4 Tips to Juggling Motherhood and Grandparenthood
Over the last several years I’ve noticed a trend: There are quite a few parents who have adult children and have a second generation of children still in primary school – just like I do. I have a 25-year-old daughter who is a mom to an almost 4-year-old princess and I have three younger children ages 12, 11 and 9.
Having such a large gap between my first and second children wasn’t in the plans, but now that it’s a reality I have been surprised at the amount of balancing techniques I need to use. In the beginning, there was the balance between an infant and toddlers vs. a teenager. And as soon as I mastered – ahem, adjusted to – that life there were new scenarios to balance.
What I didn’t anticipate, or even think about, was having an adult child who’s a parent while having young children. The situation made me realize that I wasn’t prepared. Like most grandparents I want to shower my granddaughter with gifts, roll on the floor in abandonment and be there for every moment of her life.
Reality set in immediately when I realized all of those gifts wouldn’t be possible because I’m still raising children. As a single mother, most of my funds are tied up and I don’t have the freedom of being the type of grandmother – or Gigi as my grandbaby calls me – I’ve always dreamed of being.
Over the past almost four years I’ve figured out a few things that help me to successfully juggle being a mommy and a Gigi. Here are 4 tips to balancing motherhood and grandparenthood:
- Release the guilt. Not being able to do the things I wanted to with and for my granddaughter Autumn made me feel extremely guilty. In order to abate the guilt, practice this “mind exercise:” Consider all of the things you can and will do as well as the substance you add to your grandchild’s life. Even though I am not able to buy everything or be present all the time, I’m available when needed for pickups from daycare or babysitting on occasion. And, as an added bonus, I’m able to say “no” when necessary.
- Know your village. It delights my heart that the other side of Autumn’s family, her daddy’s side, has rallied around the young couple. The other grandmother, Mimi, has been able to provide clothes and other needed items, and my daughter’s godfather is still a big part of her life. Mimi’s father also provides babysitting and pickup as needed. When you realize your child and grandchild have a larger support system it helps to ease your mind, which also assists in releasing the guilt.
- Organize and schedule. I often feel isolated and left out; if that sounds familiar then stay abreast of your child and grandchild’s schedule. Every once in a while my daughter and I sit down and coordinate our schedules. We keep our planners up-to-date with each other’s appointments, school events and activities plus there’s the added necessity of her spending time with her young siblings. With organizing and scheduling (write it down!) you can reference your calendar at any time and determine when you’ll see your babies, or vice versa, again. You’ll be prepared and have something to look forward to.
- Have fun and relax. A study of 120 grandmothers in the Women’s Healthy Aging Project* found that taking care of your grandchild just once a week helps to keep dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay. One day every week or so of taking care of my granddaughter is comforting if I remind myself to relax and have fun. As parents who’ve already raised a child(ren) we know that time passes quickly and little moments are fleeting so we need to enjoy each moment as it comes.
It’s my hope that these four steps help you as much as they’ve helped me. When you keep these things in mind you’ll realize success in balancing your roles as mommy and grandmother.
*The study was conducted in Australia and published in the online edition of Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society. Further studies revealed that taking care of grandchildren up to five days a week had the opposite effect. Having realized that grandmothers are spending a lot of time taking care of their grandchildren, there are further studies on the horizon to better understand the effects on their future health.
Petula Lloyd is the blogger behind Petula Writes where she shares product reviews, health news, and snippets of life. She has been a writer for 23 years and has just as many years of experience balancing writing life and parenting.