Be in the moment
Grandmas and Grandpas should never try to multi-task while watching their grandchildren. You may miss a precious moment! It's not that you can't fix supper or run a load of laundry. But if you are trying to do something (like write an academic paper for your graduate school class! ahem), one of three things will happen: 1) you will give up because you can't focus, 2) you will do a lousy job because you can't focus, or 3) you will hide yourself from your grandchildren and thus miss the little moments of their childhood.
I find that I don't even try. My life is so full of deadlines and responsibilities that the few hours I take to be with Granddaughter and Grandsons is a real respite for me. Research shows that having a pet around can lower blood pressure; well, if you stay focused on the grandchildren and their delight in the world, that should have a healthful effect on you, too.
Case in point: this weekend, we babysat Granddaughter and Grandson, ages 2 and 1 (almost 3 and 2). They were dropped off after I got home from work, and while Baby Grandson (age 4 months) and his older brother (4 almost 5) were being babysat by Boppa. It was chaos for a little while, but once we got the running in the house part whipped, we had fun watching their play and their interaction. The baby is starting to respond to his name. He likes sitting in his Bumbo (see photo) and watching TV. He loves his cousins and his big brother. They love him. Granddaughter kisses him every chance she gets. But then ... the news comes on. We, of course, would like to see what is happening outside the world of Dora and Spiderman and Spongebob. But as soon as our focus turns elsewhere, they find ways to distract us. Taking toys away from one another, climbing in our laps with a book, banging on the glass door to go to the play area on the porch, throwing balls around, pushing Hot Wheels around on the floor and on the arms of our chairs. So finally, we get the message: "IT'S ALL ABOUT US, NEE NEE AND BOPPA!" So we hauled them all outside, including Baby Grandson (even if it was a little chilly) and let them run around -- play ball and draw with chalk.
Then we made a HUGE error -- we attempted to take the 2 and 1 year old out to dinner with us at Outback WITHOUT THEM HAVING TAKEN A GOOD NAP ALL DAY. We were seated at the booth closest to the kitchen (in other words, Siberia). Lucky for us. I had already fed them sandwiches before we went (we've tried ordering the kids' meals and they never eat them) figuring we could just order fries for them and then have our steaks (and eat them, too ). BWA HA HA HA! Grandson promptly goes into overdrive punch drunk. Up and down, laughing at the neon crocodile on the wall at least 20 times. Wanted me to say "koala" and "boomerang" as he pointed to them. OVER AND OVER AGAIN. The fries came early, so by the time we got our meal -- BWA HA HA -- they were ready to leave. Grandson played "persistence of memory" all over me (the melting clocks of Dali). Finally, I ended up taking them to the car and Boppa had the meals boxed. We ate them at home. It was 10 before Grandson finally fell asleep -- after Nee Nee told him 3 modern day fairy tales and made him count with her to 52 (he only knows 1-5 but everytime I got to those numbers, he repeated after me). Then I heard the big sigh and his little body relaxed. Sissy was already asleep -- after the 1st story.
But here are the rewards: It isn't a half moon; it's a "broke" moon. The airliner that's about 36,000 feet up is "going to the moon." A special wiggly dance to "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. Watching them learn to "share" (Nee Nee says, don't take it away and don't cry. When s/he is done playing, you can have it." They've learned that it actually works! (Well, most of the time). Hearing them both yelling "hot" from my bedroom, and walking in and seeing Granddaughter with her arm around Grandon's waist, pointing to the floor lamp, teaching him not to touch it. AND SO MUCH MORE.
When I see them pop out of the bedroom in the morning with huge smiles on their faces, I flip off the Today show, and wait for the real entertainment.