Millions of American children are no longer going over the river and through the woods to get to grandmother's house. They're already living there—in many cases, with their parents.
The weak economy has caused more young adults to move back in with their parents, and some of those kids are bringing their own children along with them.
That's a mixed blessing for grandparents. While it's nice to have a new generation to dote on, it also means having to adjust to diapers, nighttime crying and baby-proofing just when parenting responsibilities should be winding down.
"There's nothing like grandkids," said Elizabeth Harvey, 50, whose daughter and grandson are currently living with her and her husband at their home in St. Louis. "But, you know, I keep saying it would be nice to be a grandma from a different address."
(Read more: Here's who's really living with Mom and Dad)
The crowded house also means that the joy of being a new grandparent can quickly be tempered by stress more akin to being a new parent.
"It's an overwhelming feeling. I mean, you've already raised your kids and now you're going back and starting over again," said Anne Leone, whose household includes two teenagers, her adult daughter Joanne, her daughter's boyfriend and their baby.
The situation isn't that uncommon. A Pew Research Center report released earlier this month found that about 7.7 million U.S. children were living with a grandparent in 2011.
In eight out of 10 of the cases where a grandchild was living with a grandparent, the Pew researchers found that at least one of the child's parents also was in the household.
The number of grandchildren living with their grandparents rose sharply during the recession that ran from 2007 to 2009. It has since appeared to stabilize at those higher levels, according to the Pew analysis.
Gretchen Livingston, a senior researcher with Pew Research Center and the report's author, said that suggests even as the economy slowly got healthier, many of these young families continued to struggle to make it on their own.
(Read more: Here's a career tip: Leave Mom and Dad at home)
"There seems to be a lag time in the recovery," Livingston said.
A surprise baby
Leone, who is 42 and divorced, initially thought her daughter Joanne was joking when she revealed that she was pregnant.
"It was a surprise," said Joanne, who is now 20 and mom to an 8-month-old baby boy.
Joanne said she hoped her young family could find a place of their own. But even though both she and her boyfriend work as aides in the same hospital as Anne, Joanne said they quickly realized their paychecks would not be enough to cover rent and other expenses.