To Grandmother’s House, We Go is a collaborative post. There’s nothing more fun — and nerve-wracking — than visiting Grandma’s house. Let’s face it, your house is set up to accommodate kids. Sure, there are toys everywhere, and it might be organised chaos, but trying to parent small kids away from the support structures they have in place at home is daunting. SoI admit that sending my kids for a few days at my in-laws house when they were younger always stressed me out.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more important to me than making sure my kids get to meet and spend plenty of time with their grandparents. I’m thrilled that they get to hear family stories that have been passed down for generations, see family heirlooms that represent important milestones in our history, and experience unconditional love from their grandparents unlike any other in the world.
I wouldn’t give up our cherished family time for anything But it’s not always stress-free being the one common member who has lived in both households.
Grandma’s house isn’t child-friendly
My parents recently moved into one of the Montgomery homes for sale and proved that any house without active children quickly transforms. Cleaning supplies are stored in unlocked, floor-level cabinets. There are no gates keeping kids from venturing into restricted areas or down a set of stairs. Priceless breakables are on display and within hand’s reach. Collectables pose as toys in boxes.
A grandparent’s house is no longer child-friendly, and not just for small children, no matter the age. Teenagers grow so quickly they don’t have a concept of how big they are and tend to stumble through life for a few years, unsteady on those giant feet. They leave behind a trail of empty cereal boxes, empty milk cartons in the refrigerator, and shoes in the middle of the floor.
During visits with grandparents, I find myself having to explain that scientific studies have proved that their mushy teenage brains aren’t careless, just clueless. They don’t purposely leave a mess for someone else to clean up, but it’s still disrespectful of the common space.
Grandparents and kids have their routines
Unlike the stereotype you see on TV, today’s grandparents are active seniors who are living life to the fullest. My mum can’t start her day without coffee, a newspaper, and a little bit of quiet time. After that, there’s no sitting still. She’s got back-to-back tennis matches, social commitments, and lunch with friends.
In the same way, mums everywhere will tell you it’s disastrous to disrupt the morning routine of a toddler. Your entire day can hinge upon whether or not things go smoothly.
The challenge for me is trying to navigate from the middle. I have to look out for the best interests of my kids while respecting my parents’ wishes, and I always feel like I’m favouring one side or neglecting the other. It really pulls on my heartstrings.
Circadian rhythms are opposite
Sleep time is another schedule mismatch for my kids and my parents. It’s hard to convince your parents to keep the house quiet during naptime because they claim never to have done that for you. While that might be true, getting a toddler to nap in a strange place sometimes takes extraordinary measures, including complete silence.
It doesn’t get any better as they age. Teenagers are notorious for staying up half the night and sleeping half the day, but grandparents are more likely to rise early. Once again, I feel like I’m in the middle, trying to convince the grandparents to let the kids sleep in so they don’t ruin everyone else’s day.
Part of making our house a home is accommodating the family living there. As an adult with my own kids, my own quirks and routines, I find it hard to go back to my parents’ house.
It’s not just vacation that stresses us out; it’s having to mediate between both sides that makes it hard. Having grown up with one family and now having a new one, you’re the one thing in common. It’s natural to try to keep both parties happy. I guess that’s why they call us the sandwich generation.