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Sole charge of two toddlers - help

(36 Posts)
schnackie Mon 12-Jan-15 12:29:47

Hi, I live here in the UK. My kids are in America and I have been lucky enough to spend several months with my first grandson who is almost 2 and a half. He now has a baby sister, 6 months. I only spent the first 6 weeks of her life with them. Now my daughter and husband want to take a mini-break (about 5 days) in the spring and I have happily offered to stay with the kids. I am 62, in fairly good health, but I'm worrying about activities to keep them occupied and how the baby will react as I am a virtural stranger to her, although her brother knows me well and is fond of me. Any suggestions will be gratefully accepted!

NanKate Mon 12-Jan-15 12:37:19

Bloomin Heck Schnakie you are brave.

Here are my suggestions.

Start videoing children's programmes now such as Charlie and Lola, Shaun the Sheep and Peter Rabbit.

Find out what food they eat and have it pre-prepared and frozen.

Get a whole load of rice cakes in for when the big one is hungry.

Find and visit in advance all the Garden Centres in your area, especially ones with a Soft Play area. Find the café and the loos. Forewarned is forearmed.

Go to the local charity shops and get a shed load of toys, they are very cheap.

Borrow some stair gates for up and downstairs.

Stock up on alcohol for when they are in bed. grin

Katek Mon 12-Jan-15 12:55:07

Agree with all NanKate says but also see if there's a parent and toddler group in the area you can take them to. Lots of mums there to help out!

Ana Mon 12-Jan-15 13:00:33

Are you going to be looking after them here or in the US, schnakie?

MrsPickle Mon 12-Jan-15 13:10:13

That was my question, too.
If over there, you need to know practical things like:

How the washing machine works
Driving - you don't want to have to stay indoors for 5 days with 2 toddlers.

Anyway, will wait to hear which side of the pond you'll be!

glammanana Mon 12-Jan-15 13:13:51

scknakie Do you use skype to stay in touch if so when you are on line ask your DCs to lift baby so she can at least see & hear your voice she will be getting more used to you as time passes and come Spring you will not be such a stranger to her,also take any DVDs that they may not have with you as suggested by NanKate don't worry about being tired you will be surprised how much energy we find when we are in the company of our little DGCs and remember to have a nap when they do works wonders.x

J52 Mon 12-Jan-15 13:21:43

Sand tray, for outdoors play, if the weather is good. Cheap tent in the garden for playing houses, having picnics in!

I'd be tea total, you never know when an emergency might arise!

Above all have fun. x

glammanana Mon 12-Jan-15 13:31:48

Just thought (lightbulb moment) but I'm sure you will be aware make sure you have all their medical details to hand,I had my youngest two many years ago and didn't realise DD had changed from our family Doctors until I needed to call for an appointment for youngest baby.

whenim64 Mon 12-Jan-15 13:32:09

Find time for you to relax when they're in bed, but don't drink alcohol if it will compromise you dealing with an emergency and you're in sole charge. After lunch, have a quiet hour for baby to sleep, you to relax a bit and the two year old to look at books, do jigsaws with you or watch favourite TV programmes. Invite other young parents/grandparents to bring children to play - it's good to share, enjoy the children and be able to get food and refreshments without wondering how you'll keep an eye on them - so easy to miss meals when you're minding children. Structure the day and change toys over in the afternoon so they don't get bored, but always have favourite cuddly toy/blankie/dummy at hand just in case. Encourage mum and dad to keep showing your photo/Skype so the baby is also familiar with you beforehand. It's tiring looking after two children, but such fun. Good luck!

Coolgran65 Mon 12-Jan-15 13:54:30

I'd put both children down for a nap after lunch, and go for a nap yourself. Even if it means taking older doc into bed with you.
Promise of are cartoon following nap is a good deal to make.
If you will be in USA make sure any DVD you might take over will work on the USA system.

