Some suggestions from Ms. Gestwicki and her “Gaggle of Grandmas” we’ve adopted, some are new, all bear repeating and re-posting ;)
A gaggle of grandmas
By Carol Gestwicki
What do you get when you have a gaggle of grandmas? A lot of thoughtful advice, that’s what.
I recently asked several of my friends what insights they would like to pass along—advice for today’s parents, or what they have learned or what they would do differently if they knew then what they know now. (One of them in fact commented that her daughters rarely asked for advice, and when they did, they really just wanted her to listen.) So, on the assumption that you also are not asking your mothers (or grandmothers, aunts, friends or neighbors) for advice (which I suspect none of us did at the time either) let me pass along to you some of their wisdom.
The first idea, echoed by several, is to relax and enjoy it now.
- One grandma commented that if she knew how fleeting the new baby time was, she would have settled into it more fully. She would have had fewer commitments in the outside world, trying to balance work, childcare and other responsibilities, and worrying whether she was doing it “right.”
- Another grandma described this as rushing around doing the things she thought she “should” do, and observed that parents need to stop “shoulding” themselves.
- This means slowing down to savor the moments more (though she did allow as how this was probably a skill we do better in our 60’s.)
- One grandma said she would try to resist the pressure she felt to return to work so early. Yet another grandma said that she would worry less about a clean house.
So, the first big idea is to relax and enjoy the wonders of a child’s daily development.
An idea related to the fleetingness of it all was expressed by the grandma who said that she would remember that every stage finally comes to an end:
- not sleeping through the night;
- the terrible two’s; and
- even teenage “snarkiness.”
She said that understanding would help her relax and enjoy it all.
One grandma commented that she had not harnessed the kids’ wonderful energy and enthusiasm for raking, gardening, meal preparation, and other responsibilities that she had thought were hers alone.
One grandmother’s insight was that, while structure and schedule are important, what she most remembers as particularly happy times with her children was the unexpected “holidays” such as snow days or illness, when the routine was broken, so she could relax and just play and enjoy the children.
Another important idea was spending time with each child individually. One grandma said she has learned from her own children’s parenting about the importance of small events with just one child, whether a backyard campout or a small adventure trip out in nature, or even just cooking or doing a craft with a child.
A grandma pointed out that she would have kept reading to her children longer, even after they could read on their own, feeling that continuing to share books provides great opportunities for communication.
And one last thought for you from one of the gaggle of grandmas: She wishes that she had helped her children call their grandparents more often, just to chat, knowing how much that now means to her as a grandma.
Carol Gestwicki has worked with children and families in schools in the U.S. and Canada and taught in an early childhood program in Charlotte, N.C. for over 25 years. A wife, mother and grandmother, she currently works as an early childhood consultant and writes for parents and teachers.
["Growing Parent" is a feature of Growing Child, used by permission of the copyright owner Growing Child, Inc. For a free sample of Growing Child timed to the monthly age of your child go to GrowingChild.com.]