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Helpful tips every new Grandparent should know

28th August 2018

It’s a big deal becoming a grandparent for the first time, but as well as the obvious joy that it brings there are some challenges.

For people with mobility problems that need walk-in baths and showers for their home, it can be difficult to come up with ideas to entertain grandchildren. This guide offers tips to people who are set to become a grandparent as well as offer advice to those with mobility problems.

Top tips for grandparents

Be guided by the parents

As a new parent or expecting parent the feeling of being torn between sets of grandparents asserting their thoughts and opinions can be a recipe for stress that is just not needed.

It is therefore important for grandparents to just support the parents when asked. Helen, a lifestyle blogger and mum of two, runs the Actually Mummy site and she describes the importance of being guided by the parents.

“I would say to new grandparents, when you become the grandparent of a new baby, please be guided by the parents. I know it's so exciting when a new baby is born, and it's tempting to just descend on the new family. But try to make your first visit very short, and leave the parents to get to know their own baby. At this time, it's more about the new mother than it is about anything else, so please respect her needs and wishes.”

Gransnet, the social networking site for over 50s, agrees that it is important to realise that parents need their alone time.

“Becoming a grandparent for the first time is an incredible experience. It's normal to want to spend every waking minute with the baby but remember that while your support may well be needed at some stage, the new family also need their alone time. 

“It's also wise to acknowledge that parenting has changed a fair bit over the years and your experience and well-intentioned advice may come across as criticism to a new, sleep-deprived mum.”

Make the days count

Make sure the time spent with grandchildren is precious and celebrate every milestone no matter how big or small it is. So, no matter if it is that first step or smile, it is a great idea to keep a journal or scrapbook that photographs and notes can be added to record these events. Calling the parents if they are not there is also a nice touch.

Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One, says, “My main bit of advice for grandparents would be to treasure the time spent with grandchildren. My own parents live abroad so my son doesn't see them often. Offer to give parents some child-free time and spend some time totally focussed on the grandchildren. Share your experiences and passions, my father is an amateur Entomologist and it's wonderful to watch him sharing his knowledge and passion with my son. It gives them a very special bond.”

Help out when possible

It’s good to let parents know that you’re willing to help out whenever needed. So no matter whether it’s cooking, cleaning or going shopping in the first month, another pair of hands is useful.

Helen from Actually Mummy, adds, “When you are with them, be useful. Fill the freezer with nourishing meals they can rely on over the coming weeks, do some washing, or shop for them. Above all, as a visitor in the early days, you should be a support, rather than a guest.”

Don’t spoil grandchildren

As new grandparents, it is easy to buy lots and lots of presents, but it is important that grandchildren are not spoilt.

Kimberly Ruhr from Passing Down the Love, says, “Don’t go overboard or overindulge your grandchildren. Instead of physical gifts, give your time and attention.”

For grandparents looking to buy presents, in an article about top tips for a grandma, Kimberly Ruhr suggests buying a few children’s books.

“Reading to a child is a great way to connect. Have books available to read while you snuggle.  Hearing your voice, getting to know you, and starting an appreciation for reading early are only a few of the reasons reading to your Grandchild is important.”

Encourage but don’t give advice

It could be tempting to highlight that a certain fashion the parents are following are mostly fads, but don’t say anything and just grit your teeth.

Instead, encourage and pay the parents compliments. Gransnet, says, "Be supportive and encouraging. A new parent could hear a few good positive comments every now and then...because we all do try our best but sometimes we feel like we're failing. Also, tell the father how proud you are of all his efforts as dads often get brushed off or forgotten about."

Get your home ready

It is important to make a home safe and comfortable for grandchildren, especially if the parents are looking for babysitters.

Kimberly Ruhr shares her advice on the things that need to be done to make a home safe.

“Check for dangers and remove or replace what needs attention. Have supplies on hand, like wipes, a few diapers, a blanket, and maybe a crib or portable sleeping arrangements. Your children will be more likely to leave the child in your care or come for a visit if they feel comfortable in your home.”

Activities grandparents with restricted mobility can do with grandchildren

It can be a daunting task looking after grandchildren for the first time, but for grandparents with mobility problems who need mobility aids to get around the home, it can be a daunting thought. However, there are lots of activities that can be done.

Craft activities

Actually Mummy’s Helen believes doing craft activities with grandchildren is a great idea for people with mobility issues.

“In terms of grandparents with restricted mobility, you'd be a godsend to any parent if you would do craft activities. Children love any kind of messy play, so painting, paper crafts, glue and glitter are all a treasure trove. In my experience though, parents often avoid these activities because they can be time-consuming, and make loads of mess that needs cleaning up. I always felt guilty if I said no to crafting, but I didn't often do it because of the resulting mess. So if you can craft and paint, parents will love you - as long as you clean up afterwards!”

Let grandchildren help with housework

It is important that grandparents enjoy the precious time they have with their grandchildren and if there are lots of chores to be done, why not make it into a fun activity.

One Gransnet user says, “Spend time with them, giving them all your attention. Let them help you with cooking, then help you wash up afterwards. Let them help with the cleaning by giving them a duster and a coffee table to dust. Let them help you in the garden, washing the car. Let them get dirty then let them have fun in the bath.”

Play board games

The great thing about board games is the fact that they are not only fun but mean that people with mobility problems don’t have to move around.

Mary from the lifestyle and travel blog Over 40 and a Mum to One, adds, “Tabletop board games, construction toys such as building blocks and Lego are great for entertaining children without needing to move around. Storytime is always a special time.”

Other games that grandparents and grandchildren could play are word games. These are an excellent way to get grandchildren’s minds working to think outside the box and they can be played anywhere.

Games and things to do while sitting on the sofa

Kimberly Ruhr from Passing Down the Love recommends trying the following things as they can be played whilst sitting on the sofa:

- Read to them, tell family stories (especially sharing your personal stories), look at photo albums and talking about the people and places.

- Play instruments

- Play video games

- Take turns interviewing each other

Visit accessible attractions

Just because people have mobility problems doesn’t mean they have to be house-bound when looking after grandchildren as there are lots of accessible attractions that can be visited. Kimberly Ruhr recommends trying some of the following activities:

- Go on short outings like school functions or your Grandchild’s ballgame

- See a movie, or go to a play. 

- Go to a sporting event or concerts.

- Go out to eat at a restaurant.

- Visit the zoo or amusement park.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.