How important is Grandma?

In my highly technical research and  experience of life in general  (well watching re-location, escaping to the country type programmes!), it seems that once people have children, they like to live nearer to their  family.  Most women want to move to live near their mothers – just not TOO close!  Is this just because they want free babysitters and childcare, or are they thinking it would be good for the children to grow up knowing their grandparents?

When I was small, my granny lived round the corner from us along with my aunties.  In those days, lots of families had relatives living on the same street, never mind in the same town.  When I was about three we moved to another town and I didn’t see them quite as much as it involved a long bus journey – my mother didn’t drive then.  A few years later we moved to ano ther county and now only saw them once a month.  Although I can’t have spent that much time with my granny, I can still remember the things we did.  She would tell me stories about when she was a little girl and how poor they were.  We used to watch wrestling and rugby league on ‘Word of Sport’ on ITV and she’d make me a dish of boiled (old) potatoes, with a slice of cold butter on top.  Once she asked me if I wanted a ‘cakey’, I eagerly waited for this special treat, which turned out to be a jam sandwich!   I stayed at her house overnight a few times and  can still remember the cold lino under my feet in the bedroom and getting sterilised milk out of the pantry for my cereal in the morning.  She used to let me run errands for her too and I would go to the greengrocers where they would pour potatoes and carrots straight into the old hessian shopping bag I took with me.  She would defend me against anybody and told me I’d ‘look bonny even if I was in rags’ and that I should be entered into the ‘Miss Pears’ competition.  (younger people will have no idea what that was!)

My dad’s mother lived about five hours away in Bournemouth and I can only remember her coming to stay with us a couple of times.  My brother had to be pushed out of his bedroom and I had to share with my sister.  Special things were bought and soap and towels put in the room, along with a mirror and clock. (Stuff that a five year old boy’s ropm didn’t normally have)  We visited her a couple of times and I can remember a garden with flowers and a swing outside.  This was a far cry from my other granny’s terraced house with its backyard and outside lavatory.

When I got married and had my children, all the grandparents were working full time (well my parents were only 42!) although living only 15 minutes away.   Because of this we used to see them about twice a week.  When my then youngest was two, we moved a two hour journey down south, so visits were rare but special.  Do children need to see their grandparents often to develop a bond with them?  These days it is easier with the internet, skype, twitte & facabook, but can that replace actually seeing them in the flesh?

By the time my parents had retired, my brother and sister both had children and lived near enough to visit and benefit from babysitting and childminding (I had two more children by now).  My sister in law lived with her parents and had childcare on tap.  I felt my children missed out having that closeness to their grandparents. the abilitiy just to call in on the way home from school.  Being able to visit them without parents in tow, so they could have a moan, or be indulged with stuff that parents won’t allow them to do or have.

Now I have my own grandsons, they also live far away, two of them in the US and the other a two hour car journey away (more if traffic’s bad).  I would love it if we were closer, so that the special relationship could develop.  Luckily they have their maternal grandmothers close by.  It would be lovely to do the little things together on our own. Just going for a walk, or doing some cooking, visitng the library or the park.  At the moment they’re all a bit young to do that.  It’s lovely however, when we do see them – it’s a special occasion and a holiday (particularly in US) and hopefully when they’re older, they’ll all be able to come and stay with us, without their parents. so we, like all grandparents, can indulge them, knowing we can hand them back at the end!

You might want to look at this too, kindly suggested by @himupnorth

http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/http://www.rias.co.uk/media_centre/allpressreleases/grandparents_take_strain_of_summer_holiday_childcare/

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6 Responses

  1. Both my and OH’s families don’t know the meaning of diaspora. We have remained in the areas we grew up in. That means my boys’ grandparents are close by and useful for surrogate parenting when required. My own experience was even closer. My mum’s mum lived with us from when I was born. I think the gramps are becoming more and more distanced as the generations go by. If my two have kids of their own we might live in different towns! Wow.

    • Thanks for your kind comment, I have also included your link. I hope you don’t mind!

  2. Whilst we have always lived near our extended family, we have never relied on them for babysitting duties and I remember only stopping at either set of grandparents overnight on a handful of occasions.

    Now we are grandparents ourselves, that has sort of extended out – my daughter and her brood live only a few streets away but we have taken a more active role in being a part of our grandchildren’s lives and the eldest has already stayed over a few times (I refuse to go back to the night feeding malarky – I’m too young for that – I remember it only too well).

    In fact, I wrote something about the joy of this on my blog the other day http://bit.ly/beViI5

    • I don’t think I would have taken advantage of the grandparents either, but because there was no-one living near us, and because my husband works away a lot, I couldn’t go and get a job. Being unqualified for anything meant that to get childcare for four children would have cancelled out anything I earned. And like you, now I have grandchildren, I don’t want to go back to full time childcare either – been there, got the T shirt etc.!

  3. Whilst we have always lived near our extended family, we have never relied on them for babysitting duties and I remember only stopping at either set of grandparents overnight on a handful of occasions.

    Now we are grandparents ourselves, that has sort of extended out – my daughter and her brood live only a few streets away but we have taken a more active role in being a part of our grandchildren’s lives and the eldest has already stayed over a few times (I refuse to go back to the night feeding malarky – I’m too young for that – I remember it only too well).

    In fact, I wrote something about the joy of this on my blog the other day http://bit.ly/beViI5

  4. I live a block from my 2-year-old grandson (of course, 2nd daughter and husband live with him). I love it! I babysit sometimes. What’s really fun is when 2nd daughter and baby boy walk over in the summer to visit or to pick me up to go across the street to the park. 1st granddaughter and 1st grandson live (with 1st daughter and husband) about 1 1/2 hours away. I wish they were closer, but I get to see them fairly often. 1st granddaughter and 1st grandson come for overnights (separately) in the summer. These are special times. . .

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