Time flies. It feels like yesterday you were raising your own kids when suddenly, you’re a grandparent. You watch these amazing kiddos grow up at lightening speed, from afar.
Do you ever feel like you're missing out? Stop the presses!
Finding ways to keep physically connected to your grandkids can be super-challenging, especially because, for most young families, our careers and dreams take us far away from the place we grew up.
Even if you are only a short drive away, busy, and often complicated, schedules are always getting in the way of finding quality time with your grandkids. Next thing you know, weeks, or even months, have gone by without as much as a hug or kiss, let alone a visit, from your grandchild. Disappointment is an understatement.
What I’ve done in this post is give you 5 easy tips to get you more time with your grandkids. As an added bonus, I've included some useful examples and links to give you more perspective. Now this doesn’t mean that you’ll spend every day with your grandkids from this day forth. What it does mean, however, is that this post will put you in a better position for being a priority rather than, what feels like, an afterthought.
I’ll give you a hint. It all begins with taking the time to understand YOUR own children, as adults and parents.
Tip 1. Work With Us
The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. ~Sam Levenson
Our experiences in life define us … and so do the people we marry. Just because your son was like Felix Unger growing up doesn’t mean he isn’t (or didn’t marry) a neatnik now. Take the time to understand what makes your adult child tick. What is his or her family-life like, super-scheduled or laid back? Where do they shop, Whole Foods or Walmart? When do they spend time together, after-work, weekends, not at all? How do they vacation, RV-ready or hotel-bound? By knowing the 'what, where, when, and how', you put yourself in the best possible position for becoming part of our mix. Trust me. By taking the time to understand us, without judgment, shows that you respect us. We are not the enemy. Work with us and reap the rewards.
Tip 2. Information is Power
Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation. - Lois Wyse
Now it's time to put this valuable information to work. If you know what matters most to your adult child and family, then you know how to speak their language and get what you want. Here we go.
- Example 1. Please don’t offer to take your grandkids to McDonalds if you know your daughter-in-law only gives them grass-fed beef. DO find a healthier option, whether it's a nearby eatery that sources local meats and produce or it's a meal you make at home with ingredients that respects their family choices. Either way you're going the extra mile and this goes a long long way. Click here for tips on living toxic free, natural, and green for better health.
- Example 2. Please don’t offer your grandkids endless access to your iPad or iPhone when you know your daughter (or son) limits the use of electronics. DO have fun hands-on activities readily available at your home for playtime. Click here to learn 12 great activities for grandparents and grandchildren.
Tip 3. Remember What It's Like
Grandmother - a wonderful mother with lots of practice.
Close your eyes. Take yourself back about 30 years, to the days of laundry up to your eyeballs, endless food preparation, and no time for yourself. It's not easy. In fact, some days it sucks. I'm sure you remember. Well, that's where we are right now, for better or for worse. I know what some of you are thinking, "I've been there. I've done it. Now it's your turn." Or, "I didn't have any help so why should I help you?" I'll tell you why. Because if you want to have the same tense relationship you have (or had) with your own mother, then go ahead, keep-on with that thinking. Otherwise, you can break the cycle by putting yourself in our shoes, lending an ear, being supportive, and lightening our load once in a while.
Tip 4. Keep it Simple
There's no place like home ... except grandma's and grandpa's.
Please don't create more complications in our lives when planning your visits. We have a routine. As busy parents, we do everything in our power to overcome challenging schedules and temperamental kids with consistency and structure. Enter grandparents. This should be a win-win. We need a break and you want to spend time with your grandkids. The problem is when we send them with you, they come home completely off schedule. We work hard to get them in a groove. As Type A as you think we are, it works for us, and that should be all you need to know. Help us to help you. To follow are some examples. - Example 1: Please don't give us reasons why not to send our kids for a visit. Here's one the biggest; candy, is not a food group. When our kids come home with neon-color tongues, hopped-up on sugar like it's their job, that's not good. We, the parents, have to deal with the sugar crashes and possible dental consequences. DO make your visits about special treats, just not all candy-based. Treats are great, don't get me wrong. But there are many other, more healthful, ways to spoil your grandkids. - Example 2. Please don't let your grandkids stay up hours past their normal bedtime. If they usually go to bed at 8pm, then put them to bed at 8pm. If they take a bath and read a book beforehand, then give them a bath and read them a book. I'm not saying you have to stick to our schedule like glue. I am saying that knowing and respecting our schedule will earn you some brownie points in the future.
Tip 5. Wear Them Out
Grandchildren: the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS. - Gene Perret
A kid that's pooped from physical play is a beautiful thing. It doesn't get any better. You feel as though your job as a parent is done and a pat on the back is in order. Best of all, you've got a night to yourself. Magical. Help us to get there. Return our children with a sense of exhaustion from a hard day at play. I am not saying that you need to run yourself ragged with endless games of hide-and-seek. I am saying that there are options, both indoor and out, specifically geared to get the kiddos moving while you watch from the sidelines. Find them and you've struck gold in our eyes. Trampoline parks are fast-growing, offering kids a ton of physical fun and mature adults a place to sit, read, and watch. Click here for the best 50 trampoline parks around. If you don't feel like leaving the house, then there's always the good ole standby for getting physical indoors ... an inflatable punching bag. Nostalgic. Now it's better than you remember: American-made, built-to-last, and fully customizable. Oh boy, we've come along way since the days of wincing Bozo the Clown. Bonk Fit is a traditional bop bag with sturdy fabric cover that easily slips over top. And, you can design the cover to be anything you want! Choose from a gallery of award-winning designs or create your own from any photo in less than 5 minutes. You'll be the talk of grandkids everywhere. Best of all, your grandkids will wear themselves out silly as you watch from your cozy couch. Glory days are here again. Click here to learn about Bonk Fit.
If you want to get more time with your grandkids, earning it is the way to go. The best thing you can do is … know your own children (us) as adults and parents, use this information to your advantage, work with us not against us, put yourself in our shoes once in a while, keep it simple, and wear those grandkids out, and you’ve got the best chance of maintaining a priority position in the visitation schedule for many years to come.
Do you have any tips of your own? Please share your thoughts in a comment below.