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A Grandparent’s journey: Surviving a week caring for my two grandchildren

05 Jun 2023 | Written by By Paula Simpson

The Joy Club member takes grandparenting responsibilities of her two grandchildren for a week… and she lives to tell the tale…

Being a grandparent is a delightful experience, filled with love, laughter and cherished moments. However, when my daughter and her husband entrusted me with the responsibility of looking after their two cherished children whilst they escaped for a much needed break (for a whole week) I quickly realised that this would be no easy task. The whirlwind of getting lost on school runs, mastering the art of meal preparations and car seat struggles, providing entertainment and correctly executing bedtime routines pushed me to my limits.

Join me as I recount the challenges, joys and overwhelming moments of my adventure spent caring for my energetic two-year-old grandson and his inquisitive six-year-old sister.  

I live in the North of England and my daughter in the South. So I travelled to my daughter’s house, entering new frontiers.

Before leaving, the parents drove me to the childrens’ respective schools, introduced me to the teachers as the person of responsibility, showed me where I should drop off and pick up and off they went, leaving me in total charge. 

The early mornings were a blur of alarm clocks, ensuring I woke up on time, rushing around making sure the children were dressed, fed, had the necessary school equipment and loaded in the car, seat belts fastened (that’s another story). Being a grandmother of a certain age, I was not familiar with booster seats and complicated seat belts. Who would have thought that a seemingly innocent booster seat could turn into a formidable foe. Wrestling with straps, trying to figure out which buckle goes where, became my daily nightmare. I lived in fear that the belt would come undone and cause injury.

Left on my own, one of the first challenges I encountered was navigating the school runs down single-lane country roads with multiple roundabouts. One would think that driving down country lanes would be a tranquil and picturesque experience, but not when you are doing a school run with time against you and two children strapped in the back. On one school run, I managed to take not one, but three wrong turns. I just managed to arrive in time to drop them off.  The sense of sheer relief when I reached the school gate with the children intact was truly euphoric.

Cooking meals for two little ones with varying tastes, preferences and changing appetites can feel like running a Michelin starred restaurant during peak hours. From persuading the picky eater to try new foods to ensuring balanced and nutritious meals, I found myself transforming into a master of disguise, hiding vegetables and conjuring up creative dishes. The kitchen turned into a culinary battlefield, but I emerged with the satisfaction of seeing them happily devouring their meals.

Keeping a two and a six year old entertained for an entire week was no small feat. I had to tap into my inner child and summon every ounce of creativity.  I found myself  juggling between dinosaurs, princesses, impromptu puppet shows, marathon storytelling, peppa pig, singing Disney Songs, hide and seek, chasing. They even talked me into doing handstands – huge mistake; I nearly ended up in hospital. I even learned the “Barbie dance” and my granddaughter made me do it over and over and over, until I got it right, with reprimands “Nana, you are doing it wrong”. 

Embracing their boundless energy, I discovered the joy of rediscovering the world through their curious eyes, even though physically my bones, joints and brain suffered in agony from over fatigue and pure exhaustion. And yes, I admit, there were moments when I wished for a pause button on their endless energy.

Bath-times were perhaps the most challenging aspect of the daily routine. Convincing little ones to put down their toys and head to the bathroom often required special negotiation skills. But it was also a fun time, filled with giggles and joy, like stepping into a mini water park where chaos reigns supreme. Tucking them into bed and reading stories became a cherished ritual, evoking a sense of warmth and tranquillity. But even this ritual had its dramas.  Missing their parents, both children one night decided to sleep in my bed with me. 

To say it was not a comfortable night for me is an understatement.  At some point in the night, the little boy managed to sleep with his bottom on my face, at another point he flung his arms across my face just missing my eyes. Several times in the night I had to rescue him from falling off the bed!

As rewarding as grandparenting can be, it’s not without its moments of exhaustion. As the week came to an end, I found myself reflecting on the whirlwind of emotions and experiences, the laughter, the tears, the tantrums, sibling rivalries, the challenges and the rewards had blended together to create a tapestry of unforgettable memories.

While I initially feared that, if the responsibilities extended beyond a week, I would probably have reached my breaking point, I wouldn’t trade this precious time with my grandbabies for anything in the world.

Do you have any of your own grandparenting experiences that you’d like to share? Get in touch with submissions@thejoyclub.com and tell us your favourite stories!

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