Rules for Grandparents: to Save Your Sanity & Stop the Kids’ Sugar Highs

Dear grandparents. We love you, we appreciate you, we want you to be part of our kids’ lives (and give us a much-needed break every now and then). 

But, we also really NEED you to follow these very simple rules for grandparents. Pretty please!?

It’s been proven that sending the kids off to the grandparents is actually beneficial for parents’ health. However, issues can arise if Nana and Papa’s rules are a little different from yours. Especially when the kids arrive back home acting like unappreciative, overly-spoiled, feral brats – high on too much sugar and red cordial.

So, on behalf of all mums out there, let’s lay down a few ground rules for grandparents, shall we? And, please, for the love of our sanity, let’s follow them!

rules for grandparents, grandma and girl

1. Thou shalt not feed the grandkids chocolate. Especially at 8.30 at night. 

We get it. The grandkids are super cute and make it super hard to say NO. Trust us, we know just how good their powers of persuasion can be. We live with the tiny negotiators, after all. But there’s a time and a place for chocolate, lollies, cake, cookies and cordial. And straight before bed is not that time or place.

2. Thou shalt not buy ALL the toys. 

Especially crappy plastic ones that require batteries, make a lot of noise or come with eight million tiny bits that will most definitely get lost in the rugs or stuck in the vacuum.

This goes for glittery craft projects too. No glittery arts and crafts allowed.

3. Thou shalt not make mum and dad look like the bad guys. 

“Nanny would give it to you, but mummy says no.”
“If you were my child, I’d buy it for you.” 
“Sorry darling, but mummy says you’re not allowed.” 

These phrases are to be avoided at all costs.

4. Thou shalt not turn into doctors overnight. 

“Sounds like a chest infection”
“She’s probably teething.”
“He’s not getting enough sleep.”

More phrases to avoid like the plague.

5. Thou shalt not spoil the grandkids. 

No child needs a new outfit, toy or $20 bill every time you see them. Sorry, but NO.

grandparents giving grandchildren gifts

6. Thou shalt not remind us how things were back then. 

“Back in my day…” yeah, yeah, yeah. We know. Back in your day babies slept on their back, toddlers played with nothing but spoons in the dirt and kids rode their bikes around the streets until midnight.

But, sadly, we can’t adhere to these same rules anymore, despite being constantly told it didn’t do us any harm.

7. Thou shalt not suggest old school methods of parenting. 

Sorry, Gramps, I know second-hand smoke and rum-infused dummies were the ‘in’ thing back then, but not anymore. Times have changed. And by constantly talking about the old ways of doing things you’re making me feel like I’m doing a shitty job of parenting. Little more help, little less of the Judgy Pants, perhaps?

8. Thou shalt dole out discipline. 

You want them? You gotta say NO to them.

9. Thou shalt not make up a nickname for the baby because you don’t like her actual name. 

Don’t like the modern/edgy/unique/downright weird name choice for your grandchild? Learn to like it. Because, no matter how many times you call her by a different name, they are not going to change it.

10. Thou shalt avoid becoming helicopter grandparents. 

Being involved is great. But there’s such a thing as over-involvement. Try not to cross the line.

11. Thou shalt not set bad examples.  

Sure, it gets a rise out of the grandkids, but it’s also making our lives a lot harder, especially when our kid starts dropping the F-bomb at the playground after Pappy taught it to him at the dinner table. #facepalm

Granddad with smartphone, rules for grandparents

12. Thou shalt avoid old school punishing. 

Put the belt away, Grandpa. Not. Gonna. Happen.

13. Thou shalt not play favourites.

Sure, one grandkid is a kind, loving, caring sweetheart. And the other is a little turd. But you gotta love them equally (or at least pretend you do). And refrain from making comparisons, especially in front of them.

14. Thou shalt not ignore safety. 

Seatbelts, life vests, baby gates – these things exist for a reason, guys! So when you’re watching the kids, let’s use them!

15. Thou shalt not make promises without consulting the parents first.

Promised the kids you would take them to the movies this weekend? Or got them super excited about “spending the night at Granny’s”? Probably should have checked with mum and dad first. Because now we look like the bad guys…again!

16. And, finally, thou shalt not ignore the rules in place. 

Rules are made to be broken. But not bedtime rules, or homework rules, or chore rules, or snack rules, or screen time rules.  Just because Grandma is here doesn’t mean all rules go out the door.

So there you go – 16 rules for grandparents that just might make things a bit easier in your household. Especially when the in-laws come to play… Cue eye roll!

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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