Grandparents as Daily Childcare Providers

In today’s world there is a growing need for safe quality childcare, many parents turn to their own parents for their day care provider needs. There are no set rules for Grandparent Childcare Providers. Grandparents make several mistakes and learn from their mistakes several things about childcare. The overall experience of taking on the childcare provider role and being grandparents at the same time has been very rewarding. Grandparents develop an unconditional love bond with grandchildren. For brand new Grandparents taking on this responsibility is both a privileged joy and a parenting stress.

Grandparents as Caregivers

Grandparents can provide good and healthy daycare for their grandchildren. Such a task can increase the bond between grandparent and children, as well as allowing each an intimate look into the others’ lives. This can forge understanding and appreciation across generations as well as be a life saving solution for parents who work.

Grandparents, however, have to keep in mind a few things. First of all, grandparents must respect their adult children’s style of parenting. Everything from discipline to feeding schedules has to be discussed so that the child has consistence between houses and families. While grandparents are often known for indulging grandchildren, during the week caregiving is not the time to do so. Parents are the first teachers of children, and caregiving grandparents must remember to respect the way a parent wants a child raised.

In addition, grandparents have to recognize that this is a long term commitment that requires much responsibility. Whether it is minding an infant throughout the day or simply providing after school monitoring, grandparents must remember that this is a serious commitment and a lot of work. Neither is that work easy. Kids are a tough business, and most grandparents who are able to do this either work from home or are retired. Grandparents need to take a seriously hard look at the issue of how they want to spend their time.

Parents need to also realize what kind of hard work this is and cannot automatically expect that grandparents are always available to cover day care or even to babysit for an evening. There must be established a mutual respect between the parents and the grandparents if this is to work. Parents also need to explore the notion of payment. This is a hard job, so maybe some kind of token payment would be acceptable in recognition of the work involved and to differentiate between just spending time with the kids and being their full time caregiver.

Routines Make Job of Caregiving Easier

Setting daily routines will help keep stress levels of grandparents low. A grandparent as a childcare provider is taking on a full time job. Sit down with your child and plan out daily schedules, such as times you are on duty, meaning your work day begins at __ and ends at __. Communication is the key to all relationships, so listen to and carry out the guidelines and wishes your grandchild’s parents have expressed. Parents and grandparents must communicate clearly on what is expected of each in these new roles. Everything from snack time and content through homework rules have to be discussed and agreed upon. After that, everyone must be aware of and stick to the agreement.

Furthermore grandparents, while they may think they know a better way, must still respect the way parents want their kids raised and cared for. Sometimes that is not an easy place for a grandparent to be. Agree to a time limited trial time to see how it works.  Try to create a working relationship with the parents, compromising on the little issues.

Daycare at Child’s Home

Providing daycare in your child’s home is a plus, everything needed for the grandchild is there. Going to and from your grandchild’s house does also provide you with some down time to reflect on the day, much like going to a regular job. You may feel the need to do housekeeping while you are in your child’s house, making you the caretaker of the house as well as your grandchild. To avoid the extra stress be very clear about what housekeeping duties you are willing to take on and try to keep your energies focused on the child care activities.

Daycare at Grandparents’ Home

Most grandparents provide the daycare in their own homes, which is a comfortable environment for both grandparent and grandchild. The grandparent has time to take care of their own housework while the grandchild is napping or involved in an activity. The grandchild is still in a secure situation. One that will help them develop skills, giving the child more opportunities to grow and explore.

Care for Children With Special Needs

There is also another type of daycare grandparents need to consider – that is providing childcare for a ill child or special needs child. Providing daycare for your grandchild when they are ill and unable to attend school or regular daycare is an especially unselfish act. Taking care of an energetic well child is a piece of cake compared to taking care of a sick child. It takes a little more understanding, compassion and patience to provide childcare for a sick child. So in your discussions with your grandchild’s parent please address what to do when the child is ill and be fair about your limitations if any in caring for the child. The parent needs to be sure who is available to take care of the sick child, be it you or themselves. If you are able to provide daycare for a special needs child or for a child who is ill but normally goes to school offer the option to the parent. The parent will be thankful to have the option available and have less to worry about if the time comes.

Fun Activities

As for daily routines, babies rule the roost with their own schedules, feeding, changing, napping, and playtime. Plan out some fun activities to do with your grandchild everyday.  Playtime can be set for activities on floor and playing games, stories can be read in storytime for calming effect before naps, cleaning time for teaching helpful coordination, etc.  Take the time to read to, play a game, decorate for a holiday or go for a walk. Planning ahead and scheduling appropriate activities, outings, and interesting things to do for grandchildren visits or stay overs will insure a memorable good time is shared by all.

Also, remember to plan some down time for yourself and quiet playtime for the grandchildren. Listen intently to whatever your grandchild is sharing. Communicate your response in a positive and upbeat way. Answer all questions honestly and straight forward. Praise your grandchildren’s efforts and accomplishments. Be supportive and understanding with their disappointments. Speak and talk about current issues, shared interests, and activities appropriate for the grandchild’s age group.

