Super aunts: Some are delaying motherhood, some are just wild about their nieces and nephews
...In 2008, Melanie Notkin launched the website savvyauntie.com after her nephew was born, she said, and she felt her life change. “I felt more joy and love than I had ever felt in my life,” she writes in the book “Savvy Auntie.” But Notkin couldn’t exactly join a new moms group to gush about her baby nephew And while there are plenty of resources for new parents, she couldn’t find much information for new aunts.
“Many women choose not to have children or are unable to have children by choice, circumstance or challenge,” said Notkin, 48, who is based in New York and now has six nieces and nephews. “It wasn’t just me and my friends and my friends’ friends. There was this growing tribe of women going through the same joys and tribulations.
“Parents have each other and the playground and books and resources and Meetups,” Notkin said. “We aunts didn’t have any resources.”
Notkin said she launched Savvy Auntie — the website, book and Facebook group — as a “celebration of modern aunthood.” Its resources include suggestions for activities to do with kids, gift ideas and forums for aunts to share concerns about their nieces and nephews or discuss how to deal with yet another baby shower invitation.
She describes a “savvy auntie” as any woman who loves a child who is not her own. And she emphasizes the importance of aunts — or another trusted adult — in a child’s life.
“The value of an aunt — the role she plays — is play,” Notkin said. “When an aunt comes to visit or a child visits her, she plays with that child. Every child should have one hour of free playtime every day. I don’t have to explain to anybody that that’s a very tough thing to do when both parents work or there is only one parent or more than one kid. When an aunt is over, she gives them that time naturally.”
Wanders’ sister, Jen Sheppard, couldn’t agree more with that assessment.
“Super aunts like Aunt Nat swoop in with gifts, games, enthusiasm, love, structure and discipline,” Sheppard, 35, of Atlanta, said. “Peyton and Charlie view Aunt Nat as silly and fun.”
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