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start as you mean to go on

Eventually I managed to get my feet back on the ground and came to realise that my nannahood was something that I had to wait for. Just as it was for my daughter and son in law, I was now playing my part in the waiting game - our eyes firmly set on a date in early May. The BIG day!

Having had a couple of babies myself, I knew that there was nothing to do but wait and that eventually the newest addition would turn up when he or she was ready - and not before. I was so glad that the decision had been made not to find out the sex of the baby . . . as I said before, I reckon keeping it a surprise is somewhat of a reward for the labour of bringing the little bundle into the world.

So, you find out you are going to be a grandparent . . . if you are anything like me, this news made your heart start to beat faster and your imagination start to race (pink, blue, one of each?). Whether it is news that you were expecting to hear or a bolt out of the blue, the thought of holding and loving a brand new baby and helping them find their way in this great big world of ours is a challenge that can really inspire us.

Anyway . . . here is where things can get a bit sticky for expectant nannas. Just how far do you go in getting involved and 'helping out' the prospective parents? Oh, I am sure the cute little outfits and nappies etc. are all welcomed with open arms (unless you have hideous taste and then those tight little smiles you think you are getting from your kids because they are so grateful are really more of a grimace!)

But what if the mum-to-be is a smoker and doesn't give up during her pregnancy? Can you say anything? What about the 'almost daddy' - does he smoke in proximity to your growing grandbaby? Do you think you can get away with bashing them over the head with a rolled up newspaper, trying to knock some sense into them before they cause health problems for both themselves and your precious bundle of joy?

Can you try and push healthy, gluten free food down their throats? What about keeping junk food away? No soft drinks, alcohol and only allowing filtered water?

Umm, no! You cannot overstep here or in many areas because, even though these are the people who are growing your grandchild, they are adults in their own right. Although you believe that you know how best to grow a healthy baby, you must also remember that you are playing one of the support roles here and are NOT the star of the show (that role is being played by your precious and, as yet unborn, grandbaby).

Your role is the one of expectant grandparent – and this is a vital role (don't forget that supporting actors win Oscars too and can make or break a great story!)

My best advice is start as you mean to go on . . . if you want to be a kind, loving, gentle and sweet nanna then show those characteristics to your own children as they progress through the pregnancy.

Give to your children the things that you can give with all your love. Don't try and live their lives for them (even if you think you know better, remember that this is THEIR journey and they need to make it - even if you love them to the moon and back, you cannot walk in their shoes).

Be loving. Be supportive. Be there to offer real advice and to challenge them but accept that they are the ones about to bring your grandbaby into the world and they need to grow up themselves - and the best way they can do that is to have responsibilities and to make decisions together.

As an older (and hopefully wiser) person, and with the benefit of hindsight and child raising experience, use your spare time to jump onto the information superhighway (internet). Learn about the latest in areas such as nutrition, vaccinations, education etc. and share what you find. You will be well on your way to helping your offspring make healthier and more informed decisions for their offspring.

Most importantly however, you need to set a great example for those around you.

Are you tired and lacking energy? Do you overindulge with carbs and sugar rich comfort foods? Do you smoke? Have a few too many glasses of beer/wine? Are you carrying extra weight? These are the areas in which you have control, so change your own bad habits and really shine. Many of us expect our children to do as we say, yet we don’t always take our own advice. Start taking your own advice! Find out how to be the best you can be – nothing is more inspiring to those you love than to see you pick yourself up and turn your health around.

Ageing does not have to mean getting sicker and losing your mojo. Aches and pains are not necessarily a part of getting older that you just have to put up with. All of these are indicators that your body is trying to tell you that you need to address some things. Take your stand now, find out more about what the most up to date health advice is and do something about your wellbeing.

Over the years, whether you realise it or not, you have become accustomed to slowly feeling more and more unhealthy. In fact, I am sure that you don’t realise just how much control you really do have over your health. You can do a lot to get your old ‘zing’ back.

I encourage you to think outside the usual square you find yourself in and go and visit a good naturopath or nutritional doctor. Be willing to try what is suggested – using nature to get healthy makes sense (and I can personally attest to doing this and, in the process, feeling the best I have in many years).

Please find time to read some of Dr Cabot’s books. With over twenty five titles to choose from, these books cover many health issues and offer well researched advice from a doctor who is still seeing patients every week in her clinics. Knowledge really is power and, the better you understand your own health problems, the more you will be able you to play a positive part in getting yourself healthier. How many times have you sat in front of your GP with a glazed look in your eyes, not really understanding why you need to take that pill or have that blood test but going along with it because your doctor says so. This is your life and you should feel empowered to have some say in it.

Getting healthier means you will be able to be more involved in your grandchildren’s lives and I think that is the very best part about being a nanna!

So, why not do some stuff that is 'classic' nanna-to-be stuff as well? Me, I choose a totally 'classic' thing to do as my first real nanna act . . .

I remember knitting booties . . . as soon as I heard that I was going to be a nanna, I dug through my cupboards and found my knitting needles and baby bootie patterns (that I had started to collect - you know, just in case!) and went and bought some white baby wool. I started knitting as soon as I got home that day and, in no time at all it seemed, I had entirely finished one bootie. Cool, I thought . . . this baby will have a huge choice of booties if I keep up this great work!

Hmmm, I never actually finished the second bootie - it is still sitting in my knitting bag with the completed one (and this is not sewn up) Neither of my grand daughters got any hand knitted booties from me - does that make me a bad nanna? I say 'no'!

I still believe that I am the best nanna in the world - just ask me, I will tell you (and so will my grand daughters)

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