If You’re reading this, you’re likely an Expecting New Grandparent and congratulations are in order! Congratulations on your new little grandbaby!
The beauty of being a grandparent is that you can be as involved as much or as little as you want in your grand child’s life. If your relationship is solid with your son or daughter, chances are, they will very much want you to be involved as their child grows and help in whatever capacity you’re able.
Please eynjoy these tips! They are coming from years of supporting new families all over the world.
In whatever capacity you are able, offer to help. This may be in the form of washing or unloading the dishes, running errands or folding and putting away laundry. Making meals or taking the older siblings on an outing. Helping could also mean holding or feeding the baby so mom and dad can rest.
Try not to ask the new parents “what can I do to help?” Oftentimes, if you ask if you can do laundry, the parents will say no, they will get to it later. Take initiative on some of these common household chores. There are always so many to do!
The biggest suggestion I have in this department is to not become a guest that needs to be entertained or only wants to hold the baby. If holding the baby is helpful to your son or daughter, great! Just check in with them and ask them what is the most helpful. Do as many of those things as you can. Make a list together.
Please recognize that these days, especially with COVID -19, parents are being more careful about who they allow into their homes after the birth of a baby. Before being discharged from the hospital, the nurses will tell new parents to “pick the most helpful family and friends”. The point is to support the new parents and be helpful and not a burden. Please don’t expect to be cooked for or entertained. Instead, offer to bring dinner and keep the visit short (babies need to eat a lot and parents are tired). Any time you visit your son or daughter, plan to help in some way. Everything helps!
2. It’s not about you
Becoming a new grandparent is a special time, especially if it’s your first grandbaby. However, you have to remember that this journey is about your son or daughter. They are the proud new parents and need to find their own way. Of course you can offer suggestions, but please be careful not to be overbearing and so quick to say “this is how you did it or this is what worked for you”. Instead, first try to ask if you may offer a suggestion. “Would it be okay if I made a suggestion?”
3. Be respectful of the new parents wishes
Remember again, this is about your son or daughter’s journey as new parents. There are dozens of examples here, but we are just going to touch base on sleep for now.
As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, this actually comes up often. Why? Because there are a lot of circumstances where wonderful grandparents like you, are helping to care for their grandchildren. Also, babies sleep (or should be sleeping) a lot!
When it comes to sleep, these are the most common challenges I hear from new parents:
- Grandparents write something off because it doesn’t work the first time
- Grandparents are unsupportive of sleep training
- Grandparents put their needs above the wishes of the parents. Example being, they want to hold and snuggle the baby for sleep when the parents are working to create independent sleep fundamentals.
Please remember that when it comes to establishing healthy sleep, it can be really hard for new parents to make the decision to move forward. They need your support and your grand baby needs your consistency. Solid sleep doesn’t happen without consistency and if you are caring for your grandchild regularly, everyone needs to be on the same page and taking the same steps. If the consistency isn’t there, it’s hard on the family and the baby. Long term, it will take longer to establish good sleep and short term, sleep can be disturbed for the whole family for days.
In the end, if you aren’t on board with your son or daughter’s wishes, it could mean spending less time with your grandchildren. So do your best to follow suit and raise any concerns you have in a kind and respectful manner.
4. Offer to pay for services
If you aren’t able to provide in person support for your son or daughter due to physical or geographical limitations, one of the best ways you can help them is to offer to pay for services. There are SO MANY services available that are helpful for new parents. Often, these services aren’t purchased by new parents because they are considered “extra” or “non-essential” However, they are usually needed the most and are perfect for gifting. Generally, services for Newborn Care, Nanny or Night Nanny Services, Postpartum Support and Food are the most commonly requested. Here are some ideas:
- Pay or contribute for Newborn Care Specialist, Sleep Consultant, Postpartum Doula, Nanny or Night Nanny services. Extra hands and targeted care for sleep are always needed!
- Order dinner to be delivered, set up a meal train, hire a local meal company or register your son or daughter for a meal delivery service.
- Order and pay for groceries. Have them delivered to their house.
- Schedule and pay for a house cleaning
- Schedule and pay for a Dog walker
- Arrange for laundry service, either in home or pick up
The point of doing some of these things is to help remove some of the daily tasks off of their plate that are time consuming. These tasks all add up and take energy. New parents NEED SLEEP and time to bond with their new baby. Those are the priorities (along with spending time with any older children). You will be helping them to do both by contributing to these services.
I hope you found today’s blog post about my Top 4 Tips for New Grandparents helpful. Your support for your son or daughter during this intimate and precious time is so important. As a Newborn Care Specialist, I’ve seen firsthand dozens and dozens of times the challenges that new parents face when welcoming a baby into the world. The last thing most grandparents would want to do is make that journey harder! It’s never the intention, but remember, in most instances it’s been 20-30 years since you’ve had babies yourself. Things have changed and most times, grandparents forget how challenging caring for a newborn can be!