5 Tips to Smooth the Transition from Parent to Grandparent with Teresa Wolande
The transition from parenthood to grandparenthood is wonderful. However, it may not be as easy as you think. Taking a step back and letting go of the responsibilities that come with being a parent is a difficult process for many grandparents. In addition, balancing the freedom you always wanted in your retirement with the duties of being a grandparent can also come with challenges.
Teresa Wolande is a retiree currently living in Naples, Florida. She spent her career as the CFO of a large ambulatory company in the United States, but today, has dedicated herself to helping women transition from working to retired life. In addition to running a handful of successful women’s forums in Florida, she considers herself a safari lover, avid golfer, entrepreneur, and above all, a loving grandparent and family woman. Continue reading for Teresa Wolande’s top five tips on how to transition from a parent to a grandparent.
1. Don’t Overextend Yourself
Being a grandparent is an amazing experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s your full-time job. After raising your own children and working for decades, retirement is the time for you to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. While you want to spend time with your grandchild, it’s okay to need your alone time as well. That is why, when it comes to being a grandparent, it’s important to only offer what you can give. Teresa Wolande advises grandparents not to overextend themselves by agreeing to babysit every single night your child asks. Have a serious conversation with your son or daughter outlining how much time you have each week or month and be honest about your energy levels. After all, we all know how tiring caring for a little one can be!
2. Stick to the Rules
Grandparents are known for spoiling their grandchildren. However, there is a fine line between spoiling them and breaking the rules set by their parents. If your child has set clear rules for their kids, such as no sweets before bed or no television on a weeknight, it’s important to stick to these rules, even if they’re staying at your house. The parents have likely worked hard to establish a routine for their child, one that is line with their parenting goals. Unfortunately, as a grandparent, the rules set by the parents trump everything else, even if you disagree with them. That said, there are still small ways that you can spoil them without breaking the rules, such as reading them an extra book at bedtime or putting them to bed 15 minutes later than usual.
3. Brush Up on your Child-Rearing Skills
You may have been a diaper ninja back in the day, but 30 years later, you likely need a bit of a refresher. Teresa Wolande recommends that all new grandparents brush up on the basics of child-rearing. In part due to the amount of time that has passed since you were last responsible for a baby, but also because of the fact that times have changed. Child-rearing practices that were considered acceptable in the 1980s may no longer be. For example, fish, dairy, and soya are no longer recommended for children under the age of one. Similarly, car seats, strollers, and baby monitors have become much more high-tech, so giving yourself a crash course in this new equipment is important.
4. Keep your Jealousy in Check
Jealousy is an ugly color on anyone, but especially on a grandparent throwing jabs at another grandparent. For the sake of your child and grandchild, play nice with your in-laws. Though you might be tempted to complain about the gift that the other grandmother bought your grandchild, that kind of negativity isn’t helping anyone. Teresa Wolande asserts that jealousy can be a particular problem for paternal grandparents, as women are generally better at involving their own mothers. If jealousy is coming from a place of feeling left out, speak to your child and their partner about it. They likely aren’t aware of your feelings and would be happy to have you take on a more frequent role in your grandchild’s life.
5. Stick to a Budget
Helping their children out financially is something that many grandparents do. But where you can run into trouble is when you start overspending. Watching your child struggle to afford the array of equipment, food, and clothing that comes with having a baby, can be difficult. However, stepping in and taking over these financial responsibilities yourself can be a major drain on your resources. It may also make your child feel unsuccessful or inadequate. In these situations, it’s best to stick to a budget. Buying your grandchild birthday and Christmas gifts, or taking them to the movies, is perfectly acceptable, but paying for their schooling when you are not financially solvent is not. After all, you’ve worked your whole life to get your savings to where they are today, so a good portion of that money should be spent on yourself, on enjoying your retirement.