I've been a grandma for about five years now. I've learned much in that time, from my own experience as well as from the amazing grandmas who share their real-life experience with me.
One thing I've learned for sure is that no matter how long I've been a grandma, there's always more to learn. Which means that although these tips — culled from my heart, and the hearts of others — are intended for new grandparents, there's surely one or two even the most-seasoned grandma or grandpa can put to good use.
• Be prepared to be unreasonably, crazy in love. The love for a grandchild is unlike anything you’ve felt before.
• Be gentle with Mom and Dad — even when they don’t do things your way.
• Don't be afraid of acting silly.
• Give the parents all the love and support you can muster.
• Make no comparisons, good or bad, to your other grandchildren.
• When the parents drive you nuts, smile instead of screaming, as they hold the keys to baby visits.
• Have lots of pictures taken of you with them — especially if you're typically the one behind the camera.
• Be available to the parents for advice, but never give it — or your opinion — unless asked.
• And when the parents don’t put your requested advice to use, bite your tongue.
• Get extra time with baby by volunteering to change the diapers.
• Don’t expect perfection — from the child, the parents or yourself.
• Respect the wishes and rules of the parents.
• Always let your grandchildren know you love them, in whatever fashion is comfortable for you.
• Let them know you’ll always be honest with them, too, and that they can trust you.
• Kiss them every chance you get.
• Get down on the floor and play with them.
• Remember that grandchildren are not their parents. Nor are they your children.
• Be someone the parents enjoy having around... so they'll have you around often.
• Make every effort to see and be with your grandchildren so they get to know you, always know you.
• Get advice on equipment, toys and more from other grandparents and young parents.
• Leave the parenting up to the parents.
• Don't worry about material things you are unable to give.
• Visit garage sales for toys, books, and furnishings (but never, ever for car seats, bicycle helmets, or other safety equipment).
• Don’t compare yourself to other grandmothers.
• Break your bad habits now, before the grandchildren copy you.
• Establish rules for your home when the kids are visiting, but be sure to never cross parental boundaries.
• Remember you are still a parent, not just a grandparent. Your child still wants you to consider his or her interests, concerns, achievements.
• When grandchildren visit, remember there is nothing they can break that you can’t live without.
• Don't take togetherness for granted; circumstances can change in an instant.
• When you’re the caretaker, get specifics — what the child needs, what the parent wants, and what time parents will return.
• Take the time to make the time with your grandchildren memorable.
• Be yourself and give of yourself.
• Enrich your grandchild’s life with more you, less stuff.
• Practice patience.
• Be a calm, loving, and engaged presence in your grandchild’s life.
• Love, enjoy, and appreciate every single moment.
This essay originally appeared on GrandmasBriefs.com and was written by Lisa Carpenter, a baby boomer, grandparent, parent to adult children, wife, and writer. Follow her on Facebook.
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