'Looking after my baby grandson ruined my house, and melted my heart'

A trip to the garden is a good opportunity to eat some leaves.

I once wrote a humorous blog for Starts at 60 about babysitting my grandchildren. Most of my lament was about the erection and subsequent dismantling of a portacot.

Since then, there are even more grandchildren, with two additional little ones joining the ranks. Recently, my little grandson Matrix came for a day whilst his parents were moving house.

“‘How hard can it be,” I thought as I cleared the decks in my little granny flat. I put everything up high as I could, had a friend erect the portacot as I still cantt work it out, found a high chair out in the shed, sorted out some toys and a couple of little scooter thingies.

Matrix arrived with his dad, his bottle with instructions from mum, and all of the other snacks and nappy paraphernalia that babies need.

Matrix is ten months and is crawling. He crawls very fast and pulls himself up on things to get around – it’s like he has a motor in his pants. The house was starting to look a bit like  bomb had hit it.

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I made a bottle that did not meet his standards, and any food I put in his mouth seemed to come squirting out. Where were the bibs? I couldn’t find one. Paper towel. He enjoyed nibbling on that. He seemed to like the look of my hummus and crackers so he had a few of those.

Time for a bit of nature. We sat on the lawn on a rug under the trees so he could get a bit of filtered sunlight. He enjoyed eating a few leaves and a bit of grass.

Then I put him in the portacot and hoped he would go to sleep. He did eventually and I was glad as this nana needed a lie down herself!

When he awoke I finally got him to accept a bottle and we went for a walk with him in his pushchair. Now, those new high tech pushers are pretty snazzy, but they need a university degree to open and to shut. I finally got it to open and put him inside. We went for a walk around the block in the sunshine. Lots of hills and nice gardens for him to enjoy. Good cardio for nana.

By this time I was pretty much exhausted. We had some more snacks and a bit more playing but he was starting to cry. I tried ABC Kids, tge Wiggles on my iPad, and singing to him and reading stories.

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None of it was cutting the mustard so I thought, perhaps he needs a sleep. I changed his nappy and put him down for a sleep. Eventually he gave in and drifted off, only to be awoken by the leaf blower inconsiderately started up with a roar by my garden-obsessed neighbour. Sigh.

A phone call. Good, there’re coming, I think, but no, there are delays. Like a martyr, I say it’s all going OK and offer to drive him back to them in a couple of hours. Thank goodness I have child car seats in my car.

We looked at each other, Matrix and I. He smiled at me and my heart just swelled with love. I have three small grandchildren and he is the most recent. He crawled into my arms and we had a lovely snuggle. As I rocked him, he drifted off to sleep.

I gazed at his long eyelashes on his cheeks and thought what a soppy, sentimental old duck I am. But holding a sleeping baby is one of the sweetest things one can ever do. I just wished I had been to the loo first!

Eventually the time came for him to be dropped home. I strapped him into the car seat and as I drove along the highway I occasionally glanced in the rearview mirror to check he was okay. Not a peep. He was chewing on one of his toys quite happily.

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He was pleased to see mum and dad, and I was pleased to get home to the aftermath.  It took a while to get back to normal. My friend came and disassembled the portacot and I stored the baby stuff away. I generally babysit the grandkids at their houses and it’s a lot easier as it’s already set up for them.

When I finally sat down to baked beans on toast and a big glass of wine, I was grateful for the silence and the company of my old cat Gracie who was MIA whilst I had my little visitor.

I slept well that night.

How do you find babysitting your granchildren – fun, exhausting, or a bit of both?