When my kids were little my parents and in laws visited often and each had their own vision of what constituted helpful grandparents. I had three kids under 4 and I really looked forward to their help when they came over. My mother in law would bring giant toys that I had no room for and would play with the kids for a half an hour before sitting down to the dinner I prepared for them.
My mother would bring a giant box of diapers and a dinner that she had prepared at home before she came. I want to be a helpful grandmom like my mother.
I think we forget as grandparents, the sheer exhaustion that comes with raising babies. I watch my kids walking around hollow eyed because the baby has a cold and is waking up all night, or trying to find time to go to the market and do laundry.
I have friends that love to visit their grandchildren for a couple of hours and they adore the kids but their vision of grandparenting is short visits. They maintain that they already did the hard parts of child rearing and now it is time to just enjoy the grandchildren and leave the hard part up to their kids.
I don’t think their way of doing things is wrong but I have a hard time watching my kids look so shell shocked without trying to help. So, here is my list of being a helpful grandmom:
- Ask your kids what would be most helpful to them
- Don’t bring new toys every time you come or if you must, bring something small. My kids live in an apartment and there is really no room for anything else.
- If you can, prepare a meal at home and bring it. Even better, prepare a few meals and freeze them so there is food in the house.
- Follow your kids’ schedule for the baby. Don’t create your own. That just produces more stress.
- Take the baby out so your kids can take a nap
- Do a load of laundry when the baby is napping. (Ask first- I once washed a sweater that should have been dry cleaned and it would have fit a doll afterward)
- Clean up after yourself and the baby. You don’t have to scour the place but just straightening up toys and baby supplies are a big help.
- Be supportive on the phone when your kids call you to vent
- Make sure your kids know they can call you anytime of day, and ask any question. Nothing is ever too silly or unimportant to new parents.
- Baby sit so the adults can actually go out and be adults.
- Take the grandchildren for a weekend or 3 or 4 days. You will be exhausted afterwards but it is so much fun to have the baby all to yourself and so wonderful for the baby’s parents to have time for each other without the baby.
What do you do to be a helpful grandmom?