Ask the Question
Calling on Granny to play Nanny can be a brilliant arrangement, but it can also trigger bad feelings if you don't tread carefully. First step: Don't assume your mother is jonesing to spend her days diapering, much as she adores her grandchild. "Some women think, My mom will do this because she isn't working, but she may be busy with other activities, such as volunteer work," says Susan Newman, Ph.D., author of Under One Roof Again. That happened to Kristie Galvani, a mom of a 4-month-old son in Seaford, New York: "My mother made a deal with me when I was still in college. She said that as long as I graduated, got a job, married, and had kids, she would quit work and watch them." But when the time rolled around, Galvani's mom, Donna Koppe, found she was not ready to fully retire. However, Koppe, 56, did cut back her hours to carve out a two-day-a-week babysitting stint. Galvani's in-laws pitched in for two more. "Even two days a week with an infant can be challenging," Koppe admits. "I'm not 25 anymore!"
Like Koppe, some grandparents don't feel physically up to caring for a baby or are simply unwilling to sacrifice personal time. Others may need or want to continue working at a job that doesn't involve dirty diapers. (After all, the average age of becoming a grandparent is 48, according to a report by the American Association of Retired Persons. The average age of retirement is 62 -- so grannies and grampies have a whole lot of working life still in them!)