We talk a lot about ‘sharing the load’ when it comes to gentle sleep training, because having practical and emotional support during the process can make a huge difference in the long run. Sleep training, in any form, can be a long and lonely experience for some parents, and it makes sense to want to lean on those around you to help out when you need them. This week we’re looking at gentle sleep training and the role of grandparents.
The Grandparent Relationship
Every single family is different. Some will be small, some will be large. Some will be close knit and supportive, and some just won’t. We cannot change who our families are, but we can change how their relationships with our children affect us. Some grandparents will want to be full on, helping out whenever they can, and some will prefer to give you space and to let you get on with it all in your own way. It’s up to you to speak up and ask for the help you need if you’re not getting it. And if you’re feeling a little stifled, it’s worth taking a look at exactly why you feel that way.
Understanding the grandparent relationship is essential if you’re going to make their role in your gentle sleep training program effective.
The ‘over bearing’ grandparent
Think of it this way. You love your child, and you would do anything at all for them, right? Now imagine that your child has become a parent themselves. Don’t you still have that desire to help them, and do anything you can to make them happy? In this situation, the grandparents are simply trying to help. They want to continue to nurture you and your new role as a parent and that is only natural. If their input into your parenting is too much for you, tread gently. Remember that family support is essential for everyone, and especially when it comes to gentle sleep training. You’re tired and maybe even stressed; don’t let your emotions or frustrations cause an argument that could be avoided.
The ‘hands off’ grandparent
They are still only trying to do what they think is best for you. Perhaps they don’t realise that you need help (especially if you never ask, or tend to ‘battle on’ by yourself-which is very normal by the way!) or perhaps they are worried about over stepping the mark in some way. The hands off grandparent might need a little guidance on the best ways to help you out- and it’s up to you to do that. Of course, some grandparents might be of the thinking that they’ve done their parenting- now it’s up to you. If that’s the case, you do- of course- have to accept that.
The Special Relationship
Grandparents have a special relationship with their grandchildren and it’s one that many families cherish dearly. There are huge benefits too:
- They have an unconditional love. Most of the time, this love stems from their love for you primarily, and it stands to reason that they’re going to want to spend time with the children. This might mean getting stuck in and rocking baby to sleep when you’re exhausted, or it might mean sticking to cuddles and play time to give you a break.
- Their relationship with the kids is often more carefree than yours, and this can actually be a great thing when it comes to helping out with gentle sleep training. They may be the perfect candidate for hours of rocking baby to sleep, simply because they can they go home and sleep all night, leaving you to the next shift- and giving you the break you need. Likewise, they are able to come over during the day to play with the children and give you a break. Lots of grandparents report that being able to have fun with the kids without the enforcing rules or discipline that parenting requires is a huge perk indeed!
- There are fewer time restraints. Grandparents aren’t living on the same timetable as you are, and while at times this can seem frustrating, when it comes to gentle sleep training it might be just what you need. You might stress about getting baby to sleep at nap time within a certain time frame because you have a million other things to do during nap time… grandparents can lighten this load considerably. You can share the tasks out, or you can slow your pace down to match. Either way, taking a slower approach never hurt anyone.