Category: Finding and Managing Childcare

How To Set Effective Boundaries For Your Au Pair

How To Set Effective Boundaries For Your Au Pair

Hosting an au pair can be a daunting experience for some families. If you are a family that values your privacy, having another person that is essentially a complete stranger living in your home as a part of your family may sound less than ideal. But the benefits of having an au pair often outweigh this aspect of the au pair hosting experience. So how do you set effective boundaries when hosting an au pair and ensure that everyone knows where they stand?

Explain Your Routines

One of the easiest ways to help your au pair settle into your family, and for you to settle into your life with a new person in your home, is to clearly set out what your family routines and expectations are. The sooner your au pair knows what is expected of them, as well as what they can expect from you, the sooner they will be able to get to grips with and follow your routines.

Family Rules

Explain any important rules you have in your family as soon as you can. For example if the children are only allowed a set amount of screen time at a particular time of day, make this clear and ensure they know it is non-negotiable. Children need to be able to follow the same routines and rules with their au pair as they do with you, otherwise it can become confusing as to who lets them do what.

Technology Restrictions

If you are planning on limiting the use of technology in your home, explain this right from the outset. Most families wouldn’t want their au pair on the phone or computer all day, instead of looking after the children or completing other duties. Make sure the au pair is able to keep in touch with their friends and family within reason but without it impacting on their life with your family.

Encourage New Friendships

A happy au pair is a good au pair, so make sure they are happy! Encourage them to make new friends and get out and about during their ‘off duty’ hours. There are usually supportive groups in most areas for au pairs to meet each other and form new friendships, and having friends is a great way to help your au pair feel comfortable in their new home town.

Smart Au Pairs are a well-known au pair agency who can help you find your perfect au pair and ensure they settle into life with your family with ease. Get in touch with them today to start your search

Author: Amanda, Smart Au Pairs UK

Au Pairs: The First Days in Your Home

Au Pairs: The First Days in Your Home

The first few days of having an au pair in your home can feel a bit strange – it’s not easy having someone new in your home. As a working mother you are leaving your children in the care of someone you hardly know, which is also hard. Luckily there are some simple things you can do to help your au pair settle in and feel at ease with your family in their new home.

Make your au pair feel welcome

Your au pair has traveled from another part of the world and is likely to be tired and nervous about their new environment. Make sure their room is ready and perhaps display a ‘welcome’ sign made by your children.

Arrange a few driving lessons for your au pair

Au pairs are permitted to drive, but it’s helpful for them, and comforting for you, if you arrange for them to have a few driving lessons soon after they arrive. You can also let them practise driving a bit. Remember to arrange your insurance to ensure that your car is covered while your au pair is driving.

Come to an agreement about the use of technology

Discuss the expectations that you have of your au pair regarding technology and the use of your internet connection. Bear in mind that your au pair will want to be in contact with his or her family, and will start to develop friendships in the area and will want to communicate with people here and in their home country. Skype is a good option because you can make free calls to other Skype users as well as cheap calls to landlines and mobiles.

Give her or him a few days to acclimatise

Your au pair will need a few days to recover from jet lag, but also needs time to get accustomed to the local area. Let them have some time to unpack their things, spend some time together with you and the kids and take some time to show them around your suburb.

Go food shopping

Take your au pair to the supermarket so that you can show them what foods are available, and to get an idea of their preferences.

Discuss your expectations of the au pair

A good au pair agency will provide you with a handbook that you can fill in with information about the house rules and the au pair’s responsibilities. This helps you as a family to be clear about your expectations and for the au pair to understand what you expect from him or her. Remember that you are establishing a relationship where the au pair will be helping with childcare and will also be part of your family.

During this initial time it is also helpful to show your au pair how you would like things done. This includes whatever responsibilities you expect from them, whether it’s loading the dishwasher, doing the school run or helping with homework.

For more information on how au pairs can help you meet your childcare needs, contact UK-based au pair agency, Smart Au Pairs or visit their website to request a call back. They have years of experience when it comes to successful au pair matching and are ready to help you find your perfect au pair.

