For many families, school holidays are opportunities for extended time with parents and grandparents.
Increasingly, more and more grandparents care for their grandchildren on a regular basis, and so they have a chance to get to know grandchildren and spend quality time with them. But for those grandparents who don't have regular access, school holidays may be the only time to get together.
Time with grandparents can be as relaxing as any other holiday away from home if everyone plans ahead. For parents, spending time in a home they grew up in, and in a neighbourhood that's familiar, may or may not be something to look forward to, but for young children, time with grandparents can build a sense of belonging and connection to a wider family network.
Tips for grandparents:
- Ensure your home or unit is as childproof as possible. If you will be minding preschoolers and toddlers, especially check door latches to outside areas, power outlets, accessibility to hot taps, bench tops and stoves, and whether a barrier is needed for stairs.
- Clip on plastic tabs are available in stores for sharp furniture corners, and also give some thought to whether a night light is needed for a corridor or bedroom.
- For under fives, you may need to provide a low stool for them to reach a basin and wash hands, or manage the toilet.
- Ensure any medications are out of reach or out of sight, preferably in a locked cupboard.
- Arrange for your family to bring their child's favourite toys, items of attachment (for example blankets), cots, high chairs, strollers etc.
- If young grandchildren are to be passengers in your car, arrange for the fitting of appropriate car seats.
- Enquire about stroller, bassinet, pram or high chair hire if your children are unable to bring these items with them.
- Ensure you have any medical details and contacts in case of an emergency situation with your children.
- Scan the entertainment guide in your local or city paper for appropriate films and pantomimes. For current films, check the reviews by Young Media Australia http://www.youngmedia.org.au/mediachildren/07_04_choose_films.htm
- Check with your children as to which television programs are your grandchild's favourites, which are not appropriate, and how much screen time is permitted.
- Buy tickets in advance if you know what shows or activities your grandchild might be interested in.
- Discuss with your children any concerns, expectations, and ground rules you think appropriate within your home.
- Ask your children how they would prefer you to manage inappropriate behaviour.
- Discuss nutrition and whether or not the children should be offered sweets, icecreams or fast food.
- Be clear on bedtimes.
Tips for parents:
- Treat the holiday as you would any other vacation.
- Depending on their age, involve your children in the planning.
- Provide grandparents with as much information as possible before you arrive, particularly if your children are staying without you.
- Make a list of favourite foods, television programs, books and toys, and email or post this in advance.
- Provide a mobile phone for older children to keep in regular contact with you, especially in the event of an emergency.
- Do an Internet search of things for children to do in the region where they'll be staying.
- If grandparents are elderly, unwell, or their home or unit is too small for an extended stay as a family, consider booking into a motel or hotel and arranging day visits to suit the grandparents' routine.
- Be prepared for the times when grandparents might be at odds with your parenting style.
- Take time to explain to children about any grandparent expectations, especially if your children don't see them regularly.
- If travelling and staying with a small baby, give grandparents time to adjust to feeding and sleeping routines in between cuddles.
- Be clear on finances and expectations when it comes to who pays for what.