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How much should grandparents help?

When you finally get your children grown and living on their own, you probably feel a sense of relief. Don't get too comfortable.  Just when you are ready to relax and enjoy your new freedom, your married son or daughter will inevitably announce that a baby is on the way.

Of course you are overjoyed at the thought of a new baby in the family.  But in some cases, a weekly visit can turn into Grandma babysitting every weekend.

How much support should grandparents provide? While the new parents may want and need help when they first bring the baby home, unless there are special medical situations, the new family should learn to develop their own schedule. It will be a be an adjustment for all concerned as they adapt to the new conditions.

What happens when Grandma and Grandpa are called on frequently to babysit, run errands, help with housework and provide meals?  It's up to the grandparents to set limits regarding how much time and energy they are willing to contribute.  Here are the top 3 things grandparents can do to make a smooth transition:

1. Reassure the couple that you are available in emergencies, and are glad to help as time permits.

2. Provide as much assistance as you are comfortable with, being careful to strike a balance between being overly intrusive and completely unavailable.

3. Offer advice only when asked. Things are different than when your children were born, and as long as the baby is safe and healthy, defer to the new mother's methods.

Enjoy the new addition to your family. But don't let the new parents take advantage of your time and expertise.