The relationship between grandmas and grandkids is so special. I wasn’t blessed to have a grandma to love and nurture me. So, when my first grandchild was born I realized that I may not have HAD a loving Nana but I could BE one. And, if done right, you can not only provide your grandkids with a cozy place to be, but you can ease their parents’ burdens a little too.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
- Keep diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, sippy cups and extra outfits at your house. This allows parents and kids to pop over for a visit without having to pack first.
- Stock your bathroom with baby shampoo, conditioner and bath toys. I also keep undies and PJ’s on hand. That way parents can leave your house with clean, ready-for-bed kids.
- Do yourself a favor and buy a Pack and Play. For babies, the mattress can be set high for use as a changing table and bassinet. Once the child grows a little, you can lower the mattress for use as a crib or playpen. I bought this one from Amazon.
- Prepare for emergency sleepovers (you’ll be amazed at how often these pop up). The three steps above will keep you ready. But, for older kids, I also have sleeping bags, special PJs and cuddly stuffed animals on hand.
- We keep car seats in our car. They are indispensable for emergency school pick-ups, etc.
- Set up kid-zones in your home. My family room is filled with shelves of children’s books, DVDs, toys, puzzles and art supplies. I also have a kitchen drawer filled with gum and small treats. Kids love having a sense of ownership at Nana’s house.
- Give them a sense of wonder. Whenever I pick up new toys from Goodwill or the dollar store, I hide them in the toy room. The grandkids love to run around and discover what’s new.
- Grow fun things in your yard. We grow blueberries, raspberries, mini pumpkins, etc. and the kids have free reign to pick whatever they want. There are also areas of dirt for toy construction vehicles and Papa’s camper doubles as a playhouse.
You can probably tell that I love being a Nana. And, the fact that my grandkids love coming to my house makes me so happy. The downside of that is that they hate to leave and they used to sob when it was time to go home (which broke my heart). So, I invented:
- Car snacks! I keep paper cups and healthy-ish treats on the lower shelf of my pantry (so they can get their own). When it’s time to go home, they get a cup of crackers to take with them in the car. It’s so cute to see them happily clutching their little cups as they head to the car. No more tears.
There’s a fine line between loving and spoiling. And, I’m sure I’ve crossed that line more than once. While it’s important to me to be a loving Nana, I also don’t want to undermine their parents’ rules and authority (although I do feel that grandmas have the right to do a little spoiling). So, I enforce polite behavior, kind manners and no physical altercations from my grandkids. And, I try to teach them empathy for others with every chance I get.
So, there you have it: “Nana 101”. Having a loving grandmother would have been a blessing. But, BEING one is even better.