Tag Archives: quality childcare

Granny Nanny News: an interview with Granny-nanny Judi

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.

Go you!

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

  1. It’s like being in heaven. There is no other feeling quite like it – except having a baby of your own.
  2. Your grandchild really gets to know and love you..
  3. You get a chance to correct mistakes you made as a parent
  4. 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.
  5. 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

  1. Your time is not your own while you are the care-giver, so you do need to set limits on days and hours.
  2. It might be boring at times, but if you are creative in the realm of “activities,” it needn’t be.
  3. You need to have lots of energy (but it can be good for weight loss).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

 

 

Image 1, 2

Share

The Granny Nanny: An interview with Lois Young-Tulin, Ph.D

Dr. Young-Tulin was gracious enough to spend some time with me as I talked about her role and book about being a granny nanny.

***

I was very excited to find out about your book and I have read most of it. It’s perfect for a multigenerational family or anyone considering this family set-up. Can you tell us why you decided to write The Granny Nanny guidebook?

I decided to write The Granny Nanny when I first learned that I was going to be a grandmother and I knew that I wanted to be a hands-on, involved grandmother.  Although I had a career and busy life, I consciously decided to schedule consistent times to be an active part of my grandchild’s life. I knew that parenting norms had changed since I was a mother, and I wanted to learn more about the “new” rules of childcare.

I feel so grateful my mother-in-law came to live with us when my husband and I were expecting our second child. She offered to come help us with childcare and we opened the doors to our home. How did you decide to become a granny nanny for your grandchildren?

Both my son and daughter-in-law worked, and they needed someone to babysit. I knew that becoming a granny nanny would be a help to the parents; thus, I and the other grandmother arranged to alternate babysitting days. It was an amazing decision, and during the first 3 years of my grandson’s life, my grandson and I established a very close and loving bond.

That sounds wonderful.

I’m an only child and my husband has an older sister and a twin brother. His twin brother seemed the most upset about their mother (my mother-in-law) relocating to move-in with us because the twin brother wasn’t consulted. What were your other children’s reactions to you helping your older son (and his family) with their first baby?

My other children’s reactions were very positive, and they were reassured that I would do the same for any children they may have. Lo and behind, when my second son and his wife had a baby, I went to New York once a week where they lived and babysat and was an active granny nanny once again.

You are amazing!

You mentioned your maternal grandmother lived with you while you were growing up. What was that like?

It had its ups and downs. My maternal grandmother’s presence was a chance for my sister and me to bond with our grandmother and learn about our family history. On the other hand, her presence in our everyday lives at times created tension between my parents – - the proverbial mother-in-law syndrome.

Got it.

It is true that parenting has changed a lot and continues to evolve. My husband and I spend a lot of time having discussions (talking it out) with our children instead of just demanding they do something. I know this was an adjustment in parenting for my mother-in-law.

What was the largest (or oddest) parenting adjustment you had to make when you started caring for your grandson?

A lot of the parenting rules had changed such as babies sleeping on their backs, car seats and better safety rules. Once I learned the improved safety rules, it was a breeze. I always made it a point to abide by the parents’ rules, even if they differed from those rules I had followed as a parent.  Time out was a new concept for me as the grandchildren got a little older. Old familiar “Sesame Street” was still around, so some things hadn’t changed.

That’s so funny you mention the time-out. My mother-in-law was resistant to time-outs, initially.

Things can get tricky with a granny nanny when it comes to compensation. My husband and I did not want any issues in this department so we pay my mother-in-law a monthly stipend. How are you compensated when caring for your grandchildren?

My compensation was love and lots of hugs and kisses.  When I would arrive to babysit, the babies instant recognition of me and the smiles were compensation enough. I also felt good about helping out my sons and daughters-in-law and making their lives easier.

That made me smile when you said that.


Did you have to consider any health or physical limitations when you took on the role of being a granny nanny?

My biggest limitation was my spinal stenosis, which sometimes limited my ability to climb up and down stairs once my sons moved to houses. Other than that, I did fine at playgrounds and playing on the floor with them.

What are the top five benefits of being a granny nanny?

  1. Bonding with my grandchildren.
  2. Enriching my life and my grandchildren’s lives and having fun together.
  3. Being a grandmother is a chance to nurture again and to even do it better.
  4. The sense of continuity for me and for my grandchildren making a difference in their lives.
  5. Becoming even closer with my son and daughters-in-law by being a consistent part of their lives.

What are the top five drawbacks of being a granny nanny?

  1. Learning to keep your mouth shut is paramount. Even if I disagree with how they might parent, I had to learn to say nothing.
  2. Being a granny nanny takes consistency and commitment. This may mean missing a lunch out with friends because I promised to babysit.
  3. When my son moved to Florida, I missed my grandson and had a difficult adjustment to not seeing him regularly after 3 years of babysitting twice a week.
  4. The maternal grandmother is naturally closer to the baby’s mother. As the paternal grandmother I had to establish a relationship with my daughter-in-law and accept the fact that she is in the habit of calling her mother daily and confiding more in her.
  5. I’m careful not to interfere and to be respectful of the parents. As the paternal grandmother, I know that I have to be careful of what I say to my daughter-in-law.

I love what you said about the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. (When can you come over for wine to hang with my mother-in-law and me?)

Anything else to add?

Grandmothers have been given a unique opportunity to enrich your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren, and their entire extended families. Make some conscious decisions, make some focused time, and give unselfishly of your love.

Thank you, Lois.


 

 

 

Learn more about Lois Young-Tulin, Ph.D.

You can purchase The Granny Nanny guidebook at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Images:  Dr. Young-Tulin, The Granny Nanny, Grandma Snuggle, Swimming, Reading
Share