christmas plays, and birthday parties. We have enjoyed visits from Trine’s family, including her dad, brother, uncle, aunt and cousins. We always want them to feel at home in London, so they are always welcome to stay with us. Trine will be coming skiing with us this March and we really hope she enjoys spending time with the kids on the slopes. It’s wonderful to share these family memories with Trine.
The fact that Trine has become such a treasured member of our family is an amazing bonus we did not expect from the au pair programme. We very much hope that Trine will continue with us for a second year, not sure how we will cope without her!
I’ve always been told, that family is where life begins and love never ends – and that’s why I’m 100% sure, that the Shepherds have become 5 new family members to me.
6 months ago I arrived in London with a thought that this year would be nothing but a job to me – but honestly it became everything else than just a job. When I first applied for an au pair job, I never imagined I would end up with a family I truly care about and where all 5 members care tremendously for me as well. The amazing thing about the Shepherds is, that they make you feel safe. The parents are very concerned about you, and want you to feel like; you’re a part of this family. They include you in everything, but at the same time, they value that you have your own time to do what you want, with your own friends. They care very much about you, and take you in as their own daughter. Alex and Pete have been unbelievably supportive, and when I’ve had horrible experiences, they’ve done whatever they could to make me feel loved and safe – and for that I am so grateful.
The boys I’ve been looking after is 3 young boys with a lot, a lot, a lot of energy. We’ve had so much fun, and every night with the different games, cuddles and laughs – is what made me feel like a part of the family, and not just a staff. Every day when we walk home from school, and they all fight to tell me about their day, those are the times that makes me feel so appreciated and loved. I don’t think you can find 3 boys who are more loving, fun, energetic, exciting and wonderful, even if you looked all across the world.
When I arrived one thing was particular important to me; and that was to be open-minded. Having in mind, that it takes time to bond and to create a new life in a new family. I had to make an effort – seek friends myself, and not just expect them to come to me. Before I knew it, I had a lovely network and a lovely life here in London with the Shepherds.
Even though I still have 6 months left, I feel empty whenever I’m thinking of my life without this family. I hope and pray for, that I will carry them in my heart forever, and that they’ll always remember this year and the experiences we’ve shared, because I know that I will.
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.
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!
Gan family and the Evelyn
We know from the moment we met her at the airport that she was God sent.
We are a family of four. Sean is 9 and Grace is 4. My husband, Charlie and I work full time . Charlie’s work is based 70 odd miles from home and hence is usually away part of the week.
Evelyn is intending to stay in the United Kingdom for 11 months. The children fell in love with her the moment they saw her. She has not been with us for that long but we are already dreading the time we have to say goodbye.
Here is why we think she deserves the Au Pair of the Year Award.
What do parents want when they look for an au pair? Children’s safety, stimulation and well being, reliability, diligence, flexibility, initiatives, enthusiasm, acceptance of difference, willingness to be part of family, smiles, etc. Evelyn has it all. Beyond these, she is simply impossibly possible! She is quietly competent and does things in the household the way I do after watching how things work the day before! The first week after arrival from Switzerland, she spent as much time as possible trying to get to know each of us individually. I, as an experienced host mum, never expected a young lady like her to be so caring, selfless, observant and so eager to be part of the family.
The next amazing thing to mention is the change in our evening routine. This year is an extra busy year for Sean who is preparing for the grammar school entry examination. A big chunk of his homework used to be my responsibility. This could be tricky when either the children or I had to come home later in the evening. Life is not the same since Evelyn came. At the end of a busy day, what could be sweeter than hearing from the kids, ‘Mummy I have finished my home work!’ when I enter the house.
Evelyn’s duties and responsibilities were made clear upfront when she started. She carries out her duties perfectly and always goes the extra mile. She sincerely offered help with chores beyond her duties such as mowing the grass and doing extra cleaning which we had to decline.
Evelyn is planning to go to university to study occupational therapy after her 11 months in England. She has enrolled in English and Mathematics courses at a local college. She takes her work seriously and is finding herself moving 2 steps up the English course levels in just few weeks. She has a lot more potentials than she revealed. This is Evelyn, there is always pleasant surprises and something special to discover about her.
She organizes her own life and also finds time for leisure and voluntary works for the local community. She enjoys snowboarding while in Switzerland and is prepared to miss this short term. She experimented new things such as Zumba classes.
