'The best things in life are the people we love...
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
As a mother and grandma, the most wonderful places I've been and the best memories I've made all revolve around my family, kids and grandkids. And I'm fortunate enough to have some of my grandkids living close by.. actually, right next door.
But, like many others, the rest of my family and grandchildren live quite some distance away. It's great when I can organise time to hop on the train and travel up to spend some time with them. Ahh.. they seem to have grown so much and so quickly every time I visit.
I'm painfully aware that you can't hold onto time so the moments that I do get to enjoy with my grandkids are important. With that in mind, there are a few things that are worth thinking through as I plan each visit with family.
Maybe you're like me. Maybe some, perhaps all, of your grandkids live a long way from where you live. Gone are the days when generations of families stay in the same area where they were born for most of their lives.
When my youngest grandson was born, the family spent almost a year in areas many miles away. I travelled by plane or my train to visit with them. So, when they were at last able to return and visit with us, it was very exciting. My daughter was holding little Griffie in her arms as gathered up children and bags and emerged from the car. There was a brief moment of tense uncertainty on my grandson's face when I opened the door. And then he relaxed, leaned towards me and breathed "Nan," as he threw himself into my arms.
Maintaining a close connection with your family and grandkids is important... and those memories are the ones I treasure most. But I also want those memories to be treasured by my children and grandkids.
When you live a long distance from your grandkids, you probably don't get to see them very often. Today, most grandparents still work, so they're lucky to get to see the grandchildren during vacations and holidays. Having such a short time together can make it hard to know what to do to make each visit special.
1. Let Mum and Dad Lead the Way
It doesn't matter if you did it "that way" and all turned out fine. Your child has made a choice with their spouse to do things a certain way: their way, not yours. It's not a critique of your parenting skills when children do things their own way. Try to remember what it was like when your parents or in-laws didn't comply with your wishes with your kids, and don't do the same thing.
You don't have control over this situation and no amount of fighting it will give you any control. If your child is not abusing your grandchild, just let mum and dad lead the way and follow their rules for the kids.
If you do this, you're going to enjoy the visit a lot more than if you fought them about how they do things. And the last thing you want is for them to dread your every visit.
2. Save Gifts for the Last Night
This is especially important when you don't see the grandkids as much as you want. Don't show up and shower gifts on the grandchildren right away. You don't want the grandkids to think of you as some kind of rich Santa Clause. You want them to know who you are outside of gifts.
Save gifts for the last night or the day you leave to help them cope with the change instead. This will ensure they're thinking of you long after you leave. Also, only give parent-approved gifts. You can source some amazing choices online, too. I discovered a Cardboard Rocketship Playhouse and a Robot Turtles game that teaches kids to code. Want to get them outdoors? How about a durable Hop Scotch Rug, suitable for indoors or outdoor?
Double check the appropriate ages for the gifts too. The packages say the ages for safety reasons. You'll be glad that you did that.
3. Get Some Alone Time
Nothing is better than giving the parents some time to themselves so that you can get time with the grandkids alone. That one-on-one time is something they'll remember forever. And, the parents probably have little opportunity to enjoy time alone together. Plus, by letting the parents get out alone, you're helping your grandkids by encouraging a healthy marriage.
It's a lot of fun to have alone time with grandkids. If you have multiple grandkids, try to get some time alone with each one whenever it's possible. That will also increase your bond with them. It creates a special time with their grandma/grandad when they don't have to compete for attention. And you can learn so much more about them when they can talk to you without interruption.
4. Experiences Over Things
You know how fast time goes when kids are little. They grow so fast that the best toy today will be too childish for them in six months. That's why giving experiences is a better gift. Give lessons that you know they'd enjoy like dance, gymnastics, swimming or karate for your grandkids - with parents' permission, of course.
Another idea for older kids is sending them to Holiday Camp, if they'd enjoy it, or taking them to a theme park. These are the types of gifts that will be remembered when they're adults.
5. Get Creative
If you have the craft gene, go ahead and plan some sort of crafty activity together during your alone time - such as baking or making mom and dad gifts. Or if you're not crafty by yourself, try taking them to a painting or other type of class. Check out their local library or community events for fun opportunities.
Another option is working on a course together online. How about a chalk pop-art class. A class for decorating biscuits is another option- a delicious one, too. If you're anywhere near an Apple store, their free workshops are great- Coding Lab for kids is a popular choice. Courses will generally give them something to take away from the experience and remember it by.
These ways to make your visit with your grandchildren special will pay off in a big way over time. After 18 years of building your relationship, your grandkids will be very happy that you did and so will you.