NanKate Mon 12-Jan-15 15:52:36

I was tongue in cheek about the alcohol. hmm

Nonu Mon 12-Jan-15 16:52:45

NAN , I guessed you were.

harrigran Mon 12-Jan-15 17:19:20

I think 5 days is way too long for a toddler and a baby to be away from their parents. a baby can become quite distressed when apart from mother.

thatbags Mon 12-Jan-15 17:38:44

My mother used to say that babies can cope with a change of person or a change of place, but not both at the same time. I had to leave DD1 for five days when she was five and a half months old. My parents came to stay and the baby's father was at home in the mornings and evenings. I expressed milk while I was away and DD continued breast-feeding without any problem when I came home.

apricot Mon 12-Jan-15 19:38:25

The younger one won't be a toddler, only a little baby, and hopefully both will be napping in the daytime. While they sleep, have a rest yourself because you will be knackered.
Don't try to be Super-Gran, no making your own bread or potty-training the 2 year old. Just keep them cleanish, fed and happy. I hope their parents will be amazingly grateful and that you will be too, to be entrusted with such a sacred task.

granjura Mon 12-Jan-15 19:52:02

I'd say 5 days is far too long- for the little ones, and for you. Not fair on either! Tell them 3 days, 2 nights- for the first time.

rosequartz Mon 12-Jan-15 20:00:42

Are you going out to the States well in advance of their holiday? It will give the children a chance to get used to you again.

Why do they want to go away for five days? Perhaps an overnighter would be enough for a nice break at the moment.

thatbags Mon 12-Jan-15 20:15:54

schnackie, my DD came to no harm when I had to be away from her for five days when she was a similar age to your grandchild. However, she had three people to look after her in my absence, one of whom was her father. If you are expected to look after the two little ones by yourself for five days, I think it might be very difficult for you. I would only take on such a task in an emergency.

That said, I wish you well and hope all goes smoothly if you do undertake this task.

granjura Mon 12-Jan-15 20:24:32

Talking about emergencies- how far away would the parents be? Will you have a car, and do you know the area well and are used to drive in the USA? Have they booked already?

Ana Mon 12-Jan-15 20:29:23

I do wish schnackie would come back and give us a bit more information!

ninathenana Mon 12-Jan-15 22:42:22

I had nearly 2.5 yr old for a week at a time whilst DD was hospitalized on more than one occasion whilst pregnant with second. Her then husband was away serving in the army.

I took him to mine 150 miles away. He was fine, didn't cry for mummy, slept well. I did have help from DH but it was tiering.

schnackie Thu 15-Jan-15 20:34:53

First of all I'm so sorry I haven't been able to get back sooner! I couldn't find the post!! Quite new to this!
Thank all of you for some great suggestions! I will be looking after them in their own home which is a plus. They have great tv with loads of kids shows including on demand. Unfortunately it is in central Iowa so very cold but there is a park 5 min walk and I am confident using the car.
I kind of agree that 5 days is a bit long but if I'm honest, I was on my 3rd failing marriage when I was my daughter's age (34)!!! So I am very happy for them to keep their own 8 yr+ marriage in good shape!
We do Skype about once a week and talk on the phone most days. My SIL is a grocer so there will be plenty of food.
I am planning to be teetotal whilst in charge but will open a very large bottle of something strong as soon as I know the plane has landed back home lol!
I will try and not lose this page again. I don't have a lot of close friends and you've all made me feel so much better x

MrsPickle Thu 15-Jan-15 20:44:48

Ask to meet some of their friends with little ones the same age. Arrange some play dates with them too.

Ana Thu 15-Jan-15 20:53:40

Go to the 'I'm On' option at the top of the page if you get stuck, schnackie - that will bring you straight to this thread as I don't think you've posted on any others.

I'm glad that you'll be looking after your GC in their own home, even though it's not yours. As you've said, you've already stayed there for a good period of time and are at least familiar with the surroundings.

Do you have a contact there in case of emergency - I don't mean a medical one, just a friend or relative who could help you out if you come across a situation you feel unable to cope with on your own?

I think you'll all be fine! smile

schnackie Thu 15-Jan-15 21:00:13

Thanks, I do know 2 of her friends with kids which will help.