a guide to becoming a grandparent:
when your babies have babies
Congratulations on becoming a grandparent! Can you believe the child who once depended on you so much now has a baby of their own? Here are a few top tips for earning that grandparent of the year award.
It’s tempting to step in if you think your child or their partner is doing something a bit wrong. Today’s parents have so much advice at their fingertips, from websites, TV shows, friends and relatives. They need to decide how they want to parent, and find their own way. So offer encouragement and your advice if it’s asked for. But try to accept if they want to do things differently.
We’re sure you remember all too well how tiring those early days with a newborn can be. The new parents would probably love it if you could offer a bit of practical help, whether it’s walking the dog or running the vacuum around. Try not to seem like you’re criticising though. A simple 'can I give you a hand with the housework?' is likely to be much better received than 'goodness, so much dust!'
giving them space
We get it, all you want to do is snuggle that warm, sweet-smelling first grandchild. And we’re sure you’ll get plenty of cuddles. But parents sometimes need to spend some time on their own with their child. Try to give them a bit of space if you think they want it.
taking your lead from the parents
It’s lovely to make it clear that you’re happy to help, and even better if you’re open to ideas on how to help. Asking what you can do to support the new parents can be a better tactic than just stepping in. Sometimes it might be something as simple as making a cup of tea, other times it might be offering advice on the best position for burping.
taking advice from an expert
Author of Birth And Beyond, Dr Yehudi Gordon, says: 'There is a very special bond between children and their grandparents, who hold promise and mystery, hide a wealth of surprises in their pockets, offer warm embraces and allow secret treats. Even tiny babies recognise the unique quality of a grandparent's love. 'However, even in the sunniest of parent-child relationships there may be differences of opinion. The line between advice and criticism can be thin.'
treating parents to a break
Sometimes all a new mum wants to do is soak in the bath, or catch up with Netflix. She may well jump at the chance of a bit of time to herself. So offer to sit with the baby for a bit, or take them out for a walk. You could also babysit in the evenings now and then. Taking a turn to answer the early morning wake-up call is sure to earn you a few brownie points.
offering granny / grandad daycare
Childcare is expensive, so your grandchild’s parents may well be glad of your help if they both go back to work. If you’re happy to oblige, try to agree what’s expected upfront. Do they need you for one day every week? Or just a few hours now and then? Do you want to be paid for your time, or just get a kitty for ice-creams and day trips? Try to stick to the same routine for the baby as they have at home. It’ll help them to settle easier, and help to avoid any disagreements.
Being a grandparent can be one of the most rewarding roles you’ll ever have. Whether you’re new grandparents to be, or old hands, enjoy the experience. Little ones grow up so fast. Relish the chance to spend time with your grandchild, and just shout if you’re not sure how to work a car seat buckle, or make a bottle up. Oh, and get that camera charged, you’ll be using it a lot!