A few weeks ago I had my oldest three grandchildren sleep over at my house. (The youngest, Keagan, still nurses frequently through the night so sleeping over doesn’t work as well for him.) This was four-year-old Xavier’s very first sleepover, and he was pretty excited by the whole thing.
After dinner, a run to the park (we really did run!), an hour’s playtime, and baths for all, I got him to actually fall asleep by playing a game: we’ll all close our eyes for the number of minutes that is the same as our age. So Sebastian had to close his eyes for nine minutes, Callista for six minutes, and Xavier for four minutes. He was sound asleep after two.
Of course, he did wake up at 2:00 a.m. and ask “now can we play musical beds?” No, Xavier, but now we can play “going back to sleep.”
As a grandmother, one of my greatest pleasures is being able to support my son and his wife in raising their kids by helping out when I can. This sleepover was fun for me, and gave the parents a little break after they’d had a busy couple of weeks. Sometimes I take some time with one child who needs some one-to-one attention. Sometimes I bring over food or clothes for the kids; sometimes I talk over problems with my son and his wife, and hope my input helps them find good solutions.
The other very good thing is that my grandkids know they are very much loved not just by their parents but by their whole extended family, including me.
We are not meant to raise our kids alone: we all need people who care about us and who will support us when the parenting journey gets difficult. When I was a young mother, my own parents and siblings lived far away, but I found a wonderful support group in La Leche League. The Leaders and other mothers were people I could call when I had questions about breastfeeding and mothering. I made many good friends through LLL, and many of those women are still my friends today, and feel like extended family to my children.
Of course, LLL is not the only place to find the supportive community you need, but for any breastfeeding mother, it is a great place to start.