Being a grandparent is one of the most joyous parts of life. As a grandparent, you have a special opportunity to enjoy all of the fun aspects of parenting without the full responsibility. You aren’t pressed with the hectic schedule of parenthood, so you can spend time pouring large measures of love and wisdom into the lives of the wonderful grandchildren in your life.
Grandparenting is full of wonderful memories, unconditional love and all sorts of fun. Not only that, but as a grandparent, you’ve got this amazing second chance to appreciate the beautiful lives your adult children have brought into the world and influence them significantly.
While grandparenting doesn’t come with an instruction book, there are some measures you can take to ensure that your adult children and beloved grandchildren are incredibly thankful that you’re in their lives. We’ve got a list of 15 ways to be an awesome grandparent. By the way, if you’re reading an article like this, you’re probably already pretty awesome.
1. Play by the Rules
The first and most important rule of grandparenting is always to respect the rules of mom and dad. Your grandchild has parents for a reason. If the parents don’t want their child to eat wheat, stay up past 10 p.m. or watch PG-13 rated movies, you absolutely must respect those guidelines no matter what.
Even if the parents’ requests seem silly or over the top, not complying will jeopardize your standing and the amount of time you get to spend with your sweet grandchildren. Do your best to respect all the wishes of your grandchild’s parents and keep the peace.
If there’s ever any question regarding the parents’ expectations, kindly ask them to make a list of guidelines for you.
2. Be Available for Babysitting
If you want to maximize your time with the grandchildren, make sure you let their parents know which nights you’re available to babysit. They’ll be so thankful for your help. Also, if you babysit, you’ll know your precious grands are safe with you instead of with hired help.
Bring fresh books from the library and a few toys that normally live at Grandma’s house when you come over to babysit. Plan to focus on the kids and play with them while mom and dad are out. They’ll appreciate the attention and care.
Whether you are in the same town or across the country, send letters and cards in the mail to your grandchildren. I still remember getting a letter and a $1 bill in the mail from my grandpa once when I was very young. I felt so special that he took the time to write to me.
My mom often collects stickers, notepads and other small knick-knacks and sends them in a large envelope with a couple of handwritten notes for my two kids. They get so excited for those envelopes full of random items from grandma.
Kids love to get mail. You don’t need a reason to send a little snail mail to your grandchild. Jot down a few lines or write a knock-knock joke and drop it in the mail. It’ll be well received for sure.
3. Don’t Compete
Perhaps one of the main complexities of grandparenting is the other set of grandparents. You’ll share a title and space in the hearts of your grandchildren. It’s tempting to try and be the favorite or the most fun grandparent. However, trust me when I tell you that competitiveness isn’t cute in grandparenting.
Respect that the other set of grandparents are very important people to your grandchildren. If it happens that the other grandparents live closer, have more money to spend or seem to always buy the perfect gifts, that’s OK. Keep your attitude in check and go about being the best grandparent that you can be ― regardless of anyone else.
Fortunately, your grandchildren have enough love to spread around to all of you. There’s no need to try and compete for the affection, attention or cuddles of your lovely grandchildren. Always speak kindly about the other set of grandparents. Be especially kind to them when you’re together. As best you can, try not to schedule time with your grandchildren when you know the other grandparents are planning a visit. Graciousness looks a lot better on you than pettiness ever will.
4. Pick a Unique Activity
When you get to spend time with your grandchildren, pick some things to do that are unique and fun. If you enjoy baking, pick up an apron for your grandchild and plan an evening of pie-making. If baking turns out to be a hit, make a list of recipes and plan to bake something new each time he or she comes over. It’ll be a special activity just for the two of you.
Any activity that you enjoy can be something you share with your grandchildren. It can be sewing, crochet, decorating or woodworking. Picture your grandchild, in 30 years, recalling how his grandma used to have him over to paint birdhouses every Sunday. Memories like that are what grandparenting is all about.
5. Be a Supporter
Kids are different these days. They have all sorts of interests that don’t always make sense to us older folks. However, we don’t have to understand their activities to be their biggest cheerleaders. If your grandson registers for a high-stakes video game tournament, make sure you’re in the front row rooting for him. Be a supporter and a big fan of whatever your darling grandchildren are into these days.
6. Teach by Action
As a grandparent, you’ve got a big responsibility to make sure your footsteps are worth following. You may have been used to doing your own thing after your grown children were out of the house. Now, someone’s little eyes are watching you again.
If you’ve acquired any unsavory habits that you wouldn’t want the grandkids to copy, clean up your act a bit. Mom and dad might not be pleased if Junior comes home from your house with a few new colorful words in his vocabulary. Do your best to model excellent behavior and good habits in front of your grandchildren.
7. Go Out for a Movie
One of the best gifts you can give a child is your time and complete attention. Instead of buying the latest large plastic toy for your granddaughter on her birthday, make her a card with the name of three movies she might like to see inside. Then, arrange a day to take her out to the movies for a birthday treat. She’ll never forget the extra special birthday outing. Bonus points if you stop for ice cream afterward.
8. Read Them Bedtime Stories by Video Chat
This tip is excellent for both local and long-distance grandparents. Arrange a time, just before bed, when you and your grandchild can have a video conference. Then, plan to read the little cutie a bedtime story while mom puts her feet up for 20 minutes. It may work out well and become something you two enjoy several nights a week.
9. Focus on the Loving
One of the major perks about being a grandparent is that you don’t have to be the disciplinarian. Leave that job to the parents. When you’re a grandparent, your job consists of loving, spoiling, hugging, kissing and cuddling your little sugar plums. No need to be heavy.
10. Volunteer at the School
If you’re fortunate enough to live in the same town as your grandchildren, check with their parents about volunteering at their schools. Most teachers will gladly accept a hand if you’ve got some free time. Volunteering in their schools is a great way for you to bond with your grandchildren and get to know what’s going on in their lives.
11. Host the Best Sleepovers
When your grands are ready to start sleeping over, go all out for slumber parties. Rent silly movies, play fun music, order pizza and put up a tent in the living room. Do the fun things that they rarely get to do at home. Host sleepovers that they’ll remember forever.
12. Get Messy
Fingerpaints, homemade slime, and mud pies ― these are just a few of the wonderfully messy things kids love to do. Roll out the tarp and consider getting a little messy with your grandchild. It’ll likely be fun for both of you.
13. Plant Something Together
There’s something very special about teaching a child to appreciate and tend to live plants. If you have a spot in your backyard and the means, consider making a vegetable garden with your grandchildren. Each time they are over, they can help you pull weeds and water the backyard garden. Then, when you’ve got a harvest, invite the grandchildren over to enjoy the produce.
14. Keep the Whipped Cream in Stock
There are certain treats that grandparents keep on hand just for the little ones. Most everything is better with whipped cream. Frozen waffles, cereal, ice cream, and oatmeal ― all of those things are 100 percent better with a little whipped cream topping.
Maybe your grandchild likes having fudge ice pops in the freezer or cheeseballs in the pantry. Take note of the snacks and treats he or she likes and keep them in stock. The two of you can enjoy those treats together and make even more special memories.
Keep Being Awesome
As a grandparent, you don’t have to download Snapchat or learn to skateboard to be awesome. You have to wholeheartedly embrace your station and be the best, most loving and connected grandparent you can be. Enjoy those grandkids and keep being awesome.
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