By Whitney from RookieMoms.com
For some, Grandma and Papa’s house is a home away from home. For most of us however, it is a bit of a foreign land. The refrigerator houses different foods, the sink doesn’t have a stool in front of it, and the dog is not used to children. Here are some savvy parent survival tips I’ve taught myself.
Keep expectations in check. I am the parent, responsible for my kids’ comfort and well being. My parents are not obligated to provide any particular supplies. If I ask them to food shop for me, I must be polite, gracious and flexible. If I cannot do that, I should do the shopping for myself.
Protect my boundaries. If an activity or guests are planned during a nap, I can let them know that my daughter and my husband will stay behind for naptime. If the guests are intimidating to my anxious child, I can say that she’s not feeling social and we’ll try again later.
Facilitate bonding. Some grandparents are unable to sit down and focus in the way that playing with a toddler requires. (Yeah, I know, it can be boring!) As the parent who knows all parties best, I can suggest some activities that suit both temperaments. “I bet Scarlett would love to help you pick tomatoes.” “Can you help him get his clothes on?” or “Remember when you used to draw castles for me? Can you show Julian how to draw one?”
Make my requests reasonable. My grandfather likes to watch CNN on full volume for hours each day. My stepfather watches the local news every night. Sorry media folks, but these programs are full of violence that is too intense for young kids. Rather than expect my folks to DVR all programs until after bedtime, I use a trick and ask if they can watch after the kids go to bed or how about if I take them outside for an hour, and can we turn the TV off when we come back?
Embrace the disruption. While I can’t accept news stories of suicide bombings in the background during playtime, I can ease up on some other areas. Going to bed thirty minutes late after an adult-sized serving of ice cream is not going hurt anyone and it will probably give Grandma and Papa great pleasure.
If I can remember a few of my own savvy guidelines (AKA eat my own dog food), then these intergenerational visits can be a source of great memories and free childcare. If I become an uptight control freak, I’m ruining my own good time.
Heather Flett and Whitney Moss are authors of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities to do With (and Without!) Your Baby. They also share crazy fun activities at Rookie Moms and 510Families. They each have two children and live in Berkeley, CA.