Mom Alyssa Birkhofer shares her spot-on tips for Grandparents. Having recently become a new mom and inducted her parents into 'grandparenthood' - she shares what works and what doesn't in this special time for the family!
About the author: Alyssa Birkhofer is a new mom to her baby boy Cameron, dog mom to her mini goldendoodle Molly, and long time resident of Hoboken/Jersey City. She’s a healthcare public relations specialist in NYC by day, gym rat by night, and a forever Huskies fan/UCONN graduate. Follow Alyssa on IG: @AlyssaBleiHoff
So You’re a Grandparent Now…
It’s the moment every parent waits for… when their baby makes another baby and they officially get the title of grandparent (or Nana, Papa, Grammy, etc.). Grandparents love to spoil, help out, hold, offer advice, check in and just be a part of this new life. But watch out, new grandparents – times have changed since you gave birth and you likely have a son-in- law or daughter-in- law too who may not take to your advice as you’d hope. We all know grandparents are THE BEST help there is, but we have some tips to ensure a smooth transition to grandparenthood.
1. Free Babysitters are Gold: Offer to babysit and offer to babysit at the home of your new grandbaby.
Asking your child to pack up and bring everything under the sun with the baby to your own home just
because it’s easier for you, does not make things easy. It in turn makes your children reconsider stepping
away and getting out that night. Try to be as accommodating as possible as the golden babysitter.
2. Before You Buy: We all know that grandparents bring great gifts, but if your adult children are living in
Jersey City or the surrounding area, chances are they are limited on space. A giant baby chair may not be
a great gift idea. Think small and useful. Books, small toys, rattles are all great ideas. And babies cannot
sleep with stuffed animals so another one will just be thrown into a pile of dust collectors. Clothes are
good but make sure you are buying the correct size and have your child’s taste in mind. Check out the
the Good Night books at Hazel Baby & Kids and pick the city that represents you or the little one.
3. Ask How You Can Help: You know what they say about those who assume… simply just ask how you can help! A friend’s mother-in- law once spent the weekend with my friend’s newborn twins and thought she was being so helpful doing the laundry. It was later uncovered that she had washed, dried and folded towels that were already clean. If my friend’s mother-in- law just asked, my friend could’ve assigned her
bottle cleaning or dust busting.
4. Don’t Compete with the other Grandparents: Every grandparent wants to be the favorite, but if your grandchild has several grandparents, remember that they each bring something to the table. There is no competition. Nothing is worse than a holiday gathering where each grandma tries to outdo the other
with a bigger gift. Remember tip number 2? Bigger is likely not better! And your children and
grandchildren need equal and different time with each of you.
5. Careful Not to Judge: It’s easy to let your loving opinion shine in the moment but try to stop yourself
and think about how to best position your advice. We know our moms and MILs have the best
intentions, but remember that you raised your child and chances are they will handle parenting just as
well as you did. When your opinion sounds like a judgement, you create tension you’d rather avoid.
6. Follow the Rules: Simple as that – the rules your children apply to theirs must be enforced by you too. If the grandkids aren’t allowed to watch TV, don’t turn on the TV. You won’t be the bad guy because they
aren’t getting the TV anyway. Bring along some small and fun toys to entertain and interact together if ipads and TVs are off limits. The Dancing Alligator toy from Hazel Baby & Kids is a popular one among the new grandparents. It's classic fun and small to boot.
7. Stock Up on Supplies at Home: For when your children do in fact come with a car stuffed to your house for the weekend, stock up on what you can and ask for specifics. My in-laws live at the beach so when we go, it’s for several days. I had initially shipped some supplies there when Cameron was first born and my MIL asked what else she could have. I asked her to get a specific type of detergent (my baby has eczema so we are particular on detergent). She said “no problem” but when I showed up the detergent was what she gets for her daughter’s baby. I had to run out and get what we needed when was just
hoping to have it there or bring it down on my own. She did however stock up on wipes and other useful
items which is always a great help when we are down there.
Just remember, the love for a grandparent is immeasurable. It’s usually navigating your own children and their brand new journey as parents that will prove to be the most challenging, but their love for you is just as strong. Enjoy the moments!