“Papa, wake up!” my grandson says jumping into my lap.
I awake with a start and my heart smiles seeing him.
“Hi, little guy! What are we going to do today?” I ask him, knowing I will be exhausted by the time dinner comes around.
I smell his sweet cereal breathe, as he starts talking about all his toys and other characters. I catch the tired look on my son’s face knowing he is off to another long day at work. I wish there was more I could do but watching my little guy a couple days a week is my limit.
“Are you sure you are up to this today?” my son asks, picking at the asphalt on his shirt with his broken fingernail.
“Of course! I love my little guy days!” I say, reaching for my leg to strap it on.
Between the sound of his zipper going up and down little guy asks “Papa, should I get the outside jar or inside jar today?”
“Well little guy, I think we can pick an activity from the outside jar today.”
Walking my son to the door I see the envelope lying on the entryway table with the money he can afford this month. We wave goodbye and start our fun filled little guy and papa day.
Family relationships can be difficult to navigate and stepping into the role of caregiving of grandkids can add new twists to these relationships. Balancing wanting to help and keeping stress levels down is hard to do.
One way to avoid additional stress is to talk about basic rules, where will you watch the kid(s), meals, medications you can give, acceptable places to visit, car seats, sleep, electronics, how much you will be paid if any, the role you will play with schooling, and other day to day activities. The website Kid’s Health goes into detail on some of these topics. Click here to read their article.
Once the ground rules are set, this will give you and the parents peace of mind you are on the same page. Now it is time to plan and get the children’s help on activities you can do.
Creating a jar or notebook for these ideas helps to keep them organized. Many of these activities cost little to no money, for example making a blanket fort, going on an adventure walk, watching an old movie, let them help with a project around the house, baking, find grandparent days at local museums and zoos, or writing a book or comic book are a few ideas. Huffington Post listed out 101 activities for grandparents to do with grandkids, click here to see the list.
Throughout the day you can send the parents a few pictures, this will keep them connected to their kids and at the same time provide updates on where and how things are going. If an issue should come up these should be discussed and resolved outside of normal family time. Schedule time to check in with your grandchildren’s parents, talk about how things are going, changes that either would like to see, and to show appreciation to each other. This will help in creating and maintaining healthy relationships, click here to read more about family relationships.
Have a backup plan, if there is a day that you are not up for being a caregiver be open and honest with the parents. Alternatives that can help on these days is having a drop-in day care identified, having one of your trusted friends come help and babysit as a team, asking another family member to be a backup, or just having a very low-key day watching movies.
Childcare is expensive and even in the best times can cause families to struggle financially. There is assistance available for childcare both in the civilian world and as a Veteran. For additional resources to help pay for childcare visit the Know A Vet website.
Future issues we will cover other ways you can help your family by making sure everyone is prepared in case of emergency!
Visit Know A Vet for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code.
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101 Activities for Grandparents to Do with Grandkids – Check out this list of fun and engaging activities to enjoy with your grandchildren.
Grandkids and Grandparents: Benefits of a Strong Bond – Learn about the importance of strong grandparent-grandchild relationships and how to maintain them.