A few months ago, I wrote about things that daughters-in-law wished their mothers-in-law would stop doing with regard to their children. It didn’t take long before I received several suggestions to pass along to the daughters-in-law, themselves. Neither of these articles is meant to start a feud, but to be a way to convey what I hope is useful information, start a conversation, and improve communication.
When it comes to staying with, or keeping, the grandchildren, here are some things grandmothers wanted to pass along:
Please ask in advance if you need me to babysit. I love to be with my grandchildren, but I often have plans that conflict with yours. I realize that things can come up at the last minute, and I will do my best to help, but please don’t make me feel guilty when it doesn’t work out.
In that same vein, don’t punish me for not being able to babysit. I still want to come to their school programs, sporting events, recitals, birthdays, and see them “just because.” Your “I figured you were too busy” usually comes after my not being able to take care of the children. It hurts when my grandchildren ask why I didn’t come to their event that I knew nothing about, but their other Nana was there.
When I am keeping the children at your home for any length of time, please make sure you provide plenty of food they will eat. I really don’t want to spend time going to the grocery store only to buy all the wrong things. If you can’t have casseroles or other prepared food in the freezer, please have ingredients and recipes at the ready. If not, don’t get upset when they get pizza and hamburgers. It would be helpful to have suggestions as to what to make for their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Since I am not there every day, I know that tastes can change, and what was once their favorite food is not something they eat anymore.
When it comes to activities, please leave a list of approved places to take them and membership cards if needed. Also, don’t promise them that I will take them someplace before I get there. I will do my best, but it is hard to explain to a young child why their sibling’s nap prevents us from doing something you told them we would do. If we can go, then it is a wonderful surprise. Let me know if they are allowed to play on an iPad, watch a movie or TV, and what movies or shows are okay. If they have any class or sports practice they attend, have the outfit or equipment put together and ready to go.
It would be great to have a notebook with paper in plastic filler sheets that contain pertinent information. This way, when items change, it is easy to correct. A page with important phone numbers and addresses, such as their doctor, dentist, neighbor, a close friend, and, if needed, veterinarian. A page listing suggestions for meals or where prepared meals are, what to pack for school lunches, what snacks are appropriate, and if they are allowed to have dessert. Another page listing their schedules, if they are in a carpool, if any services are scheduled, e.g., house cleaning, yard work, etc. A page listing the pet’s feeding schedule, amounts, outdoor time, any medicine or treatment they may require, where they sleep, and where they are allowed in the house. A page with the location of museums, parks, pool, and any other places they love to go. A final page with any additional information you think would be helpful and appreciated.
The give and take of suggestions and expectations, with a little leeway, will make for happy parents, grandparents, and ultimately the children, who will know the two are working together, and in their best interest.