Motherhood is a rewarding, but tough, job. You don’t always get to be “fun” or “easy going." Oftentimes, we boast titles like "The Enforcer," "Buzzkill," and even that other M word ... "Meanie," all while doing our best to keep our offspring fed, clothed, loved, and relatively happy.
But aunthood? Now, that’s a sweet gig.
Don’t get me wrong. Speaking as a first-time mom of a beautiful baby boy, I feel confident that motherhood is my calling. I live and breathe for my son, and would do just about anything to make him smile. But I have four other important relationships to uphold and one other important title, and that's being an aunt to my three nieces and one nephew.
I was an aunt before I became a mom, so I had a few years before my son was born to really get to know each of them and make memories with them all. And I still want being an aunt to be a distinct part of my identity.
My little family is extremely fortunate in that my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, two nieces, and their Schnoodle puppy (who I should honestly count as a second nephew) live just down the street from us. This makes playdates, kid swaps, evening walks with the dogs, family dinners, game nights, Parents' Night Out with a shared babysitter, and spontaneous visits regular occurrences. At least they were before COVID-19 ...
But this time of self-isolation and social distancing has given me the time to reflect on fun memories with them and make plans for things to do once we're on the other side of this pandemic. I foresee quite a few frappuccinos, mani/pedis, movie nights, and Mexican food in our futures. I will say, however, these last few weeks of quarantine have made me become better about connecting with my nieces on a level they can appreciate — virtually; which only amps up my fun aunt points!
Now, I understand not everyone is lucky enough to have family live a block away. For the first six years of our relationship (dating and marriage), my husband and I didn't live in the same city as our family members, which meant we had to travel by plane, train, or automobile to put in the quality time we wanted with our nieces and nephew. And those are some of our favorite memories from our honeymoon years. But even if you live on the other side of town or in a different city or state, trust me; it's worth investing the time, money, and energy to build memories with this branch of your family tree.
It's hard to pick my favorite thing about #auntlife, but I will say fostering relationships with each of my nieces and nephew together and separately as they grow and become their own unique, funny, beautiful selves has been such a gift; and it's a responsibility I take very seriously. They have each made my life richer in their own ways, and I strive to be someone they can look up to, turn to, and confide in.
And you want to know what the best part is? After all of that bonding and fun, I get to send them home to their own houses with their own parents, normally coming down off a sugar high and ready for bedtime!
Seriously, you get all of the fun and almost none of the fuss.
Here are five reasons why you should be the fun aunt:
1. You get to spoil them rotten
Disney+ movie marathons? Check. Going out to eat at their favorite restaurants for special occasions (or just a Friday night)? Check. Fun with SnapChat filters? Check. You'll get to do a lot of things that their parents might limit at home. Just remember to be respectful of their parents' wishes and not overdo it on the sugar.
2. They know you've got their back
Having a strong relationship with your nieces or nephews, built on fun and trust, offers them an extra layer of safety in this world. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and being a part of that is a privilege. You get to be a safe space for them to turn to and confide in. Just don't go keeping secrets from their parents. That can get complicated real quick.
3. You'll have a blast
Going into aunt mode means I get to let a side of myself take the driver's seat that doesn't always see the light of day — the fun side. (Knowing, of course, my son is in the safe and capable hands of my husband, a babysitter, or his aunt or uncle.) Blast their favorite music on the radio, get the milkshakes, roll the windows down. Age down a decade or two and let loose! Just get them home in one piece.
4. They'll have a blast
Being the "fun" aunt earns you a popular reputation in the family. And take advantage of that! You won't always — or often — get to be the fun parents. Enjoy this role while you have the chance!
5. You get to be family AND friends
This is the best part of the aunt-niece/nephew relationship. You get to be their friend! As a parent, at best you get to assume that title after your kids are grown, but that's not always a given. Enjoy this special bond and all the fun that comes with it.
What are some of your favorite things to do as an aunt with your nieces or nephew? We want to know!