Not every grandparent is called to be a retread parent.
There are the so-called normal grandparents, who will not need any of this advice. They will be content to spoil 'em rotten, as the saying goes, and then send them home. Their adult children will ably parent the little ones, and the grandparents will beam with pride as they dance at the grandchildren's weddings. You folks are the bedrock of America! Good job! Best wishes! Thank you! Really, thank you. You have been blessed, but you have also contributed to Society.
There are the grandparents called back into parenting for a crisis or a short-term need. Mom has a complication due to delivery of a baby, and Dad is juggling long hours at work and small children. Dad is going to Iraq. Mom and Dad get transferred to Korea, and don't think it's in Jane's best interest to take her with them. Some of the advice here will help you. However, some day you expect that your detour back into parenting to end. That will be fine. Thank you for stepping in when your adult children needed you. You may not think that's an activity worthy of praise, but it is. You will provide or provided continuum to those grand babies, security, safety, consistency.
And then there are those who want to continue on just as they have, without stepping into the role of retread parent, even if called to do so. That's OK. You've earned your retirement, or your life after children. You know your limits. This is clearly healthy, and clearly a good thing for you. You've explained to the kids. It doesn't make you evil.
Now, for the rest of you grandparents out there, those seeking to raise grandchildren: I want you to look to the grandparents who refuse to go the route of raising the grandchildren, even temporarily. Why? I just said it. Those folks know their limits when it comes to raising grandchildren. Do you? Are you in it for the long haul?
Are you willing to spend the next 4, 8, 10, 16, 18 years with yet another child, and all that entails? Kids aren't puppies. You can't commit to this, only to hand them back or worse, abandon them yourself.
You are about to possibly have your freedom seriously curtailed. You might be changing diapers. You might be potty training. The back seat of your car might sport a car seat. You will be back on a schedule, because Sunday night through Thursday night, you'll be getting at least one somebody ready for school. You are about to embark on day care fees, day camp fees, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys vs. Girls. The Menses, AKA The Monthlies, Aunt Flo, Mr. P., all might descend upon your house, and if you have more than one female child- stand by. PMS in two girls simultaneously is not pretty. All the junk that appeared on your doorstep with the bouncing baby known as the biological parent of these kids might reappear. You are older, sometimes much older. All that stuff will be on replay. Are you up to the task?
Speaking of your own baby, that lug who drinks himself to a stupor, the abuser, the woman who sleeps with anybody, the mentally ill who refuses medication from the doctor but is willing to take street meds- Are you prepared- for the sake of your grandchildren, to look that person in the eye, who you once diapered, who you held in your arms as she sobbed over a dead hamster, the person who was once small and ran a fever of 105- Are you prepared to look that person in the eye, or through the lens of your attorney, and say, "No more. You can't see them. This stops now." You might be obliged, for the sake of your grandchild or even court order, to put an end to the madness of dealing with your adult child until the grandchildren are grown. It truly hurts. Be prepared. By the same token, if you go to court and get handed a visitation order, are you prepared to do the drop-offs and pick-ups, or wait around with the visitation supervisor so the little ones feel safe, or wait around with the visitation supervisor until the end of the visit, because good old Mom and Dad chose to party over visit the kids?
You might be called to have your home invaded by child protective services. You might get lucky and get a qualified social worker, somebody who loves kids, doesn't have too big a caseload, and is willing to drop in just to make sure the kids are doing well. You might end up with a twit who thinks she's the greatest thing in the industry, who thinks you are old, and therefore stupid, when it comes to raising children. Most likely, if you go the public route, you will get somebody who has a caseload in folders taller than any of your grandkids, and is so overwhelmed it will take weeks just to get the TANF or foster care check corrected.
You will not get any younger, physically, doing this. Plan on taking care of yourself, taking vitamins, getting really good exercise, getting that annual checkup, being proactive when it comes to health matters and nipping them in the bud when possible, including optometrist's exams. Plan on using time and energy saving models if you decide to retread. It is not wrong, if you can afford it or the kids are entitled to it, to use hot lunch every day at school, as an example. It is not wrong to use a drop-off laundry service. If you can afford it, it's not wrong to have a cleaning person or team.
Your spouse might or might not want to go along for the ride. Almost all spouses will, but what about common law spouses, significant others, and ships that pass in the night? Can you do this on your own, if you don't have a spouse?
Money- Are you prepared? You will still be old when this is done. Have you saved for retirement? Do you have the income to support children? Health insurance? The teen years, also known as the grocery years, because they down so many calories? Kids need space, and most retirement or adult living communities exist to keep kids out. You might have moved to your locale because the home was simply charming and the senior activities were fantastic, never thinking you'd need the less-than-stellar public school system in that very same town.
Before you tell the grandkids that yes, they can stay forever or until they grow up, and Grandma will just love having them- THINK IT OUT. Your grandchildren need security and stability. Be that security and stability, or seek an alternative living arrangement for them so they have both.