I’m new to this grandma gig—only seven months into it, to be exact. And while I was once a stay-at-home-mom who raised three kids (pretty successfully, most people would say), the new littles in my life (J, seven months, and L, 5 months) made me wonder whether or not I still had my mojo. I’m watching my grandson J a day each week this summer while his momma (who works nights) sleeps. But my worry was a waste of time because it’s like riding a bike, I’ve discovered. And because these baby days will pass by in a blink, I’ve started a Things I’ve Learned list. Here’s round one:
EAT BREAKFAST* before baby arrives. The first couple times I didn’t, thinking, “Oh, I’ll eat something during his nap.” Yeah, right. Those were the days J napped for 30 minutes. And then there was play time. Then puffs and a bottle. A walk around the block. More playtime. By the end of the day I hadn’t eaten—unless you count sharing his puffs. I. Was. Famished. Babysitting just might be a new weight loss breakthrough.
*And the closely related: do my MAKE UP before baby arrives—for all the reasons above. Except instead of dying of hunger, I looked washed out, wrinkled, and old. Kinda like a grandma.
Battling DOG HAIR AND GERMS is a losing battle I stopped trying to fight. I didn’t have any pets until my youngest was 2 (when I simultaneously potty-trained and housebroke both critters, I might add), so I didn’t really have to deal with this when I had crawling littles. Now we share our home with four hairy beasties. I vacuum before J comes, I wash the floors. And then I put him on a quilt to play, where he does not stay for long. By the end of playtime, he has fur and fuzz (and since it’s summer and humid) stuck to every little crease and roll, in places I’d never expect it. Ugh. I briefly did battle with a wash cloth and finally surrendered and just gave his little mitts a rinse-off under the faucet.
SIMPLE IS BEST when it comes to toys. When “watching” an oversized box—“Fisher Price Lil’ Zoomers Safari Sounds Jungle”—is as fascinating as a big screen TV and playing smack-the-toy-off-Grammy’s-hand can go on and on (and on!) and measuring spoons are every bit as entertaining that expensive Brio rattle.
You need a Masters in engineering to use this NEW-FANGLED BABY STUFF, or, that time when Grammy couldn’t use the stroller because I couldn’t figure out how to unfold it. Or, when terror struck my heart as I watched my son-in-law snap the car seat out of the car!!! instead of just unhooking Baby and carrying him in. I could hardly manage buckling him into the five point harness, let alone worry about latching the seat into its base. (Cut to a slow-mo of me running down the driveway, waving my arms, and yelling, “Noooo …”)
GRANDPAS ARE MORE FUN—it’s true. In he pops in for a few minutes, sits across the room, working at the computer, and what does J do? Everything in his little arsenal of cuteness to get Grandpa’s attention, despite the fact that Grammy has spooned yummy carrots into his little mouth, and watched the birdies outside at the feeder, and listened to Toddler Radio on Pandora, and changed the mother of all diaper blowouts … nope, it’s still Grandpa and his cell phone and computer and flying around the living room business that wins the prize. *Sigh*
I need a BABY MONITOR. The pack ‘n play is upstairs in our spare bedroom. I put J down and let him talk a while. (Momma says let him go for ten minutes, even if he ”complains” a bit.) I listen in the hall for a few, but “This is ridiculous—go downstairs!” So I sit at the bottom of the stairs. “Don’t be silly—go do something!” But while I’m wiping down the high chair tray or picking up toys, I realize I don’t really know if he’s sleeping yet, do I? I creep upstairs and peek through the crack in the door. He’s quiet, but his legs are still pedaling. Back down I go, repeat the above—and you get the picture. Grandma was tired enough without having to deal with that nonsense! Time to check Craig’s List again …
Everything runs on BABY TIME when littles are involved. I learned pretty quickly to adjust my plans for a walk, for carrots instead of applesauce, for reading instead of rolling cars … and just go with the baby flow. When J or L come play at my house, everything else comes to a halt—my full attention for playtime or cuddles is theirs. Because that’s really what grandmas do best. Mommas and daddies juggle Baby, work, house, and still have places to go and people to see. Me? Not so much. Grammy’s time is only Baby’s.