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Grandparents on duty

Grandparents on duty

Fitting in our own essential activities, such as eating and nature calls, is a daunting challenge, more complex than the workforce scheduling applications that I used to deal with in my work life.

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Last Updated : 29 May 2024, 23:04 IST
Last Updated : 29 May 2024, 23:04 IST
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When I was working full-time in the pre-Covid era, I eagerly looked forward to weekends as a relief from the monotony and rigours of working in the corporate world. My retirement ushered in seven-day weekends, much to my joy and pride. This suddenly changed when my first grandchild arrived on the scene. Now weekends are my (and my wife’s) ‘working days’. 

In line with the modern lifestyle, after the three-month maternal and paternal ‘bonding’ period, my daughter and son-in-law had to get back to their respective jobs. This meant that their infant daughter was entrusted to the care of a nearby daycare during the week. With the daycare closed on weekends, we, the grandparents, became the designated caretakers so the child’s parents could attend to their domestic chores and prepare for the upcoming work week—a complex schedule of working and non-working days for everyone involved.

The grandparents begin their typical day in the wee hours of dawn when the baby decides to wake up. We spring into action, rapidly recollecting and following the predefined routine, which is also displayed on the wall to assist our failing memories: switch off the white noise machine, release baby from the sleep suit, clean up, and change into a onesie (YouTube video available). This is followed by the preparation of formula milk using a machine, the use of which required a couple of hours of training earlier, and feeding in a bottle that is air bubble-proof. We also underwent training to operate several other devices and implements. There was the feeding bottle washer and steriliser; a system of video cameras to be monitored when the baby is asleep; a software application on the smart phone to record events and activities throughout the day; strollers and baby seats for outdoor activities. It truly was nothing short of learning several systems in a new office. 

The day proceeds with a series of playtime, tummy time, cleanup, feed time, story time, and sleep time in an unpredictable sequence since the baby refuses to follow a predefined project plan. Throughout the work day (remember we are ‘working’), one also must update details such as what the baby did or did not do and record volumes of inputs and outputs for the baby in a computer application, to be reviewed by the parents and, later, by their paediatrician. 

Fitting in our own essential activities, such as eating and nature calls, is a daunting challenge, more complex than the workforce scheduling applications that I used to deal with in my work life. And, of course, at regular intervals, the parents are ‘checking in’ to make sure we are on track and following instructions. 

When we return home on Sunday night, it feels like we have just completed a ten-day work week. But the joy of having spent time with our precious angel makes it immensely rewarding and worth repeating for many more weeks and weekends. 

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