When you are handed the task of raising a grandchild (or having them dropped on your doorstep without much or any warning) you will be faced with the knowledge that you have now added a full-time job onto a perhaps, already full schedule. You may already have a full-time job. You may have a lot of other things going on in your life and you will have to make room for one more!
A full-time job
Being a grandparent who is raising a grandchild cannot be viewed as anything less than a full-time job/responsibility.
I’m not trying to equate giving care and love to a child the same as a job, but unless you view it like this, you are going to have difficulty. Just like the addition of a job, taking care of a little person is going to take time. For me, it takes a lot of time because I want this kid to know that she is loved and wanted.
I know that one day she won’t want to “challenge” me to a bike race. I know the day will come when she doesn’t want me to read her a bedtime story or sing her a lullaby. I invest my “extra” time in her development because I know how important it will be as she grows into a good and loving human being.
While there may be 5 million grandchildren being raised by their grandparents, each one of them is a unique situation. My experience, while similar to yours, will still be mine and yours will be yours.
We will have a lot of factors in common, though. I think one of the major factors is that it is a full-time (and then some) job. It is a job I wouldn’t change for the world, though.
The start of the “work day”
If you were retired when you became one of “us” your day might not have begun until after 8 a.m. Depending on the age of your grandchild, this is all about to change.
When we first began to take care of our granddaughter full-time, our “work day” which used to begin around 8:30 a.m. sometimes started as early as 3 a.m. when baby would have an important need at that time and she wouldn’t want to go back to sleep for hours—usually about the time it was really time to get up!
Now that she’s a little older, we have school during nine months of the year. She’ll be starting kindergarten this coming fall. It’ll be 5 days a week that we get her up, dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed (give the bath or shower the night before, it is so much easier), coat on, shoes on, book bag found with snacks and paperwork, coat on and out the door to meet the bus! Phew!
And, it isn’t just time, but the energy that you have to invest. I am not a spring chicken anymore! In all likelihood, neither are you. My spouse and I are both in our 50s. When our granddaughter graduates from high school we’ll be in our 60s. I think she makes us feel younger in some ways, but in a lot of ways, it does take a lot of time and energy.
Sick time? Yeah right!
When you are a parent raising your children, you don’t have sick days. It’s the same thing when you are raising your grandchild. If you thought this job was going to be easy, guess again!
There are days when you might have a fever, be coughing up a lung (or two) suffering from a migraine or any ailment at all and you still get to take care of your grandchild.
Unfortunately, this “job” doesn’t come with sick days. You just have to deal with being sick and taking care of the kid.
(I like to call her “the kid” because that was what my grandma would call me when I lived with her and my grandpa when I was going to college. It made me feel like I had a special part in their lives and I hope it makes my granddaughter feel the same way.)
When the kiddo is sick
Do you want to know what it feels like to feel helpless? Just wait until your grandkid is sick. When they are very young and non-verbal, it can be a real challenge figuring out what is wrong. They can’t tell you and you can’t read their mind. You rely on instinct and the doctor’s office.
We have been pretty fortunate, our granddaughter doesn’t get sick very often. In fact, honestly, she throws up less than any kid I know!
But, when they do get sick, you are in charge. You have to take them to the doctor, stay home from work with them, do whatever it takes with them to help them feel better.
We are fortunate that we have several really good clinics near us and some very good physicians who understand our situation and help us get through the tough times when we are not sure what to do.
One of the hardest, yet most fulfilling jobs you could have
Being a full-time parent/grandparent is a hard job. I will not lie to you. But it is also one of the most fulfilling jobs you could hope to have.
No matter what the circumstance is as to why you are now raising your grandkid, embrace it. It can’t encourage you enough on this. The future of that person—”the kid”—is in your hands. You have the ability to make up for past parenting mistakes and bringing this young one into a place that she can love and respect because you taught her to be loving and respectful.
It isn’t going to be perfect—we will all make mistakes—but we can all rest assured that if we do our best and give these kids the love they need and deserve, this will be the best job we’ll ever have!