Becoming a grandparent is one of the joys of life. Relying on a grandparent for the odd bit of child care, or simply handing over junior for a grandparent to enjoy for a time, should also be a joy for parents. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the way, and sadly, it’s sometimes we, as grandparents, who are at the root of the problem.
As seniors, it can be tempting to believe we know all there is to know about bringing up little ones, but if we stop for a moment to think about this, it makes sense that childcare best-practice will have changed over time. So, next time you go to collect your grandchild, put your own ego aside, and listen to what the parent wants. If you really want to clock up brownie points, use the following tips to get started.
Food for thought
If a parent gives you child-friendly food to take with you, respect that, and don’t supplement it with your own goodies. Many parents now like to keep ‘food diaries’ for their child, and when you return with junior, will ask you about what food you’ve offered the little one – so don’t be caught out! If you’re expected to provide food yourself, ask ahead of time if there is anything that shouldn’t be offered (many parents now keep items such a dairy, gluten and sugar strictly out of children’s diets, at least until they are older).
When news of a little one on the way reaches you, it can be exciting to hunt out equipment such as cots, prams, car and bike seats you can keep in your own home for when junior comes to visit. But the baby gear you spot on Trade Me or the supermarket noticeboard, may no longer be considered safe, and even if it is, it can be tricky to tell if it’s in good working order. To keep up to date about these import issues, start by reading this helpful brochure from Consumer Affairs, and back it up by calling Plunket to discuss any items you may be thinking of buying.
We all have a toy or two, from our own child-rearing days, which we’ve carefully stowed away for the next generation. But before you present these to your new little one, give the items an overhaul. Materials deteriorate over time, and parts become loose. So set to, and mend. Also give thought to what toys are made from. There may have been discoveries over the intervening decades pointing to toys no longer being safe, for a multitude of reasons. Once again, Plunket is your first port of call to check on toy safety. Your local Toy Library may also be able to help out.
The arrival of a new member of the family can be a catalyst for a whole new area of learning, and some grandparents like to take the time to read up on just what grandparenting a new generation means. Tots to Teens is a great resource for this purpose. A free magazine, it is available in the community at places such as libraries, preschools and medical centres. Or you can subscribe to it for the very reasonable fee of $26, and have it delivered to your letterbox. Your local library will have a wealth of grandparenting books and magazines, and if you want to take it up a notch, why not enrol for a grandparenting course!
Helping yourself to become the best grandparent you can be is not only an exciting adventure, it’s a sign to those you love that you have their back – and it will come at the very time new parents need your more than ever. Happy grand parenting!