For grandparents who are raising their grandchildren 24/7, one of the most important things is taking care of ourselves. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. The, stress of raising a grandchild is tremendous and the toll on our health can be enormous. If your grandchild is pre-school, try to get them into a kindergarten, crèche or day care. If they are 3 and not yet 5,you are entitled to 20 free hours of attendance, payable to the centre by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.
If you live in New Zealand, there are numerous agencies that will offer respite care. If you are under Child Youth and Family, your Social Worker will be able to offer respite care for you. You will meet the people that are going to take care of your grandchild so they will not be going into a place that is completely foreign to your grandchild and yourself. It is very important that they are comfortable with them, as you should be as well. If you are not under Child, Youth & Family, then approach Barnardos, Salvation Army, Strengthening Families, your GP, or Church, and other social organisations. They will be only too happy to assist you.
Friends and family can play an important part in offering respite care, even if it is just for the night. The benefit of being able to get some much needed rest is of benefit to all. You are able to cope better and the little things don’t seem to take on a life of their own.
If you are able to go for a walk, do so; not only is the exercise good for you, but time alone in your own space is beneficial. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, this is not failure on your part; on the contrary, it means that you recognise the fact at that particular moment, it is a stressful time and you are doing it for the benefit of all.
I divide my day into segments. First its breakfast and getting ready for school, once our granddaughter has gone to school, then, aside from housework, it’s my day to do whatever I want. After lunch I get the dinner ready, make her school lunch for the next day. Then I sit down, maybe catch up on Coronation Street, read a book or the newspaper, do a crossword or just have forty winks and prepare myself mentally for the next part of the day, which consists of homework & shower time, then dinner and finally bed. I am fortunate that my husband takes over the evening duties and reads to her while I go for my daily walk, weather permitting.
Doingthese simple things allows me to cope better, however of course I do have the occasionally outburst when I’m feeling particularly tired. If I am feeling tired mid afternoon, I have a piece of toast with peanut butter, the protein and sugar gives me the extra energy to carry on.
Hopefully these few suggestions will help you maintain a balance in your life. I would love to hear how other grandparents cope with their day, so please use the email form, or better still post it in the blog.