These days, many grandparents are raising their grandchildren for various reasons. They find themselves washing diapers and taking kids for immunizations rather than relaxing in the retirement get-away they envisioned

African grandfather and grandson fixing bicycle

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Once again, couples who planned to travel after retiring are instead attending parent-teacher conferences at school and taking youngsters to dental and doctor appointments.  Their calendars are filled with errands and meetings, not lunches with friends. Days of driving children to and fro are back, and the laundry basket is rarely empty. There just never seems to be enough time to get everything done.

This can often be a challenging – but joyous – time. The generational differences can seem overwhelming. Technology alone has changed immensely from previous generations. What is the norm now didn’t exist in years past.

Having previously raised children gives grandparents experience that younger, first-time parents lack.  Often, maturity brings a gentler perspective and less stressful responses to situations, with a “been there – done that” approach to daily schedules and demands.

On the flip side, older people sometimes lack the energy they had in their more youthful days.  Babies, toddlers, young children, and teens generally have an abundance of vigor and energy that can be difficult to keep up with.

Financial stresses can be more of a burden for a young couple, who are just starting out in their careers and juggling housing, car and living expenses, but an older couple may have more disposable income and less financial strain.

If you have become a grandparent taking care of younger children, you know that it can be a challenging time. Whether you are a temporary or permanent guardian of the children, your parenting expertise can be a real benefit.  Depending on the circumstances, the biological parents  may or may not be in the picture. Balancing the relationships with the children and their parents, especially if the parents are your own children, will take patience and understanding. Most of all, focusing on the needs of the children first can help you navigate more stressful relationships.

If you find yourself in this situation, try to find balance in your life.  Take time for your health and well-being, connect with friends, and try to find ways to do those things you wanted to do after retirement, even if you are now doing it with children.  Above all, ask for and let others help. Whether it is a night of babysitting or a cup of tea with a friend, a little time away can do wonders.