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With more and more families deciding they need both parents to continue to earn, it can often be down to either or both sets of Grandparents to help with childcare.
In many situations this can be an absolute joy.
If, as a Grandparent, you have been fortunate enough to retire while fit and healthy, have a comfortable lifestyle and some spare time it can be an opportunity to create life long bonds with your grandchildren.
Being given the chance to do some of the things you may not have time to do with your own children can be incredibly uplifting. Also, how inspiring for a young child to be taught new skills and learn from many years of experience, perhaps in a more relaxed environment.
I was one of the lucky ones.
One set of Grandparents lived very close, so my brother and l spent a great deal of time with them in the school holidays. They were very young grandparents with bundles of energy. We were given the Swallows and Amazon kind of rural freedom many children don’t get nowadays. Now l am older l can see the juggling my parents did and how they purchased larger home essentials for my Grandparents (possibly in return for free childcare).
As parents we may want to be with our children all the time. However, having different adult role models can be hugely beneficial. Surely our job is to encourage and empower our children to become self-confident, independent young people who can draw strength from as many different opinions and experiences as possible.
Whilst we may not agree with our Mother-in-Laws all the time(!) they will be helping to shape and develop our children in a positive way.
Having said this, l appreciate there is an opposing argument where child-minding can become an expectation.
Grandparents can end up feeling put upon, stressed, out of pocket and unappreciated. We all know how selfish and egocentric teenagers can be, well paid, glossy young parents can slip into that role too. As they drift off to work in their nice new car, expecting to holiday twice a year, without recognising the only reason they can afford those luxuries is because their childcare is free!
Most grandparents adore their grandchildren but undertaking a regular childcare commitment is very different to seeing them occasionally for daytrips and holidays.
There really does need to be appreciation on both sides.
What happens if you don’t feel well, or you need to care for your partner? Will your child take time off work to look after their own children? Those are conversations it may be easier to have before entering into a long-term arrangement.
I heard about one grandparent who thought she was being invited on holiday as a thank-you. Sadly not, it was purely so the parents could go out every night and she could babysit!
We tend to speak to a lot of grandparents at shows.
A lot of grandparents buy Snuggle Sacs to keep at their house so the grandchildren have something special to sleep in while they are there. They say it makes staying away from home easier, more exciting and something to look forward to. Then there are the practical reasons too.
Last time we exhibited at the Motor Home and Caravan Show we were surprised how many lucky grandchildren get to go away in beautiful caravans and motor homes during the holidays.
However, that’s not all. Now we have the new range of adult size Snuggle Sacs, the grandparents take their own Snuggle Sacs for the trip too. Why not? They have been designed to replace conventional bedding, have 100% cotton linings, an attached pillow case (you can still use your own pillow from home), and come in a thick canvas bag for storage. At only £60 these have proved to be a great success as they can be used at home or when staying with friends too.