Granny au pairs sought for their wisdom and sense of adventure
Grandparents can normally be relied on as staple in childcare for busy parents: But for many expat families real life means that the grandparents live too far away or cannot be on hand for other reasons.
It is one of the great ironies of our times that on the one hand there are so many young families trying to balance job and children every day without grandparents nearby, and on the other hand there are many older women whose children have flown the nest and whose working life has come to an end, who have loads of time on their hands they would like to use. Granny Aupair, founded in 2010 by Granpreneur Michaela Hansen (55) is a bridge between these two parties and functions as a platform where busy families abroad can find their Granny Aupair and vice versa. Meanwhile over 1,000 Grannies have been placed in over 50 countries, with France, Spain, and Italy proving to be some of the most popular countries. And as Granny Aupair originates from Hamburg, Germany, there are naturally quite a few Grannies travelling within and to the country in the heart of Europe.
Both sides profit from the placement: The Granny Aupair helps look after the kids, for instance by taking and fetching them from nursery or school. The Granny cooks if the parents are busy and helps the kids with homework. “Our Grannies have a lot of advantages over young au pairs: they are experienced in life, most of the women have raised their own children, they know about housekeeping, they know their strong points and their limits, they are responsible and reliable”, says Granny Aupair founder Michaela Hansen.
The Granny also profits from the visit. Very often she did not have the opportunity to travel as an au pair when young and now wants to discover a different culture first hand. Or she had a great experience as a young au pair and now wants to repeat this. Many also enjoy learning a new language.
“Our Grannies are experienced women who used to work or still work as teachers, flight attendants, child care workers, secretaries, nurses etc. They are between 45 and 75 years old, they are active and curious. They love doing useful and interesting things, they are eager to find out about other cultures and customs and they want to improve their language skills. They would like to be integrated into a family because they may not have grandchildren of their own or their grandkids live far away” adds Michaela.
Many Granny Aupair families choose a Granny Aupair again and again, with some families already having their 5th or 6th Granny and with many Grannies spending repeat times with the families.
Granny Aupair Sibylle stayed with a family in Spain for three months. “In a village in La Rioja, a family of four was looking for a Granny, who could speak English. I quickly reached an agreement with them. I would help look after the girls and would have the mornings free to visit a language course in the nearby town of Logroño.” On the first weekend a large gathering of friends of the family were there to welcome Sibylle. “Lunch was served at 16:00. On that day I received my first lesson in Spanish lifestyle: lunch has nothing to do with the lunchtime! And the main thing was to meet and have fun together.”
Sibylle loved the Spanish way of life. “If the family was invited, then the au pair was naturally invited as well. They took me everywhere and I witnessed so much of the Spanish lifestyle. One weekend we turned up at a friend and her family in Zaragoza with five (!!!) people to stay the night. I never experienced so much natural hospitality in Germany. The Spanish people I met were all very very open and loving. Always striving to make me feel comfortable ………and they just have a sunny disposition and are non-demanding!”
In 2015 Maria “Bobby” L. spent nearly a year with a French-German family in Paris. She looked after 2 girls aged 3,5 and 2 from 9:00 to about 19:00 on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The mother was German and the father French. “We almost always went to the country from Friday to Sunday to spend the weekends there, as the kids loved playing in the garden and can have fun, learning to ride a bike and riding. In Paris that was a little more difficult because there are not so many parks and playgrounds! In good weather, the playground is completely overrun. In bad weather we often visited the aquarium. With some fish they were practically on first name terms already. They were just too small for museums, so often a bit of creativity was needed to keep them occupied! Initially both went to nursery on two days a week and in September the older girl started pre-school. As I had three days off a week I explored Paris, mostly on foot, as I prefer walking.”
Bobby found she had to become less selfless to respond to the needs and wishes of toddlers which was not always easy but also found that you more you get invloved with the family the more you get back, “it was just lovely when the kids say they love you and want to be hugged. The little 2 year old called me ‘Mimi”, which just warmed by heart totally.To my shame I must confess that I had quite a lot of prejudices regarding the French and was worried about how I can cope without French. But I had no bad experiences, on the contrary, they were always very helpful and charming.”
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