our granny

Cost of the Granny Au Pair Program

Many ask us about the cost of the Granny Au Pair program and we would like to write a few sentences on the topic.

With the cornerstone of this program being mutuality, a typical agreement between a Host Family and a Granny should evolve around the exchange of benefits. While the family receives the Granny’s help and know-how, the Granny receives an unforgettable life experience and, in most cases, a cultural exchange. For that reason, there is typically no need for payment. Additionally, with many Grannies traveling to Families abroad, many countries’ immigration laws will not allow for payment for services rendered.

The cost of hosting a Granny Au Pair for the Host Family is mostly related to room and board. Since the Granny will be integrated as part of your family, she will have access to a private room in your home and you will bear the costs of water, electricity, and food for her. In most cases (and negotiable), the Host Family will also provide transportation from the Granny’s hometown to their home (i.e., airfare, train tickets, etc.).

The costs to the Granny are fairly minimal – potential transportation to the location, activities and past times, personal expenses… Another cost to be considered is her fixed costs at home, such as a mortgage or rent. Should the Granny consider that the Family’s requirements justify pocket money, this should be discussed (before arrival recommended) and the Family might agree to a small allowance. As a principle, we expect the Host Families to consider their Granny as they would their own parent, and not ask more of her than they would of a family member. Should a Granny visit a family in the summer time and spend 9 hours a day with the sole responsibility of the children, please use your best judgment regarding a potential allowance. In 99% of cases, we hope that both parties gain enough from the experience to not justify any sort of payment.

The goal of this program is for the Granny to be as integrated in the Host Family’s everyday life. For the Host Family, consider your Granny as you would your own Mom. Be sure to include her as much, or as little, as she would like to be. We have had Grannies who loved participating in our weekend outings, while others preferred to stay at home, relax, and participate in their own activities. There is no magical recipe to success. To each its own preferences and ways of enjoying the exchange. Our best advice is to openly discuss and agree to the big lines prior to the Granny’s arrival, and to keep an open and honest relationship during the exchange!

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ROBOTIME DIY – crafts for kids and adults – Review

A good friend of ours got their daughter and ours a wonderful do-it-yourself miniature doll house for their birthdays – ROBOTIME DIY Dollhouse. We tend to always gravitate towards Legos and Playmobils, which are some of our household’s favorites, and this was a very refreshing alternative. I had never really thought about getting my 6-year old something to build that did not involve bricks. I probably should have since one of our kids’ most popular games is the building of houses, huts, forts, with chairs, blankets, cartons, and anything else the kids can get their hands on.

We received this little wonder of a toy and she started building immediately! We found the steps nicely detailed and the directions easy to follow. In our case, I would say that our not-overly-crafty / slightly-too-active 6-year old required a bit of assistance from us, but she was some of the most focused I had ever seen her. I loved seeing her attention to detail develop and creativity come out. She was definitely enjoying herself! She wanted to make this a close representation of the picture on the box and did a pretty good job! Directions, based on the model, estimate about 20 hours of building and it took her a bit longer than that, but made for a nice activity on the few cold weekends we had over the winter.

Ranging right around the $30, those make a high-quality gift for a reasonable price. I also love that they have a whole series with different rooms so you could build a whole house! I mean, seriously, some of the rooms are the cutest thing ever. Look at that greenhouse!! The amount of work and detail is very impressive and will keep kids and adults entertained for a little while!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information

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Balance Bikes – Review

We lived in Germany for three years, raising three young children there. While we had the most fantastic time, it was clear that German parenting was quite different than what we had gotten used to in the US. Even though my husband and I were born and raised in Germany and France, respectively, we evolved as parents every day, watching and learning a new way of raising children. We fell in love with many aspects of it, one of which being the freedom that German parents give to their children. Children, as young as 6 years old, are expected to walk/ride to school, un-accompagnied! You will see young kids riding the subway to school. Our village at 7.30AM seemed like a giant scooter matrix, with kids rolling themselves to school. Imaginable in many other western countries… Playgrounds are, for the most part, unsecured per American standards – yet, no Mom looks concerned and no-one falls… Children are allowed to try, fail, try harder, take risks, live their lives, be children!

One thing that you will notice in a German city, are tiny little children on bicycles. Many Germans will tell you that their kids never had to learn to ride a bicycle. They get on their Laufrad (balance bike) before they can walk. By the time they’re 3 to 4 years old, parents upgrade them to pedal bikes without training wheels, and children don’t have to think twice – they naturally know how to ride bikes. They have spent years and countless kilometers practicing their balance and cycling has become second nature to them.

So we went ahead and got our first child a balance bike. Germans swear by the Puky brand. They come in various sizes and the smallest one was a perfect fit for our 10-month old. She was not yet walking at the time and it took her 2 to 3 tries to understand that she could roll herself. We raised the sit as she got older, eventually upgrading her to the taller model. Quickly, she started taking longer leaps. Downhill, she’d raise her legs and free-roll for 6 or 7 seconds. Until one day, my husband took an actual pedal bike out of the car. While he was unpacking the stroller for her little brother, she’d taken the new bike and as we turned around, we saw her pedaling herself away. She never had to learn to ride a bike, she knew how to!

It is so much fun to go for walks with your 1-year old biking next to you. They gain confidence in their bodies, learn to balance, get competitive, and can independently keep up with your speed!

Think of balance bikes as a great gift for baby showers or your own little one!

