Stuck for childcare and no family nearby?

A Granny Au Pair may be just what you need!

As we all know, quality child care is in short supply and if you’re in the position where you’d love a nanny, but don’t have the funds, or you could do with some grandparent help, but have none nearby, then the latest child care inspiration – The Granny Au Pair – could be just the thing.

You may have previously discounted the idea of an au pair due to the image of a young, homesick studenty sort with possibly little experience in child care. Or you might have been put off by another image: the super-efficient, six-foot, gorgeous blond from Scandinavia. But perhaps it’s time to reconsider…

Would the idea of a more mature age woman, from your mother’s generation appeal? A woman who has reached retirement with a desire to travel and see more of the world, but not necessarily with the funds to be able to do so on her own and looking for a nice family to live with and help out for a summer or a set period of time?

Well it’s entirely possible. With an ageing population and a more sprightly generation of pensioners who want to see more of the world when they finally retire, more mature ladies (and some gentlemen), aka “granny au pairs”, from all over the world have increasingly been using their experience of raising children and running a household to travel around the world and expand their horizons while staying with families who need a helping hand with the kids and chores.

There are a number of agencies specialising in granny au pairs, but one of the first was the eponymous Granny Au Pair, based in Germany and the brainchild of German woman, Michaela Hansen, who created an au pair agency purely for the over 50s.

Hansen missed the opportunity to be an au pair and travel when she became a mum at 20 and launched the initiative to send young-at-heart grandmas from Germany all over the world after watching a TV programme about young au pairs.

“I thought: Why isn’t there something similar for older women?” A few months later she set up Granny Au Pair – an online portal that places women aged over 50 abroad as ‘au pair grannies’.

Granny au pairs however can bring with them a wealth of experience in child care, housekeeping, cooking and managing a household and can bring with them an added dimension to a family, particularly when grandparents aren’t living nearby.

Hansen believes they can be much more beneficial to families than younger au pairs: “Young people often still lack prudence and sensitivity. Older au pairs draw on a wealth of life experience and take the daily challenges in their stride. They are active and curious and eager to find out about other cultures and customs and they want to improve their language skills”.

Like most au pairs, they take care of children in exchange for room and board. There is usually no pay, though the family and au pair are free to come to an arrangement, and a membership fee is paid to Granny Au Pair.

From India to Australia, Dublin to New York, granny au pairs have been putting smiles on children’s faces over the past three years with Granny Au Pair.

Click here to search for au pair agencies in your area.

With regards to “hosting” a granny au pair in terms of visa compliance, it is a very grey area (geddit!). Most grannies would be on a visitor visa and may not therefore be working for or supplying services to an organisation or other person based in Australia’, according to Immigration website. However on a Tourist or Visitor visa, you can volunteer…

“Tourist and Visitor visa holders may be able to work as a volunteer where the work is genuinely voluntary and no remuneration is received in return for the activities”, but if the family pays pocket money, expects at least 25 hours per week or even if they offer to pay for the au pair’s flight as part of their arrangement, this could be deemed as remuneration.

As with all foreign travellers and people hoping to work in Australia, would-be granny au pairs or host families should check compliance with visa status with the Department of Immigration or an au pair agency. For additional help go to or

When researching this story the general comment from the team here at (as most of us are mums) is that we personally couldn’t imagine anything worse than going to do chores for someone else’s family and kids when we are in our dotage, but who knows… the travel bug may get us and we’ll be off to live-in some swanky mansion in LA to look after Brad & Angelina’s grandchildren! Life could be worse.

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