According to “Grand Magazine”, the average age of first-time grandparents in the U.S. is 46. Many women in the baby boomer generation find themselves in the position of taking on more responsibility than ever before for the care of grandchildren. The result for many is “Grandma Babysitting Fatigue”.
This is a sensitive topic to address because as grandmothers we don’t like to admit when we are over committed in this area. We feel conflicted between loving our kids and grandkids on one hand, and feeling overwhelmed and even a little resentful on the other. It often begins with good intentions and little by little ends up out of control. As a grandmother myself I understand this all too well.
Some signs that indicate you are grandma in babysitting fatigue are:
- Putting off or canceling your own plans more often than you’d like.
- Feeling frustrated that your time is no longer your own.
- Your patience is running short when the grandkids are around.
- You are exhausted when your grandchildren go back home.
- You feel taken for granted by your kids and feelings of resentment pop up.
- You dread the next phone call requesting babysitting.
- You are neglecting other family members in your life.
- There is little or no time for self-care.
- You miss your friends and feel isolated from your own age group.
- You keep putting off your own dreams wondering when your time is coming.
- Planning a vacation is a challenge due to babysitting responsibility.
- Others are telling you that you are doing too much.
If you can relate to any of these you probably know something has to change but may not know exactly how to go about it. The good news is that there are always solutions to making your life better. It’s through life’s trials that we get stronger and better.
Each of us has different circumstances. There are the needs of our families balanced against our own needs to consider. Some of us are simply more gifted for child care than others. We all have our unique strengths in different areas. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. What’s too much for one may not be enough for another. I’m reminded of John Maxwell’s quote, “God will always help you be the best you can be, but he will never help you be anyone else”. Finding the balance that is perfect for you is the answer.
For many of us it’s a boundary issue. We often say yes, when we want to say no. For some of us it’s a tendency to go beyond helping to rescuing or wanting to fix.
What are boundaries and why are they important? Boundaries define where you end and someone else begins. They define who you are and are not. You get to choose what you allow in, what you keep out and how you allow others to treat you. Boundaries protect your heart and the very essence of your being. It says in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Boundaries help you get a clearer sense of yourself and your relationship with others. They bring order to your life and set you free to be who you really are.
One major obstacle for many of us in setting boundaries is the fear of confrontation. We are afraid that if we confront others it will result in rejection, hurt feelings, anger, and possible loss or damage to our relationships. Although we cannot predict exactly what the results will be when we confront, setting boundaries is vital to having healthy relationships.
For more information on setting boundaries and how to effectively confront others in your life, I highly recommend the following two books:
- Boundaries – When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.
By Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
- Confronting Without Offending – Positive and Practical Steps to Resolving Conflict
By Deborah Smith Pegues
If you are new at setting boundaries it is advisable to get personal, impartial support from someone you can trust who has no agenda of their own for you.
The rewards of a life with healthy boundaries are immeasurable and solve a myriad of relationship issues in our lives. It is well worth the effort to begin this journey today. I know because I’ve been on both sides of that fence – boundaries vs. no boundaries. It’s not that everything in my life is perfect, but I now have the confidence and peace of mind to live my life as God intended it specifically for me. Don’t miss out on your own God-given destiny by trying to live up to the expectations of others.