How to be a better Nana

Four Surefire Ways to be a Better Nana

Last Updated on November 13, 2023 by Candi Randolph

Here are four surefire ways to be a better Nana, because Nanas (or Grandmas, or Mimis, or Memes, or Meemaws, or Gigis…you get the idea, the endearments go on and on) can play a very important role in their grandchildren’s lives.

Do you know what the definition of ‘surefire’ is? It means “certain to succeed“. Let’s take a minute to see how we can go about being the best Nanas.

Becoming a parent dramatically changes your life and your perception of Life โ€“ with a capital L. It can be overwhelming to care for your little ones and yourself, and carry on life’s other responsibilities. But you know what? We all do it, and our kids turn out okay. So we must be doing something right as parents.

When you become a grandmother, the situation is different. Of course, you will care for your grandchildren, but your responsibilities are not those of a parent. As a Nana myself, I can confidently say that it’s really awesome! I get to love on my grand kids, have a great time with them, help care for them, and then give them back to their parents ๐Ÿ™‚

You are there to set a different kind of example to children, from infant through the teenage years, and even beyond. Indeed, as a Nana, you are just as much a role model as parents. Some would even say that you canโ€™t afford not to be a guiding force in the development of your grandchildren. Here are some tips on how to become the best Nana you can be.

Four Surefire Ways to be a Better Nana

Find the Balance

Is a capsule wardrobe right for you?

Who is the Nana of today? The answer is not straightforward, or one size fits all. But one thing is for sure, the grandmother of today is a lot more active and involved in day-to-day life than your grandmother was.

My grandma was an Italian immigrant who came to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. Her life consisted of many hours in the kitchen, baking bread every morning, canning tomatoes, preparing the pasta dishes….it was all about the food!

I will always remember her delicious meals and the love that went into them.ย  My grandkids won’t see me in the kitchen for hours because that’s not who I am. They will see me working, running a business, but also making time for family, including them.

For me, it’s a long-distance relationship so our time together is limited. Even so, when Nana is with them, it is all about them. My business activities take a back seat to time with the family. Traveling to see them takes up a significant part of my budget because I am a family member who lives a distance. So I go to them much more often than they come to me. But it is worth it to me, every penny spent, to see my family, the little ones in particular.

If you’re retired, that’s great! But remember that sometimes even social activities or sports can become an obsession. If you have the time and live near your grandkids,  give them priority over other activities. They grow up so fast, and they will not only remember the time spent (or not) with them, they will also be influenced by what you did and the decisions you made.

Say Goodbye to Unhealthy Coping Habits

unhealthy coping mechanism - alcoholic beverage

Life is stressful at any age. Consequently, everyone has their preferred coping methods, some healthier than others. 

Joining the Grandparent Club may cause you to reconsider some of your habits if they are unhealthy. Your grandkids (and your children, too!) are observing everything you do, and while none of us are perfect by any means, they will see those repetitive habits and coping mechanisms, positive or negative.

If you’re a smoker, it may be time to address your addiction to nicotine.  There are numerous methods to quit smoking, and millions of people have had success with them.

If youโ€™ve been tempted to rely on tempting chocolate cakes or other calorie-laden treats when youโ€™re stressed out, it’s time to embrace healthier options! Children are impressionable, and they are looking to you as the substitute parent as someone to emulate. Think about that before you haul out the chocolate chip cookies after a rough day.

Another way we attempt to de-stress is with alcohol. Even though your grandkids would never be offered a drink, they are watching you indulge. This is another coping mechanism that can get out of hand, particularly as we retire and have more time available. If it’s always 5 o’clock at your house, it might be time for some self evaluation, for yourself as well as the benefit of the little ones.

Ultimately, the more young children see potential harmful habits, the more likely they are to follow them.  

Less Sitting, More Walking

grandparents with kids - four surefire ways to be a better Nana

As we get older it can become more difficult to get around, particularly if we have joint issues. But for many of us, a brisk walk is a welcome opportunity to breathe in the fresh air and get some exercise, and being outside around trees is good for you! It is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some special time with your grandkids.

My community has a park with a walking trail, playground equipment, fishing pier, lake, picnic shelters, BBQ’s and more. It’s so much fun to walk up there with the kids and let them play and run around. Sometimes we pack a picnic lunch or have a barbecue while we’re there. It’s a great place, close to home, to make happy memories.

Could we get in the car and drive somewhere? Sure. And of course, there are destinations that will require using transportation other than our feet. But for the times that we’re going to be close to home, our grandchildren will learn that walking can be just as fun. The benefits of walking are many, so let’s teach the little ones early on and help them create healthy habits.

