They didn’t read parenting books. That was for ‘the hippies’. Here’s my take on how to parent like a grandparent. Just chill out, trust your own damn self, and enjoy.
I spent a ton of time with my grandparents when I was growing up and when I think back to some of my fondest childhood memories, they often involve the way my grandparents took a genuine interest in us kids and how we experienced the world. (I mean, don’t overdo this, read on for a healthy balance because nobody needs to think the world revolves around them).
My Nana and Grampy loved to take us on Mystery Trips, which were anything from playing with their friends’ baby goats to a trip to The Harrisburg International Airport, which at the time had some of the first automatically flushing toilets in Central Pennsylvania.
Grandparents get a little something that we parents tend to miss in the day to day of laundry and homework and sibling rivalries.
Kids hold the magic. Wanna have a little magic? Sit back. Listen to them. Put your phone down.
Matt’s mom, Pam, said something recently that inspired me to write this. She said, “Children should grow up hearing mostly love and encouragement, and just a little bit of discipline”.
Basically, correct, don’t harp and move the hell on. It’s fudging tough. Grandparents don’t share the same pressures and the day to day responsibilities. I almost feel like the pressure is on more than ever to raise kids who aren’t @$$%**^!. But here are a few steps, and remembering even just one can open you up to slowing down and enjoying those babies. Who said, “the days are long, but the years are short?” Grandparents? They get that.
1. Give Kids Your Time. Grandparents aren’t worried about cleaning up and doing laundry while simultaneously taking care of the kids. They can full on play this or that…but if they need to go take care of themselves or read the damn newspaper…they tell the kids to go play outside, use their imagination or whatever.
Grandparents play hard and then they relax hard. Don’t feel guilty about the downtime. This ain’t 7-Eleven.
2. Trust Your Experience. Tantrums and meltdowns are pretty entertaining when you’re the grandparent. Why? Not just because “they get to give them back”, as my Grampy would say. But because they know this doesn’t last forever. I mean sure, you still gotta put in the work to teach a little one how to effectively express their big emotions, but chill. They all do it. Not worth getting stressed over.
3. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This one’s kind of self-explanatory. Grampy says “most things tend to sort themselves out by the time you wake up in the morning”. Less time worrying. More time living. Live it and pass it on.
4. Get Up and Go. After eight years of coming home for nap time, I’m REALLY really excited for the day Shepherd doesn’t have to come home for a nap and we can go out seize the whole day instead of just half. Nap time was not a thing when we were little. You napped on the go, whatevs. We were always out on some kind of adventure…cause you know what? Kids BEHAVE better when they’re out, seeing something new, something old, grabbing an ice cream, going to flea markets. Get up, get out and GO! Or stay home and rest, which will show you that it’s actually easier to get the hell out of the house.
5. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. I’m making a conscious effort to be a better listener. To be mindful not of how I will respond, but what my children are saying to me. They’ve got these sparkly eyes and laughs that are contagious. If I slow down and listen, the way my Nana did for me, and the way my children’s Nana does for them, I find the joy to enjoy.