Author: Tuuli Liiskmaa on behalf of Smart Au-Pairs. Tuuli Liiskmaa is the owner of the Smart Au Pairs au pair agency. She is passionate about supporting all the Smart Au Pairs host families throughout the au pair placement process right through from their initial consultation to post-arrival help. She goes to great lengths to ensure the best possible match is made between the Smart Au Pairs host families and the au pairs. For more information on how an au pair can help you meet your family’s childcare needs contact reputable au pair agency Smart Au Pairs or visit their website to request a call back.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Au Pairs’ Duties and Working Hours

Everything You Wanted to Know About Au Pairs’ Duties and Working Hours

When you make the decision to host an au pair it is important to understand exactly what duties the au pair will perform and what hours he or she will work. An au pair provides flexible childcare options that are not readily available elsewhere, but there are also limits as to what duties an au pair can undertake. Knowing this information ahead of time will help you to be clear about the valuable childcare role an au pair can play for your family.

Regarded as a member of your family, your au pair will be responsible for childcare duties and light housework. In return, you as a host family provide your au pair with full board accommodation and pocket money.

Working hours

Au pairs are normally expected to be on duty between 25 and 30 hours a week. This is usually over a five day period so your au pair will have two full days off a week. Evening babysitting duties are usually limited to two evenings a week, which gives the au pair three free evenings a week, plus the additional two full days.

With these limited hours your au pair has plenty of opportunity to study or attend classes of some kind. Some au pairs choose to go to language classes, for example, so that they can improve their English.

Many au pairs split their duties over the day. They may be on duty in the morning to get kids to school, have time off during the day, and then be back on duty again in the afternoon to fetch children from school and transport them to after-school activities or help with homework.

Should you need your au pair to help out for any additional hours, this must be by mutual and prior agreement, and they must be remunerated per hour for the extra time.


Your au pair’s duties will be tailored to your family to some extent. If you need to be at work early in the mornings, for example, you may want your au pair to be responsible for the morning routine. In other families a parent might get children ready for school, but the au pair is required help out later in the day with things such as transporting kids to after-school activities and helping with homework. You may want your au pair to be on duty to care for the kids while you or your partner are studying or working shifts.

Childcare duties

Childcare duties can include a wide range of responsibilities from getting children ready for school, preparing meals for the children, helping them tidy their rooms, transporting them (to school or other activities), getting them bathed and into bed, playing and helping with homework.

Other duties

The other duties that your au pair performs need to be agreed on prior to hosting. You can include limited light housework and grocery shopping on the list of responsibilities. Acceptable housework duties for your au pair are usually those that are concerned with your kids. These may include cleaning up after the children’s meals, organising the play room, helping with the children’s laundry, as well as light duties such as unloading the dishwasher.

In determining the duties and responsibilities that you would like your au pair to perform, it is helpful to remember that an au pair is intended to be a member of your family, who is primarily responsible for childcare, rather than a traditional domestic helper.

Author: Tuuli Liiskmaa on behalf of Smart Au-Pairs. Tuuli Liiskmaa is the owner of the Smart Au Pairs au pair agency. She is passionate about supporting all the Smart Au Pairs host families throughout the au pair placement process right through from their initial consultation to post-arrival help. She goes to great lengths to ensure the best possible match is made between the Smart Au Pairs host families and the au pairs. For more information on how an au pair can help you meet your family’s childcare needs contact reputable au pair agency Smart Au Pairs or visit their website to request a call back.

Working Mothers often Worry: do I Spend Enough Time with my Child?

Working Mothers often Worry: do I Spend Enough Time with my Child?

Are you a working mother? Do you spend 8 hours or more away from your child? Do you (and your partner) often reach home to find your child still taking their afternoon nap? If you said yes to even one of these questions, then it would come as no surprise to you that your child may in fact be feeling ignored.

Spending sufficient time with your child if both you and your husband work or if you are a single mother with a tight schedule, seems like an impossible thing to do.

The Importance of Spending Time with your Child

During childhood, the fear of rejection can be installed gradually. There are parents who criticize for nothing and who are negligent or absent.

For other children the fear of rejection just appears when a traumatic event, such as a child with illness or accident happens with one of the family members.

How can you Tell if your Child is Feeling Ignored?

It certainly isn’t wrong to be away from your child much, as long as there is another significant adult they can bond with, it tends to be fine.

However, you may wish to keep an eye out to make sure you are still on the right track. Usually, though, it isn’t the best option to ask your child directly if it feels ignored. This may make the child feel guilty for feeling “needy”. I recommend you look for some tell-tale signs instead.


  • Child not sharing things like they used to before.
  • Mood swings – These could also be due to puberty, though
  • Occasional taunts when you actually try to spend some time with them.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • No interest in your matters

How to Create more Time for Your Child

You may have no idea where to start. Don’t worry!

