When I explored the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey statistics and learned about grandparents raising grandchildren, I about fainted (https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk). In 7.3 million U.S. households grandparents and grandchildren live under the same roof, and in 2.6 million of those households the grandparents, not the parents, are responsible for raising the grandchildren. With numbers that high, I figure I’ve got some simplicity-seeking or budget-minded readers who are in this situation, and perhaps we should talk about it. Here are some ideas that I came up with for thriving (or coping, let’s be real) with grandkids in the house. Some of these ideas I used when I was a young mom, some I wish I had used when I was a young mom:
1. Probably at this time in your life you thought you’d be downsizing, or finally getting everything organized, or defining for yourself a peaceful, minimalistic lifestyle. If the grandkids, no matter how wonderful they are, have exploded into your life, make sure you keep a minimalized spot for yourself. Perhaps:
- Your nightstand, cleared of items. It will be a small, calm space that helps calm your mind as you go to sleep.
- Your car with the rule that all occupants must remove everything they brought into the car each time they climb out of the car. A tidier vehicle will make a less stressful chauffeuring experience.
- The laundry room. Not glamorous, but (heehee) no one will pester you as you do laundry chores!
2. Keep a very strict eye on growth spurts and damaged children’s clothing. Removing the items that the kids no longer wear and not replacing them is a good way to reduce wardrobe overwhelm.
3. Enlist an older grandkid to help you declutter a room full of your stuff. She might be inspired by the result she sees in your energy and demeanor in the following days.
4. Is your grandson up to his eyeballs in toys? Ask him to identify his big boy toys. Then propose he let the little kids at Goodwill play with the baby toys.
5. Does your granddaughter have a birthday coming up? Suggest to party guests that she would enjoy presents that won’t add clutter:
- Gifts of experience.
- Ingredients for a child-friendly recipe.
- Flower seeds to plant outside.
- Repainting her scratched up bicycle with her favorite color.
6. Challenge a teen to a no-spending month. Decide on a mutual reward if you both make it. This could be a budget-minded challenge (by saving money that month and by making the reward something low cost like taking her and her friends to a state park for a hike), but it’s really about teaching a young person how to break a mindless spending addiction.
7. Television is a useful babysitter when you’re cooking dinner, I can relate. If you put your preschool aged grandchild in front of a video instead of broadcast TV, it’ll cut out the commercials that train him to see-want-buy-see-want-buy!
Make this day even better. Consider:
- Keep a surreptitious eye on things your friends and family use a lot. Now is the time to think up useful Christmas gifts, not extra doodads that will create clutter, but gifts that can replace things that will be worn out by then. The corroding coffee press, the fraying watch band, the kitchen mixer that will no longer run on high speed. . . .