Getting the Support You Need from Your Baby's Grandparents
Grandparents Day was this past Sunday. I don’t know if this is a thing people actually celebrate, but maybe we should be.
The role of a grandparent in a kid’s life can be such a special thing. I know I felt a special closeness to my own grandparents. Maybe you did too.
It can also be a godsend to us parents when we need a break and a heart-warmer when we see their special bond with our littles grow.
But I also know that when you have a new baby or toddler at home, navigating that relationship as a new parent still trying to figure things out--even if you adore your parents or in-laws--can be…..well, tricky.
Anytime you add another person into the mix of an already overwhelming situation, things can get a little messy or frustrating.
If they are great at helping around the house, but don’t do things the way you want them done, it can feel like you’re losing your marbles. (“I know she folded the towels, but where in the world did she put them??”)
If they don’t pitch in or offer to help and you also don’t voice that you need help, you can feel resentful of their presence when they visit and put a bit of an invisible divide between you.
If they offer advice or seem critical of how you do things, you can feel irritated or self-conscious or believe that you just can’t see eye to eye.
In time, these issues may fade or fester. But why let this special time in all of your lives be muddied up by misunderstanding and unspoken frustrations? And just as important, what can you do to shift things so that you can get support that actually feels helpful and not another thing to contend with?
This is what I’m talking about in my latest video today. Check it out (and the transcript) below.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
This video previously aired as a Facebook Live. You can follow Happy With Baby on Facebook to catch all their live videos here.
Hey there. It's Catherine at Happy With Baby and I was supposed to be doing this live yesterday, except I ended up taking my youngest to the doctor and so my day got all crazy. Just a little tidbit.
How does this happen? Like we've literally been swimming like four to five times a week, seven days a week all summer. And we went swimming on Monday and she ends up with swimmers ear. So she like was kind of complaining about her ear hurting the last couple nights as we're up all night and so, but then it was like fine during the day so I didn't take her Tuesday. But then the second night in a row I decided, like okay, I'll be the good mom and I took her and it turns out it's swimmers ear. So I'm not sure how that happens where you go all along. It's like Murphy's Law. When you need her to be at school, you're then taking her to the doctor's.
So anyways, that's not what we're here to talk about today, but just wanted to throw that out there. I've been seeing a lot of ads lately, or not ads but a lot of posts on Facebook and Instagram about grandparents and it just keeps sticking out at me. And then I realized that Sunday the 9th, September 9th is actually Grandparents Day. So I don't know if there's anyone that celebrates it. I don't remember it being a thing when I was younger, but anyways like one of the articles I've been seeing is called, it says something about like how raising your kids near their grandparents is the greatest gift you could ever give them. And I think that can be true in a lot of ways.
I know I as a child I grew up near a set of my grandparents and they were wonderful, like I had a really good relationship with them. They--let's see, they they came to like all my games and all my like school events, and we would spend the night there. And they really helped my mom out a lot as I was growing up in a lot of cases and I was definitely really close with both of them. And they actually would have been married for, let me think--I'm trying to do math now. I think like 72, 72 years this year, but they both have passed since then, but and it was like 62 years I think, 61 years when my grandmother passed. But they were married a really long time and I really admire their relationship. And they were entrepreneurs and, you know, grew up in the depression and stuff, so definitely have a lot of respect and love for them.
But anyways, get back to my point and stop talking about myself.
You know, grandparent relationships can be really good, right, if they live close. And I know that's not always the case, but then how do you build that relationship with other people whether it be, you know, maybe close neighbors, like you have good neighbors that live nearby, or close family friends or something where you can kind of have that. It's nice to have that outlet, that support too from an older generation that can be like, "yeah it gets better, it gets easier" or "this is typical". You know, it's kind of nice to have those mentor type relationships.
And I know it's not always that way, like sometimes our relationships with parents can be more difficult or they live far away, so we're not our kids aren't able to see them, so how do you build that in other ways?
But today, I want to talk about how to get that support from whether it's grandparents or other support people. How do you, how do you ask for the support that you need?
When we have a new baby, oftentimes people want to be helpful and they'll--say your grandparents--we'll just say grandparents for now, so I don't have to keep saying all the other support people and stuff like that. But so they want to come visit. And I feel like there's a couple, you know, situations.
You have the parents that want to come and help out. And they'll help with the baby and they'll help with chores and, if there's older children, they'll help with older children or errands or whatever the things that you need to do and they just kind of step in and make life a little bit easier, or seemingly easier.
