April 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm , by Lauren Piro
We all remember what it was like as a kid to have a “cool aunt.” She’d take us to movies and treat us to popcorn, bring a new book to read when she visited or create arts and crafts with us – even if they were a bit messy. Melanie Notkin, founder of SavvyAuntie.com and author of Savvy Auntie, just out from William Morrow, loves being that cool aunt (or “PANK” as she dubs herself and her peers—Professional Aunt, No Kids), and wants every woman with a niece, nephew, godchild or other special kid in their lives to be one too.
“What’s so terrific about the aunt is that she’s a grown-up in the child’s life who is all about magical experiences,” says Notkin. “PANKs have discretionary income and time to spend with kids and can take them on day trips, go to sporting events or see plays at times when maybe their parents can’t—‘qualAuntie’ time, as I like to call it.”
Notktin started Savvy Auntie in 2008 after her nephew was born, and she couldn’t find any resources on how to be a modern aunt (she now has six nieces and nephews, and many more of her friends’ children are also happy to call her “auntie”). Everything she read was too “auntique” (auntie lingo has become her thing, too). Plus, she wanted to be thrilled about her new important title, and not dejected that it wasn’t her own newborn she was cooing over.
“I’ve learned that when I focus on all that I am, including a very loving aunt, it enables me to rewrite happiness for myself,” she says. “When my nieces and nephews ask me how I started my own company or how I wrote a book, it feels extraordinary to be able to share my experience with them, and I realize the value I can add to their lives.”
Plant a Flower Garden
“This is great for kids of all ages. When they see the seeds that they planted themselves bloom, they really feel like they’ve created something special.”
“It sounds pretty basic, but it’s easy, inexpensive and a lot of fun. Little kids love chasing the bubbles, while older ones like to see how big they can make their bubbles.”
Color with Sidewalk Chalk
“Another easy and cheap idea that’s all about art and creation – even when the older kids like to take the hose and wash the art away!”
Read a Book
“I always bring a new book when I visit. We’ll talk about the illustrations and learn new words. One of my new favorites is 13 Words by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman.”
“Whether we’re playing hockey in the driveway or riding scooters and bikes, it keeps them moving, which is great.”
Pick up the new Savvy Auntie book through Wednesday, April 27th and do good with Melanie. She’ll donate $1 to the non-profit Epic Change, which uses social media to help worthy causes raise funds, for each copy sold. She likes to think of it as being a—wait for it—“benevolAunt.”
Photo of Melanie Notkin by Anna Schechter