And the award of Heavenly Au Pair of the Year 2019 goes to….
Martina, our Heavenly Au Pair, joined us in October 2017 to help us look after H (now aged six) and C (now four). We first met Martina via a skype interview and we were immediately struck by her big smile, warmth and enthusiasm. Martina was the only au pair we didn’t interview in person during our search, but she shone through even over the screen and both Sarah and I decided we should take a chance on her – and just hoped she’d get on the plane from Barcelona and join the family! She duly did, bringing presents for the children with her – a nurse’s outfit for C and a Barcelona football shirt for H. The kids were sold!
Martina arrived in the UK with no family, friends or contacts over here, but she has amazed us not only with how she has looked after our children (and the bond between them), but how she has thrown herself into life in London. From the outset Martina has set out to the make the most of her time here. She joined British Military Fitness (and is a regular on Clapham Common even on cold dark January nights); she now plays in a mixed touch rugby team and has even encouraged other au pairs to join; and she signed herself up for an English course where she is now preparing to take her Advanced English exams.
The way Martina has gone about making friends and creating a social life for herself in Balham over the last 14 months has been wonderful to see and says a lot about her outgoing personality, willingness to give anything a try, and boundless energy. She even does all this on top of looking after H and C (a handful in itself!) and doing her teaching degree online, flying home occasionally to take exams!
At home, Martina has become a very firm part of the family. The children have been missing her over Christmas and asking when she’ll be back! She is mature and confident, which means we have total faith in her to ensure the kids get to school/nursery (with all the right things on the right days!) as well as coping with the daily rituals of feeding them and trying patiently to persuade them to go to bed. But Martina has brought so much more to us than simply ensuring both H and C are cared for. She helps H with his homework and jumps up and down when he gets 8 out 8 in his spelling test; she bakes gingerbread men and assorted treats with them; she turns the kitchen into a sort of ‘artistic workshop’ and arranges playdates with other au pairs; she even teaches them Spanish songs; and most of all she showers them with genuine love and affection.
The biggest compliment we can pay Martina is that we simply don’t want her to ever go. Both sets of grandparents’ think she is wonderful. She is a regular visitor to both and has even stayed withthem and the kids when both Sarah and I have been away. From our perspective she is a pleasure to have around the house and regularly treats us to home-cooking from her mum’s hand-written secret recipe book. And for our two kids she is a magical Spanish version of Mary Poppins!
Martina through sheer perseverance (via her University and turning up on the doorstep!) has recently secured herself a teaching placement at a Spanish speaking school in Notting Hill during February and March. The good news for us is that means she is staying a few months longer! She may be our first au pair, but she is going to be a very hard act to follow!
We’re delighted to put forward Martina as ‘au pair’ of the year – she is truly exceptional – and hope that some of the photos of the last 12 months show how much fun and laughter she has brought for us all.
Tim and Sarah