Happy Auntie's Day! An Interview with Savvy Auntie Melanie Notkin

You’ve heard of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but what about Auntie’s Day? Every July, you can honor the special aunt in your or your little one’s life by celebrating Auntie’s Day! This year, the celebration happens this Sunday, July 28th. In honor of this special day, I sat down with the Savvy Auntie herself, Melanie Notkin, to talk all things Auntie’s Day and why aunthood is a special gift.

Melanie Notkin

Photo by Ana Schechter. Used with permission.

First of all, an early Happy Auntie’s Day! In your book, Savvy Auntie, you note that “Auntie time is quality time.” What makes time with Auntie special and different?

Thank you, Keiko! To you, too! Before you became a mommy, you were – and still are – a Savvy Auntie. This is your day, too.

And now that you are a mom, you know how hard it is, and will continue to be as your son gets older, to spend all the time you want to spend with him. Moms and dads are doing double duty handling their careers and the household, and the notion of carving out quality playtime often remains an elusive luxury. This is where QualAuntie Time comes in because children learn best just by doing what they do best: play.

All the ways that aunties interact with our young nieces and nephews: playing alongside them, reading to them, baking cookies with them, playing ball outdoors, even bathing that little baby niece or nephew — can be critical to their cognitive, social, and emotional development and future academic successes. Whether or not we realize it, we’re teaching them language, science, math, and social skills simply through play. In fact aunts may be one of the few adults in a niece’s or nephew’s life who can provide that playful early education because our visits are set aside to spend uninterrupted time with our nieces and nephews doing just that. And the best part is that it works whether or not we realize it.

As THE Savvy Auntie, what’s your favorite part about being an aunt?

There are so many favorite parts! It’s difficult to choose just one. But knowing that I’ve earned their trust is probably the most rewarding to me. They know they are safe with me, physically and emotionally, and that I will always do my best to inspire them to be their best. I must add that the way they run toward me, jumping up and down with excitement, when I come to visit them is the very best feeling on earth.

Most of us know about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but for a lot of us, Auntie’s Day is a new holiday on our calendar. Can you tell us more about the holiday and how it got started?

I founded the day in July 2009, a year after I launched SavvyAuntie.com, the first and only community for cool aunts, great-aunts, godmothers, and all women who love kids. Unlike parenthood, there is no legal or even ethical obligation to ‘aunt.’ It’s our choice to be Savvy Aunties. We love making that choice, but it’s important for everyone to realize that aunthood is a gift. It’s a gift to the parents who can use the support, it’s a gift to the children who never suffer from too much love, and it’s a gift to us as our bond and positive influence with these children is part of our legacy.

I created Auntie’s Day, a national holiday on the Chase Calendar of Events, because Aunthood is a gift and this day is our gift. It’s a day to be acknowledged and appreciated for all that we do in the Family Village. It’s that simple. The 5th Annual Auntie’s Day is Sunday, July 28.

How can new moms and dads help make Auntie’s Day special for the ABRs (Aunties By Relation) and ABCs (Aunties By Choice) in their lives?

While new parents are stretched to their limits, Savvy Aunties are often able – and happy – to offer support to the children in their lives in meaningful ways. These women may be secondary caregivers, but with their emotional, financial, and material gifts – not to mention their quality time and positive influence – they play a primary role in the vitality of the family.

All it takes to make the day special for her is acknowledgment and appreciation. Even if she disappoints you sometimes, or isn’t able to give as much as you expected or hoped she could or would, everything she does… every boo boo she kisses, every little hand she holds, every hugs she gives, is a gift. Thank her. It will mean so much to her.

What’s your best piece of advice for brand new Aunties? How can they “Auntie Up!” as soon as their new little niece or nephew arrives?

Actually, Savvy Aunties can begin to “Auntie Up!” even before the baby arrives. Help the parent(s) get ready for the baby! And when she becomes a DebutAunt – a first-time aunt – she should do what comes naturally: love and support the child unconditionally. I launched my website, established an active community of tens-of-thousands of aunts in the Auntourage on Facebook, and researched and wrote a bestselling book about how to be a Savvy Auntie because just moms and dads have a plethora of resources, and I wanted to establish resources so we can become the savviest aunts we can be.

Like parenthood, aunthood gets better with practice. So moms and dads, thank you for trusting us with your beautiful babies and toddlers. Like you, we may make mistakes now and again. And we may be stretched in our own ways to be able to give these children all the attention they deserve from us. But we strive to do our best. And that, for any woman, is the savviest thing we can do.

Thank you Melanie, for taking the time to chat and to fill us all in on this wonderful family holiday. Happy Auntie’s Day to all the aunts and godmothers! Aunthood is a Gift. This Day is Yours!

Melanie Notkin (a.k.a. Savvy Auntie®) is the founder of SavvyAuntie.com, author of the national bestseller – Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids, and the creator of the popular Savvy Auntie lifestyle brand – the phenomenon heralded by fabulous kid-friendly women everywhere as a celebration of modern, cosmopolitan aunthood.

Read more from Keiko at her blog, Go Team Zoll! or follow her along at Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Rocket Fuel