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Now that we are ‘old’ hands at this grandparenting thing – nine plus years and five grandchildren – we have learned a few things that no one told us when we started doing this drill. Some of these ‘do’s and don’ts’ are very important to your sanity while being in charge.

(Recently, we had the two pictured above for ‘four’ days.)

DO totally clean out your refrigerator before they arrive and before your daughter goes through it to throw out anything labeled with a sell date being before the day she checks on you and accuses you of “trying to make my kids’ sick.”


Do purchase a half gallon of milk per grandchild per day, one 24 oz size of Hershey’s chocolate syrup per grandchild per two days, one pound of blueberries, one pound of raspberries and a half pound of blackberries per child per day, and most important, three cups of Edy’s ‘Light’ Ice Cream (5.8 fluid ounces) per child per day.

(On the first day, we gave them ice cream after dinner; on the second day we gave them ice cream after lunch and dinner; on the third day we gave it to them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.)

Do get plenty of rest the week before you begin this care taking assignment and be sure you have nothing scheduled for the week following.

Do plan to go to bed within seven minutes of putting the grandchildren to sleep (12 minutes if the child takes time to fall asleep).

Do bring the grandchildren to your home for at least most of the time you have them. There’s a chance (slight) that they might be on better behavior in your house than in their own (particularly if you let them know that if they want to be ‘invited back’ they’d better behave).

Don’t agree months in advance to do a long weekend of care taking expecting or hoping that your children’s plans requiring your assistance will fall through, thus relieving you of having to take care of the grandchildren. If your children’s plans do fall through, they either won’t tell you or they’ll just make new plans, once they’ve got your agreement to take the kids.

Don’t expect to do anything other than be available 24 hours a day every day the child/children are with you.

Don’t even consider using one of those video monitoring devices that show you what’s going on in the children’s rooms once you’ve put them to bed.

Don’t expect that anything you learned or was successful with your own parenting of your own children will be of any use with your grandchildren.

(We tried to mitigate the arguing between the two grandchildren by alternating who got to ‘go first’ whenever there was a decision about something where there was choice, something we had done with some degree of success with our own children. This ‘proven tactic’ was easily obliterated by the grandchildren arguing over whose turn it was to choose first.)

Do encourage the grandchildren’s parents to put them in day camp for at least half of the total number of days you agree to take care of them.

Don’t tell the grandchildren anything you don’t want them to tell their parents.

(When I responded to pleas for stories about when we were young, I mentioned that I was arrested for stopping traffic, trying to shut down DC, during the Vietnam War. The five year told his parents that Grandpapa was put in jail for stopping cars in the war in the streets.)

Don’t, under any condition or despite any pressure, even consider having more grandchildren to take care of than the number of adults you have available to manage this task.

You’re welcome.

PS – Please put in the comment section of this post any ‘Do and Don’t’ suggestions that you have discovered that may be helpful to fellow grandparents.