Older au pairs have a wealth of experience to offer

Older au pairs have a wealth of experience to offer

A new breed of domestic helpers is emerging across the country with lots more experience, and who won’t be found clubbing until all hours – ‘granny au pairs’.

Families around the world are snapping up women aged 50 and over who are looking for a chance to travel and share their knowledge, while improving their language skills.

More than 500 women have already taken up the opportunity to be placed with families in 40 countries, using website www.granny-aupair.com , based in Hamburg, Germany.

The grand-nannies play, paint, bake and sing with children and provide love and comfort while their parents are away working.

Gerda Sehr, 57, is one of the many ‘grannies’ who have taken up the opportunity to explore a new culture in a new country.


A former employee at Austria’s National Insurance Office, Gerda said she was on the lookout for a new challenge.

She said: “I’ve always been annoyed that I can’t speak English, when I complained about it during a trip to India my daughter just said ‘Go to an English-speaking country and learn it!’”

While surfing the net Gerda came across granny-aupair.com and immediately applied. She was placed with the Voellms, a German ex-pat family in Nottingham.

Mum Birgit, 49, said: “Gerda was the first au pair I ever had. My mother was reading an article about it in a women’s magazine one day and showed it to me. That was before we needed it but I thought ‘oh I’ll keep that’”.

“It’s really efficient, you put your profile up on the site with what you want and are looking for, and the au pairs do the same.

“We were looking at a few families and made a bit of a short list, then we spoke with three of them on the phone and on Skype and finally settled on Gerda.”

Brigit and husband Bertram, 48, loved the experience so much they hired another nanny, Alice, to help out with their two children, Emmy, three and a half, and Lucy, two, when Gerda left.

“I think getting older au pairs in is actually better. We obviously don’t have any of the problems you can associate with younger au pairs, like them going clubbing on work nights,” she said.

“Obviously you can’t rule it out with older au pairs but there’s a good chance they won’t!

“It’s great to have somebody who is experienced. When we had our first child, Emmy, Gerda helped out a lot.

“She has two children of her own so she was more experienced, she gave us suggestions.

“Alice doesn’t have children but she was a teacher so she is also very helpful.

“I can see more advantages than disadvantages. When children are still so reliant on their parents it is better to have a slightly older person to look after them.”

And now the agency, which specialises in matching experienced candidates with families abroad, is keen to get more Brits on its books.

Founder Michaela Hansen, 53, wants to return the favour by sending native Britons around the globe.

Michaela got the idea to set up the agency four years ago while sitting on her sofa watching a TV show about young au pairs abroad.

She quickly set out to send young-at-heart ‘grannys’ across the world to help out in homes.


“Some of the au pairs seemed to have a lot of problems with their duties. And I wondered: why should only young women get the chance to do this. That’s not fair. It was like an epiphany – like a flash.

“Older au pairs draw on a wealth of life experience and take the daily challenges of family life in their stride.

“They know how to run a household and many have raised their own children.

“They are 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 and they are eager to find out about others.”

Find out more visit: www.granny-aupair.com