You are almost 60-years old. The nest has been empty for quite a while. You’ve worked all of your life and were looking forward to those quiet husband and wife moments of travel, volunteer and part-time work choices. However, instead of planning for an exciting and independent retirement, you are planning sleep overs, meals for school lunches and play dates to the playground.
Many baby boomers are now the proud parents of grandchildren. Grandparents are pulling double duty raising a grandchild or grandchildren. It’s tiring, overwhelming and at times can be financially challenging. At the age of fifty-five my husband and I were awarded partial custody of our granddaughter while our daughter struggles to save money for a house. It’s a goal she has set for herself and her daughter. To achieve her goal she needed our help.
As a single parent her financial obstacles are many and often incurred physical and time-consuming hardships. Mandatory overtime often increased her need for extended childcare. The additional cost quickly depleted her savings. At this point my husband and I offered to share custody and take care of our granddaughter until she was solvent. Through our personal trial and error here are five of our most helpful tips on how to survive third generation child rearing.
Grandchildren vs. Children: Grandchildren are not your children therefore do not try to raise them as you have raised your own children. Technology has influenced a new generation so grounding a grandchild with the threat of no television won’t work if they have a high-speed computer in their bedroom. Remind them as their grandparent it’s important to follow the rules their parents have set and that these same rule are expected to apply to them while living with you. Whether it’s no Nintendo, limited cell phone usage or Facebook social activities let them know you are aware their parents rules and intend to enforce them in their parents’ absence.
Personal Health: Children can be extremely energetic. They need much more attention than [at times] a grandparent can give. Caring for younger children can cause grandparents undue stress and physical exertion. It’s vital to get extra rest, and when possible take short naps to recharge those drained batteries. It’s also wise to contact your primary physician to see if you are able to handle the riggers of taking care of a younger child. If you already have high blood pressure, heart problems, etc. make an appointment to have a complete physical before taking on child care responsibility. Your best intentions could cause irreversible health problems.
Nutrition and Exercise: Personal nutrition is extremely important for grandparents raising grandchildren. A well-balanced diet will keep you fit and provide the extra energy you need to handle the exhausting activities younger grandchildren demand. It’s okay to go out for an occasional fast-food meal however it’s important to maintain and keep a dinner routine. Having dinner together supports healthy eating habits and meal planning. Ask your physician if additional vitamin supplements are necessary. Keep in mind exercise is just as important for you as it is for them. If you’re tired it’s easy to let them veg-out in front of their computers or gaming units. Involve them in your exercise routine. Take them swimming, hiking or on the green for a 3-hole round of golf.
Private Time: It’s easy to get into a rut when younger children are in the house. Homework at 6pm, dinner at 7pm, bedtime, schedules are important and so is your private adult time. Make sure that you and your spouse set aside time to enjoy each other. Take a morning walk, go to an afternoon matinée while they are at school or have brunch at your favorite restaurant. Maintaining a healthy sex life is just as important now as it was before your second generation parenting duties. Keep the romance alive!