Have you got a grandchild on the way? If so, congratulations! It’s an incredibly exciting time, and a new baby in the family is always a time of love and joy. And naturally, you want to be the best grandparent you could ever be! You want to be there for your own child; you hear their worry over being a parent, and their confusion in deciding what’s the right way to parent their own child, and you want to be able to step in and help.
Of course, all of your children are old enough to fly the nest, and you’re happy they’re settling down in lives of their own. But still, whenever you look at them, it’s hard not to see them as the little kids they once were. And in your heart, they’ll always be your babies! But now they’ve gone and started a family of their own, and you’ve got a little grandchild on the way.
But don’t let yourself worry too much – there are so many ways you can help your family welcome a new member while keeping their wits about them! You’ve done it all yourself, after all, and it’ll be natural to step back into that maternal role. You’ve just got to make sure you’re doing it in a supportive and fun grandparent kind of way!
Have Advice Ready, But Don’t Force It
You’re going to be a grandparent, and you might have a lot of preconceived notions about what this entails. But before you let yourself settle into the role, it’s important to talk to your child about their own plans for parenthood. What kind of role do they want you to fill? And how often do they want you to be there for them? You’ve still got a life of your own to lead, and even though you want to be involved as much as possible, you’ve always got to take a step back.
Sit down for a lengthy chat, and make sure you hear their concerns, and set boundaries of your own as well. Make sure you’re both on the same page about how you’ll be involved in the little one’s life, and what you can do as their grandparent to make parenthood more fun and fulfilling. Most of all, make sure you’re never offering unsolicited advice; instead, tell your child that if they’ve got a question, you’re always there for them to come to.
This will help both parties, as you’ll still get to be involved with all the wisdom you’ve collected over the years, but you won’t encroach on new parent territory. You won’t accidentally make your child think you’re trying to push in or take over, and for your benefit, it’ll certainly make the next few months a lot less stressful!
Always Be on the End of the Phone
Being just a phone call is always a wonderful bonus! If your child knows their own mother or father is just down the line, they can feel much safer with bringing a new baby into the family, seeing as you can always be there for them. Of course, you don’t have to arrange your whole life around the new grandchild, but it’s always a good idea to keep your phone on in case their parents need something.
After all, you can remember just how hard it was to be a new parent 20 to 30 years ago, and you wouldn’t want your own child to go through the same thing. And when your child calls you in the middle of the night because their 8 month old baby won’t settle down to sleep, you’ll be there to pick up the phone. You can offer a bit of sage advice, help them to calm down, and then help get the baby back to sleep as well.
As you well know, sometimes a baby has a blip during their established routine, and it does their parents no good to panic and overreact! Use this kind of experience to help out your child in a tight spot, and this kind of phone call will go a long way; you might receive some flowers in the post, but even just a heartfelt thank you from your grown-up-yet-still-so-young child can make you feel appreciated.
Discuss Child Care Arrangements Well Ahead of Time
Following on from the point above, during your talk about what your child expects from you as a grandparent, and what you want out of the experience, be sure to discuss child care arrangements. Make your thoughts about this known well ahead of time; discuss when you’re going to be available, when you aren’t, and what’s out of the question.
Sure, you can often take the baby off their parents’ hands and take care of them, but you’re not always going to be available. And setting these kinds of boundaries is incredibly important! Say you’re in the middle of a big dinner you’ve had in the diary for months, but then you’re called to ask if you can come round and babysit for a couple of hours – don’t feel bad about taking that option off the table. You’re busy, and you’ve got a lot going on, and you can’t afford to simply drop things.
However, you can take time now to talk about coming up with a compromise during emergencies like this. For example, if you’re busy but also at home, they could bring the baby to you and you can keep an eye on it. But if you’re out and about, once again the situation could become impossible, and they’d have to find alternative child care. That’s simply part of life, and it’ll be a good lesson for them as new parents as well.
Make Time Together a Real Treat!
And then, when your grandbaby is finally old enough to understand who you are and what you do for them, you can make time together a proper treat they’ll always be excited about. Because what are grandparents for but to break the rules a little? Their parents set some well-placed boundaries and rules, as they should, but as a bit of senior authority, you can bend these here and there!
For example, you can let them stay up a bit later than usual, or let them have just one small sweet when they’re not usually allowed sugar. These things are little treats and can be enjoyed in proportion, and they’ll help you to be beloved by your grandchild. That’s always a real privilege!
Remember to keep the rule-breaking in line, even if you disagree with certain choices your child has made. You don’t want to have arguments over how you disregard the most important rules, such as allowing your grandchild to watch or play with something they’ve been banned from. This might result in their parents losing trust in you, and that can be very hard to rebuild.
Ready to Be the Best Grandparent Ever?
If you’re about to become a grandparent, as we said above, make sure you’re doing it in style! Your child will thank you for the space you’re giving them while still being there when they need you, and your grandchild will always think of time with you as a very special treat. And don’t forget to brush up on your parenting skills in the meantime – you’ve done it all before, but methods can change in a moment, and you might pick up a few nifty ideas that’ll make things all the better!