by Grant Goodvin
My wife and I are grandparents to 5 grandchildren—including a brand new one, which is always an incredible treat. While the new baby boy was arriving at the hospital, we were caring for his two-year-old brother at our house. Because of COVID-19, the older brother couldn’t be at the hospital, so we had him with us from around 10:30 p.m. on Monday until 10 a.m. on Thursday.
We’re always grateful for those opportunities to help our adult kids and spend focused time with a grandchild, but this experience revealed a challenge that I hadn’t fully appreciated before, at least to this degree: little kids have schedules, and they are much different from what we’re used to. Those days with our grandson were a constant process of figuring out how to incorporate his schedule into ours.
Of course, his schedule and his needs were our primary focus, and it was all about eating, napping, playing, sleeping … repeat. How could we merge that routine into our typical daytime (and nighttime) habits, along with whatever other plans were on our calendar for those days? There was a never-ending need to get organized and on the same page with my wife to make it work, and the physical and mental energy required to keep up with him (eating, napping, playing, etc.) while trying to keep our own lives and commitments somewhat organized, were significant—and surprising. To be blunt, it was exhausting!
For example, we are somewhat flexible in what and when we eat. That relaxed approach was replaced by determining beforehand what foods were appropriate for our grandson, that he also liked, and when he should eat them. And our routine of watching a show or reading a book was replaced by entertainment that worked for him. We were tempted to turn on a children’s TV show to keep him occupied, but as his parents have expressed to us, his babysitters sometimes overuse that approach. We needed to be careful.
As you can see—and as you would expect—we gave up some of our routine for him and his best interest. We wanted to do it; that was our priority for those few days, and we’re grateful we could be there for him. However, we weren’t prepared for how easily one toddler could wipe us out like that. Next time, we’ll have a better feel for what to expect.
And I should add, this experience gave me a renewed appreciation for what his parents, and all parents of young children, go through every day—not to mention the single parents and custodial grandparents (single or married) who tackle these challenges every day.
Sometimes grandparenting includes some disorder and fatigue. If you haven’t cared for your grandkids in a while, I highly recommend it. It takes a lot of energy and may wear you out, but it’s a good “tiredness,” and it comes with a lot of gratitude as well.
With a proper perspective, these investments can reap long-lasting benefits for grandparents and grandchildren. Keep everlastingly at it.
Grant Goodvin practiced as an attorney for 8 years, worked in his family businesses for 26 years, and founded Family Legacy Consultant Group in 2005. Grant and his wife Carol have been married for 45 years. They have three children, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and five grandchildren.