Who’d have thought this would be a topic?
As I neatened up the spare room to welcome my mother-in-law, I was remembering some of the well-intentioned tensions we had our first Christmas with our au pair and Grandparents together, and how we tried to manage them.
My parents-in-law, like most grandparents, were over the moon about their first granddaughter. They didn’t get to see her often enough, and when they did spend time with us, Grandma was barely able to let the baby sleep in the crib– she wanted to hold the baby as much as possible. And she wanted to change the diapers, and choose the outfits, and feed the baby, and rock her to sleep. Meanwhile, Grandpa wanted to take the baby all around the neighborhood in the stroller and show her off to anyone who’d look. (He was pretty naughty that way.)
Which would have been fine, but that was the work that our au pair usually did, and did so well.
I realized that I had to come up with some may to manage who did what, so that Grandma & Grandpa had their baby-time and our au pair still felt needed for some of the fun stuff.
I talked with our au pair privately and told her what I’d realized- that Grandma needed sometime to be in charge of the baby. I came up with a few sort-of fun ‘out of the house’ errands for our au pair to do so that grandma was sometimes “in charge”.
And, I asked our au pair to experiment with showing Grandma where everything was, how to do much of the baby stuff, what games the baby like to play, and so on. I ask our au pair to experiment with just hanging in the background, in case Grandma or Grandpa needed her. Our au pair was happy to try this.
Actually, our au pair was a good sport about it. I think that she could see how much it mean to Grandma to take care of what the baby needed, and to feel needed herself.
It helped, too, that I clarified with out au pair that for the time that the Grandparents were here, when she was ‘on duty’ she could hang out in the background, drink tea with Grandma, socialize with Grandma, wash up the baby food dishes while Grandma got to play that game with the airplane spoon, and to help Grandpa figure out the collapsible stroller.
I was really clear that all of this background stuff was considered ‘work’ by me (so it counted, and she wasn’t gooing off). I was also very clear to link it to a bigger goal, which was to promote Grandma’s confidence and relationship with her (at that point) only grandchild.
I was also careful to make sure that I had some time myself with my baby, and I did this by sneaking away with the baby to take a nap with her a few times.
Has anyone else had challenges like this when extra family has been in the house, and suddenly everyone wants to change the baby’s diaper play with the baby? Share your insights with us!