Be Open to New Routines and Schedules
As a grandparent, you’ll need to be flexible and willing to adapt to the routines and schedules set up by your grandkids’ parents. This may mean adjusting your typical daily rhythm.
Be open to handling naps, snacks, activities, and bedtimes differently than you did with your own children. Check in with your adult kids about their preferences and do your best to follow their lead on schedules.
Establish Regular Communication with Parents
Make sure you are on the same page as your grandkids’ parents when it comes to rules, routines, and discipline. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss schedules, activities, behavior issues, and any other concerns.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need clarification on their approach to parenting. Clear communication will help avoid potential conflicts down the road.
Respect the Parents’ Wishes
While your adult children will likely appreciate any help with childcare, remember that you are not the primary decision maker when it comes to raising your grandchildren.
Make sure to follow the parents’ guidance when it comes to things like diet, discipline, activities, screen time limits, and bedtime routines. Don’t undermine their rules just because you did things differently decades ago.
Learn About Child Safety Best Practices
A lot has changed over the years when it comes to child safety recommendations. Take some time to read up on current best practices so you can keep your grandkids safe.
Use proper car seats and seat belts, childproof your home, keep medicines locked up, and watch kids closely around water. You’ll also need to be mindful of food allergies and choking hazards.
Find Ways to Bond with Your Grandkids
One of the joys of being a grandparent is forming meaningful connections with your grandchildren. Find activities you can do together one-on-one or as a group that allow you to get to know each other better.
Read books, bake cookies, work on crafts, play board games, go on outings to the park or museum. Discover their interests so you can nurture their development.
Set Aside Special Grandparent-Grandchild Time
As much as you’ll want to respect the kids’ normal routine, also try to carve out some special time when you can spoil them a bit. This could be going out for ice cream, watching a movie while snuggling on the couch, or playing their favorite game. Let them know how much you enjoy spending time together.
Encourage Open Communication
Make sure your grandkids know they can always come to you to talk about anything on their minds. Actively listen without judgment when they want to share stories or concerns with you. Be a trusted supporter who they know will offer unconditional love. Avoid lecturing, critiquing, or invalidating their feelings.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Taking care of young kids is a lot of work, especially if you’re not used to their high energy levels and constant needs. If you ever feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask the parents for help or take a break. Better to admit you’re struggling than try to push through on your own to the point of exhaustion or burnout.
Stay Up to Date on Child Development Stages
To provide the best care for your grandkids, make sure you educate yourself on the key milestones and developmental changes associated with their age group. Understanding normal childhood behavior will help you set appropriate expectations and identify any potential red flags if issues arise.
Maintain Patience and Your Sense of Humor
Kids will inevitably test your patience at times with tantrums, messes, defiance, and noise. Try your best to stay calm, enforce household rules consistently, and use humor to defuse tense moments. Don’t sweat the small stuff – with grace and laughter, you’ll get through the challenges.
Offer Support Without Being Intrusive
Show your grandkids you care without being overbearing. Find a good balance between being available for help and allowing independence appropriate to their age. Offer guidance while letting them make mistakes and learn. Give advice when asked without being preachy.
Avoid Overindulging or Spoiling
It’s common for grandparents to want to shower their grandkids with gifts, treats, and privileges their parents did not allow. But too much leniency can undermine the parents’ authority and discipline. Stick to the rules on sweets, toys, and screen time. Focus more on experiences over things.
Be a Role Model of Unconditional Love
One of your key roles as a grandparent is to provide unconditional love and support. Set an example by being patient, actively listening, showing care and concern, and reiterating their worth. Provide a judgement-free safe space for them to be themselves.
Share Your Wisdom and Life Lessons
Part of the magic of the grandparent-grandchild bond is passing down your hard-earned wisdom. Share stories from your youth, talk about important values, teach them practical skills, and impart advice based on life experiences. They’ll benefit greatly from your perspective.
Create Lasting Memories Together
Having extended time with your grandkids allows you to create meaningful shared memories. Capture special moments with photos and keepsakes. Start family traditions to look forward to year after year. Record or write down their sayings and milestones so you can reminisce later.
Focus on Quality Time Over Quantities of Gifts
The gift of your presence is far more valuable than lavishing them with the latest toys or clothing. Cherish the small everyday moments of reading, playing, talking, and laughing together. Simple focused attention goes a long way in strengthening your lifelong bond.
Caring for your grandchildren can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. Follow these tips to create positive relationships built on communication, respect, and love. Remember to be patient, flexible, and open to learning new approaches. Most importantly, have fun making memories that will last a lifetime!