Here are a few – but extremely vital – tips:

  1. Spend More Time

The most obvious thing to do is to spend more time with them. Try to wrap up all your work during office hours and bring a minimum amount of work home. That will allow you to have more quality time with your child. Watch a movie with them, go out for dinner or camp out – Do whatever your child finds fun.

  1. Talk With Them

Try to talk about their problems. Ask how they are doing at school, if they are having any issues, ask them about their friends, and share your own day and problems. You can also ask for their opinions to make them feel more involved.

  1. Reassure Them

The most important thing to do is to constantly remind your child that you are always there for them, and that their problems are your problems. You have to reassure them that they are important and matter to you a lot. Just tell them in as many ways that you can that you love them. I know of a mum who told her child seeing her was better than eating ice cream.

  1. Make Their Biggest Wish Come True

This is optional but could do wonders. Does your child have a wish? Like, going to Disneyland? Some toy or a gaming console they desperately want? An iPhone? Whatever they desire, you may wish to choose a special moment to fulfill a wish. This makes the child feel that you care about their interests.

Children who feel ignored are more likely to develop depression and/or anxiety disorders once they reach puberty. Since they have always felt ignored, they feel like no one is interested in hearing about their issues. Therefore, such children usually have to cope with bullying or academic and social issues in silence, which may fuel their depression.

However, it doesn’t have to be like that. Try and find time for your child, stay in touch, and be there for them.


Author: Jessica works as a blogger at Need Dissertation, the best online dissertation help uk & writing services. Need Dissertation offers professional writing services, where you can get all the dissertation help you need. Doesn’t matter what the topic or subject, Need Dissertation is proud to have professional writers like Jessica, for whom writing a dissertation is as easy as one-two-three!

Finding Your Own Au Pair Vs Using an Au Pair Agency

Finding Your Own Au Pair Vs Using an Au Pair Agency

So you’ve made the decision to get an au pair as an affordable child care option, but how do you begin the process of looking for the right person?

You can either look for someone on your own, or make use of an au pair agency.

Advantages of looking for an au-pair on your own


1.There are plenty of places you can find au-pairs

You can advertise online for an au pair, look at job board websites (such as gumtree) where au pairs may offer their services, or perhaps you can even find someone through people that you know.

2. Direct Communication

If you find someone who might be suitable, or when people respond to your advertisement, you can communicate with them directly about the au pair role. With technology such as email, Facebook and Skype, you can learn all about your prospective au pair, and you can tell them about your family and expectations. Make sure you prepare well by looking into rules on working hours and duties of an au-pair and decide what your expectations are.

3. Save costs

Finding an au pair on your own will obviously save you some money. You may feel that you have the capability to employ someone, and perhaps you believe that you might be able to find someone trustworthy through a friend or relative.

Advantages of finding an au pair through an agency


1. Administration

Au pair agencies are familiar with administrative and legal requirements for bringing an au pair from overseas. Depending on where your au pair comes from, she may need a visa. An agency will ensure that all the administrative requirements, including contracts and insurances, are met and done timeously.

2. Support in managing au-pair issues

When you find an au pair through an agency, you have a representative or company available to provide assistance and support should the need arise. If you face difficulties with your au pair, or are unsure about anything relating to their role and responsibilities, you can contact the agency. Your questions will be answered and they may have suggestions that you had not even thought of to solve the difficulties. Au pair agencies that have been in business for some time, are likely to have come across every situation you may encounter.

3. Applicant screening

Working through an agency provides you with greater peace of mind regarding the person that you select to live in your home than if you are to go through the process on your own.

Au pair agencies screen applicants so you will be aware of the experience that they have working with children. Agencies also commonly provide comprehensive candidate profiles, which include a police clearance from the au pair’s home country, a medical report and a minimum of two references.

Agencies are objective in this process, unlike a friend or family member who recommends someone they know, which can create complications if you are subsequently unhappy with the way the au pair is caring for your child.

Author: Tuuli Liiskmaa on behalf of Smart Au-Pairs. Tuuli Liiskmaa is the owner of the Smart Au Pairs au pair agency. She is passionate about supporting all the Smart Au Pairs host families throughout the au pair placement process right through from their initial consultation to post-arrival help. She goes to great lengths to ensure the best possible match is made between the Smart Au Pairs host families and the au pairs. For more information on how an au pair can help you meet your family’s childcare needs contact reputable au pair agency Smart Au Pairs or visit their website to request a call back.

