What a treat it was for me to connect with Judi, the creator of Granny Nanny News.
Granny Nanny News is a fun, informative, and interactive site for multigenerational families, childcare givers who happen to be grandparents, and anyone who appreciates a funny story about family dynamics. There are various resources available on Judi’s site too.
Thank you, Judi, for taking time to talk with me. What encouraged you to create Granny Nanny News?
Being granny-nanny in charge of a new grandson is an emotional experience. This new career-after-retirement is more satisfying than I can express, and my over-the-moon love more compelling than I could have anticipated; yet the challenges can be surprising and the conflicting feelings unexpected. Given all the emotion involved and the fact that I love to write, it was natural for me to reach out to others in the same position; hence, my blog.
“Over-the-moon love”, yes, I hear many grandparents talk about their grandchildren that way. What inspires your writing and how do you select your blog post topics?
Inspiration comes mainly in the form of two amazing grandsons born within 10 days of each other – one baby born to my daughter and my son-in-law (to whom I’m the granny-nanny), the other to my son and daughter-in-law (to whom I wish I were the granny-nanny – distance being the obstacle). I could write about them every day if I let myself. But I feel that as a blogger I have a responsibility to inform as well as express, so I try to do both.
I am big on reading; and reading also inspires. I keep up with the latest news and include them as tweets on a sidebar. Sometimes those tweets become topics for posts – especially when they are timely. In addition, because reading is so important and takes up a good part of the day with my grandson, reviewing books that are age appropriate is another part of the blog.
What types of responses or feedback do you receive from other grandparents working as “grandparent nannies”?
The world has become smaller, more inviting, more comforting, as comments and feedback have flown through the blogosphere and landed on my site. From Utah to Texas, to California, to New Zealand, I found others expressing my own thoughts better than I could myself. I also found grandparents who need a great deal more support than I do; those who are raising grandchildren alone and those who have sacrificed an enormous amount of their own comfort and well being in order to be there for their grandchildren. I ache to help them but console myself that communication may be enough for the moment.
I think you are doing a great job in communicating with your audience.
How did you approach your daughter or your husband about becoming a granny-nanny?
Actually, the idea was probably a bit of a bribe on my part. My daughter and son-in-law were living and working in Pittsburgh when she became pregnant. Although they always intended to come back home (it was part of their marriage contract!) I enticed them to come back when the baby was born by offering my services. Neither one wanted to put their new baby in day care, so I knew it was an offer they couldn’t refuse.
That is wonderful you were available to offer your services. My mother-in-law threw out her offer to be our granny-nanny in a casual phone call and then the ball got rolling.
How does your son feel about your granny-nanny role with your daughter’s family?
That is such a good question. My husband and I always try to be equally available to both of our children, but in this case it was beyond our control – our son and daughter-in-law knew their decision to move far away would negate our ability to help with childcare. Even so, in the beginning my son had a hard time reconciling my granny-nanny position with my daughter – and, he still might.
That’s a “silent challenge” in our nest too.
We know this and bend over backwards to make up for it because we know it’s an emotional reaction, not a logical one. We love both grandsons beyond measure and we never cease to tell both children so. We visit Ryan as often as we can and if some time goes by, there is, thankfully, Skype and the iphone. In addition, long before I made the commitment to my daughter, my son asked if I would be his office manager one or two days a week at his satellite dental office nearby (not to mention taking and making calls as office manager Monday thru Friday). It required learning a whole new set of skills. So, in my non-retirement retirement my commitment to my children is just about as equal as it can get.
When your husband and you decided to take on this care-giving role, were there any health or stamina considerations?
We are still functioning at a fairly high level physically and mentally, so we didn’t think it would be a big problem for us. That said, we did opt for the two of us to take on the job, since we could alternate the responsibilities.
How do you negotiate the care-giving responsibilities with the other set of grandparents?
Because the other set of grandparents lives about 300 miles away, when they come in to visit they want to have all the time they can with their grandson, so negotiating responsibilities is not even an issue.
How are you compensated when caring for your grandchild?
My daughter and son-in-law provide us with the necessary meals while we are at her home. They have also been very generous in terms of gift-giving. We have only recently spoken about monetary compensation since I may need to go back to work to supplement our retirement income. They objected and said they would rather pay me than have to bring in a stranger to take my place. The discussion continues. We do feel rather uncomfortable taking money from our children, but it may be necessary.
I can see that being uncomfortable – as far as negotiating this – but I love that we can compensate my mother-in-law for her hard and good work with our children.
The top 5 benefits of being a granny-nanny
- It’s like being in heaven. There is no other feeling quite like it – except having a baby of your own.
- Your grandchild really gets to know and love you..
- You get a chance to correct mistakes you made as a parent
- You are helping your children immensely – so important in this day and age when two parents are needed to keep a roof over their heads.
- I used to think being a grandparent would make me feel really old; well being a granny-nanny actually makes me feel like I’m twenty-five again.
The top 5 drawbacks of being a granny-nanny
- Your time is not your own while you are the care-giver, so you do need to set limits on days and hours.
- It might be boring at times, but if you are creative in the realm of “activities,” it needn’t be.
- You need to have lots of energy (but it can be good for weight loss).
- There can be some parental jealousy since sometimes the grandchild will look to the granny-nanny for what would ordinarily be parental approval and support. I found this to be true – especially before age one. That said, I don’t believe it is a long-lasting situation.
- There may be “lively discussions” with your children over feeding, TV and other house rules. Ideally, these should be worked out before the baby arrives; though it is not always possible to anticipate situations that will arise.
Anything else to add:
Grandparents and granny-nannies need to remember that the new parents are most likely unsure of themselves. It is therefore not helpful to give advice with an air of authority or to give unsolicited advice. And, finally, when it comes to “house rules;” unless there is some really good health-related reason not to, the parents’ wishes need to be respected.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Judi!
Be sure to check out Saying Yes to Granny-Nannyhood if you are thinking about becoming a childcare giver to your grandchild/ren.