Do you remember what it’s like to be a first-time parent? Your memories are probably of a hectic time full of stresses and challenges. Parenting is something no one knows how to do the first time.
When your grown children are starting their family, they’ll be going through this same process of challenges, questions and new issues they’ve never dealt before. Here’s a quick guide on how you can be the most supportive and helpful new grandparent for your grown children as new parents.
Stay Positive and Flexible
Stay positive, be flexible and go with the flow. Your kids will be going through a great deal of stress. You don’t want to contribute to that stress. Rather, you want to be a relaxing presence that they can lean on and turn to. Listen to them well and try to understand from them what you can do to help.
Talk to Other Grandparents
It’s also good to talk with more experienced grandparents. For things like the baby shower, talk to others who have done it before. They may have more ideas than your kids, who may be looking to you for ideas. Also, ask other grandparents for ideas about how they supported their children.
Hold off on the Shopping Spree
When the baby’s on his or her way, it’s tempting to head out shopping and buy gifts to shower the little one with. But those gifts can be just as much an annoyance as a blessing for your adult children. They may not have a use for everything, and they have to store it all. Instead, talk to them about what specific things they need.
Be the Perfect House Guest
Be the best house guest possible. Your children will have their hands full. Take care of yourself, do your own dishes, and help out with cleaning, cooking and other chores. In particular, take over as much of the work the exhausted new mother usually does. But before taking over any of these tasks, you might want to get permission and ask how they like it done.
One of the best and simplest things you can do to make life easier is provide meals, especially to the new mother who is stuck at home. All grandparents do this the first week, but keep bringing food around in the following weeks as well. Make cooking or buying dinner a regular thing and keep it up.
Create a Mini-Nursery
Convert a room or part of a room in your house into a mini-nursery. Stock it with basic baby supplies like a crib, high chair, bottles, and so on. If you don’t have a room to dedicate, you can fill a basket with a change of clothes, diapers and spare teething gel to keep on hand. Try to create a place where the parents can drop off the baby when they need to, and where all of the baby’s needs can be met. In addition to helping a great deal, this will also increase the likelihood of visits.
Make Mommy Breaks
Regularly give mom a break. Take care of the baby for a while and let the stressed new mother sleep. Even if the baby is not taking a bottle, there is time for mom or dad to grab a quick shower or get out of the house for an errand.
Today’s Baby Best Practices
I’m not trying to say anything about your age here, but study up a little on modern baby best practices. Things might have changed a bit since you were a new parent. For example, today’s parents take more safety precautions with their little ones than the older generation did. Get acquainted with how child rearing is done these days so you’re on the same page.
Brush up Your Baby Skills
If you feel unsure about feeding the baby, changing diapers, burping and other baby care routines, now’s a good time to brush up. You can take a grandparenting class, read up on grandparenting, talk to other grandparents, or practice things like changing diapers.
Patience and Plenty of Space
Most of all, be patient with the new parents and give them the space they need when they need it. If the new parents get overloaded and snap at you, try to take it on the cheek. They probably just need space and they’ll apologize profusely when they snap out of it. Lots of frustrations and stress, combined with lack of sleep, can make new parents crazy.
Don’t stress out about grandparenting yourself. Just like your adult children are first-time parents, you’re also first-time grandparents. You may not get everything perfect the first time and nobody is expecting you too. Keep good communication with your kids about their needs and always look for ways you can help and support them.