I am a busy mother of seven great kids aged 7-31, work about half-of-full-time (3 short days) as a special needs and language teacher, and have 2-3 guest rooms in my home. The house also contains a café which is open a few days a week in the spring and summer; time will show how it develops, and how my imagined concept turns out. I am still working to get the house in order after we moved in two years ago, and it is good to see it finally coming together!
My main objectives are to create a well-balanced life, a pleasant and welcoming home, and a beautiful and productive garden. The new house has a garden, but it is very much smaller than my old one... I garden organically as far as possible. We also have 3 ducks, a guinea pig, and a rabbit.
I was born in the UK, but grew up in Belgium and Norway, and our home is multilingual and multicultural, with a strong Norwegian influence. The kids are all bilingual and speak both English and Norwegian. Please note that we speak English at home, so if your main aim is to learn Norwegian, our home is not the best option for you.
The five youngest kids - aged 7-16 - live here, plus volunteers and other guests; I have two- three rooms available for tourists. The household can be noisy, and is not a good place for anyone who likes to sleep late in the mornings... The kids are active and have many interests, and I do my best to raise them to be well-mannered, thoughtful and independent - though they are often challenging, and they behave very much like kids! They have five very different personalities, each with good and not-so-good sides.
The children need some babysitting, but even more, they need time and attention - conversation, reading, games, and walks and outdoor activities; like in many other homes, it is a challenge to keep them off-screen! The 15-year-old has Down syndrome, and we need to have an extra eye on her; she is very independent and doesn't need much extra care, but she can be stubborn and spontaneous, and should not be left alone. For all the kids, it is helpful if you see your main role as helping out in the household, so I can focus more on them; there will still be plenty of opportunity for you to interact and hopefully enjoy fun and games with them!
I enjoy cooking and housekeeping, and believe that work that needs to be done is worth doing well and happily. The household is mainly vegetarian plus fish, though the kids eat meat (but not pork). I am generally curious about everything and enjoy learning new skills. We have a piano, guitars and other instruments, and a lot of books. In my spare time I like to read, play games with the kids, walk or work out, sew, play piano, and many other things. I play timpani and viola in the local amateur symphony orchestra, and I am involved in local politics and cultural events. My aim for us as a family is that we should all play an instrument and have one or two other hobbies. Some of us also train Taekwondo regularly, as we have a club and an amazing Korean Grand Master, here in our village.
Our village, Evanger, is one hour by car/train from Bergen. Evanger is a tiny, pretty place, with a lake, a river, and mountains on every side. In the village there is a shop and our small café, workshops and businesses, and everyone gets together to organize occasional festival and market days. Voss, 20 km/15-20 minutes from here, is a small town with lot of activity, summer and winter, and it is a great place for hiking, skiing, extreme sports, and music. Every year, there is a jazz festival the weekend before Easter, an extreme sports festival in June, and a folk music festival in late October, in addition to regular sports events and concerts throughout the year.
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Depending on your interests, you can learn about childcare, Down syndrome and special needs, gardening, English language, Norwegian culture and society, permaculture, and all the ups and downs of family life and running a household and guest house... You can expect to meet other travellers from around the world. You can hike, explore, ski, play piano or chess, read, garden, sew, play with kids. And do and learn many other things :)
Update February 2019: I can host one or two people much of the time from now onwards. The main tasks are along the lines of maintaining the daily routines - with kids, activities, pets... In addition to the regular tasks, I am sorting through clothes, toys, and random belongings and clearing the house as much as possible! I am still painting, decorating, tidying, making changes and repairs; the café will open before Easter for the summer season.
In general, I welcome single or couple volunteers who would like to stay for a long time - one month, several months or longer, preferably not less than two weeks. Shorter stays are possible, but if you are looking for a long stay, I will be especially happy to hear from you.
