All's fair for Marlborough's au pairs

ELENA MCPHEE
Last updated 09:13 02/07/2014
Au pairs
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Au pairs Gloria van den Boom, , Rose Goyings, and Aimee Gallagher, with Darcey Franken 2, Samantha Hickman, 4, Victoria Hickman, 2, and Ginny Smith, Au Pair Link manager for Nelson and Marlborough.

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Being an au pair is sometimes perceived as an isolating experience, but three women looking after children in Marlborough feel they are part of a family and a community.

Irish au pair Aimee Gallagher came to New Zealand to work on vineyards, but quickly realised it was not what she wanted to do.

For nearly a month she has been with the Wiffen-Fitzpatrick family in Blenheim, looking after their seven-month-old baby Sophia.

"I love it. We've got a good wee routine going," she said.

Sophia's mother Rebecca Wiffen said Gallagher was "very easy to get on with" and it was reassuring knowing Sophia had one-on-one care.

"It's awesome knowing someone is at home who feeds her and makes sure she's happy," she said. "I just come back in the evenings and cook the family dinner, and spend time with Sophia."

Wiffen, a winemaker and farm manager, enjoyed being back at work.

She had found it "pretty tough" to be at home with no-one to talk to, she said.

However, Gallagher said she did not feel constricted by her role: in the morning she was often at home with Sophia, but later on she could go into town and take her shopping.

Gallagher said she chose the Wiffen-Fitzpatrick family partly because she already had a social network in Blenheim.

"My friends are here, I wouldn't want to go somewhere where I didn't know anyone."

Her fellow au pairs Rose Goyings, from Michigan in the United States, and Gloria van den Boom, of Germany, agreed that one of the good things about their job was feeling part of the community.

Goyings, who works for the Hickman family, enjoyed "getting to know everyone".

It did not happen when you were just travelling through, she said.

Van den Boom, who is looking after the Franken brothers, said au pairs had an opportunity to see the sights but also to return to a family.

It was a "cool thing", she said.

"You become a real part of the family after a while."

Au Pair Link Nelson and Marlborough manager Ginny Smith said her role supporting families included supporting the au pairs, and giving them the chance to get together.

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- The Marlborough Express

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