This one goes out to the aunties who always, always come bearing a smile (and gifts).
My children, like many lucky kids, have an amazing auntie. She’s the kind of aunt who comes along on road trips, takes my kids for the weekend, buys thoughtful gifts, and organises living-room dance parties whenever she’s over.
My children love their Auntie Katy, and my husband (her brother) and I need her.
When I peruse my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I can’t help but notice that the world is full of Auntie Katys. I’ve thought about this a lot, and concluded that there are many reasons why the adult, child-free aunties of the world are particularly wonderful. (I’m obviously talking about a specific kind of aunt here, but please don’t feel excluded if you or someone you know is just like this in helpfulness and affection, but not exactly in other ways. This could describe a good friend, or a great aunt, someone with slightly older children, or, of course, a wonderful uncle.)
So, aunties, here’s why you are so special to parents of small children:
First of all, there is your competence. You are an adult. You have a job, a home, a life. If there is an emergency when you are in charge, you’re just as likely to be able to cope with it as I am. I can trust you to be responsible for more than a few hours, for more than an evening, for a whole weekend if you’re willing, and I don’t necessarily need to leave a long list of specific instructions. And we both know it’s easier for you to maintain both the “fun” and the control, because you can go home afterward. To your home, where it is (I assume) quieter and toyless and Dora-free.
Secondly, there’s your time and energy. While parents are constantly adjusting to the schedules of their children, you are in charge of your own timeline. Obviously you have work, and relationships, and a life, but you also probably have free time that you, alone, control. So if you love my kids, which you do, you can choose to spend time with them. And then, while you’re here, you play hide-and-seek, teach cartwheels in the backyard, and pull a toddler around on the wagon. You’ve made time to see the kids, and you want to play with the kids! Everyone wins, especially me and my hot, fresh coffee.
Next, there are the presents. Oh, the presents. As an adult, you can spend money on whatever you wish, and of course you don’t need to spend any money on your nieces and nephews; your very presence in their lives is enough. However, if you choose to buy the world’s most fun board game or a huge glitter-covered princess-themed art supply kit, we will take it!
Most child-free aunties are fantastic. But what happens when you have a relative who isn’t? Robin Bailey and Rebecca Sparrow discuss how to deal with toxic relatives, on The Well. Post continues after audio.