Grandparents play an important role in raising grandchildren. Especially in India, grandparents are very involved in raising grandchildren. Many of them in India take almost full responsibility of their grandchildren right from their infancy to school and beyond. They act as support systems in the family when both the parents are working. Many parents also prefer leaving their children in the care of their grandparents instead of nannies or day-care centres.
But when grandparents assume full parenting responsibilities, it means that they have to forgo a number of things like their leisure time, pursuing their hobbies and even losing their independence to a degree. If you are a grandparent taking care of your grandchildren, you will find yourself surrounded by happiness, love, and companionship but also stress, tiredness and frustration. You might be in charge of changing their diapers and getting them ready for school and bearing the brunt of the anger and moodiness of teenagers. But you will also receive unexpected hugs and kisses and smiles that make all the hard work seem worthwhile.
In other words, grandparenting your grandchildren can be extremely challenging but also incredibly rewarding.
If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, you must take your own physical and mental health into account. Here are some tips you should keep in mind:
1. Care about your feelings
There is a myriad of feelings you will experience while taking care of your grandchildren. You will experience happiness at their littlest accomplishments. You will have unconditional love for your grandchildren and can relive your own parenthood through them again.
But you can also get negative feelings like stress, worry, anger, guilt, resentment, and grief. However, you must know that these feelings are completely natural and it does not mean that you love your grandchildren any lesser.
When you start feeling overwhelmed by negative feelings, just remember that you have the wisdom that comes with experience. You have already raised children and made mistakes and you are now learning through your experiences. What you bring to your family is invaluable, you should always remember that!
2. Take care of yourself
While taking care of your grandchildren can be fulfilling, you wouldn’t have expected yourself to raise children after a certain age. This might make you feel overwhelmed physically, emotionally and even financially, in some cases. Children have unending energy and it becomes difficult for an older person to match their energy levels throughout the day. You also have to keep second-guessing what their parents would do and this can drain you out completely.
Taking care of children is a full-time job and while it is satisfying, it is easy to forget your own needs. Taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you cannot be a good caretaker.
Have a balanced diet, exercise regularly and sleep well. Visit the doctor regularly for health check-ups. Teach your grandchildren basic skills like helping around the house or picking up after themselves. This keeps them happy and occupied and you can also catch up on some rest.
3. Ask for help
Many grandparents do not ask for help as they believe that asking for assistance in raising grandchildren can make them seem weak. However, raising children is a very difficult job and it takes a village to raise a child. There is no shame in asking for help in raising a child, especially when you are an older adult.
If you feel tired continuously, seek help from nearby communities, neighbours or other parents. You can also ask the parents to appoint a nanny and keep an eye on them so that you get ample rest yet are able to participate actively in raising your grandchildren.
4. Meet people
Parenting is a lonely job. If you are a grandparent, it becomes even more difficult for you because you generally interact with parents of similarly aged children and they are mostly younger than you. You cannot often relate to their parenting styles or may even feel inadequate in comparison to them.
Often, grandparents also have to move to a new place to look after their grandchildren and this makes them feel more isolated. Isolation and lack of a similar company can lead to depression in older adults.
Make it a point to meet parents, grandparents, and caregivers regularly. You can arrange playdates with your grandchildren so that everyone is entertained. Social media platforms like Facebook have various groups to provide non-judgmental support to caregivers. You can join such groups so that you can talk openly about your loneliness and other issues you might be facing.
5. Pursue your hobbies and passions
Even if you are taking care of your grandchildren full-time, there is no reason why you cannot pursue your hobbies. There are ample facilities like day-cares and nannies to take care of children. Children are also smarter than we give them credit for. They can easily adjust to new environments so that you get a few hours for yourself. This “me-time” is very important for caregivers for a balanced lifestyle. You can decide what you want to do during that time. Instead of watching mindless TV that causes more stress, you can opt for light exercises, yoga, meditation, or even sleep during that time to rejuvenate your senses and regain your focus and energy.
Taking care of children, irrespective of their age, is a demanding job, especially if you are an older adult. If you have medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension or arthritis, it becomes even more difficult for you. However, recognizing your problem areas and using these 5 tips to deal with them can make life easier for you and fun for your grandchildren. Let raising grandchildren be a rewarding and fulfilling experience than a challenging one!
Do you take care of your grandchildren? What do you do to keep yourself refreshed and happy? Do share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
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