You should be enthusiastic about kids, and know that you enjoy spending time and communicating with them. Living with five energetic and sometimes uncooperative kids can be very tiring! The main household tasks I need help with are:
- help in the mornings from about 7 until the kids go to school at 8 o'clock: Supervise in the kitchen and help with breakfast and packed lunches, plus help with clothes/dressing if necessary. (Not June 20th-Aug 20th)
- do some housework and/or practical tasks most days, especially laundry, meal clean-up, vacuuming, pets - this helps us to keep up with everything!
- welcome the kids home some days and keep them happy and safe until I'm back, and babysit or help with activities as needed - this can vary a lot, as some weeks are busy and others are more relaxed. Sometimes, life just happens!
In the school year, I go to work 3-4 mornings a week. The kids are in school until 14(H)/16(Y&Z)/17(A), respectively. I should come home at around 14, though I sometimes have to do errands or work longer. You will have time to travel to Voss and Bergen, and you can arrange to take time to do your own things many weekends and some weekdays.
I appreciate any help with the garden, the kids, hospitality, housekeeping and maintenance... In the summer, I need an enthusiastic volunteer - or volunteers - in the garden. All through the spring and summer, I need help with digging, weeding, sowing and planting in the garden. The ducks need to be fed and let out in the mornings, and shut in again at night, and the other pets need food and water. The gardening season starts in April or May; from October to April I mainly need help in the house, plus clearing snow, babysitting, or just spending time with the kids.
A never-ending project is weeding and tidying the garden, to discourage slugs and other pests. In August there are berries and vegetables to pick and freeze, and from September-October until the frost comes, the garden needs to be prepared for the winter. There is always plenty to do, depending on the time of year, the weather - and everyone's level of inspiration and energy!
NB! Please do not arrange to come here and then change your mind at the last minute. Even more important, if you do change your mind, for whatever reason, LET ME KNOW. After several bad experiences, I now leave a negative/no-show reference for anyone who decides not to come and does not inform me. (Unless something very unexpected and serious happened, naturally.) I don't mind if you are hoping to get a job or a place in university, or if you just make other plans, but it is not OK to not inform me, or to inform me the same day that you had arranged to be here... People often stay here much longer or shorter than they first planned, which is fine if I have time to adjust - but if you leave suddenly without reasonable notice and/or a real reason, I will mention this in your reference.
English, Norwegian, some French, some Arabic, sometimes Spanish...
You will sleep in a volunteer bedroom, and have access to the rest of the house including kitchen, bathroom, shower, washing machine, etc. I often ask volunteers to share a room, especially when visits overlap. For a couple, I provide a separate room, of course. There is Wifi access throughout the house and a TV in the family room.
I prefer volunteers who want a long stay, have good contact and experience with kids and, if possible, also good gardening and/or maintenance skills. I try to let people do the tasks that they feel most comfortable with, but I figure it's also good to go out of your comfort zone - as long as it's not too much...
If you want to stay a long time, it is a good idea if you first stay for a week or two, and then we make a final decision when we feel that both sides are happy and everything is working out well.
I don't like to make definite plans many months or a year in advance, as I find that people's plans and circumstances often change. I try to be flexible, and you are welcome to contact me for a long or short stay - even at short notice. I usually try to have more than one person volunteering, so the house is not empty when I am at work and the kids are at school. Workawayers are welcome visitors and good company, and we all enjoy the positive energy that comes from meeting and hosting people from other parts of the world!
Please note that you will be here as a volunteer, and that I cannot employ you. It can be difficult to find work here, unless you have contacts and/or relevant skills. Your main motivation for visiting should be along the lines of volunteering, spending time with a family, getting to know the culture, in addition to the natural beauty and hiking/outdoor opportunities. I will do my best to make your time here a good experience, and make allowance for any other plans you may have - hiking, traveling, skiing, sightseeing, other activities...
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
I don't expect a certain number of hours - I suggest things that need to be done, and I appreciate initiative! I expect you to work as much as you feel comfortable, and it should be about 5 hours daily. On my side, I am flexible and will try to fit in wit