She has also taken initiative in meeting other au pairs nearby and has established her own social circle. She goes exploring other towns/cities and spends time with her new friends at local parks and attractions. Clubbing, a common evening activity for young people who have left home for the first time, is not on her agenda. Evelyn is simply an extra-ordinary young lady whom we felt was a gift from God for the good deeds we have done some time in our lives.
Essay about my host family from Evelyn Stainhauser
It's so nice to look back and to remember my first days with my host family. The whole family came to pick me up from the airport last summer.
Grace (now 5 years old) was holding my hand straight away when we were walking to the car. We played a lot of games on the car journey home and I felt instantly very comfortable being around the family (which hasn't changed ever since).
From the first day on Sean (now 10 years old) was always very kindly asking to me whether I knew what a particular word means and enjoyed explaining it to me. I remember him describing the word “knitting” on my second day here - it took a very long time before I knew what he meant.:-) I can still constantly rely on Sean, whatever word I don't know.
There are a lot of little things we all still remember from our first days together. For example Grace calling me by my much harder second name “Stainhauser” at first because she couldn't remember my first name. Or words I used in a completely wrong context, which are a good laugh for all of us now.
The first time I was alone with the children was about the third day after my arrival. Sean and Grace were both very helpful with everything and they told me whatever I didn't know – and I knew that I could trust them. I have to admit, I couldn't believe that they are playing bowling in the kitchen but this is actually the case in my host family.:-)
I've got a lot of support from my host parents, Yi Ling and Charlie, during my first weeks here. On the other hand, they instantly gave me plenty of rope and I have a big freedom what to do with the children which I really appreciate. I love to have the freedom to bake with them whenever we feel like baking, to do all kind of arts and craft projects, to do silly things or just to play a lot of indoor and outdoor games. They are both truly interested in a lot of activities.
Sean and I are doing a lot of little funny things during the days which makes us both laugh. Like a silly face when we pass each other on the stairs. I can laugh a lot with him about all kind of things. And Grace would always just join in and laugh with us.:-) She can cheer you up so easily with her personality, she is so easy to please. She can become so happy about a little thing you do for her and always says thank you. I have a very good connection with her and I can feel that she truly trusts me. When Sean is staying longer at school we enjoy our girly-house together. I remember playing Barbie with her once when she decided to do a role play. She suggested that she is going to be the child, I'm going to be the mum and Barbie is going to be the au pair. For her an au pair counts to the family the same as mum, dad, brother and sister does.
This is mainly due to the fact that Yi Ling and Charlie always treat me like a family member. I can't think of a single situation that they wouldn't have welcomed me to join them. It is very nice to be a full part of the family if you are so far away form your own family. Nevertheless they always respect my free time and let me explore the country on weekends with my friends.
Sometimes when Yi Ling has a morning off from work we go together for a walk in the woods, we go shopping or just recycling. It is always nice to spend some time with her and just talk about whatever we feel to share. When Charlie comes home from work in the evening we often end up discussing about whatever happened in the world or we share our music collections.
My host family is Malaysian Chinese. They have lived in England for around ten years.They mostly cook very delicious Chinese food. When we sometimes go to a Chinese supermarket they end up buying a lot of exotic food for me to try. But they also make sure that I don't miss out English food. And what I highly appreciate is that they add quorn (people also call it 'the vegetarian meat') to all their dishes for me because I'm a vegetarian. On the weekends we sometimes do day trips together. I've seen quite a bit of North England with them during my time here so far. But they not only show me a lot about England and the English culture, I learn at the same time a lot about the Chinese culture too. We celebrate next to all the English celebrations all the Chinese celebrations like the big Chinese New Year or the moon cake festival (lantern festival). It's so interesting to listen to their stories about their country and culture and how they grew up. The children taught me to count from one to ten in Mandarin, which is great fun for them to listen to.:-)
And I can even write some Chinese characters now. I learn to know two cultures at the same time and this makes my stay in England even more exciting! I know that this whole experience wouldn't be the same without Smartaupairs, who put me in contact with such a perfect matching host family. People around us can feel our bond!
Annalena, Germany – she nominated her host mum Mercedes (Kent):
Why my hostmum is the best hostmum!
From the first day when I arrived, my hostmum was really welcoming and friendly (my hostdad was too, I will just not mention him in here because it’s about Mother’s Day, but he would definitely deserve a hamper too! :)).
I have visited my hostfamily for a few days in October before I came here in December, and I already knew this is the right family for me! This short visit was to get to know each other and right away I felt like I have known them for ages.
