My 1-year-old daughter is pretty lucky. She has two sets of amazing grandparents. This also means that I'm doubly blessed with badass babysitters (say that ten times fast, I dare you). However, it's not all fun and games (actually, it is for the little ones). If you're anything like me, you'll find there are quite a few weird things that happen when you leave your kid at their grandparent's house.
Having my daughter grow up with her grandparents as major presences in her life is really important to me. I lived with my maternal grandparents until I was in first grade, and they were incredible influences. Because we're a military family, however, it's not so easy. Fortunately, we were posted just a few hours from my husband's mom and stepdad, and we have frequent visits from my mother. With a deployed spouse, I hardly get any time to myself, so I'm all about taking advantage of the grandparents.
My little one loves to be with her grandmas and grandpas. It's no wonder. She gets 100 percent of their attention and they do all kinds of fun stuff with her. I appreciate it, but it kind of makes me feel like chopped liver. I know it's worth it for my personal sanity as well for as the relationships she's forging (even if this weird sh*t happens).
They Become Perfect Angels
My sister used to refer to this phenomenon as "using up all your good." I get it. I mean, I'm pretty nice when you cater to my every whim, too. But it's so frustrating to show up for pickup and have your child immediately throw a damn tantrum. Cue Grandma saying, "I don't know where this came from. I haven't seen anything like it all day." Awesome. My mom assures me that my toddler throws fits for me because I'm her "safe person," but it still makes me feel like crap to be the only person my kid is rotten for.
Sometimes you get your just desserts, though. One time, my mom left baby me and my toddler sister with her parents for an evening. She'd been having a hell of a time getting us to go to sleep. When she came home, my grandparents announced that they hadn't heard a peep out of either of us. My mom found both us of stripped to our diapers asleep in my crib. Every piece of clothing was out of every drawer and every picture was off the wall. Mom didn't even have to say anything.
They Acquire New Items
I swear to the parenting gods, every time I leave my kid with her grandparents, she comes home with something new. I think my mother-in-law was horrified that her grandbaby only had four bath toys. She came home from her last visit with a dozen more. And a pony.
(OK, it's a stuffed animal and was a Christmas gift, but it's freaking huuuuuuuge.)
They Start Demanding Snacks At Home
I adore my in-laws, but they are snackers. I am too, when I'm with them. It's a family joke that it's not a holiday unless we have five to seven dips.
While I worked down at the house during our last trip, my in-laws would take care of my daughter down at the bunkhouse. Every time I checked on her, that kid had a cup full of chips, veggie sticks, or pretzels. It's been a bit of a challenge to break my little Gollum of the habit of wants-ing it. It being the precious goldfish crackers.
They Learn New Skills
If you leave your very little one with their grandparents, I guarantee they will meet one of their milestones. In order to spite you for leaving, they take it upon themselves to learn to sit, crawl, walk, or climb stairs.
As they get older, however, they'll learn new and valuable skills. From my grandma, I learned to sew, and my grandpa taught me to sail. My in-laws have a ranch and soon, my daughter will have her own cow. She already loves to help feed and water them. I think it's great that she'll pick up skills that I could never hope to teach her.
They Learn New Words And Phrases
This is actually pretty cool, unless Grandma and Grandpa swear like sailors. I speak to my daughter in Spanish, but I need her to have lots of English exposure as well. I remember sitting her down in her booster to eat dinner after taking her to her grandparents. When she finished, she piped up, "All done!" Definitely didn't learn that one from me!
Their Hair Is Different
My mother-in-law was watching the little one while I was showering, and when I came out, I remarked how nice the baby's hair looked. "Oh, I just ran a comb through it." Yeah. So it's not like I never brush my kid's hair, but I definitely don't do it before 11:00. Until then, I'm pretty comfortable letting her run around looking like the fifth Beatle. Under grandma's watch, no one's allowed to be a hot mess.
They're Cleaner Than When You Dropped Them Off
Apparently, I am also more comfortable with a greater level of filth on my child than either of her grandmothers. My mom is much more thorough with a washcloth or baby wipe than I am. I also like to make sure she's done pooping before I change her diaper. I'm pretty sure leaving a dirty diaper on for a hot minute would never happen on Granny's watch. Maybe grandpa's, though.
My dad once told my husband that he only ever changed one diaper, and he did it so badly that my mom never asked him to do it again. Clever. Evil, but clever.
They Smell Different
Maybe it's the fact that they've recently been bathed, but your kid will likely smell different when you come get them. It's not just eau d'squeaky clean. Nope, they smell of another woman. Why does it feel like you're being cheated on when you catch the scent of another lady on your baby? I know it shouldn't matter, but it feels like a little baby betrayal.
You Actually Relax...
The great part about leaving your child with their grandparents is that, for most people, you can trust them to love and care for them just as you would. This gives you permission to relax, and relaxation may be a state with which you've been unfamiliar for some time. Knowing your kid is in good hands allows you to really enjoy that pedicure or dance class or date night more than you otherwise might.
...And Then You Miss The Little Stinkers
Let's be honest. Everyone needs a break from their kid every once in awhile. It doesn't make you a bad parent. It makes you normal. But the funny thing is, as relieved as you are to drop your kid off, you'll miss them as soon as you pull out of the driveway. Do you relish your time away? Of course, but there's something so special about that smile and hug from your child gives you when you come to take them home. Make sure you bask in that, too.