After your children grow up and leave home, life changes. The family ‘nest’ is no longer full, and your focus shifts away from that of full-time parent. For many mums and dads, this is the period when ‘empty nest syndrome’ begins, and it can be a challenge adapting to an unfamiliar lifestyle. But you may want to embrace that empty nest while you can. In only a few short years, your adult children may start getting married and having children of their own, refilling the nest with precious little babies. Time for another transition. Now, you’re stepping forward into a new role. Your family is growing again, and you’re taking on a fresh title---that of the grandparent.
Welcome to grandparenthood, what many will claim is the best time of their life. If you’re already a proud grandparent, you already know about the great things that come along with this role. If you’re about to become a grandparent for the first time, you’re likely filled with anticipation at what is to come. This is a beautiful time in your life, not only because you’ll have gorgeous grandchildren to love and spoil, but because being a grandparent brings with it numerous other benefits. While there are probably too many to count, we’ve boiled it down to 10 of the best.
These are the very best things about being a grandparent:
1. Seeing your family grow & grow
There’s something incredible about witnessing the growth and expansion of your family. On one hand, you’re observing the continuation of your ancestral line. This alone is a fascinating and special element. Without a doubt, we humans have an inborn nature to see our genes passed down through the generations. Watching it happen right in front of you is a real privilege.
As a grandparent, you can stand back and watch the future unfold in front of you. As your grandchildren enter the world, it’s thrilling to watch them grow, seeing which relatives they might resemble and discovering what type of people they will become as individuals. Noticing the similarities between your own children and their children is a particularly enjoyable aspect. Watch for those little quirks within your grandchildren: a style of laughter, a proclivity for certain foods, or simply a familiar temperament. So many grandparents are amazed when they see just how much history seems to repeat itself!
2. Unconditional love, without the responsibilities
Both as a parent and as a grandparent, you’re sure to feel insurmountable love for your offspring. But while parenting is a balance between care and guidance, grandparenting is somewhat different. We grandparents have all the luck in this department. We get to enjoy the unconditional love of our grandchildren without having to shoulder the responsibilities allotted to parents. Of course, we’ve already paid those dues when we raised our own children!
Those with grandbabies will cheer in agreement when we mention the words “no nappies!” As a grandparent, you get a free pass for dealing with all the less-enjoyable aspects of rearing babies. Sure, you might change the occasional nappy, especially if you’re babysitting for an evening, but on the whole, you are absolved of these unpleasant responsibilities. This is one thing that makes being a grandparent such great fun.
But it’s more than that. As a grandmother or grandfather, you are able to spend your time loving on your grandkids, instead of focusing on their raising. While parents look to ensure their children develop good manners, self-control, and the like, grandparents can take their focus off of these responsibilities. Nan and Grandad’s house isn’t the place for discipline and chores. It’s not the place where you eat all your vegetables. No, this is where the spoiling and the cuddling take place. Grandkids come over to eat cookies and go on outings, and grandparents get to pour out the love and simply enjoy their quality time together.
3. Children energise you
It’s common to become a first-time grandparent in your 50s and 60s. For many of us, these are thriving years, but they are a time when our energy begins to wane a bit. You may not feel you’re as active or energetic as you were in your 20s and 30s. But when the grandkids come over, you forget all of that.
Kids energise those around them. With their boundless enthusiasm and zest for life, you can’t help but be swept into the chaos. Experts often say that children keep us young, and there’s a great deal of truth to that statement. We may not be able to run and play with them for hours on end, but children can be a positive influence on us. They remind us what it means to be children; to be carefree and curious, to explore without hesitation or self-consciousness. Spending time with your grandkids offers a wonderful reminder of the pleasures of life.
4. You often have a busy nest, but the nest is all yours
Perhaps the finest aspect of being a grandparent is that you get the best of both worlds. Case in point: your home. While you may have the joy of having your grandkids over often, at the end of a crazy day, they will go home to their mummy and daddy. Your house is still your own, providing you with some lovely peace and quiet. As a parent, you likely had a house chaotic with toys and mess, but as a grandparent, you have a lot more control over this. The children don’t take over as they do in their own home! For those that love having a personal space, decorated the way they like, it can be fabulous having grandchildren who come...and then go.
5. A focus on the fun
Daily life brings with it a to-do list. But not at grandma’s. At grandma’s, it’s all about having fun. Here there are no dentist appointments to attend, no chores to be done, and no to-do lists to check off. When you’re a grandparent, you needn’t concern yourself with the day-to-day necessities of life with children. These are left to their parents, meaning your time spent with them can be focussed completely on having a great time.
There are also opportunities for one-on-one time with your grandkids. You may not have these same chances when you’re a parent, all under one roof. But as a grandparent, you might get one grandchild at a time. This means they get a day of spoiling and adventure---what grandkid wouldn’t love that?!
One of the best aspects of raising kids is revelling in all the affection. Babies and young children can be so cuddly. As a grandparent and as a parent, you’ll probably spend a lot of time just holding, cradling, and cooing over the little ones. Well, as a grandparent, you likely get this advantage times two! On a short visit, there may be no naptime to worry about, and of course, there are no chores or rules at the grandparent’s house, so there’s ample time for snuggles and relaxing.
Speaking of affection, grandparents are blessed with truly adorable nicknames. While nan and pop are common titles, the iterations are endless: grammy, grampy, papa, nanny, or a new, creative name given to you by your grandkids. There’s definitely something special about being referred to by a sweet pet name.
7. The financial situation is different...and usually better
You’ve worked hard throughout your life. By the time you become a grandparent, it’s probable that you’re enjoying the rewards of your labour. This means that grandparents are generally in better financial situations than they were as young parents. More importantly, this means that the money spent on grandchildren is ‘fun money.’ Instead of paying for piano lessons, new shoes, or other essentials, grandparents can use their money to spoil the little ones. This means holidays, trips to theme parks, cinema tickets, new toys….virtually anything. With money to spare, it’s a pleasure to spend it on those you love so much, and especially to spend it on something that will bring them enormous joy.
8. Watching your own children become amazing parents
Being a grandparent is not just about your beautiful grandkids, it’s about your own children too. There’s nothing that can compare to the magic of watching your children turn into loving, caring parents. Witnessing the growth can feel miraculous. For many grandparents, this period brings about a sense of pride. You can feel secure in the knowledge that you did an amazing job raising your kids, as you see them doing the same with their own children.
Passing down parenting knowledge is a treasure, too. Go easy, though, as your kids are probably anxious to figure things out for themselves. Still, the occasional helpful suggestion will be a welcome touch. And make sure to regularly compliment your children on what terrific parents they are becoming. This will warm their hearts and fill everyone with family gratitude. That’s just the best.
9. Your grandkids love your stories
It’s something of a requirement for grandparents to tell stories. And many of us have fabulous tales to share. After all, we’re so much older than our grandchildren, meaning we grew up in a vastly different era. Don’t be afraid to tell your grandkids about what life was like when you were a child. Chances are, they’ll be fascinated by the way the world has changed. They may not even believe you when you tell them that phones used to have cords!
As a grandparent, telling stories can be great fun. But it’s not every day you have a willing audience. Passing down family traditions and tales can be a lovely way to forge an intergenerational bond, and you never know how your wisdom will impact your grandkids.
10. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is like no other
The connection between a grandparent and a grandchild is unique and meaningful. It is a relationship that differs from that of parent and child and takes on its own special shine. Nothing can compare to this kind of relationship, and every grandparent will surely agree that their grandkids have changed their lives.
Ready for grandchildren? Share this article with your own kids for a bit of not-so-subtle encouragement!
What’s your favourite part of being a grandparent?