Grandparents may be the best creation ever especially when they are able to watch your kids for mommy and daddy to share some alone time. Their novelty quickly wears off when you spend time with both your offspring and parents/in-laws as you realize your parents have forgotten every parenting rule they harped about during your childhood.
For these reasons, traveling with grandparents can be both wonderful and frustrating so it is important to set some upfront guidelines before you leave home.
When we traveled to Cancún, Mexico for Christmas with my parents last year, we asked my parents if they would be willing to watch our daughter during the early hours of New Years Eve an also for an additional day while we went on an excursion together. This made it clear what we were expecting from them so there would not be any confusion around expectations. They were thrilled to watch our daughter and we loved having a bit of toddler-free time, so it was a win-win situation.
It is also good to talk about the sensitive topic of money before you leave. If Nana and Papa are going to be watching little Johnny a lot during the trip, they may be expecting you to pay for their hotel room or perhaps some meals or at a minimum a bottle of tequila. Make sure the expectations conversation includes who pays for what and the chance for conflict and hurt feelings is greatly reduced.
Finally make it clear which rules Nana and Papa need to respect even if Mommy and Daddy aren’t around and make them pinkie swear to follow them. In our case, signing in blood might have been warranted because my parents never seem to listen to me when I ask them to follow our rules, but at least they know what we want. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit difficult to criticize good, free baby-siting, especially when it is from someone who raised you well, if you do say so yourself.
Bringing the grandparents along on our trip south was such a great way to get to experience a vacation with our (extended) family as well as relish in some much needed alone time as a couple. I highly recommend encouraging the grandparents to come along on your next trip, but lay out the expectations and ground rules before you go.