November 06, 2013

On Grandmothering and Keeping House

Posting can be a challenge when you care for an 8 month old 4 days a week.  I remember caring for a baby was a lot easier when I was in my 20's than in my 50's.  

I have spent this past week catching up on housework. It is hard sometimes to clean my house as I start to make a list of all the things that need to be repaired, painted or replaced and I tend to get side tracked.  I think I will start to call myself "building manager."

On Saturday it took me 6 hours to deep clean my living room, entryway, hallway and dining room.  Our old house has the original old narrow wooden floors.  They aren't sealed.  The previous owners put in an in house vacuum system so I use it to vacuum the hard wood floors, but with a dog those floors quickly look furry after a couple of days.  So, it was time to not only vacuum but to get down on the floor and clean them.  

My mom used to spray her dust mop with a light spritz of soapy water.  Then she would dust mop the floor and the dust would cling to the mop.  Again, it was a light spritz and she didn't soak the mop.  On Saturday I took a cloth and spritzed it with a mist of water and cleaned the baseboards and did the same to my hard wood floors.  In a couple of weeks when I have more time I will mop the floors with Murphy's wood oil soap.  I also used a separate cloth spritzed with soapy water to wipe down my old upright piano (that I painted a shiny black a few years back).

Dusting, mopping, vacuuming area rugs and working on the hard wood floors, cleaning cob webs off the ceiling and putting clutter away and taking trash out wore me out.  But the result was that after 6 hours I had 4 thoroughly clean areas in my down stairs.  These rooms are the ones that are most visible from the front door.

Today I vacuumed again (that darn dog fur) and deep cleaned the downstairs bathroom.  I don't watch my grandson on Wednesdays, as I need a day off.  Tomorrow I can straighten up the den and downstairs bedroom.  This is easily done with Ryan playing in the room that I am quickly working on.  On Friday my son and his wife have the day off so Ryan won't be at my house and I will spend the day deep cleaning my kitchen. 

The end result is that by Friday evening my entire downstairs will have been deep cleaned within a period of one week.  Then the challenge will be to keep it up, which I should be able to do by devoting an hour a day to cleaning.  

When Ryan is at my house I do a little housework, mostly laundry and some pick up.  I can't do much with a little guy crawling around and I find that my day is spent caring for him, playing with him and catching moments of housework when he is napping.  

This weekend I plan to tackle the upstairs but I know that it will take two weekends to clean out closets and deep clean.  I find that once things are in good order, I want to maintain that order no matter what.  It's just getting there and once you do get there, you feel like the queen of your home.

Which brings me to grand mothering.  As I stated I watch Ryan Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week.  He arrives at 6:30 a.m. and goes home when my son is done teaching for the day.  This depends on students staying after school for help, which I think is an awesome thing that he does.  So Ryan could be at my house until 4:30 some nights.  

I am finding that I am not the normal grandmother.  Most grandmothers do not watch their grandchildren as I do. One person told me that no way would she ever be doing what I am doing as she had already raised her children.  It's not for everyone and I understand it.   However, I am a bit old fashioned and I feel that families need to support each other as much as possible.  I also like the idea of Ryan being watched by family members as much as possible.  

Childcare is expensive but that is not my primary motivation to watch Ryan.  I want Ryan to grow up knowing that he is loved not only by his parents, but by extended family.  I also want my son and his wife to have the kind of support that my husband and I never had.  

When we were raising our two sons, we did not have parents to help us out.  My parents lived in New York and my husband's parents at one time were living in California.  Family lived far away and we only had each other.  We never had the luxury of grandparents caring for our children a day a week or even when we wanted to go to a movie.  We were used to it as it was our normal, but it was difficult many times.  

Yes I don't get a lot done many times when I am watching Ryan but I wouldn't trade the time I spend with him.  I know that I am helping to raise a confident and happy little boy and when it comes down to it, that is the most important thing I can do right now.

