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Tips for new grandparents

royal baby

The birth of the royal baby <sounds fanfare> will be Carole and Michael Middleton's and Charles and Camilla's inauguration into grandparenthood. We thought we'd ask gransnetters for the benefit of their wit and wisdom on the subject of new grandchildren and what awaits the new grans, because there are always things you wish you'd known beforehand....

You can add your tips for Carole on our Twitter feed, using the hashtag #tipsforcarole

Make every day count

Whether or not you're actually there for the first smile or the first steps, make the most of whatever moments you do share: celebrate every milestone and don't forget that you're often the one with the time to record progress for posterity.

"Be the fun person your grandchild looks forward to seeing and being with. Write a journal with all the things you do with your grandchild during a visit, things they say to you and what milestones they have reached. I have written letters in a journal to my granddaughter from when she was born; it is a pretty book and I'll give it to her when she is older. I know she'll love reading about what we did together. Most importantly, enjoy your grandchild, you get all the best bits and get to hand them back to mum and have a well-earned rest." annemac101

"Make life exciting. Make every day count. Whether it is making dens in the garden or jumping fully clothed in giant puddles and soaking yourselves or cooking up weird and wonderful baking catastrophes." styles5433

"It's a granny's privilege to spoil her grandchildren. Spend time with them, giving them all your attention. Let them help you with cooking, then help you wash up afterwards; let them help with the cleaning by giving them a duster and a coffee table to dust; let them help you in the garden, washing the car. Let them get dirty then let them have fun in the bath. It doesn't take money - just your love, patience and time. Always have a smile and sometimes a treat." jeanpea

"Just be there when needed and make the most of every precious moment." rosemary55

What's yours is not mine...

The best thing about someone else's child, is you can have all the fun and hand them back at the end of the day...

"Remember that it is your grandchild and not your child. You have to allow the parents to parent their own child without interfering. Be there with advice if asked for it." annemac101

"As long as I remember it isn't my baby and they have to be left to do things their way, things work out well for all of us and I get the pleasure and fun without some of the bad bits being a mother entail." moonlit

"Don't take over too much and enjoy the fact you can give them back when they cry!" liaburns18

Giving advice

Other things you might like...

"How much advice should I give the new parents?" a gransnetter once asked. The answer came back:  "somewhere between none and none." It's tempting to point out that those fashions in babycare that they're following with gritted teeth and fixed expressions are mostly fads, but don't do it. If they absolutely force you (at gunpoint) to give them advice, pretend it came from them.

"Only step in and give advice when you are asked, every one needs to learn for themselves and it just gives new parents more pressure to do things a certain way if you try and tell them your way of doing things." abbyed33

"No matter how many kids you've raised or how they've turned out, your adult child and his or her spouse/partner are now in charge of the childrearing. So be cautious about offering opinions or advice unless asked directly. And even then, tread lightly and express yourself gently!" TracyKNixon

"Offer advice only when asked! Bite your tongue the rest of the time!" allybruce

"What new parents desperately need is sleep, so if you have the time, swoop in let mum go to bed and you can offer to listen out for the baby, change nappies etc - this is not a time for sitting down cuddling. Now while mum catches a few zzzzzzzzzzz's, you need to wash the dishes, put the washing on, do the ironing and prepare dinner. Much easier with your own daughter than DIL, so maybe for DIL drop off dinner ready to be heated and offer to take away washing. Do make your own drink and make sure you leave the home tidier than when you arrived. It is really important for those first tiring days and weeks to let mum and dad parent and you do the practical boring stuff. Fun comes much later, in bucket loads along with lashings of love, hugs and kisses." dragon60

"Remember things have changed since you had your family. Helpful comments like "oh I used to do..." can seem like a criticism to a first-time mum. Just smile be supportive and tell them how proud you are." unner1

(Don't) shop until you drop

Tempting as it is to splash out on cute little babygros at the annoucement of a new arrival, it's probably worth checking whether the parents already have them (parents often receive HUNDREDS of babygros in newborn size) and whether they really want their newborn infant dressed in the colours of your favourite football team.

"With a new grandchild on the way, it's tempting to go on a shopping spree. But before you do, ask your son/daughter what they need and what they don't want so no money is wasted!" TracyKNixon

"Liaise with your daughter/son on colour schemes, themes etc, so if you want to buy items they will match colour-wise. Also make sure you buy the basic (not so pretty and cute) items that are essential but can be overlooked." compy99 

"Don't buy stuff YOU like! Ask the parents-to-be what they actually like, sometimes the generation gap shows different items are liked and both parties end up being upset." twinklenicci

The other grandparents

Beware of granimosity. It isn't worth it, honest.

"Keep calm when the other grandma is there - note to self - just breathe!" adrisco

"Don't enter into competition with the in-laws" Aka

"I had to learn how to fit in without getting in the way as a step-grandma, which I did by acknowledging how great it is for my step DIL to have her mum close by, as is just what she needed to hear with a new baby in the house." betjaid

And crucially...

"Don't laugh when they tell you the name the have chosen." Aka

Gransnet forums

Parenting norms - through the eras?
Men - infuriating traits?
Widows' pensions - unfair rules?