Things can get a bit rocky when Grandma comes to spend time with her grandchild and her nanny. Family relationships typically already have their fair share of complications – however minor – and when you throw a nanny into the mix, they can get even more complicated. Here are some of the common issues that come up.
Grandma is breaking all the rules. It’s a grandma’s job to spoil her grandkids, which is great for the kids but can be a big challenge for the nanny. The nanny’s job is to keep the kids on a schedule, make sure they eat healthy meals and snacks, and be vigilant about encouraging good behavior. Often, Grandma’s spoiling means the opposite is happening. Finding a happy medium between the two isn’t always easy, but it can be accomplished when both sides compromise.
Kids are bored spending time with Grandma. Sometimes Grandma’s idea of a fun activity or day isn’t the same as the child’s. Although this is a common problem between adults and kids, it can be an even bigger issue when it’s between Grandma and her grandchild. The child’s disinterest can be heartbreaking to Grandma if she doesn’t get to see her very often, is trying to introduce her to a family tradition, wants to share something that’s special to her, or is physically unable to do what the child wants to do. The nanny can help by coordinating activities that are fun and interesting to the child and that Grandma can comfortably keep up with and by asking the child to help come up with fun ideas too. When the child is part of planning the day, she’s more likely to compromise and plan a day that includes activities for both her and Grandma to enjoy. This will also give Grandma a chance to learn more about her grandchild’s interests.
Grandma can’t take care of the kids by herself. Seniors don’t often realize how much physical energy and agility is needed to care for kids. If Grandma is having some health issues or is just dealing with the limitations that come with getting older, she may not be able to keep her grandchild happy and safe by herself. In these cases, the nanny can act as a second set of hands and gentle supervisor. She can do much of the hands-on childcare tasks, like diapering, bathing and feeding, while Grandma focuses on the fun things, like reading a favorite book or playing a game. This tag team approach lets Grandma enjoy her time with her grandchildren while the nanny keeps watch over their safety.
Grandma is critical of the nanny. Sometimes Grandma isn’t happy with the level of childcare that the nanny is providing. Of course, the nanny is the person the parents have chosen to care for their child, but that decision isn’t always respected by the grandma. She may not like the nanny’s discipline methods, the type of food she prepares for the child or the type of activities they do together. This can translate into Grandma criticizing the nanny’s choices and actions throughout the day, which can lead to the nanny wanting to spend as much time away from Grandma as possible. This is not a recipe for a good visit. It’s important that Grandma talk with the parents directly if she has serious concerns about the nanny’s performance. They are the ones in charge of managing the nanny. If the issues are more annoying than truly concerning, it’s best that Grandma simply keep them to herself for the sake of the relationship.
Gossip gets started. It’s natural for the nanny and Grandma to find common ground around the parents. This can be a great way to jumpstart their relationship. Unfortunately, these conversations can lead to gossiping about the parents. The nanny may share her frustrations with Grandma about how Mom comes home late too many nights or how Dad doesn’t spend a lot of time with the kids. Grandma may share her concerns that the new mortgage is too much for the parents to financially handle or that she doesn’t like the way they fight in front of the kids. These comments may seem innocent at first, however they can cause major problems between the parents and Grandma and between the parents and the nanny. It’s best for everyone if the nanny and Grandma stick to topics that they would feel comfortable talking about in front of the parents too.
Visits by Grandma can be hard when there’s a nanny in the house, but with some ground rules in place and a positive attitude they can work out well for the whole family.