And when the Granny has arrived...?
When you take in Granny Aupair part as a family, you welcome a woman in your home who you hardly know. But this will change very quickly! Granny Aupair is an adventure for all persons involved. The encounter holds many wonderful chances to learn from one another.
To prepare for “your” Granny’s stay – we have some suggestions for you to take along.
Sort out beforehand, where your Granny is to stay. Has she got an own bathroom or will she have to share? Or does she have the opportunity to live in a nearby bed and breakfast.
- CULTURE SHOCK
If you a live in a culture very foreign to the Granny, give her the chance to become accommodated. Maybe the strange surroundings will be disconcerting for the Granny at the beginning and she will need a bit of time to come to terms with the new impression.
- HOLIDAYS AND LEISURE TIME
Sort out from the beginning, when the Granny will have time at her own disposal. Is she invited to participate in the family’s activities or do you want to have time to yourself as a family. Also give your Granny the chance to get to know her host country.
POCKET MONEY AND TRAVEL COSTS
Make clear agreements about all things concerning money. Board and lodging are free for the Granny in return for childcare. If you want to pay the Granny pocket money or share the travel costs is a negotiable matter between you and your Granny Aupair.
A Granny Aupair should not work as your cleaner. Many Grannies are prepared to help in the household. Talk about this with the Granny beforehand , then both sides know where they stand.
Tips for families
Wealth of experience and challenge
We have no "successful recipe" for host families, but many valuable tips!
Granny Aupair is a small adventure for everyone involved: every encounter holds many wonderful opportunities to learn from each other and to have lots of fun together!
The most important requirements as a host family are
- Pleasure and interest in other cultures
- to welcome the Granny and involve her in your family life
- an own room for the Granny
Starting out is always difficult
Usually not everything runs like clockwork in the settling-in-period. There can be several reasons for this:
- Many families want the Granny to settle in as smoothly as possible and do not immediately talk about their wishes as well as tasks and responsibilities. But this will be more difficult later on.
- In the beginning, living together is probably just as unfamiliar to you as it is for the Granny - give each other time and be patient when things need to become attuned.
- The Granny may not have overcome the culture shock yet, and is struggling with physical accompanying factors, moodiness, an increased need for sleep or exhaustion.
- This first period can be a little strenuous for you as a family as well as for the Granny. But with a bit of good will on both sides this can be overcome quite quickly!
Possible language difficulties
Hardly anything cuts us off from the environment as much as linguistic hurdles. Please consider the following points:
- Not all grannies speak the language of the host country at a high level. At least most grannies have not had daily practice in the language – in spite of all their preparation.
- You can support the Granny in learning or improving the new language by speaking slowly, by using simple words and (if your time allows) writing small notes on furniture and objects in the apartment or writing down useful phrases or important concerns as well as arrangements for better understanding and practice for the Granny.
- In our experience, many grannies wish to improve their language skills during their stay abroad. Talk to the Granny about how you can help her, e.g. by taking a language course or meeting local people.
Challenge in living together with a Granny as a family
When complete strangers start living together, communication smooths the way:
- Even if Grannies are mature women, in order to achieve a smooth cooperation you have to clearly communicate your expectations towards the Granny at the very beginning. Don't rely on the Granny to "recognize" your expectations based on her life experience. She won't - she is orienting herself in a foreign country and will be grateful for clear words.
- The Granny usually comes from a different culture with completely different family rules and habits and therefore has no chance to decipher and understand your "unwritten family rules" correctly - so do not hesitate to talk openly about them.
- Often the problems in living together daily arise through the accumulation of many small things - the grannies feels the displeasure of the host family, but has not understood the actual problem or has interpreted something wrongly, since the complaints were not expressly named by the family.
- Loving, open and clear words from your side offer valuable guidance to the Granny and make it easier for her to fulfil your wishes.
- And there is another important aspect to consider: not only different cultures are coming together with the Granny, the host parents and the children, but it is also a meeting of different generations. That's why a lot of communication and exchange is needed to get to know and understand each other's life worlds - after all, everyone only looks through their very own "generational glasses".
