STAYING YOUNG: You can have a lot of fun with your grandchildren and become more active by exploring the world together.
STAYING YOUNG: You can have a lot of fun with your grandchildren and become more active by exploring the world together. Maria Teijeiro

Caring for grandkids and maintaining family harmony

LOOKING after grandkids is a time when grandparents can draw on their rich experiences of parenthood and enjoy quality family time.

However, the responsibility can sometimes leave grandparents in tricky situations, with parenting styles differing from one generation to the next.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a helpline and website that supports expecting parents, families and carers with children up to five years old to ensure the health and wellbeing of their children and family.

The helpline is staffed by maternal child health nurses who provide reassurance and guidance on their child's behavioural and developmental concerns, while also providing referrals to local health services when necessary. The service is funded by the Australian Government.

Here's some top tips for making childcare a positive experience:

- Be upfront about your needs and understand those of the parents so there are no unwelcome surprises or unmet expectations. Setting boundaries around things like the number of hours and days of the week you are available, and the meals you provide can help things run smoothly.

- All parents will have their own views on things like how much TV time or outside play is best for their child. Finding out what these are and respecting those views from the outset will give your grandchildren a consistent message and avoid potential conflict.

- If you feel your grandchildren need discipline while in your care, check with their parents first about what they would do.

- Think about whether you might need to make some changes to your home before children arrive so it's safe for young exploring children. Make sure things such as dangerous chemicals and sharp or breakable objects are well out of reach.

- You can also have a lot of fun with your grandchildren and become more active by exploring the world together. You can engage their creativity through arts and crafts, cooking or building things. Listen to their stories and share your own.

- There may be times when you feel the need for practical or emotional support yourself. The maternal child health nurses at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby are there for grandparents too.

For more information about how to access support, setting boundaries and maintaining a healthy life balance, go to pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/grandparents.

You can also phone the helpline on 1800 882 436.


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