One other thing about grandmothering, when I am caring for Ryan I know my role as his grandmother.  If I think he is getting sick, I text his mother about this and let her make the decision if she needs to make a doctor's appointment or if he needs some Tylenol,  I know my place.  I am on the support team; my son and his wife are the parents and Ryan's primary care givers.  

The only way for grandmothering to work is to recognize that you know your place.  You have raised your children, but when you become a grandmother you get a second chance to have a powerful impact on a little baby's life.  


Rhonda said...

I have been a grand baby sitting grandma since 2009- usually 4 days a week like you. It is tricky getting things done and I do get get tired, but it goes by so fast. Already my 2 oldest grands are in school full time and I am watching their 2 little brothers /cousins.
I have a break for a couple weeks while husband is recuperating.
I also remember it being much easier when I was younger :)

Aunt Betsy said...

I started babysitting my granddaughter while her parents work when she was 6 months old. She is now 3. I too babysit 4 days a week. Oh my goodness, how much easier it was when I raised my kids. Now that I am almost 60 she wears me out but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I know she is safe and loved while she is with me.

Anonymous said...

I commend you on helping to raise your grandson, that is what you are doing by "watching" him as much as you do. I too wish I had grandparents when I was growing up but unfortunately they were all deceased already. I'm glad my daughter has hers near by and are a part of her life. You are doing a world of good!

Paula said...

I don't clean to the extent that I used to, and don't have the excuse of caring for a child. It isn't as easy as it used to be, due to a retired husband, his appointment schedule, my volunteer work, and my getting older.

For many years, I did a total deep clean regular as clock work, every March and September. This included washing all windows inside and out, washing blinds and curtains, dusting walls, cleaning three walls of book cases, the china cabinet, and all the myriad things that need to be done that you don't do every week. I used to do this in a week and a half, tops. With my current complications it takes longer, and is harder and harder for me to do.

Two years ago I decided to just do it once a year, in the fall, definitely to be finished before October. October was meant to be enjoyed!

There's something about growing older, realizing you are in your third act, facing your own mortality, that lets you give yourself permission to not drive yourself so hard.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you got a lot done, even with a baby on hand! Good for you!
But it also sounds like you need to simplify your home! lol!

Anonymous said...

You got a lot done even with a little one in tow! But it does sound like you need to simplify your home, lol!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you got a lot done, even with a little one in tow! But maybe you should make things easier by simplifying your home, lol!

Anonymous said...

My daughter and her four children recently moved back here. I am helping her out by watching the baby 5 days a week, picking up the school ager after school, and sometimes the two pre-schoolers (she has her hands full - lol). Her new job requires her to work several late evenings a month, so on those days I have all four until after 9:00. In addition, my mother (who has dementia and heart disease) lives with my husband and me. I retired from teaching year before last and had been home only seven months when my mom needed to move in with us. You are so right about it being easier when you were younger (and I only had two children). Some nights I am so tired and worn I fall into bed - but my daughter lived out of state for 14 years, so I'm glad she's close again and I have the opportunity to be close to my grandchildren. I know that time goes by quickly and it won't always be this hectic. I hope I'm giving them memories they will cherish some day. (By the way - good for you on the housekeeping! My house has suffered in the past several months, but my sweet husband and I are making a plan to reclaim it. lol)

MawMaw in TX said...

I think you are doing a wonderful thing watching your grandson. I work part time while the grands are at school but I am hoping to quit soon so I can devote full time helping out. My husband & I are fortunate to live close to all 5 grandchildren & we help out after school picking them up after school & taking them to lessons & after school practices. It takes a village indeed & you are so right that the best caretaker is someone who loves them & not doing it for money. I was able to be a stay at home mon with my kids but it is hard today for moms to stay home. When I was a child in the fifties my mom did not work but my grandmother & great grandmother watched me & I have so many fond memories of it. They have been long gone but the things I learned from them are alive in me today. The people that criticize this decision have no idea what they are missing. Grandparents are a very needed part of a child's life.