Whether or not you have kids, one thing is for sure: being the doting aunt or uncle is the best job in the world. Whether your nieces and nephews are snuggly babies or teenagers who hold onto everything you do and say, there's something awesome about having fun with the kids for whom you can just be the fun aunt or uncle, no parenting involved. Here are 12 reasons it's great to be in your shoes.
1. You get to give noisy gifts
Parents often avoid getting toys for their kids that make loud or annoying noises. But aunts and uncles get to buy that crazy-loud and repetitive singing Elmo toy to please a favorite niece or nephew. They can even include extra batteries for when the toy "mysteriously" loses power.
2. You can spoil with abandon
Moms and dads have a standard, knee-jerk response to their children's requests for goodies or more stuff: "No." But aunts and uncles get to say "yes" and hand over a giant lollipop or triple-scoop ice cream cone or even a video-game console. The possibilities are only limited by your disposable income.
3. You can give the baby a bottle but opt out of diaper duty
Since you're not the parent of that little bundle that primarily eats, sleeps, cries and poops, you have no responsibility for doing anything you don't want to do. If you want to take satisfaction in seeing those adorable chubby cheeks suck greedily at a bottle, you can do it. But when the milk makes its way through his system, Mom or Dad can do the changing.
4. Hugs are heaven
Hugs from nieces and nephews are like heaven-and there are plenty of 'em. In fact, you may get more because little Sally won't get mad at you for saying "no" to everything like her parents do.
5. Giggles are glorious
Ever peed your pants listening to a little kid laugh. It's a super-entertaining challenge to figure out how to inspire more.
6. Little hands holding yours = a wesome
They may be covered with dirt or chocolate or boogers, but they make your bigger ones feel strong and inspire a feeling of gratitude.
7. Reading time doesn't feel like a chore
Since you aren't there every night when Junior demands to be read a stack of books before he can drift off to sleep, reading time when you visit is fun and relaxing and on your terms.
8. Did we mention your sleep?
You can cuddle and pat that itty-bitty back, but your nighttime beauty rest will be uninterrupted.
9. Your fridge features a carefully curated collection of art
When the children in question are yours, you're overrun with drawings and trinkets. But being an aunt or uncle will likely lead to you having just a few particularly special pieces of artwork crafted just for you. They'll be so cute (are those legs sticking out of your head?) you'll have to frame them, actually.
10. You can lend a listening ear
Having a young person trust you enough to tell you his or her secret longings or disappointments will make your heart swell with pride. When she experiences her first heartbreak, knowing that just listening can work wonders will let you know you're doing a good deed.
11. You have an excuse to play
Sometimes it is fun to kick off your shoes, dig in the dirt, go on a road-trip or treat them to their favorite concert. Spending time with them isn't just fun for your niece or nephew, it will make your heart a little lighter.
12. They will idolize you
With all the playing, treats, hugs and outings, you'll be the cool aunt or uncle instead of the boring parent who makes and enforces rules. And if you do something really notable in life, they'll always remember you and brag to others.
Woman In Gold chronicles the fight Maria Altman faced to reclaim a famous portrait of her beloved Aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer that was stolen form her own home. Considered a national treasure to Austrians, for Maria it was a very personal memento of someone who had given her the right amount of love as a child-as any aunt or uncle should-to last her whole life through. Click here for tickets and show times.