Blogger | Teacher
For anyone who has ever gone to help your best friends with their little ones, then you know what it means to be an unofficial aunt. We all know that family isn’t just built on blood relations – it’s about love, time, and commitment given between two people in a way that surpasses simple friendship. It’s sisters from another mister, brothers from another mother, siblings who found each other much later in life.
And with this framily relationship comes the more unexpected roles of unofficial aunt and uncle, because it’s not just about supporting each other – it’s also about supporting and helping with each other’s families. But what are the roles and duties of the unofficial (and official) aunt?
The Built-in Babysitter
The first role of the unofficial aunt is the built-in babysitter. Sometimes we’re not born with siblings, but we have to find those relationships for ourselves. Whether it’s our childhood friends or our college roommates, it’s easy to find that sibling love if you keep a lookout. And with these forever friends comes the added benefit of a built-in babysitter.
Now, obviously, your best friend didn’t just choose you to be a babysitter for her future children. But as her best friend, it is the unofficial aunt’s duty to love those kids like they’re your own flesh and blood and help your BFF get a night off by volunteering your time to play with your new little family members.
For those of us without kids, becoming the built-in babysitter can be a great way to acknowledge your best friend’s hard work as a new mom and give her the opportunity to take a few precious hours to spend either completely by herself or with her partner (who probably also needs some time off).
The Snack Provider
The best thing about being an unofficial aunt? You always have the best treats. While it’s true that mom needs to be the official go-to for creating a healthy diet, I’m sure she won’t mind if during your visit you add in a couple of pretzel bites and maybe a Happy Meal here and there (honestly, she’d probably love not to think about dinner for a change).
Moms have to think about groceries in a logical, healthy sense – unofficial aunts get to have the benefit of bringing in the fun snacks for the little ones. They’re also great because while mom’s busy watching the kids, they can go get dinner or snack time ready behind the scenes.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
The Cookie Sneaker
While we shouldn’t condone giving kids too many sweets or ruining their diets, the unofficial aunt has the same role as the grandma of providing sneaky cookies here and there.
Should we give kids cookies all the time? Probably not. Should we give in when they say that a cookie at 8 a.m. is the only thing that would wake them up? No (although it’s hard to resist sometimes). But a special after-supper cookie (with Mom’s permission) while they watch a movie or a mid-afternoon cookie while Mom does the laundry is not only allowed but honestly expected.
Extra points if you know their favorite cookies and bring them with you when you show up.
One of the most important roles and duties of the unofficial aunt is that of the storyteller. Whether they’re pre-memorized stories or you’re reading aloud favorite books, an unofficial aunt MUST be a good storyteller.
There need to be voices, there should definitely be sound effects, and if you can work in questions and hand motions to make the story interactive, then extra points to you. Regardless of what they tell you while doing they’re homework, kids love stories – it’s all about finding the perfect ones and making your storytelling a fun and engaging experience.
Be warned – they will try to convince you to do more than the predetermined story limit. Be sure you have the courage to tell them “No, only 3 stories tonight” or else you might find yourself 10 books deep with a hoarse voice and a sore throat.
For anyone who doesn’t have children of their own or hasn’t worked with children, it’s important to remember that kids love to talk. They have a lot to say and if they run out of things to say on one topic, they have a whole reserve of other things they want to talk to you about. The unofficial aunt has the important job of being a good listener, which also includes being able to act surprised when necessary and asking follow-up questions.
But kids aren’t the only ones who want to talk – moms have a lot they want to say, too. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from talking to children all day and have another adult around to listen, so the unofficial aunt is not only there to talk with the little ones, but they are also there to be an adult set of ears for any tired parents who need a little verbal release.
Unofficial aunts have to have more than listening and storytelling talents – they also have to be good ticklers and playtime pals. Are you good at pretending to be the student to a tiny teacher? Can you have a tea party with make-believe treats and teddy bear guests? How are your pretend eating skills?
An unofficial aunt brings with them a new playmate and a set of tickling hands in order to encourage little laughs. It’s one of the most fun roles of the unofficial aunt, so it’s time to practice your make-believe tea-drinking and get your Lego building gears turning.
The Second Pair of Eagle Eyes
An unofficial aunt doesn’t just have the duty of playing with the kids – she’s also an extra set of eyes during outdoor excursions, park playdates, or just watching the kids for a few hours while Mom works. Moms know how easy it can be to lose little feet when you let them join a group of other children on the playground. With all the running around and yelling and laughing, it can sometimes be difficult to spot your precious babies right away.
Having an extra pair of eyes to help you keep track of where everyone is and what they’re doing can be a huge relief for parents. The security of knowing that there’s someone else to help and watch out for your little ones can be astronomical to a busy mom.
Hands down the best role of the unofficial aunt is being the cuddler. There is nothing sweeter than a little one coming up to you and curling up next to you to watch a movie or listen to Mom or Dad read a story. It is your job as the unofficial aunt to provide the best cuddles and the warmest hugs. And othing makes you feel more love and warmth than a little one asking for a hug – it’s so simple but so unimaginably sweet.
For anyone looking to become the best unofficial aunt they can be, it’s time to start practicing your hugging and cuddling skills. You have to be at the top of your game before your next visit to your BFF and their family.
Know of more roles and duties of the unofficial aunt? Tell us in the comments!
About Draven Jackson
Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.
To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.