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 Grilled Grandmas.
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 Grilled Grandma archives — 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.
Photo: Yes, that's me with Baby Mac (who's no longer <sniff> a baby).
What would you add to the list?