Book review: Help! I’m a Granny by Flic Everett

Grannies aren’t what they used to be…
Help! Im a Granny by Flic EverettHelp! Im a Granny by Flic Everett
Help! Im a Granny by Flic Everett

Forget those dated images of a comfortable old lady in a pinny, her grey hair pulled back into a bun, busy knitting baby bonnets and bootees.

Grannies today are much more likely to be wearing clothes from H&M, sporting highlights in their hair, working a 40-hour week and planning to learn kitesurfing in retirement.

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When her children finally moved out of the family home, Flic Everett was looking forward to enjoying life after parenthood. Then, at the tender age of 42, she discovered that she was about to become a grandmother and faced a new cycle of nappies, baby alarms and toddler tantrums.

With visions of trying to decipher scrawled instructions about puréeing butternut squash and attempting to fold up a buggy one-handed, the experienced columnist, journalist and radio presenter set about compiling a guide based on the experiences of grans-in-the-know.

The idea was to help new grandmothers relearn all those tricky parenting skills they thought they would never need again, and acquire fresh ones for the brave new age of the internet.

And here it is… a humorous and indispensable look at everything you should know, from texting your first baby pictures and coping with competitive mums at the nursery gates to Skyping a bedtime story and managing to be a gran without the ability to knit.

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Everett leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of competent grandparenthood, whether it’s recovering from the initial shock of discovering your are going to be a granny, taking on childcare, discovering which parental rules you can bend (and how to get away with it!) or simply putting up a stair gate.

Learn how to dispense sympathy to a hormonal mother-to-be, cope with being the son’s mum rather than the more favoured daughter’s mum, tackle the thorny problem of step-family rivalries and offer guidance when a baby won’t sleep, feed or stop crying.

There is invaluable advice on the modern gadgets that help you keep in touch with long-distance grandchildren, providing childcare for working parents, what to do if the parents split up, troubleshooting tantrums, and tackling sulks, sibling rivalries and clinginess.

Grannies have to learn from the outset that interfering is never a good move, criticising parents’ rules and lifestyle choices is a no-no and three’s a crowd when it comes to looking after a new baby.

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Of course, there are plenty of things you can do… help out when tired parents are at their wits’ end, impart wisdom when called upon to do so and be a hands-on, caring, sharing gran.

Everett’s entertaining and enlightening book is both a warm and funny look at grandparenting and a seriously useful guide to the joys and pitfalls of one of the family unit’s most magical, unique and loving relationships.

You’re never too young – or too old – to enjoy being a granny!

(Michael O’Mara, hardback, £9.99)