Becoming a grandparent for the first time is hardly as daunting as becoming a parent, but you may still have some doubts about what your new role should be and how you can fit into it. There is a famous saying that “a grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend” – it’s unknown who originally coined the phrase, but I think it sums up your new role as a grandparent perfectly.
Here are some top tips to make sure you get it right, straight from day one…
1. Help Out, But Don’t Impose
As you’ll remember from when you became a parent, the first few weeks are an exciting but exhausting time, so offer to help out wherever you can – whether that’s looking after your new grandchild for some hours so Mum can have a nap, turning up armed with new milk bottles and formula, or showing the new parents how to change a nappy!
However, remember that this is their new child, not yours, and it’s important to give Mum and Dad some time alone with their baby to bond, especially over the first few weeks. Ask how much help they think they need and then don’t overstay your welcome, but always be available on the other end of the phone just in case!
2. There’s a Difference Between Advice and Criticism
You’ve already raised a child, or maybe even a few of them, so it’s easy to think that you know it all. However remember that times have changed and raising a child now is not the same experience it was a generation or two ago. It’s important not to judge either of the new parents and hand out advice as a ‘helpful hint’ rather than a demand. What you think is helpful guidance can easily be perceived as harsh criticism.
As the child grows up, always respect the parents’ wishes on important matters such as discipline and safety – everyone wants to be a ‘cool’ grandparent but letting children ride bicycles without a helmet when it’s been strictly forbidden by Mum and Dad definitely won’t win you any favours in the long run.
3. Child-Proof Your House
No one wants to be the grandparent who was babysitting when the toddler pulled a pan of boiling water down on him or herself, so always put safety first and make sure your home is free of danger. Buy locks for cupboard doors that are within reach of little arms, put a stair-gate at the top and bottom of any staircases, pop safety plugs in all your sockets and just generally be vigilant when children are around.
4. Remember to Have Fun!
Above all, becoming a grandparent should be an exciting and enjoyable experience. Children grow up fast, so make the most of your time with them when they’re young and plan activities that they’ll have fond memories of when they’re grandparents too! It’s better to give experiences than possessions so think of fun activities such as visiting the zoo, reading a storybook together or playing board games.
Have you got any other useful experiences of grand-parenting you’d like to share? Leave me a comment below!
Kate Dawson writes for Optegra, a UK based company offering cataracts surgery andrefractive eye surgery, helping you keep your eyesight perfect so that you can spot when Baby is going for those scissors you left out on the sideboard!