Grandparent Burnout: How Can We Lessen the Burden?

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We live in a society that does not accommodate mothers or parents. We know that this pandemic has forced millions of women to choose between their career and home. With this being said, working parents continue to rely on paid childcare and/or grandparents.

Recent studies have reported that caring for one’s grandchildren has the potential to expand a grandparent’s lifespan by at least five years. What can be better than seeing your grandchildren multiple times a week and building that close relationship with them one-on-one? Well folks, this question is not a rhetorical one. There is something even better than constantly caring for your grandchildren: visiting them without the added responsibility of babysitting!

grandparent, grandparentsDiscussing Childcare Before Conception

Before having children, we knew that we were not going to rely on our parents for childcare. My parents have health issues. My husband, the youngest of four by 15 years, has parents who have already done the whole grandparent childcare thing a few times over. This was a hard conversation to have both as a couple and with our parents. Ultimately it came down to this: we want our parents to be grandparents, not daily childcare providers.

Of course there are date nights and short trips that require a brief stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. In fact, my parents assist with childcare one day a week. However when it comes to the full on Monday-Friday grind, our parents are spectators and visitors, not investors.

Not Everyone Has the Choice

I realize that we are fortunate in that we are able to (somewhat) afford the costs of childcare. Equitable childcare and support for parents is an absolute systemic issue here in the United States. Parenting is 100 percent political and needs to be treated as such when people vote. Others aren’t always in a position to seek outside care.

Remember this: relying on grandparents is totally fine, but it is important that you are mindful of just how much you’re putting on your parents when it comes to raising your kids. Grandparents should be able to split their time between grandchildren and enjoy visits with both you and them.

Here are some questions to reflect on:

  • Do my parents only see my children when they’re babysitting?
  • Can I rearrange my budget to alleviate some of the childcare burden for my parents?
  • Are my parents able to equitably spend time with their other grandchildren without worrying about who will take care of my children?

The Golden Years

Those of us in the thralls of parenting go to bed absolutely exhausted after a long, fun day of being moms and dads. Now add 25+ years of age to that equation and your perspective changes. My parents and in-laws have truly earned their right to slow down, relax. More importantly, they deserve to enjoy the prestigious titles of Grandma and Grandpa. They have paid their parenting dues and can now be the wise and loving people that they are to positively influence our children. They know we love and cherish them dearly. So much so, that we removed childcare from the table.

These golden years are theirs for the taking. We want their relationship with our children to be special in a way that supports both them and the kids.

For some, grandparents don’t live close enough for childcare to even be an option. Check out Creative Ways to Maintain Virtual Connections with Grandparents for some fresh ways to keep in touch.

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