They were literally welcoming me with open arms!
I am their first Aupair, but they make me feel really comfortable in their family! They treat me like a real family member and include and integrate me in almost everything! And that is what was really important for me when I chose my family!
Once she called me ‘her big daughter’ which describes our relationship pretty good. I am like her two personal helping hands standing next to her all the time what ‘an older daughter/sister’ would probably be too!
If someone asked me to describe my hostmum in one word, I would definitely say ‘superwoman’!
Not only that she is having a 23 months old girl and two little twin girls; they were born three weeks ago and already now she looks amazing! But also that she still keeps managing everything even when it’s a really stressful and tiring day. Of course there are days more exhausting than others, but I know that we are all pulling together to make the best out of it everyday (especially for the little ones)!
My hostmum is only ten years older than me which is pretty cool because she is more like a friend than like an authority person! We enjoy having film nights with chocolate and ice cream and talking about any new gossip. Moreover, I can always talk to her (and my hostdad) about everything and I always know they are listening!
Her name is Mercedes which is spanish and means ‘compassion’. You can interpret this as ‘being concerned of’ or ‘being interested in’ others needs and I think this really suits her personality because she is always there for others if they are dealing with any kind of a problem or having any concern; it doesn’t matter if it’s her family, friends, me or maybe even a stranger, she always tries to find a solution!
I also want to mention (because I think the following is not self-evident!) the little things like asking how I am every morning or saying thank you for all of my work in the evenings which makes my hostmum/hostfamily the best hostmum/hostfamily I could ever asked for!
All these reasons make me feel like home, remember me that my work is appreciated every day and confirm my decision to live as an Aupair in England with a total stranger family in the beginning, but turning out to be my second one!
I just want to say thank you for everything she/they has/have done for me so far! You are the best and I really enjoy living with you. ’
Pictured: Mercedes & AnnaLena
Nomination by Cecilie from Denmark – Host Mum Isabelle (Surrey)
As soon as I saw that you could nominate your host mom for Mother’s day I just knew that I had to write to you about Isabelle. She is such a loving person always doing her very best to make everybody else feel good and make everybody else’s life easier. So I really think that this time someone should do something for her. She definitely deserves to win because she is not only the best mom for her to kids but she is also the very best host mom. I can always talk to her and it is so nice that she is sincerely interested in me. She’s interested in my personal life in Denmark but most certainly also my life here. She always makes sure I feel welcome if they are going somewhere as a family. Even when she is having a bad day or is very stressed she never lets it out on us she still makes sure to do what ever she can to help the children. She is always so sweet, helpful and glad even when she is having a hard time herself. I can have very personal talks with her and just as I talked with her about the other day even though I have only been here for a bit more than 2 months it feel much longer because I’m already such a big part of the family and everything just seems natural with me being here. She takes her job as a mom very serious but she is also very good at it.
So a very big and beloved thank you to you Isabelle not only for opening your home to me but also your heart! I will be forever grateful for you having me here.
Love from Cecilie
Nomination by Lisa from Germany – Host Mum Kerry (Kent)
When I saw this Mother’s Day Special, I knew exactly that my host mum Kerry deserves this 100%!
After our first (and only) Skype Call, I knew right away, that I would love to work with this family and I was so happy, when they thought the same!
From the day I arrived, my host mum made sure, that I felt welcome and part of the family!
She’s here for me no matter what, and I know that I can talk to her about everything.
Even though she’s always really busy with her job and organizing other things, she makes sure that I know what I have to do and is always here to assist me, when I need help with a recipe or other things.
I think she appreciates what I am doing and now I want her to know, that I really appreciate being here with her and her family!
She always makes sure that I am okay, or asks if I need anything before she goes shopping.
My host mum is an amazing cook and an even better baker. She makes the best cakes ever! She spends hours doing them for friends, colleagues or family and really pours her heart into it, to make every cake different and special. She is always here for everyone and I think she deserves this little Mother’s Day special, because it’s time that she gets something back.
I feel so welcome here and I couldn’t have asked for a better host family, and that’s mostly because of my great host mum (&host dad of course)!
I would be so happy, if Kerry gets this great package and I think she would be happy as well!
Thank you so much Kerry!!!
