To the future au pairs, here are some accounts written by some of our current or former heavenly au pairs:
Hi Heavenly Au Pair Team,
here a little update about my time in C'ham.
I am here for 9 weeks now and have settled in very well. Since last month I take English-Courses in the Marlow Language Centre, which is a very good school. Thanks to this school I already improved my English and met a lot of other Au pairs. We always meet for a coffee after class which is very helpful to find new friends. I often meet with one of my new friends on the weekend, just to talk or discover new places like Reading.
Meeting my friends and talk about everything was really helpful to fight the first feeling of homesickness. Because we all make the same experience and understand each other very well.
I got homesick after a tough week, when the little girl Clara (4) was sick and home all day long while the parents where at work. During this time I tried to be a big help but at the end of the week I suddenly felt that it was too much. Luckily my hostfamily understood and they asked me how they can help me. The following week was better because Clara went to school again and so I was able to organize everything better. When my hostmother Camilla had an operation she worked from home. Last week was brilliant because we could share the work with the children and the house and Camilla even said that I am a big help. That was really nice to hear because I am a person that needs praise because I often think that a make mistakes the whole time, for example when I can't get the boy (Bertie,10) off his xbox or his ipod touch. But I talk a lot with his parents about things like this and together we find a solution.
Because Camilla was at home the last 2 weeks we talked a lot and got more close. That is a really big step to feel more as a part of the family of course.
Next Sunday is my 20th birthday and my hostfamily allowed me to celebrate my birthday in Germany. So I will come back on Monday to be there for the children during half term when the parents are at work. To come back on the monday will feel less sad as the day I left Germany 9 weeks ago because now I know what my life here is like.
I already feel that I have changed a bit through the things I have learned so far. I became more confident, which is one of my aim of this year. I didn't feel lost on my first trip through London, but pretty safe. That really suprised me and I knew that this year will teach me a lot about myself.
I will let you know any news!
A typical au pair recommendation written to the host family's 'next' au pair, by the current au pair:
What's life like in this family?
It really is an enjoyment to live with Kate, Jo and Toby.
The kids are a pleasure, who surely have their moments of being grumpy but it's always been good fun with them.
Those two are typical London Kids who absolutely adore each other.
Honestly, I've never seen siblings hugging and kissing one another as much as they do. Kate is actually very grown up for her age and doesn't care about any group pressure. She absolutely loves taking responsibility for Toby; who's a little dreamer and keeps forgetting things. Toby's always telling the longest stories in the world so don't you worry about not gaining enough foreign language skills.
Both are very active and curious children, who love playing, painting and crafting.
Even if Jo's working hard, she's a lovely mum and is trying her best to spend as much time as possible with them. She puts much effort in their education and sports. So do I and read out stories to them each night.
I'd like to stress the family's cultural interest as well. Wherever you'd like to go to, Jo will give you the best advice on what's going on in London.
They've always seen me as a part of the family, so there never was any reason for homesickness.
Kate and Toby are allowed in my room and we used to watching German daily soaps such as Shopping Queen.
Jo's taken me on holdiay trips and we often spent time together at the weekend. This was always something I really appreciated as it's given me the chance to visit loads of hidden places around the UK.
By the way, they've got a gorgeous house and live in a lovely young area in South West London which offers you each sort of leisure activities, such as green space for running – even if I never did it; some cool Bars; nice shops and good travel connections.
What's life like an AuPair?
In the mornings:
Getting up early; eating Porridge; emptying the dishwasher; doing pack lunches; drinking lots of tea; survive grumpy moods; drying tears; playing and reading out; loads of laughter; rushing to school
During the day:
Doing some general tidying up; putting clothes in the washing machine; wondering how many clothes they've got; hanging the washing out; wondering how many clothes they've got; doing some ironing; wondering how many clothes they've got; helping out with grocery shopping.
Spending a lovely time with other AuPairs and getting to know the city you live in. Falling in love with the city you live in. Visiting exhibitions and fill up your wardrobe.
Trying different kinds of foods and explore hidden places.
In the afternoon:
Picking kids up from school; reminding Toby to get his pack lunch bag; smoothing down differences; cooking fresh meals; being loved or hated for the meal you cooked; doing homework; having playdates; googling Scooby Doo movies; playing in the back garden; taking Kate to swimming lessons or Rainbows.
In the evening:
Chasing them up the stairs; running the bath; brushing teeth; telling silly stories.
You either do some babysitting and put them to bed or you'll be off.
It's up to you whether you're stays in to eat a salad with Jo or go out to some Pubs.
Being an AuPair is not always easy as you work and live at the same place .
As Jo said, this is a relationship which takes some weeks to establish and then months to flourish into something which works for the family and the AuPair.
We found a good balance between one's own interests and the importance of feeling included; so I am pretty sure the right person will feel comfortable in here, too.
I've actually never expected a such spectacular year in the UK and if I could, I would definitely stay for longer.
Lisa x (Lisa did not know we were going to publish this, thank you Lisa, we love your honest heart-felt letter)
(Au Pair in London Aug 2012 - July 2013)
Being an Au Pair, by Anne, former Au Pair:
There is more to being an au-pair than just looking after kids or earning money and even though having been an au-pair will look splendid on your CV it's not about these things, but about the experiences itself that can make it your best time ever.
I chose to be au-pair out of the same reasons as many other girls (and boys). The possibility to go abroad, live in another country, learn the language and about the culture of the people while having a home.
After various e-mails with my possible host family and after having agreed to be the family's au-pair, I was quite nervous about the whole thing. Not least because I'd be living in a foreign country with a strange family. But the family sent me really nice emails and photos telling me about what they were up to. They sounded like fun, kind hearted people and I really started to look forward to being their au-pair.
Once there it took a few days to settle in. There was a lot to remember, how to do this and not to do that. The "house-schedule" and all the little procedures that differ from family to family.
With some help from the kids, who were really looking forward to my arrival and were happy that I played with them from the start, it soon became like a second home and I soon found it easy to remember what to do, how and when. I'd say that after 2-3 months I was completely feeling at home there, had a strong bond with the kids, could fully orient myself in the home and the city and had a exciting social life with lots of friends. This is also why I recommend staying with the family for longer. The longer the better!
I met most of my friends in the English classes I attended in the mornings. Being surrounded by English speaking people and learning a school made my English improve quickly and I passed the Cambridge certificate, which by the way was also very helpful for getting into university the next year.
I've never learned such a lot about myself and other people, as well as their culture, than in my time as an au-pair.
I'm still in contact with the girls I met at the au-pair school (language school) and will definitely never forget how much fun we had sightseeing, on our evenings out or just hanging out together.
Like in every part of life you have to be a responsible, hard working person and should be happy with what you do - also flexibility is a great plus. You should show yourself from your best side, since the family is inviting you into their home and trusting you with their children! Don't forget that being an au-pair, even when you are part of the family, you're still their helping hand and have to treat all of them with respect, as they treat you with respect. I'm very sure that the family will appreciate all your efforts and the better they feel about you the better you will feel about them.
I was so happy and so well settled that, even though I had already made plans back home, I didn't want to think of leaving and when the family invited me to stay two more months I happily agreed!
I left the family more than a year ago but visited them last summer and will visit them again because I still see them as my second family and I feel like I always have done - very welcome.
Anne (au pair in London Sep. 2009 – Aug. 2010)