To fuss or not to fuss…that is the question with Grandparents
It’s a constant battle when they visit. Some rules I attach to dynamite and throw out the window other rules stay strong. I’m the first to admit that time with the older generation is precious. We treasure it and know that our children are better people for the time they spend with their grandparents. It’s not all easy and straightforward though; sometimes it is hard and complicated. I’ll preface this discussion with a few points. First: my parents were really strict parents. Second: my hubs’ parents were even stricter. Third: my mom ignores over half of the rules that she taught me and claims grandparent privilege. Seriously she cried when we put one of the kids in time out… CRIED!!! She looked distressed when he cried, then her eyes turned red and welled up. It was followed by a discrete dabbing of the eyes. Mind you my kid was sassing and generally earning a time out for 10 minutes before consequences. All of these things would have earned me a time out in our house when I was a child, yet somehow the idea of a sad grand baby makes her cry. The best part of it was that her emotions were truly genuine. She was genuinely upset that her grand baby was sad and crying over his time out. How can I be upset with her? I wasn’t mad yet I must for my sanity maintain some semblance of rules when we are with the grandparents.
My parameters for hard and fast rules are as follows… are you ready? I’m gonna throw it down. If it makes the kids loose their marbles and everyones’ experience becomes miserable then hubs and I set the rules and the rules stay. Daily chores stay: they must continue to be part of team Lund. Basic manners will stay. I don’t care if they’ll give the kid what you want without please and thank you. I will not give on basic manners. Finally, food schedule, it stays. I get that it isn’t convenient a lot of the time, that it requires extra planning but as much as possible I will feed the hobbits at regular intervals. Trust me, everyone in the general vicinity will appreciate the end result even if the process is a pain.
We’ve been working on this concept. I describe our family as a team and we all need to work to help the team. Some things we do to help the team and some we do to earn a treat. Teamwork at our house means that the kids help with general cleaning (washing counters, tables and vacuuming), setting the table and clearing the table, picking up all the toys so nana or poppa don’t break themselves tripping on kid crap and generally helping out. If we are at someone else’s house… these rules still apply. I tell my kids the following, “You will learn to be a good guest, yes it’s a pain; yes sometimes you don’t want to do it. I get it kid but here’s the deal, I don’t want to do it either but I do. If we all chip in and help then it’ll happen and we can get on with play time.
You will not be a rude ogre:
Please and thank you are still requirements. This is a self fulfilling prophecy of awesome. Kidlets say please and thank you to the grandparents and said grandparents either oooh and ahh and make a big deal over the kid or the kids get extra desert or stuff. At the same time we get credit for teaching the kidlet manners and it becomes a win win situation!
Who knew… I breed hobbits:
This is a two pronged issue; the first issue is eating on a schedule and second is that my oldest kid and I are gluten free. Let’s talk schedule. Is it required? Maybe not for some but at my house the world ends if breakfast, lunch dinner or snack time is late. This is not even taking into account second breakfast, second lunch or third dinner. Unfortunately hobbit style food management does not correlate to senior citizen food management. As such I will often take on the role of cruise director to maintain a food schedule, I’ll carry a plethora of snacks, I’ll stock snacks at their house (read Amazon delivery) they MUST eat at these times so that they don’t loose their minds. I’ve tried to flex the schedule and every time someone is screaming and crying over a tiny issue. Every. Damn. Time.
My eldest and I are gluten free. My symptoms have more to do with hormone balance than discomfort but his are all about pain. If he eats gluten too much everything hurts. We’ve learned that for him it’s a buildup. A treat now and then is no big deal but consistent gluten will make him miserable. As a 7.5 yr old it’s hard to remember that if you eat that delicious pie, cracker or some delicious gluten filled bite of yum, your stomach may hurt later. It’s not fair and it sucks. My parents are not gluten free, they don’t always remember to check at a restaurant and so I monitor it when possible. Otherwise I’ve talked to my son about consequences and how he has to remember to ask the questions.
As for desert, my rule of thumb is as follows: you wreck ‘em you deal with ‘em. You want to feed them processed sugar before bedtime? Sure no big, you put them to bed and then you get them in the morning. Want to feed them sugar before a car ride? Noooo problem they’ll ride in your car. Fixed that issue yes we did.
At the end of the day most things slide around grandparents. It’s sweet time and seeing my kids through my parent’s eyes is enlightening. The kids become cuter, I appreciate the tiny voice more, I laugh more and I truly enjoy watching my parents laugh with my kids. Few things fill my heart with more joy that to see my family enjoying time together.