Splitting the childcare between different grandparents
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 10:57
“I look after my two young grandchildren on Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of the time they go to my daughter in law’s parents. Sometimes it seems we are competing to be the best grandparents, the most efficient childcarers, the best cooks – and so on. Surely it shouldn’t be a competition!”
It is common to feel that, sometimes, grandparenting, (and often parenting itself), is a competitive obstacle course. In the case of childcare being shared between different grandparents, one of the possible casualties could be the grandchild who can be overwhelmed by extra attention from one or other grandparent and maybe questions on what happens for the rest of the week. They may be given lots of treats and this could lead to parents feeling they are being spoilt. Sometimes different grandparenting styles can make children prefer to be one as against the other grandparent.
Grandchildren adore and respect their grandparents and if they are bewildered by contradictory behaviour, it is this love that could suffer. This example is an extreme one, but it is worth considering what could happen here.
It is one of the early lessons of grandparenting, that in most cases, we need to step back and let the parents learn to parent. And here, in the context of childcaring, if both sets of grandparents undertake to do exactly that, the grandchildren have a much more stable time during the hours their parents are at work or at study.
An answer could be to get the whole family together and look at our family childcare agreement template. If you all know what the ground rules are and what the parents want, then things should even out, and the children will have a peaceful, loving and positive experience whoever is childcaring for them.
One grandparent told us she was considering taking on childcare for her grandchildren, for all the week to get rid of feelings of competition and envy. But equally, she knew she would regret the time she had for herself. If grandparents from both sides of the family can share childcare equally and in good spirit, a real bonus for a grandparent could be this freedom – not to mention time to revive after days of exhausting childcaring your lovable but boisterous grandchildren!
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