As a researcher with an interest in the lived experiences of women and families Mumsnet books are a goldmine of secondary data to analyse in the first instance, and a source of great humour, advice and support in the second!
It was with great interest that I read about the new Gransnet book The New Granny’s Survival Guide, as the role of women as both mothers and grandmothers is something that has come up in my research, and interested me in my personal life.
I remember sitting down with both my own mother and mother in law in the early months following Joss’ birth and telling them about how I found it hard to know what to say when people asked me about becoming a mother, people would ask me ‘is she good?’ ‘are you enjoying it’ all the right things to ask I suppose, but their questions didn’t help me to navigate how I was feeling, instead talking with more experienced mothers gave me a better frame of reference; I guess I wanted them to say I was ‘doing it right’!
I was lucky to receive a copy of The New Granny’s Survival Guide, by Gransnet, to review.
I suppose I read this book through the lens “what’s different about being a gran to being a mam, and what can I learn from this journey that the older generation are on, in relation to my daughter?” When Joss came along her Daddy and I became aware that although we had just become a family of three (plus dog) we had a much wider family for Joss to gain support, love and wisdom from, not just here in the UK, but from our family in Holland too.
Having my grandmother, her great-grandmother here for the days following her birth made the occasion all the more special, my little girl shares a name that’s very close to that of her great-grandmother, and she is looked after a day a fortnight by each of her grandparents, so we were all navigating new relationships in a way none of us had probably anticipated amidst the excitement of the arrival of our precious girl.
I suppose Gransnet’s Guide for Granny’s is akin to what Mumsnet’s “Why did Nobody Tell Me” was for me, a tongue in cheek look at the collective wisdom of Grans, and support to navigate a new role, with lots and lots of ideas for play and supporting childcare at all ages. It recognises that especially in relation to health and wellbeing some of the guidance about care for children has changed a lot over the years, and raises the importance of trying to ‘go with the modern flow’ – yes spoon fed weaning was de rigeur, now baby-led weaning is encouraged, babies were encouraged to sleep on their front and now it’s feet to foot on their backs, and it’s easy to say ‘it never did you any harm’ but urges caution and encourages letting go and enjoying a relationship with grandchildren without worry, let the parents do that!
A fun read and good reference tool for some of the ‘sticky issues’ that might arise when providing care either informal or on a more regular basis, I’d think this would make a lovely gift for a new Gran (or Grandma, or Nan)!