While we have loved our Puky bikes and can vouch for their high quality, other respected brands offer the same great benefits at a lower price point:

We have loved our balance bikes and we hope you do too! Please share with us your little one’s successes in the Comments section!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information

 

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Chalkboard Paint – Review

I had always imagined my children playing in their rooms. They would spend time there, reading books, playing with building cubes, jumping on their beds eventually… it would their place, away from the parents, to be the children they wanted to be. Turns out, our kids never spent a minute in their rooms. Instead, transforming our living room into a battlefield, seemed much more enjoyable.

Then came the summer when baby #3 was old enough to add her madness to my living room, and enough was enough. Those kids would need to start playing in their rooms and I started researching the best ways to entice them to spend more time in their personal spaces.

They went to the local Montessori school time at the time. Having always loved the Montessori philosophy and seeing how much they enjoyed it as little students, I decided to re-create the playful environment. Many websites described the perfect Montessori bedroom with toys at children’s reach, open shelves, mattresses on the floor instead of beds… While I did not incorporate every single element in each room, our youngest daughter got the open shelves with her favorite colorful wooden toys and musical instruments widely exposed. When she first entered her bedroom, she was immediately drawn towards her toys and started playing. As per the Montessori guidelines, I installed a play area on the floor, made up of a rug, mirror, and baskets with hard cover books. She picked up a toy, naturally went to sit on the rug by the mirror and started to play. Every once in a while, she’d lose interest in her toys – I’d pack them up and bring out new ones. I had found an easy way for my 1-year old to play and entertain herself! Best part, I had not spent a dime. Re-organizing the space and re-purposing items we already owned is all it took to create a playful environment. Toys went from being forgotten at the bottom of drawers to being displayed in full-baby-sight and played with! Goal #1 was reached!

I then moved on to the harder task of creating a playful space for my 4-year old. Neither her, nor her 3-year old brother, had really ever played with toys. They’d use sticks and remotes, balls and clubs, but toys had never interested them. I started by creating a reading nook for them, using a mattress we did not need and adding customized pillows, leaving books in baskets for them to see and grab. That worked well but I was missing the “playful” I had in mind. Until I remembered a project I had always wanted to take on but never been bold enough to implement. I went and got Chalkboard Paint!

Oh my…

Using painters tape to create straight lines and double coating the paint, I created a giant chalkboard wall! I kept it all at the children’s level so they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by a tall wall. We mounted a little black wall shelf, where we left their chalks easily accessible from their height. And off they went with their imaginations…. They spent countless hours scribbling, drawing, writing in their room. Once in a while, I’d use the wall to teach letters or numbers. Adults themselves quite enjoyed it too… 😉 and their little friends loved coming over to draw on the “black wall.”

                                                     

Miraculously, my children started playing in their rooms. We had created a little children’s paradise and we all started spending time in their rooms, role-playing, drawing, comfortably reading books. It all happened on a very small budget because we re-purposed items to make them work for the kids. As for the paint, we used this one and loved it:

I did prime first and double-coat for good results. Once the paint dried up, they also recommend chalking the entire wall once and wiping it off for best performance, which we did. The kids have drawn on their wall for almost 2 years, and once they’re done, we simply wipe it down with a hand towel. When it gets messy, I will use a wet towel to clean it all up!

A couple of other brands exist, which we have not tested:

                           

One version of the product is clear, instead of the traditional black, allowing you to write with chalk on an already colored wall, door, dresser, etc:

Have fun and share photos of your projects! Happy painting!

 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information

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Why become a Granny au pair?

[ Au Pair ]  is French for equal and even. That is the cornerstone of the OurGranny program. Grannies and Families will share, give, and receive from one another in the most mutual way, making this experience rich and precious.

Whether you call yourself Granny au pair, Nana au pair, Yaya au pair, or Grandma au pair, you are active, enjoy spending time with others, and seek to make a difference in people’s lives. What more fulfilling than being around children and breathing in their liveliness and enthusiasm?

By becoming a family’s Granny, you will be make a true difference in their lives. You probably remember those early years, raising your own children, and how much you valued an extra pair of hand. Simple tasks such as preparing the kids’ lunch boxes can remove much weight off of tired parents’ shoulders. Share your experiences and savoir-faire with them. Help them navigate waters you have sailed before them. You will strive, knowing that you are the one bringing time back into their lives, allowing them to spend more quality moments with one another. You will bring more value to their busy lives than you know.

Do not underestimate the impact that you will have on the children. You will generally be involved with children living far away from their own grand-parents. Be ready to receive countless hugs, dry some tears, be their listener, the one having time to answer when Mommy gets busy with Little Brother. You will become their confident. They will come to you to prepare their cards for Father’s Day or draft their letter to Santa Claus. And only once you become their Granny, will you understand the impact that the children have on your own self. The snuggles at story time will become the favorite part of your days. They will share their unconditional love with you and you will get more out of your Granny experience than you ever imagined.

In this au pair relationship, you will receive so much more than you expect – all in the form of human interaction, love, fulfillment, and experiences. You will feel valued and useful. More than you have been in months or years. You will be that family’s rock and stability. The one they can lean on when times get hard and they need someone to talk to. In exchange, you will receive a new purpose and gain esteem in a way you never imagined. You still have so much to live and experience. Join a family and start seeing life through their eyes – live new things, participate in new activities, share common interests and start new ventures. Give a new sense to your life, you are so worth it!

Life is far from over and we encourage you to start a new chapter as Granny au pair. There is so much in store for you – go and unlock your potential to be happy and feel useful by becoming a child’s Granny, Nana, Yaya, Grandma, or whatever else your host children might call you!

 

 

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