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Before having children most people have all kinds of ideals. They want to make all their own organic baby food and only allow their child to play with a select few wooden toys. Certainly we don't want our kids to be spoiled. We want them to play outside and be thankful for what they have without always wanting more. But grandparents have different ideas in mind.
Most grandparents can't wait for that little baby to be born so they can spoil the heck out of it. Cute clothes, fun toys, cookies full of sugar without a trace of organic anything. When I was a new mom this was stressful for me. I wanted to control everything about my child—what he ate, what he wore, what he played with—everything. But it seemed like whenever we would visit the grandparents there would be more stuff than I knew what to do with. What's a mom to do?
Well, at first I would get upset. We didn't need more clothes in our overflowing closet. My son didn't need a third cookie. My daughter didn't need another doll. We didn't need more stuff cluttering up our lives. I also feared our kids becoming spoiled and demanding more from us, their parents. I envisioned temper tantrums and whining and pleading... and then I had a change of heart.
I realized that my children's grandparents are not there to set rules and boundaries. They're not there to make sure my kids are not spoiled. They are there simply to love and care for my kids—and babysit them for free.
The most important thing I have realized when it comes to grandparents spoiling their grandchildren is that this is their way of showing love.
In exchange for all the free babysitting they offer us, I allow them to spoil my kids as much as they want. Yes, there are some boundaries. Certain foods are definitely off-limits. And when their toy chest is filled to the brim we ask for the gift of experiences (like a trip to the movies or zoo) instead of another toy. When it comes to clothing, we try to steer them in the right direction. Right now they need more shoes for their ever-growing feet and less shirts and shorts. We try to be vocal with our boundaries and within those confines the grandparents are free to spoil to their heart's desire. It works for us.
When we have too much, we simply donate the excess. I have made a habit with my kids to regularly go through their belongings and pick out what they would like to donate to other boys and girls who don't have as much as they do. They understand how lucky they are to have so much and enjoy giving to others. They're not bound to their stuff and that brings me some comfort.
The most important thing I have realized when it comes to grandparents spoiling their grandchildren is that this is their way of showing love. My kids are incredibly blessed to have grandparents that want to spend time with them and buy them gifts. I want my kids to have fun with them without feeling on edge about what toys they will come home with or what food will fill their bellies. When they're with us they know the rules. They know we can't buy a new toy every time we go to Target. They know we can't have McDonald's for dinner every night. But when it comes to hanging out with their grandparents the treats come and they look forward to it.
For our family we have embraced the spoiling that grandparents offer. We see their motives are pure and full of love. Instead of getting all bent out of shape about it, we will simply be thankful. Someday, hopefully, I will be a grandma and I fully intend on spoiling my grand babies as much as my kids will let me.