Crowdfunding - A New Concept to Finance your Business Start-up

Crowdfunding – A New Concept to Finance your Business Start-up

Crowdfunding is actually far from new, and it may well been the ideal solution for mumpreneurs. It’s been on the modern market for at least the past 5 years but it’s only in the last year that it’s really started to boom in the UK. And in doing so has changed the concept of finance for start-ups.

Gone are the days of persuading Bank Managers that your business idea is viable – despite their lack of knowledge in your market, and despite their bias against female entrepreneurs. Or taking out expensive loans to help get your fledgling company off the ground – only to spend years paying back hideous amounts of interest. This, my friends, is the future of finance, one that is built on mutual respect, pre-paid orders, and supportive communities that will champion your business to the masses. And what’s more, it’s the ideal solution for mumpreneurs looking to start up a new business, especially one that taps into the parent/child target market.


What is crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is quite literally that. Raising funding from a crowd. So rather than looking for one big financial backer, projects will be backed by a large number of supporters, who will each give a portion of the finance required, so anything from £10 to £10k each for example.

But it’s not simply a donation based platform. There are two themes of the crowdfunding scene – rewards or equity. The rewards based theme sees project owners offer a tiered reward structure to their supporters, which may range from a shout out on social media through to receiving a product once it’s been manufactured. The equity based theme is a more traditional finance structure, where supporters effectively buy shares in the project. But generally for either theme, any project needs to reach its target funding for any money to be released.

Why would you choose crowdfunding

You don’t need to put the family home up as security against the finance. You do however need to have a business plan, and should you reach your target funding, ensure you deliver your rewards or shares as promised.

Supporters take part for a number of reasons. Simply because they ‘believe’ in the concept being proposed, that they’d like to see the product on the market, to support and buy into new innovation, or essentially purchase a ‘pre-order’.

For project owners the concept offers much more than mere finance. It allows them to test the market before they launch, ensure there’s a market out there for the taking, effectively sell their products as pre-orders before even going into the manufacturing stage, and essentially create and engage in the community which their business/proposal is going to appeal.

Some platforms also offer ‘match funding’ – where big organisations, corporate or governmental, match project funding if targets are met. Allowing them to pump finance into grass root projects that have already proven their value in the community.

Crowdfunding Platforms

The biggest name in the crowdfunding market is Kickstarter – which started life in America in 2009, and last year launched in the UK. It’s the market leader with regard to straightforward commerce. It has seen businesses funded on its platform go on to sell to Facebook for $2 billion. And a recent article in the Observer newspaper questions the direction it’s going in and its authenticity to the original game plan of simply ‘supporting creativity’.

In the UK Crowdfunder is leading the way with regard to a rewards based platform that puts ‘community’ at the heart of the all the projects it hosts. So each and every project, regardless of whether it’s for business or charity, needs to offer something back to the community in which it will exist.

However the market is huge and diverse, with platforms serving niche audiences, which means crowdfunding sites dedicated to anything from music and film through to green energy and tech. There’s even a platform aimed squarely at mumpreneurs – Mums Mean Business.

For more information about platforms available and codes of practice visit the UK Crowdfunding Association.

Author: Chinny Ogbuagu is a Content Marketer at Pitney Bowes Ltd. She creates content to help and advise small companies on how to build their brands, business and reach. She’s also a keen social commentator. You can find her on Twitter and Google+.

How To Get Into Business As A New Mother

How To Get Into Business As A New Mother

It might sound crazy but being a mother is similar to being a businesswoman. Your business is your baby and you do everything in your power to nurture and take care of it (except a business doesn’t come with copious amounts of bodily fluid). Being a mother is scary, but so is starting up your very first business, which is why you need to plan and plan again before you take that all important leap. It’s made even more scary for women who try to do both simultaneously, running a business whilst changing nappies. But rest assure it can be done, it just takes a lot of commitment and faith in yourself.

business-new-motherSo, let’s look at those entrepreneurial mothers that want to venture into the business world. It’s not going to be easy, even for those who have previously had children it can be a very difficult process. People without children can struggle to get their business off the ground, which makes it so much more impressive when a new mother can. You need to remember that no matter what, your baby or babies come first. It sounds pretty standard but it can be very easily to slip into the business mindset and forget who you are, even just for a second.