Nomination by Malin from Germany – Host Mum Kathryn (Hampshire)
Kathryn was my host-mum from summer 2014 until summer 2015 and she still is my hostmum in every way – even 439 miles apart! I just remembered my arrival at London Heathrow airport when she and my little boy picked me up and immediately made me feel welcome and home, I never even thought that any of these people could not be loving or caring to me in any possible moment. Just never! And it really never happened: If I had trouble getting somewhere, if I was homesick before Christmas or even if I just didn´t know what to do, they just jumped in and helped me in very way you can think of!
I can´t tell you all the funny, serious or unclear chats we had about everything – always leading us to a very confusing but all-laughing conversation-end! Kathryn helped me expand my English to a level I never thought of – although it´s getting a bit rusty here in Germany again! But never mind because I know where to go to see my second British home! And I regularly do, because not seeing these lovely people would break my heart!
Nomination by Thi from Sweden – Host Mum Jo (Buckinghamshire)
My host mum Jo, she is a super woman! She is a hard working and a very busy woman, but always friendly and kind to me, to her family and to everyone. She is a lovely mum to two kids, a good wife to my lovely host dad and the best host mum and friend to me. Since my first day here in UK she has always been helpful, friendly, funny and a very welcoming person. She makes me feel very special and important. We can laugh together like teenagers and have a good conversation, but the best thing with Jo – I know she is always here for me if there is any problems, today and always. Even if she is very stressed or busy with lots of things to do she always takes time to help and share thought with me.
I’m very thankful for my fantastic host mum Jo. She is a good role model and definitely a special super hero in my life. I know It’s so many great host mums in the world but I would love to give my host mum Jo the Waitrose Mother’s Day Hampe with lots of love for all the hard work and for everything she has done and still doing for me.
Thank you so much!!
Nomination by Josefin from Sweden – Host Mum Paula (Buckinghamshire)
Paula is a really SUPER MUM!
She is on the go all the time, while she runs her own business, she takes care of everything else, cooking, grocery shopping, exercising, get involved in important issues, go to meetings, and also takes care of three sometimes four children plus a dog!
Paula is really a great inspiration!
And has been amazing since the first day I came here. She received me with open arms and welcomed me into her lovely home, and she has created a safe point for me here and I can call her home and her family a home, for a little while. That’s is something very important.
I would love to give her this gift as a thank you for all the hard work she does!
So here’s a HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to a SUPERWOMEN/ SUPER BUSINESSWOMEN/SUPERMUM
THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.
Xilja on her Host Dad Peter:
Hi smart au pair team,
I think my host dad is great, because ever since I got here things haven’t been easy. He had to teach me everything two months ago when I first got here, while he also took care of his wife with brain cancer and his two children. He is very open en very nice to me and makes my time here easy. My hostmom passed away two weeks ago and he took care of the entire funeral while still being there for his children. He’s doing such a great job with everything that’s going on and that’s why my host dad is great, Love, Xilja
Julie on her Host Dad, Also Peter:
I would to introduce my hostdad: Peter. This competition is completely for him because is a very special hostdad. Peter is a fantastique cooker( he’s doing the best Chinese food, I had never eat in my all life) , a banking worker, the best partner to watch football on TV and an incredible dad with his children.
When I came in England, he was waiting for me at the train station and he was the most smiliest person I had ever seen. He had always supporting me and always gave me a lot of advices for the life in London, my job and my English. Even, when he comes home late, he always come to see me and said Hello and How are you.Peter always treated me like a real member of his family, spend time with me( to talk, playing Xbox, watching tv) asking me if I’m alright and helping a lot when I was injured. His the best hostdad because went I broke my toe 1 month ago, I was on crushes and I was really sad, he had trying to make me laughed during all the day to make me forget what had happened to me.Just for that He is the best hostdad. I would love Peter received this present, to said a big thank you to him to be always really nice, funny and always supporting me :D.
With this present, he can know his the best dad and hostdad :D. So happy Father’s Day everyone, and particularly to my hostdad Peter!! Julie xx
"It’s plain to see that the aim of Smart au Pairs is not shoving candidates through the system, but to ensure all parties has a very rewarding experience"
"I found the service provided excellent overall. Particularly when I had concerns about an au pair I was able to have a helpful and supportive discussion with the agency about how to address the concerns and resolve the situation. I felt the support offered was insightful and relevant and we would have no hesitation using smartaupairs agency again."
"We have tried other au pair agencies/websites but always come back to Smart Aupairs due to the reassurance that they are only contacting us with the best people who have been fully checked out in their own countries. We also prefer the fact that we have support and backup once our au pair starts"