Grandparents know a lot of family history, share family pictures and memories. Tell stories about yourself and relatives. Share your favorite moments spent with their parent when their parent was their age. Continue the ethnic heritage and family traditions you celebrated as a child. Teach your grandchildren what you know, introduce them to your hobbies, allow them to help garden, cook, take care of the pets, even help paint and wallpaper. Sharing your world with them gives them the chance to experience and try new things.

Strategies for Better Behavior

Disciplining children isn’t fun. But there are methods grandparents can use to make discipline more palatable. The following methods will give grandchild a clear idea of the rewards and consequences of her behavior.

The “When–Then” Behavior Contract

This behavior contract is used to reward the child for successfully completing a goal using the “When–Then” principle. An example of a “When–Then” statement is, “When you finish setting the table, then you have 10 minutes of free time.”

Contracts are signed by the grandparent and the child. The contract clearly states the reward for successful completion, or the consequences if the contract is not completed successfully. If the child complains or resist, your job is to hold the line.

Here is a sample behavior contract.

  1. Problem: Grandchild argues about her homework.
  2. Required behavior: When grandchild completes homework without arguing, Then child will receive (state the reward).
  3. If grandchild continues to argue, then  the child will lose (name the privilege).
  4. Date and signatures: (Child), (Grandparent)

The Plus, Minus, Interesting (PMI) Problem Solver

The PMI method helps children see that the obvious answer isn’t necessarily the best one. It is a simple technique that results in a torrent of ideas.

  1. Divide a sheet of paper into three columns.
  2. In one column list all the positive or “plus” views of the idea. In the second column list anything that is negative or “minus” about the idea, and in the third column list the “interesting” aspects of the idea.
  3. Talk over the plus, minus, and interesting parts of each PMI idea. Choose the best solution.

A List of Rewards

Try the 10 rewards for appropriate behavior and add to it as you recognize rewards important to your grandchild.

  • Read an extra story before bedtime
  • Rent a video
  • Display school work
  • Invite a friend over
  • Money
  • Permission to stay up 30 minutes past bedtime
  • A trip to McDonalds
  • Extra TV time
  • Give a compliment
  • Plan a fun meal.

Grandparents who parent their grandchildren can’t be best friends with their grandchildren, they are parents and the two don’t mix. But you can develop an atmosphere of good humor. This doesn’t mean let you kids run wild, but even discipline can be handled with good humor.

Importance of Compromise

There is a thin line not to be overstepped by grandparents. Grandparents are not first parents. If a problem arises, grandparents shouldn’t  argue or discuss it in front of grandchildren. Grandparents and parents should discuss the problems and voice their opinions on the issue, be it discipline, giving in, or spoiling. However, the key is compromise. Parents and grandparents should flexible enough to reach a compromise.  Grandparents and parents should ensure that children is treated consistently.

Nurture Creativity of Children

Creativity is God’s joy-filled gift to children. But long-standing anxiety or depression nearly always stands in the way of freewheeling, creative thinking.

If the grandkids you parent come from an abusive situation, it will affect their creativity. They may cover up their anxiety and learn to put on a good front, but the fact is, anxiety cripples creative thinking.

The more children become tangled in a web of problems, the greater the likelihood that creative thinking skills will stop developing. To get back on track the child requires psychologically safe surroundings where creativity can blossom.

Self-Esteem

Children who feel good about themselves have a greater chance of being productive, creative thinkers than children who feel worthless and unlovable. This means that children with low self-esteem can make only weak attempts at being creative.

Some children misjudge the truth about themselves. They appear to be well-adjusted, but if you talk to them their attitude oozes defeat. They can’t believe they are good, smart, handsome, pretty, or worthy of praise.

Here is a sample of feelings children with low self-esteem experience. In one way or another they say:

  • I’m bad.
  • I can’t be trusted.
  • Kids don’t like me.
  • My parents (grandparents) aren’t happy with me.

Contrast those feelings with the feelings of high self-esteem children. Children who think positively about themselves say:

  • I’m good.
  • My parents approve of me.
  • I do what I say I’ll do.
  • Kids like me.
  • My parents (grandparents) love me.

As grandparents who parent, you have an enormous effect on your child’s self-esteem. You may love, accept and approve of your grandchild. But unless these feelings filter through to your grandchild, she will not believe she measures up to your standards. When this happens, self- esteem zooms downward.

Plan for Creative Growth

Regardless of what happens away from home, grandparents can provide an atmosphere that encourages originality and imaginative thinking. There is little chance of creative growth unless a plan is set in motion to encourage resourcefulness, inventiveness, and unusual ideas. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Start a fantasy-land corner. Display a poem, story, drawing, or creative thought for the day.
  2. Encourage younger children to invent a tall tale. Use a tape recorder and replay the story.
  3. Start telling a story and ask your grandchild for input. Ask for different story endings, and let your grandchild choose the best.
  4. If a child has reading or academic problems, find out what creative activities he enjoys. Talk about riddles, jokes, and dreams.

There is hope for children who seem to have lost the gift for zany, playful creativity. Grandparents are assured that their children have received God’s gift of creativity. As children learn to open their lives to him, their potential for creativity grows.