Are you doing enough to appreciate your parents and in-laws, caring for your children?
My colleague who recently had a baby, walked into a friend’s wedding party! Thrilled to see her, I exclaimed, “Good to see you here! Hope the baby is doing well.” Beaming she replied, “Yes, she’s well. Sleeping at home and being watched after by my in-laws”. Cut to, my cousin who returned to her role as a Special Educator, when our nephew was 1.5 years. She was certain she needed the work, the financial independence and was assured that her Mom & Dad would be with the baby. Not too far, I visited the salon to get myself a much needed break and told the salon assistant, let’s get both a pedicure and a haircut, my baby will play with my mother-in-law, while I take some me-time.
This isn’t new to any of us. We see it, we hear it, we expect it and we do it. Is it right or wrong? I believe it largely depends on the individuals involved and their willingness and consent involved in caring for their grandchildren. However, I believe every grandparent and their efforts in caring for their grandchildren, needs a sprinkle of gratitude, from us – their children.
With every little sacrifice, with every meal they cook, every extra hour they stay awake, with every ounce of support for their children, children’s spouses, grandchildren, there must be appreciation – it doesn’t cost anything, it only heals! It heals an ageing heart, relaxes a tired body and cheers a frail smile.
Appreciation – Gratitude – Compliments – Heartfelt Thankfulness can go such a long way in our relationships with our parents and in-laws, who are tirelessly caring for our young children. Whether they care for them for days and nights, for few hours or every single day while we are away, they deserve our sincere appreciation.
In my experience, many don’t ask for their willingness and even more of us don’t feel the need to say “thank you” to our elders because we feel entitled to rule their time, at whatever age we are. And most often we conveniently forget that a real “thank you” to our parents or in-laws can go a long way in reassuring them, that we can see their efforts.
If you’re not saying it enough, consider these 8 ways to express gratitude to your children’s grandparents:
- Use your words – Say “thank you”, say “I am so glad you were there, so I could go”. Add feelings to your words by just squeezing their hand or hugging them on your way to work.
- Appreciate them in the presence of their family, friends, your family, friends and be honest in saying, “I couldn’t have done it without mom and dad’s support”
- Give them breaks – few hours on the weekend or few days in the year. Ensure you’re watching over your children on weekends, holidays, day offs, at night – so that they can have their own down-time. Plan short or long trips for them whenever feasible so they know – they matter!
- Talk to them about big changes and all kind of firsts. Personally, I told my mother-in-law I had my first work-travel to another city, before I told my husband. All because I knew she would have to cover up for my absence with my 2-year-old son, more than my husband.
- Introduce them respectfully to important people in your child’s live – their school, their teacher, their football coach, their friend’s mom. Say she’s my mom and she’s the one reason why I am a good parent.
- Build a night routine like letting your child hug them goodnight or send them a good morning message, each day to appreciate their presence.
- Send them your children’s drawings, scribbles, videos, photos, voice messages, kisses and love you notes from wherever you and your child are when they aren’t around!
- Appreciation is heard better when we ask, not assume. Accept that your parents or in-laws are not bound by your child or your routine. Ask them if they have a weekend plan, ask if you can step out for a meeting without disrupting their plan, discuss dates before planning a work trip – not because you seek permission, instead because you work as a team.
Together everyone achieves more, at home, at work, at school and while we’re caring for our children.