What to do when granny is the nanny

MONEY MAT­TERS: COM­PEN­SATE YOUR PAR­ENTS, WITH PAY­MENT, HELP OR EVEN A TREAT

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE - Tshep­iso Makhele

Tak­ing care of a child is a job, even for a grand­par­ent.

Let’s face facts, grand­par­ents are, in­deed, the glue that keeps the fam­ily to­gether. In most black com­mu­ni­ties, where moth­ers work away from home and don’t earn enough to live with their kids, grand­par­ents move from just be­ing koko (grand­mother) to nanny, and even mother.

For other par­ents, De­cem­ber is when they drop the kids off at the grand­par­ents ... and let the fun be­gin for mommy and daddy.

Grand­par­ents play a piv­otal role in our lives and of­ten par­ents abuse their kind­ness, for­get­ting they also have a life to live.

Hav­ing your par­ents will­ing to take care of your chil­dren can be a plus. Who bet­ter to look af­ter your lit­tle ones than the very peo­ple who raised you?

You don’t have to check ref­er­ences, con­duct end­less in­ter­views or part with a lot of money for babysit­ting.

An­other plus, of course, is the sense of safety and trust you feel, with your mother or fa­ther look­ing af­ter your child/chil­dren.

Hav­ing grand­par­ents play nanny can be a bril­liant ar­range­ment, but it can also trig­ger bad feel­ings if you don’t tread care­fully.

Firstly, do not as­sume your mother and fa­ther are in­ter­ested in spend­ing their days di­a­per­ing, burp­ing and feed­ing your child, much as they adore him or her.

I have no doubt that my mother loves my child. She is a won­der­ful grand­mother, who helps out where she can.

But I know that even be­yond the age of 60, as she is, she is woman who loves her job, is a bit of a worka­holic and is not ready to be a stay-at-home granny.

That is okay. We can’t ex­pect our moth­ers to drop their lives and all they love do­ing be­cause we have given birth. They raised us, and that should be enough.

Tak­ing care of the grand kids shouldn’t re­ally be a hard-and­fast rule for grand­par­ents.

There are those will­ing to play nanny to their grand kids or even play mommy.

When this hap­pens, there are a few things ev­ery par­ent and grand­par­ent should con­sider.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is al­ways best in th­ese types of sit­u­a­tions be- cause mommy or daddy, de­spite be­ing raised by th­ese very peo­ple, can have a dif­fer­ent par­ent­ing style from them, and you don’t want to clash with your folks over this, be­cause dis­agree­ments can re­sult in power strug­gles.

Rather hold meet­ings with your par­ents to talk about no-ar­gu­ment areas; is­sues you feel most strongly about, like sleep­ing times, no sweets be­fore food and other such im­por­tant top­ics.

The meet­ings should be a reg­u­lar thing, noth­ing too for­mal, but a time to talk to grand­par­ents about how the child is do­ing, and what your plans are for the up­com­ing week, as well as is­sues you may need to dis­cuss, such as grand­par­ents not stick­ing to the sleep­ing times or you for­get­ting to buy milk.

Never go over­board with dos and don’ts and re­mem­ber your par­ents are help­ing you, not the other way round, so give them some breath­ing space to make de­ci­sions and plan the day, tack­ling car­ing for the chil­dren as a group and not a dic­ta­tor­ship.

Al­low them to have a bit of fun with their grand­child with­out rules be­ing too rigid.

Yes, some­times grand­par­ents will spoil their grand­chil­dren in ways they could not when rais­ing their own kids; some­thing par­ents should deal with with­out let­ting their blood pres­sures go up.

And, with granny and grand­dad in charge, rules can be­come blurred at times, but care and love will be ev­i­dent.

It can never be a per­fect babysit­ting sit­u­a­tion.

Tak­ing care of chil­dren is no walk in the park, and while it may be a bit of an awk­ward topic to dis­cuss, try putting your par­ents on a pay­roll be­cause child­care is a job.

While you might not pay them as much as you would a stranger, sug­gest­ing pay­ment is not a bad

idea.

Some grand­par­ents may refuse. So think of other meth­ods you could, per­haps, com­pen­sate them, show­ing them you ac­knowl­edge their sac­ri­fices and the hard work they are putting in to raise your chil­dren.

Maybe you could hire some­one to do their laun­dry and clean their house once a week, or book them for a mas­sage and din­ner for two on a night you are avail­able to take care of the chil­dren.

I’m sure any grand­par­ent who ded­i­cates their time to rais­ing chil­dren can ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing pam­pered ev­ery now and them.

Try to be thought­ful and show some ap­pre­ci­a­tion for a job they are do­ing – keep­ing pace with your en­er­getic kids and do­ing it from the good­ness of their hearts.

As much as they love your chil­dren, it’s un­fair to ex­pect grand­par­ents to spend their money on your kids.

Don’t get too com­fort­able; you are still the par­ent and you have an obli­ga­tion to pro­vide.

Your par­ents are kind enough to pro­vide child­care, so don’t be the spoiled brat.

Show them the love and re­spect they right­fully de­serve.

They are busy chang­ing nap­pies, read­ing bed­time sto­ries, play­ing games, pick­ing up toys, cook­ing and putting the chil­dren to sleep, so the least you can do is en­sure you sup­ply them with food, nap­pies, toys and other ne­ces­si­ties.

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