New grandmother - advice?
Grandchildren - overcoming sadness
Life - are we luckier now?
The birth of your first grandchild will be your official inauguration into grandparenthood <sounds fanfare>. So, to help ease you into this new and exciting role, gransnetters offer their wit and wisdom on the subject of grandchildren and what awaits new grandparents, because there are always things you wish you'd known beforehand...
Whether or not you're actually there for the first smile or the first steps, make the most of whatever moments you do witness. Celebrate every milestone (big or small) and don't forget to record progress for posterity. Have a camera or a journal with you at every opportunity...and be sure to call the parents should an extra special event take place without them!
If you're grandparenting long-distance, ensure you're on stand-by for those all-important Skype calls. And if, for whatever reason, you're denied contact with - or are estranged from - your grandchild, take steps to find out what your rights as a grandparent are and try to keep all lines of communication open (if possible) to show that you're always within reach.
"Be the fun person your grandchild looks forward to seeing and being with. Write a journal with all the things you do with your grandchild during a visit, things they say to you and what milestones they have reached."
"I have written letters in a journal to my granddaughter from when she was born; it is a pretty book and I'll give it to her when she is older. I know she'll love reading about what we did together."
"Make life exciting. Make every day count, whether it's making dens in the garden or jumping fully clothed in giant puddles and soaking yourselves or cooking up weird and wonderful baking catastrophes."
"It's a granny's privilege to spoil her grandchildren. Spend time with them, giving them all your attention. Let them help you with cooking, then help you wash up afterwards. Let them help with the cleaning by giving them a duster and a coffee table to dust. Let them help you in the garden, washing the car. Let them get dirty then let them have fun in the bath."
"It doesn't take money - just your love, patience and time. Always have a smile and sometimes a treat."
Be careful to treat your grandchild as your grandchild and not as your own child. Take a step back when necessary and relish the fact that you don't have to deal with them during the wee hours of the morning when they insist on screaming the house down. The best thing about taking care of your grandchild is that you can have all the fun and hand them back at the end of the day.
"As long as I remember it isn't my baby and the parents have to be left to do things their way, things work out well for all of us and I get the pleasure and fun without some of the bad bits that being a mother entails."
"Don't take over too much and enjoy the fact you can give them back when they cry!"
"What new parents desperately need is sleep, so if you have the time, swoop in. But remember that this is not a time for sitting down and cuddling the baby. While Mum catches a few zzzzs, you can wash the dishes, put the washing on, do the ironing and prepare dinner. Much easier with your own daughter than daughter-in-law, so maybe drop off dinner for your daughter-in-law ready to be heated and offer to take away any washing. It is really important for those first tiring days and weeks to let Mum and Dad parent and you do the practical, boring stuff. Fun comes much later in bucket loads along with lashings of love, hugs and kisses."
"How much advice should I give the new parents?" a gransnetter once asked. The answer came back: "somewhere between none and none." It's tempting to point out that those fashions in babycare that they're following with gritted teeth and fixed expressions are mostly fads, but don't do it. If they absolutely force you to give them advice, pretend it came from them.
"You have to allow the parents to parent their own child without interfering. Be there with advice if asked for it."
"Only step in and give advice when you are asked. Everyone needs to learn for themselves and it just gives new parents more pressure to do things a certain way if you try and tell them your way of doing things."
"No matter how many kids you've raised or how they've turned out, your adult child and his or her spouse/partner are now in charge of the childrearing. So be cautious about offering opinions or advice unless asked directly. And even then, tread lightly and express yourself gently!"
"Remember things have changed since you had your family. Helpful comments like 'Oh, I used to do...' can seem like a criticism to a first-time mum. Just smile, be supportive and tell them how proud you are."
"Don't laugh when they tell you the name they have chosen for their child."
Tempting as it is to splash out on cute little babygros at the annoucement of a new arrival, it's probably worth checking whether the parents already have them (parents often receive hundreds of babygros in newborn size) and whether they really want their newborn infant dressed in the colours of your favourite football team.
"Liaise with the parents on colour schemes so if you want to buy items they will match colour-wise. Also make sure you buy the basic (not so pretty and cute) items that are essential but can be overlooked."
"Don't buy stuff YOU like! Ask the parents-to-be what they actually like. Sometimes the generation gap shows different items are liked and both parties end up being upset."
Beware of granimosity. It isn't worth it. Honest. Whilst it may be difficult to negotiate your relationship with the in-laws, i.e the 'other' grandparents (be it maternal or paternal), it's wise to build a strong sense of grandparent camaraderie. That includes step-grandparents too. Trust us when we say that it'll help you to assess your own role as a grandparent and ensure that there's no unwanted competition.
"Keep calm when the other grandma is there. Note to self: just breathe!"
"I had to learn how to fit in without getting in the way as a step-grandma, which I did by acknowledging how great it is for my step-daughter-in-law to have her mum close by, as is just what she needed to hear with a new baby in the house."
For more grandparenting tips and advice, chat to other grandparents on our forums.
Please login first.