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As the holidays are approaching we are excited to have time together with our married children and our grandchildren. Mothers-in-law and grandmothers can use this list for preparing for any extended family gathering for special occasions or holidays –including Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkos…followed by Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Years – whatever Holiday you observe.
The 8 Things a Grandmother Needs to get before hosting her children for the Holidays:
1. Get Baby-Friendly: This doesn’t mean you have to cover up sockets, or put child locks on the cabinets – although that would be a nice idea. Getting yourself into a child-friendly mindset includes:
* Move that crystal vase high up out of the toddler’s reach. Take that bug spray that is under your kitchen sink and put it high up in a cabinet.
* Take out of storage or purchase a few developmentally appropriate toys and games. Set them up in a corner of the family room or living room for easy access (and clean up!).
* Get baby equipment and gear in the house, e.g. high chairs, pak-n-plays, porta-cribs, exer-saucers, infant and/or toddler car seats, booster seats and so forth.
2. Get Teenage Friendly. You may want to get some reading material and’/or board games that are of interest to teens and tweens. Chances are the family will bond nicely together without these activities, but setting these up in the teens’ respective rooms or in a visible place in the house can be a great touch!
* Offer the teens/tween grandkids (fun!) opportunities to help Grandma with chores such as setting and clearing the table. Setting up the whatever preparations need to be done for the Holiday.
3. Get Help. This may be a necessity (not a luxury) during the holidays when there are so many under one roof.
* Hire a cleaning woman to come a bit extra, especially when you have a lot of dinner company. She can help with the dishes, kitchen clean-up and other Holiday-specific chores. Your children and grandchildren will hopefully pitch in, but having a cleaning lady can contribute to the relaxed (and tidy!) atmosphere.
* Hire a mother’s helper or a babysitter to help out with the little kids when you have a lot going on. This can be a life-saver, especially when the teenage aunts or uncles are not available all the time to pitch in. Find an eager neighbor who is willing to give a hand in dealing wtih an active child for a few hours, to give everyone a breather.
4. Get healthy food and other preferences. Since you will be dealing with many tastes, possible allergies and preferences, get a handle ahead of time on who is needs what food, who has what restrictions and so forth. Have the kid-friendly foods in the house such as yogurts and treats (within reason). Of course you (or your designated errand guy – aka your husband or son) will be running to refill and restock, but it’s great to have everything ready beforehand in the fridge and cabinets.
5. Get over your advice-giving tendencies. This is a time for spending quality family time and creating memories. Try not to offer disapproval and prompting (hey, why is he not toilet trained yet?) or advice (maybe he shouldn’t be using a pacifier anymore?). It won’t be appreciated to say the least. If it’s really important to you, save it for after the Holiday.
6. Get clear in your communication. Your children are not mind-readers. If you like the dishwasher loaded a certain way, say so. Don’t just expect the kids or grandkids to do the chores in the way that you recall teaching them when they were living in the home.
* Be upfront with clear rules for your home: For example, no eating outside of the kitchen; Mom and Dad take care of their own children (including that 10 month old baby who is spotted climbing the stairs and where is Mommy?).
* Be clear in directing traffic. Transportation, cars, buses, going and coming. There’s a lot going on. Make sure there is one place for the keys to be put back in a designated place when someone uses the car. You don’t want to be stuck with a car in the front of the house, and the keys in said teenager’s pocket who happens to be across town at his friend’s house.
* I know families who write up a chores sheet and hang it on the fridge. The sheet lists which adults are responsible for which jobs. It doesn’t have to be as visual as that, but whatever your communication is, make it clear.
7. Get and give space. This is a biggie. Space doesn’t mean physical space here, although it is understood that our children get beds, mattresses, futons and other sleeping accommodations that are satisfactory to all. Rather, space means:
* Having in yourself the will to give your adult kids the freedom to make decisions for how they use their time. How they do things (that don’t disrupt the running of your household or safety).
* If you sense a difficult interaction between parent and child or parents with each other, get out of the room. Allow them the privacy and space to work it out on their own.
* Every couple is different. Some are stayers and some are goers. Allow them to use their time (within reason) in the way they choose. Have general expectations, without planning their days for them.
8. Get them the gift of your time. We can be so busy in the kitchen, running and arranging things, going on errands, and directing traffic that we forget to spend time talking, laughing and just being with our children and grandchildren. Try to remember this last tip. I know it helps me to remember it!
There you have it. The 8 things to get before hosting guests. Hope this list helps all grandmothers and mothers-in-law during the upcoming Holidays. Happy Holidays to all!
Anything you grandmothers and MIL’s would like to add to this list? Let me know…
Tags: Chanukah, giving space to adult kids, Grandmother hosting, Guests for the holidays, Hannukah, Holiday season, mother-in-law hosting, quality family time, Thanksgiving tips