I have an appointment every Monday afternoon and Tuesday, all day. It’s with a VIP and it’s a job of sorts. It doesn’t pay much, but it makes me feel rich beyond words. It’s also exhausting. I am one of the new corps of volunteer grandparents but I’m volunteering very close to home: in my own family.
I’m babysitting my grandson, or, as he likes to call himself, my grand boy. Some of my friends think I’m like a goddess of grandparenting. Others think I’m crazy. I am neither of those things. I do have reasons why I do this, though.
Here are 5 reasons that I love babysitting my grandchild.
When he was born, my husband and I, newly downsized from our jobs, said we’d help out and stay with him two days each week.
He’s pretty good company and always has been. He’s kind, compassionate, polite, and as a bonus very funny. We laugh about a million times a day. What other activity can provide you with that much good humor?
So, it’s two days. Then, on the third day, I lay on the couch for a few hours, just to recoup some energy.
We figured it this way: while we weren’t likely to be able to lavish him with enough money to pay for college someday, we could at least help his mom and dad save a few bucks in daycare expense.
We said we’d do it for a year, not wanting to commit much beyond that. Then we took on one more year and one more after that. We do want to travel while we still can and this does disrupt our free time schedule but so far, it’s worth the trade off. And, we have been able to travel a bit too so for now, it’s working.
Since we started doing this, I’ve spoken to lots of grandparents doing much the same thing. This regular babysitting gig is definitely part of the new face of being a grandparent. Why?
Well, for one thing, it’s a lot of fun. I’m not going to lie, it’s also challenging. In our case, we live 80 miles away so we do spend a night at their house every week. Mostly, that’s fine, but sometimes it seems like maybe just a bit too much togetherness.
When we were a young married couple, we wouldn’t have wanted any of our parents to live with us, even one night a week! So, I’m guessing there are times when my daughter and son-in-law might wish we were anywhere else but we all pretend we don’t notice.
Don’t get me wrong; they are extremely grateful and gracious. We are all mindful of being in each other’s space. They have an extra bedroom. That enables us to have privacy from them and to give them privacy as well.
Their reward is knowing that their son is in loving hands while they’re at work. That’s as good as gold for their peace of mind.
Overall, though, there’s a very good reason why we renew our commitment each year. The relationship we have with this child cannot have been created any other way except through the giving of time and care.
I observe my friends and their relationships with their grandchildren. While the common thread is love, there is a difference in the quality of the connection, which depends in great measure on the amount of time they can spend together.
I am grateful for this opportunity. Many grandparents can’t do this. Others choose not to and I respect that choice. I know he’s not always going to find Grammy and G as fascinating as he does now. But I believe that when that day comes, he’ll still feel deeply connected to us as a result of our being such a big part of his upbringing.
Are you one of the corps of lucky volunteer grandparents? If you are a grandparent, you might enjoy checking out my book, “Real Grands: From A to Z, Everything A Grandparent Can Be.”