Conflicts are part of intercultural encounters!
When people from very different cultures spend time together, differences inevitably emerge sooner or later. This is totally normal and right.
- Stay calm in view of problems and tackle difficult situations instead of seeing them as an insurmountable obstacle or possibly even as an insult or attack against your own family.
- Concern and disappointment are often involved when difficulties arise, or there are misunderstandings.
- Conflict situations are almost always part of intercultural understanding, so take it for granted when they occur.
- The positive accompanying effect of conflicts is that they can improve living together - provided that all parties are prepared to talk openly and honestly about the conflict and to find a solution together.
Culture shock is independent of age and origin and can affect any traveller
Grannies have a lot of life experience. But that doesn't mean that they are immune to culture shock – strange surroundings can have a disturbing effect on anyone and do not inspire a lot of confidence.
- Culture shock is not a personal inability, but a normal reaction to unknown and strange environments.
- Overcoming it requires a certain amount of time and above all a lot of patience.
- Symptoms of a culture shock can be homesickness, increased need for sleep, distrust, low tolerance of strangers, lack of self-confidence, loneliness (including isolation), loss of control, depression, sudden intolerances or allergies.
- Culture shock is often the reason why young au pairs as well as experienced grannies abruptly end their stays abroad.
Homesickness and contact to the family at home
Naturally the Granny has come to support your family and to experience something new. But it is normal for her heart and mind to dwell with her loved ones at home and this can lead to homesickness.
- Like culture shock, homesickness is not a question of age. Grannies also repeatedly express the concern that they might get homesick.
- The wish that the Granny's loved ones can come to visit her during her stay with you may be issued. Think carefully about whether you would like this and, if so, how you would like the visit to take place and when would be the best time (we recommend the time after the Granny visit. But please keep the visa regulations in mind). Discuss this with your family and the Granny in good time.
On the whole, spending time with the Granny doesn't present a family with insurmountable challenges. Communication is the key - talk about everything that matters, but also about things that may seem unimportant to you. Talk about everyday things, ask questions. If there is time, you can let the Granny tell something about herself and her daily life or about her family: If she can talk about the people she misses, she will associate them with you and your life on the spot. This can also help alleviate any homesickness. At the same time you will learn more about your children's Granny - what is important to her, what amuses her and what moves her emotionally. In short: You get to know and appreciate her as a person very closely.
Tips from a Granny experienced Family from Abu Dhabi
Living with a Granny Aupair
Living with a Granny has been a very pleasant experience so far, however the main challenge could be in making sure that everyone is enjoying their privacy. On our first Granny experience, the Granny used to come to our private spaces like bedrooms and study rooms. Her intentions were good and it was her first Granny experience so we didn’t take it personally. But we noticed some cultural inconveniences and personal space discomfort on our side.
On the following Grannies’ visits, we started to explain - from the beginning- that the family needs its privacy to manage their personal interests and affairs. In return the Granny has free access to all the ground floor but not to our bedrooms and work areas. The ground floor includes the kitchen, the living room, TV, and access to patio and house yard. This proved to be a good organization of space and made everyone comfortable.
Cultural differences are not a myth , especially when it comes to cultural uniqueness related to women status for example across societies. The Grannies usually come with certain views of how women are treated in Arab and Muslim culture and it is very difficult to convince them that not all these views are real. With time our family realized that it is not easy to change their perspectives. Now we overlook negative views / comments and leave it to the Grannies to see the realities by themselves.
There are many happy experiences with our Grannies to be honest. An example is when we took one of our lovely Grannies to meet our great grandmother, and our grandmother gave her Burga (Battoulah) and asked her to try it . We took photos of the two as they were communicating with signs and laughs, it was really a happy moment and a warm human interaction.
We really appreciate our lovelyGgrannies and their help to improve our kids’ German language. We stay in touch with almost all of them. Some of them are so kind and generous that they post gifts for the kids. The Granny experience is not only a cultural encounter but a unique human encounter that is warm and full courageous exploration. We admire the courage in every lady who made the decision to be a Granny Aupair in a totally new culture from her own. Their courage keeps on impressing us!