Being a house guest is not easy — and neither is having a house guest. I have found that becoming “part” of the family occurrs when I blend in with their routine rather than making my visit too much of an out-of-the-ordinary experience.
- I don’t ask that grandkids skip naps just because I’m there.
- I would not go into the nursery to rescue a child if the parents wanted him to have quiet time there.
- If our daughter-in-law so sweetly says, “Anderson was invited to a birthday party on Saturday. Is it okay if he goes?” our answer is, “Absolutely!”
- If the family usually gets up around 7:00 a.m., I don’t get up at 6:00 a.m. and make enough noise to wake the kids.
Many families have routines for mornings, for getting ready for work, for going to daycare, and more. A house guest does not blend in if she drags out puzzles when Gretchen is supposed to be eating her breakfast.
Routines are everywhere – and are understandably different from the households in which you and I raised our kids. Your grandkids might have routines around simple things like walking to the mailbox or how they clear the table after a meal.
Our grandkids aren’t in daycare but from what I have heard from my friends, grandparents are smart not to assume the grands can skip daycare when grandparents are visiting. If you would love for the grands to stay home with you, have a discussion with the parents about it — but never in front of the little ones. When you bring up the subject, start by saying (as in most things) that you will respect whatever decision the parents make. For many families with multiple kids, the kids take turns for the “day at home” with the grandparents. What a special day that must be!
Bedtime: being a blessing, not a disruption.
Just as when you and I were parents of little ones, bedtime can be an important routine in households with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and little ones starting school. But maybe we have forgotten! It’s kind of cute but often the children themselves are as persnickety about their bedtime routines as their parents are.
As grandparents, we may think, “Ach, it’s no big deal,” forgetting that a bedtime routine is monumental for young parents who’ll do anything to ensure a good night’s sleep for everyone. Chances are, the parents would love for bedtime to be the same while you’re there (except maybe now they have someone to brush the kids’ teeth and put on jammies). Be supportive of this, with the attitude that “if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”
Sometime during the first day of my visit, I ask when bedtime is. (Yes, I ask every time we visit because the time changes often as the children grow.) I try to help the process go smoothly, to be a blessing and not alter the bedtime routine to suit my needs.
Find out the exact routine. Perhaps it’s: bath, jammies, teeth brushing, prayers in the family room, then parents put the kids in their beds. The parents might allow you to put the kids to bed or think it’s best to do it themselves. Honor any routine they have!
We have visited our grandchildren so often that everyone expects it will be Gram and Grandpa who put the kids to bed and – no surprise — we’re fine with that. We even have our routine of telling them one story and singing one song. But before this “new normal” happened, we stepped cautiously. We didn’t jump in to help with any of the get-ready-for-bed jobs without asking first. Nor did we assume we should accompany the parent into the bedroom to tuck in the child. If you’re darn lucky, the little one will say, “Can Grandma be the one to put me to bed tonight?”
Oh, one more tip – but you probably already know this: we always try to avoid any wrestling or running-around games close to bedtime because those activities likely will get the kids “riled up.” (I frequently need to remind my husband of this. Sigh.)
We’d love to hear any tips you have about blending in with routines. Please share in the Comments section below.