"A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for." ~ Anonymous
Remember, how we used to look forward to vacations when we could visit and spend some time with our grandparents? These days, due to the economic recession, young parents are not earning higher wages as they used to earn a few years ago. Appointing a private babysitter or sending the child to a day care center is quite expensive. Grandparents are usually free and they can very well understand the financial situation of their own children. Therefore, more and more grandparents are willingly accepting the task of looking after their grandchildren. Moms and dads are happy because of the flexibility of timing and the unconditional love that their kids receive.
Certain surveys show that these days, parents help their children in saving thousands of dollars by taking care of the grandchildren. But the situation should not be discussed only from the financial point of view. Babysitting involves love and affection, responsibility and dedication and so, who else other than the grandparents can be the most trustworthy and reliable babysitters? The parents are quite relaxed and stress-free when the granny works as a nanny. The children are happy as they get lots of hugs or cookies! Grandparents are excited as they 'like to feel needed'. Whatever might be the reason, the system requires 'give and take'. You have to let go and trust the other person who is in charge, otherwise it may give rise to some emotional issues. Take a look at the babysitting tips presented in the following section. The tips can be helpful for grandparents.
Babysitting Instructions for Grandparents
Grandparents trying to babysit too much can prove to be burdensome and they may not enjoy the task. At the same time, overconfident grandparents may sometimes overlook the most important point i.e., 'safety of the child' while taking over child-rearing duties. To avoid such situations, here are some good babysitting tips for grandparents.
- Take care of your own health first: If you want to enjoy babysitting, you should follow a balanced diet and you should exercise regularly. Warm-up exercises would help strengthen your muscles and would help boost your energy levels. You may have to crawl, you may have to run and lift the baby quickly. A sound good night's sleep and sufficient rest are equally essential when it comes to high energy levels and agility.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes: You may think that I am laying stress on trivial things; but shoes and clothing really matter a lot, if you are taking care of your grandchildren. You won't be able to move freely with tight clothes and shoes. Moreover, you should always have spare clothes as babies are likely to vomit or pee.
- Keep your medicines out of reach of your grandchildren: Do not underestimate the kids, they can climb anywhere and they can even open your purse or cupboards. So please be careful while handling the kids. If you are taking your medicine in front of the child, explain him the cause. He may otherwise take it assuming that it is a candy.
- Learn new technology: You should know how to use the latest security system devices in case of an emergency, you should learn latest computer applications that can amuse a crying baby. You should have a list of emergency telephone numbers.
- Renew your driving license if it is about to expire: You may take the upset baby for a leisurely drive or you may have to take the baby to the nearby clinic. Also, make sure that you have the car seat for the baby.
- Get the parents consent in written form: Most medical facilities demand 'parent's consent letter' before treating the baby. So you should have the letter from the parents, giving you permission to seek medical aid in case of an emergency. Always keep the letter in your purse.
- Plan everything well in advance: If you know about babysitting hours well in advance, you can take a nap instead of cleaning the closet or kitchen. Of course, sometimes you may get a last-minute call but tell your children that as far as possible, they should inform you in advance. In case of a cancellation too, tell them that they should inform you in advance.
- Follow the instructions given by the parents: Although you have raised your children efficiently, you should follow the instructions given by your children while raising the grandchildren. Do not over pamper the kids. Remember, your presence is more important than your presents. You should ask about the eating and sleeping habits of the child. You may ask them to bring the food and extra clothes with them. Sometimes, depending upon the situation, you may have to take your own decision regarding discipline and their behavior.
- Don't highlight the negative traits of their moms and dads in front of the grandchildren: Sam Levenson had perfectly expressed, "The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy!" But never portray the parents as bad parents. Don't forget that children learn better through watching and not through preaching. So you should rather put forth an example through your own behavior.
- Maintain a record book for the parents and yourself: You should note down the food timing, type of food given, the time and amount of medicine, sleeping hours of the baby, etc., for the information of parents. You may sometimes forget whether you have given a particular medicine to the baby or not. If you want, you may write everything on a whiteboard. If you notice any abnormal symptoms like breathing difficulty or skin rash after the medicine is given, you should immediately contact the doctor.
- Check whether the house is child-friendly: Crawling babies tend to eat anything they find on the floor. So keep the floors clean. Check floors, sharp corners of the tables, cabinets and drawers, vases, plants, stairs, toilet sanitizer, doormats, dustbins, wall paper, electrical fittings, again and again and be sure that the house is child-friendly.
- If you expect to be paid for babysitting, talk about your expectations freely: Too much babysitting by grandparents can lead to financial, health and other issues. If your children are expecting too much from you, you should explain the facts freely. I know, most grandparents love the job and don't want to get paid for it. No one would mind babysitting occasionally, but if you are providing full-time care for the kids, then it is quite reasonable that you are paid for it. If you don't want the money, you can save it for your grandchildren. Sometimes, the parents may express their gratitude in different ways, like, by taking you out to dinner or booking a trip for you as a Christmas gift.
Potential Problems when Grandparents Babysit
Some grandparents are quite busy in social activities while some may have health problems. For some, the company of grandchildren can be worth more than the money, while for some, it can be the right opportunity for both to earn money and to enjoy. Whatever might be the case, you should set limits from the beginning, if you want to avoid misunderstanding and unreal expectations.
You should clearly tell your children how much free time you have and how far in advance of sitting time or cancellation you'd like to be informed. If you keep on changing your schedule every time for your children's convenience, they will also probably call you first, every time. Learn to say 'No' if you are planning a day for yourself. Never neglect your own health problems. If you want to see your children happy and if you don't want to miss the opportunity of being close to your grandchildren, you should take care of your own health first.
Spending a couple of hours with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. The time spent with your grandchildren can prove to be a tonic which would keep the heart unwrinkled. Raising children is different from raising grandchildren. Close bonding with your grandchildren should not give rise to sticky situations. Babysitting activities should help you stay young at heart forever.