5 Tips for Grandparent CaregiversMy daughter Stella is blessed to have 3 sets of grandparents. Even though all grandparents live an hour away, my husband and I are lucky to be able to call on someone when we need a babysitter. All sets of grandparents are always willing to come and help out - whether we just need a break and want some time for ourselves, or if Stella is sick and can't attend daycare. For many families like ours a grandparent plays an important role of secondary caregiver for young children as well as school-aged children.
Grandparents Play An Important Caregiver Role
Many grandparents love having the opportunity to help their family by taking over caregiving roles when needed. These tips are designed to help families like my own who are lucky enough to have grandparents who are able to step in and provide care when needed.
5 Tips for Grandparent Caregivers
1. Negotiate Availability
Taking care of your grandchildren is important but it shouldn't conflict with your own interests, appointments and activities. If you are clear about your schedule and availability you can provide care for your grandchildren at times that are convenient for both you and your family.
2. Be Comfortable With The Type of Care You Are Providing
No matter what type of care you are providing, make sure you are comfortable with what is involved and the demands it will place on you.
Some grandparents provide care for young children who are not yet old enough to attend school. This care might be for:
- A few days a week so a stay-at-home parent can get some errands done and work done around the home
- A few days a week to supplement a parent who works part-time or has children in daycare part-time
- Children who are ill and not able to attend daycare but whose parents still have to go to work
Some grandparents provide care for school-aged children:
- Before and after school — which includes taking children to school and picking them up
- On half days if their grandchildren are in junior or senior kindergarten
- On school holidays or professional development days
- When children are ill and cannot attend school, but parents still have to work
3. Have Emergency Information On Hand
It is always important to have access to emergency phone numbers, health cards and any insurance information so that getting health care and medication for a sick child is possible when their parents are not available.
4. Take Care of Yourself Too!
No matter the type of care you are providing, as a caregiver you must take care of yourself too. Caring for children requires a lot of energy and can take a toll on some seniors. As much as you may want to help your family out when they need it, you need to speak up if the care you are providing is ever too much for you. You aren't doing anyone any favours by overdoing it!
5. Have Fun But Respect House Rules
Being a grandparent is fun and allows you to sometimes spoil your grandkids. This is part of the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild. However, it is important that you respect the rules that your children have set out for your grandchildren. When you are acting as a caregiver you still need to enforce good behaviours by following the same rules and discipline methods that your grandchildren receive from their parents. Although you likely won't agree with all the rules and discipline that your children have set for their children you do need to respect their role as parent. This respect is an important part of maintaining a healthy family dynamic.
With Grandparents Day being celebrated this Sunday September 9th it is important that we all take a moment to acknowledge the important role that grandparents play when it comes to helping families with children. Happy Grandparents Day!
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What do you enjoy most about providing care for your grandchildren? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.