We have had 4 au pairs over the last 3 years and have enjoyed every single one of them! We live in Scotland, near Edinburgh, and have two boys aged 5 and 3. My husband works full time in the army and is often away, I work part-time as a doctor. Having an au pair is invaluable to us and a very special experience for the boys. We keep in touch with each and every one of them - in fact, one of them is back from Australia visiting the UK for a few weeks and we are meeting up with her this weekend!
Our au pairs are always an important part of our family and we love them to join in with family activities as much as they want to. They live closely with us, share family meal times and trips out, but mostly love playing with the boys and watching them develop over time. The games they play have varied tremendously - from rough and tumble to more imaginative games like making dens. I recently got a text message from our au pair saying she was in a 'dungeon' but was hoping to escape soon! They have great fun and bring very different skills and input for the boys' development and entertainment.
Our first au pair was from France and was with us for three months before I went back to work. She fitted in brilliantly and loved to come along with us for trips to the lake, cafe, soft play - most places we were going! She felt her English improved a great deal whilst she was with us and we frequently hear from her - she is now an airline pilot! Our next two au pairs were from Australia and were so bright and bubbly - always optimistic and cheery, they were wonderful to have around. The first one stayed for 11 months and was a real home bird - she loved to help around the house; cooking, cleaning, even gardening. She even helped me with some pretty serious DIY and we have some great photos and memories of us ripping a wall down together!
Our next Australian stayed for 4 months and she loved to travel. On her weekends off, she travelled all over Scotland, UK and Europe - from St Andrews, to Hull, Dublin, Vienna and Poland. She was so wonderful with the boys and enjoyed creative activities. Our most recent au pair was British and she loved being an au pair, but didn't want to be too far from her family as they were very close, so she went home for a long weekend every month. She loved to join in with all our family trips, especially going to the cinema to watch various children's films!
All of our au pairs have been very different, but all brilliant! It is important to choose an au pair based, amongst other things, on gut instinct - you will be sharing your house and your lives with this person and you have to be able to get on. I think we have been really lucky with our au pairs, but this has also been due to our attitude. We try hard to ensure that they are happy, and have things to do outside our family life. Most importantly, remember each person is an individual with their own unique talents which will enrich your family. Enjoy it let them enjoy their time with you as well!