I’ve heard a lot of people who are grandparents joke that they like their job better as a grandparent than they did as a parent. I can see why this would be true. You’re not responsible for parenting strictly, just enforcing your children’s rules when necessary. Unlike a parent, you have a lot of free time away from the kids’ craziness. When you’re spending time together, the majority is spent in high spirits doing fun activities.
If you go the extra mile, grandparenting can be fun and rewarding to both you and the rest of your family. If you live nearby your grandchildren, take advantage of the time you can have together.
From the time my sister and I were in preschool to early elementary school, my Grandpa (and oftentimes my Nana, too) drove an hour from his home every Tuesday to pick us up at school and spend the afternoon until our parents came home from work. Tuesdays quickly became our favorite day of the week, and we nicknamed them “Grandpa Tuesdays.”
My childhood Tuesday afternoons are something I’ll always remember, and so will my grandparents. Although we always stuck to our routine of going to a playground and then grabbing a bite to eat at my Grandpa’s favorite gourmet restaurant, McDonald’s, we looked forward to this day every week, and our time together never ran dry.
Now that my sister and I are 21 and 22, you can probably guess that my grandparents don’t come babysit us once a week anymore. But don’t be fooled into thinking that they stopped being the needy grandparents they are, constantly seeking the attention of their younger family members. Now, they spend their every Monday and Wednesday watching after my cousin’s 3-year-old daughter, Nadia.
It’s a perfect scenario – my cousin saves on paying for preschool all week, and my grandparents’ need to spoil their grandchildren is fed. I know this system will continue for years, adapting as Nadia gets older. I feel confident that she’ll grow up with just as many, if not more, cherishable memories with my grandparents.
There’s something to be said for grandparents who make their grandchildren a constant priority. I’ve experienced both ends of the grandparent spectrum. My other set of grandparents moved to Florida when I was about 7 years old. While we still kept in touch and sometimes saw each other on holidays, our relationship definitely suffered. As a kid, I never understood why they moved away and weren’t around to see me growing up.
They had their reasons, and I surely don’t hold their decision to move against them. But it’s safe to say that my relationship with my grandparents who I saw every Tuesday, birthday, graduation, and holiday will always be deeper.
This also isn’t to say that distance can stand in the way of prioritizing your grandchildren. My aunt and uncle are grandparents to 5 kiddos, all spread out across 3 different states on opposite coasts of the country. They are some of the most involved grandparents I’ve ever come to know, constantly flying all over the country and being as much a part of their grandchildren’s lives as they can. They’re fortunate enough to have the time, health, and means to do so much travelling.
Being an everyday grandparent rather than the one your grandchildren see every other holiday or so makes a huge difference in your relationship with them. While we grandchildren still love our non-regular grandparents, they’ll never know the nuances in our evolving life, and we’ll never get to learn the nuances in theirs. Grandchildren want to know and learn about their grandparents just as much as grandparents want to be around their grandchildren.
If you live nearby the younger members of your family, take advantage of the close proximity and soak up as much time with them as you can. Everyone will benefit from the close relationship. I’m sure your kids would love a couple hours kid-free!
Distance may get in the way of some relationships, too. If you have the capability to travel to your family or host them at your house, do so as much as possible. If not, there are other ways to stay connected to your younger family members using your smartphone and other resources.
How do you stay involved in your grandchildren’s lives? Need advice to get the ball rolling? Ask A Pup – we’d love to help!
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