And then there's the ones that come and they just want to hold the baby and they don't really do much else. Or maybe you feel like you have to entertain them. I hear that a lot too, that feeling like oh it's more stressful because now I have to entertain the grandparents when they come.
And then there’s the situations where you feel like judged or critiqued. Everything you do, they have a comment or suggestion and how difficult that can be.
And all those things can be really great and all those things can be really stressful, depending on how you're taking it in and how you're receiving it. And it can cause that stress. It can cause anxiety. It can cause frustration. It causes you to doubt yourself and everything like that.
So one of the important things in having these relationships with them I think is about being able to talk to them and let them know what you need. I think a lot of times they come in and we kind of let them do whatever and we're not specific and direct with them about what kind of support we need, so it's important to ask and and be direct. And they're not always going to do what you ask, but if you don't ask, they don't always know what isn't helpful either. So it's important to be, you know, specific and direct and let them know in what way that you need support.
So say they are the type that will come and do whatever you want for them, but you don't really like it. Like they're putting towels where the sheets go or whatever. Things aren't in the places they want to, and then it's causing you more stress. Like either let them know like, "Hey, make sure these things go in the right place or if you don't know, please ask me" or "You know what, it's great you can fold the clothes, but please don't put them away. I'll put them away." Whatever is gonna be easiest for you, be direct. You'll end up having less stress and on a lot of levels, it'll be easier.
And maybe it's you talking to your own parents and your partner talking to their own parents or vice versa, like sometimes it's easier to talk to our in-laws than for their own child to talk to them. So whatever is easiest, it's make sure you do it and be direct and, you know, be on the same page about that.
So what was the other thing I wanted to point out? So say--going back to that type, like if they're the type that kind of like sit back and just want to hold a baby or just not do anything, again, I think it's being specific. If you need extra help in something like, "Hey, it would be helpful if you could make some meals" or "Hey, I was gonna do these freezer meals. Can you get these ready for me, so that we have food when you go home? and I won't have to do as much work." You know, let them know and again, be specific about what it is you want. And maybe they're gonna say no, but they might say yes.
And I find that sometimes there are those parents that don't want to step on your toes, so they're not going to do anything until you ask them specifically. I've experienced that myself with my own mother-in-law, where if I ask her X Y & Z, she'll do it. But if I don't ask her, she won't do it. And it drives me crazy because it's like something I want her to do like every time and she won't do it unless I ask her every time. And it's definitely gotten better like over the years. I mean my kids are much older now, but that was my experience like in the beginning with her. It was so frustrating to me. And it was really frustrating because I didn't know I had to ask. Because I came--you know, my mother's more that type that will kind of jump in and just do things, which you know can have its own frustration, but I wasn't used to having to ask and so that was like a new thing I had to take on and learn how to do. So yeah let them know what you need because sometimes they don't know or they don't want to step on your toes, which you know, it's a form of respect.
Now if you're feeling like they're just there and they're critiquing you and they're analyzing like everything you do and how you're not doing it right, I always say, like take a deep breath and pause because oftentimes it's coming from a place of support, like they want things not to be so hard or they want to be like "this is what I did, this is what I learned, we did it this way and it was fine, so don't be worrying about all the little things" because as new parents, we often worry about a lot of things because we don't know a lot until we're like in it, even if we read a lot.
Or sometimes we read so much and we have like all these ideas in our head, it can be overwhelming. So pause and let them know you appreciate their suggestions, but that you're also trying to figure things out on your own. And so you'll take those into consideration, but for now you're going to you're going to do it your way. You're gonna try it this way and see how it works. And as things go on and you find your way as a parent and you figure out your role as a new parent, you'll look into other things you'll try different things. So I think it's just like letting them know that like you appreciate it, but it's also, you know, not always super helpful.
And then, so tomorrow, I'm actually gonna jump on a live because I'm like behind in my scheduling. Because I as I mentioned earlier, I'm gonna go live on kind of how to communicate more of these ideas with your support people, whether it's grandparents or friends or other family members and this month, you know, we're going to talk a lot about like how to get the support you need and how to also recognize your strengths as a parent too. So I hope you stay tuned. I hope you can join me tomorrow. I'm going on around noon, so hopefully you can see me then.
And if you don't catch a live, of course you can watch it later and it'll be on my blog next week - or this one should hopefully be on this week and then the other one next week, so yes stay tuned.
And I would love to hear how you guys build those relationships with grandparents or other support people for your children. Like what are the things that you do that make it special? Like what special relationships or special things do they do together.
So until next time, I hope you guys have an amazing day and I will see you tomorrow. Bye.
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