Indulging with moderation

the best chocolate cake recipe

Grandmothers are for baking cakes, right? Well, I know how to make a pretty doggone good russian tea cake, so I think that qualifies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, you can treat your grandchildren to gooey cookies and delicious apple pies or chocolate cakes (I just want to have a big ol’ bite of the cake shown here!), but along with that we should encourage moderation. Indeed, indulging is good for the soul, unless it becomes a habit. In that case, itโ€™s not enjoyable anymore, and if left unheeded it can get out of control.

On the one hand, you want your grandkids to have fun with you, enjoy the time together, and their faces always light up at the possibility of something sweet, gooey and not-so-good-for-them. But most likely their parents are trying to teach healthy eating habits, so make your special treats as healthy as you can, or limit their intake.

I’m so excited that all of my grandkids will be visiting me soon, and of course, as their Nana, I want to take them somewhere special, like Love Boat Ice Cream, and watch them devour a special treat; it’s such a fun place to visit. It’s the best ice cream! But we won’t go there every day, of course. Just once, and that will be enough.

Sometimes as grandparents, we want to give our grandchildren everything, and that includes a host of gifts for birthdays and holidays. Before you trot to the store or let your fingers do the purchasing online, stop and think…does your grandchild REALLY need that item? Do they need more toys? Gifts in moderation are a good thing.

Sometimes all I give my grandkids is a great, big hug and kiss. A really good one. And you know what? They love it.

It is always important to remember that when the grandkids are with you, there are little pairs of eyes that are observing what you do, how you talk to your spouse or other family members, what attitude you display, how you treat other people (and we haven’t discussed our driving habits in this post!), and all of those daily decisions that you make.

These four surefire ways to be a better Nana won’t make you the perfect grandparent, and it won’t turn the grandkids into little angels. But these suggestions will give you some food for thought, next time you’re with your precious grandkids!

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Being a Nana is the Best! Four surefire ways to be a great example to your grand kids

14 thoughts on “Four Surefire Ways to be a Better Nana”

  1. Hi Candi! My grandparents died before I was born, and my children only had my Mum for the first four years of my daughter’s life. I love being a grandparent and as I live close by it is easy to see my grandsons regularly. There is such a special bond between grandparent and grandchild and I learn so much from my darlings. I like to think I’m a role model for them living my life in a healthy and active way. We enjoy going to the park together and best of all, Ethan has helped me reignite my imagination. It is a win/win. Thanks for your tips and I enjoyed reading your post. Have a lovely week.xx

    1. I know you are a wonderful role model for your grand kids, Sue, and it sounds like you have formed a very special relationship with them!

  2. When my oldest sister had her first child 40+ years ago my Mother said “If she could have by-passed being a Mother and gone straight to being a grand mother she would have”. The first time I heard that I was a young 20 year old and thought, geeze thanks Mom, but of course now I know she was right! Who wouldn’t ???

    1. It’s one of those things you just can’t understand until it happens to you! Thanks for sharing and for stopping by, Haralee ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi Candi! My grandparents were first generation from Italy, so I totally can relate to what you’re saying. I was the first one in my family to move away, so I grew up nearby my grandparents. My mom and MIL didn’t have that same kind of interraction with my kids because of various reasons. Now that I’m a grandmother, I have one little sweetie who is just 16 months old and I’m making it my life’s mission for a portable business so I can travel and see her whenever I can. Right now, we FaceTime a lot, and while I’m not the kind of grandma who is a homebody doing crafts, I can’t wait to take her on trips and go do stuff.

    1. I am on a similar mission, Patty, with my business ventures, so I can have the flexibility to see my grand kids and family, more often. We use Skype for visits, and it’s great, but face to face with hugs and kisses is the best!

  4. Such wise words Candi – and they actually apply to being a better everything really. I think the better we become as a person, the roll on effect flows to being a great friend, a good mother of adult kids, a thoughtful daughter to aging parents – AND a wonderful grandmother to those little blessings we have in our lives.
    You must be SO excited that yours are coming to visit!

    1. I am very excited, Leanne. I get to see all of my little ones in one month, in my own home ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree that these characteristics help us become stronger and wiser in all of our relationships!

  5. All very good tips indeed. My young grandchildren used to do workout videos with me. Now that they are older, we go on walks or hikes. I like to think they got their love for reading from sitting on my lap as I read their favorite stories to them over and over. Of course, I’m not perfect, and I’ve also modeled eating dessert every night. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. What a great read. I am a few years away from being grandma stage, and that’s assuming that my son will one day have kids, but these tips will come in handy when that time does come around.

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