You can get help from almost every corner, you can start making your business plans whilst your bump is growing. 9 months is plenty of time to make all your business plans, make sure you’ve done all the research you need to take your business to the next level. You can use helpful websites and forums for women in business to not only read articles but to also talk to other working mothers making a name for themselves. Sites such as this one (Mum & Career), Prowess, Net Mums etc are all great for any female entrepreneur.

There are also plenty of apps you can use to help keep track of your business plans or make notes. ColourNote on Google Play is a nifty little tool that allows you to write memos, lists and also includes a helpful calendar. This means that you can keep up to date with your plans, using your phone to make quick notes to add into a bigger overall business plan later on. You can also find apps to help build your business plan from the ground up such as Business Plan Premier and StratPad for the iPad. You can also use an online business plan builder such as the critically acclaimed Enloop, which helps to generate financial data about your business.

But what if you don’t have the funds to start the business? If you’re unable to start because of a lack of funds, then you should perhaps invest in a short term business loan. I’m not talking about horrible loan sharks and those who care solely about the money side of things, I’m talking about lenders who want to help small businesses grow. Merchant Money, for example, have specific low start business loans aimed towards women who are new to business. You don’t need in depth business plans and you don’t need to go to dozens of meetings, all you need is a great business idea and a passion for what you do.

So you’ve sorted your business plan and got the funds to begin your journey, but who is going to look after your child/children when you need to go to meetings etc? Well of course you could get help from friends and family members, but they won’t always be free. This is where helpful websites such as and come in. They list local babysitters to you that are trusted and approved, so you can be sure that your child is in safe hands.

So there you have it, a beginners guide to being a new mother and a new businesswoman! Now you can go into the world and show ‘em what you’re made of.

Author Bio: Jade Waddy is an experience writer with an NOCN in journalism. She writes on all manner of subjects but specialises in the business sector. She has previously written articles for Prowess and for Merchant Money.

Nighttime Nannies: More than Just a Sleep Over

Nighttime Nannies: More than Just a Sleep Over

Sometimes you need a nanny that can spend the nights with your child. Whether this is because you’re working or simply to provide you with rest of your own. The nighttime nanny is more than just having someone sleep over. There are many concerns that need to be addressed when hiring someone to care for your children at night as opposed to daylight hours. In fact, some parents may approach this aspect with more apprehension than they would with a daytime caregiver. What facets can be cause for concern?

child-sleeping1. Sleeping Arrangements

Is your nanny comfortable with staying up at night caring for the children? Although not all parents demand this aspect of the nanny, there will more than likely be nights when the caregiver is awakened several times. This regular interruption of sleeping patterns can affect an individual reducing his or her capacity for rational thought. A foggy mind could also interfere with proper care as a person may not fully be aware of the surroundings.

2. Proper Home Security Techniques

Any nanny should be aware of the proper methods of securing the home. This is especially important for those that have nighttime nannies, and for when you are away yourself. If you can’t afford a home security system to cover all access points to the home, the nanny needs to understand the importance of making “security checks.” While you don’t have to run your home like a prison, there is something to be said about such diligence in protecting your children.

3. Bored Minds

The care of the child is your nanny’s primary objective in the night. However, there will be long periods of time where a bored mind can be overcome by sleep. Allow a bit of leeway when it comes to the nanny bringing materials to keep occupied during the night. If your nanny is to remain awake and alert to deal with complications, she needs to keep her mind active. Physical activities and the mind are more ideal than simply watching television. Crossword puzzles, crocheting, 500 piece puzzles and other mind intense activities can help keep her focused. Watching television could relax the mind and body to the point of going to sleep.

4. Emergency Contacts

As opposed to daytime hours, not all of the same people are going to be easily accessed in the middle of the night. Although you should be the primary contact in the event of an emergency, you should assign a backup plan in case you are indisposed. Normally, this could fall on the shoulders of a family member or close friend that is aware that he or she could be called in the middle of the night. Find someone that is easily accessible and not prone to “sleeping through the alarm” so to speak.

The position of nighttime nanny could be more difficult depending on the situation. While the nanny is trying to focus on the needs of the child, she may also be fighting against her own fatigue. Do what you can to help your nanny succeed as the overnight caregiver and reduce your own concerns. It is always hard to work at night. Don’t make it harder by not covering all the bases for nighttime care with your nanny.

Author: Ashley Hardway is always curious, constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in the Houston, Texas office of Morningside Nannies, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.

The image used is by Amanda Tipton