Discover the simple ways you can make your family history come alive for your grandkids
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
"Quickly, you two; sit down before the train gets going. Oh, wait.. I can hear the horn.. now, we'll be off. At least it's a smooth ride, not like the rattle and chug of the old steam engines."
"What! You had steam trains when you were a kid? No way!" ... Sigh... sometimes I feel very old! :)
I looked at my grandkids and smiled.
"Well.. yes, for a while before they changed over to rail-motors. That was before the electric ones we're enjoying today. "
The kids were wild with excitement. "I would so love to have been a kid then. It would have been so cool to go on the steam engine."
"Actually, it was pretty hot- no air-conditioning. I remember how your great-grandpa would dust off the seats before we sat down in the carriage so that we didn't get dirty. The seats were often covered in dust and soot from the engine."
"Did you take any photos? Can I see them when we get home?"
I laughed. "Well, we did have cameras but nothing like your iPhone ones. Yes, I do have some photos, though, at home. Remind me to show them to you."
'The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories.'
One of the best parts of being a grandparent is sharing your family history and heritage with your grandkids. Grandkids like hearing stories about your life before they came along, especially if their parents are included.
Here are some fun ways for grandparents to share history with grandchildren.
1. Write a Book
There are many stories you can share in a book. The best way to prevent readers becoming overwhelmed is to focus on sharing a specific story with each book. It might be a book about your life up until today, or it might be a book about the family tree; maybe you could write about the comparison in your and your grandkids' schooling styles or technologies. It's up to you, and you don't have to do just one. You could write separate books such as "The Day You Were Born", "How Grandpa and I Got Married", and more.
Another fun way to write your family's history, your legacy, is to create a book of family recipes with information and anecdotes of special events, fun times together and even funny family quotes- wonderful memories of shared family mealtimes.
How about writing a family history book as a family legacy journal. A family journal serves a special purpose. It provides a more personal opportunity to journal about your life, your grandchildren, the quality time you spend with them and your family, faith and life lessons you've learned, and the ways you seek to build a legacy of faith for your kids.
If you sign up to Robin Grunder's newsletter, you can access her "Legacy of Faith Journaling PromptsTwenty-five Days to Writing Your Story of Faith." with prompts for writing your own legacy journal.
2. Make a Video
If you are more comfortable recording a video of the story, try that. You can usually record a video using the software right on your computer, tablet, or cell phone. You can then send it to them via email or via a private Facebook group, or share through file-sharing software like Google Drive or Dropbox. Again, stick to one story at a time to keep them short and to the point.
I really enjoy using the Animoto online program for creating videos. So much is provided for you: movie sizes and styles, backgrounds, transitions, background music. You can upload and use either photos or movie clips and add titles and quotes. It's a lot of fun. You can create a short movie with a free account or pay a bit extra for more features. Check out the most popular Animoto styles for home movies.
3. Make a Family Photo Album
A really great way to connect your grandchildren to their history is to create a family photo album that is accessible online. Arrange it by name, event, and by year. In this way, you may have duplicates, but it will be easier for them to find the photos they are interested in at that time.
MixBook do this really easily and well. Beautiful photo books become treasured keepsakes that are perfect to give as gifts or purely to grace your own coffee table or bookcase. It's pretty much straightforward but if you need more detailed instructions, check out this page.
4. Create a Family Calendar
A different idea to connect with family history is to create a family calendar with everyone's birth dates, death dates, wedding dates, and other important dates recorded for the past and the future. You might like to create your own calendar today with Google Calendar and Gmail.
Again, the other great option that I enjoy using is MixBook. It really is a great place to start when you're thinking about a family calendar. Their designs are amazing and the finished result is everything you'd want in a quality product. And.. it's really easy to use.
Start by choosing your calendar design (and there are heaps), then upload your photos (as feature images or to add to individual calendar dates) and then add details about important family days and dates to remember. Stickers can also be added as special highlights or decorative details.
Creating this type of personalised calendar is not only a wonderful tool, it’s a great way to connect as a family. You’ll all literally be “on the same page,” and you’ll come to rely on the family calendar.
If you decide to give copies as gifts, you’ll likely find that friends and family members will be delighted to discover and share those special family dates and memories– and you’ll realise that yet another meaningful family tradition has been created.
5. Create a Family Tree
It's interesting for kids and families to look at family trees and trace their origins. This can be harder depending on your situation if there are divorces, adoptions, and so forth, but it is a great way to show your grandchild where they fit in with the family history by looking at a family tree image. There is a lot of software now to help such as FamilyTreeBuilder or FamilyTreeMagazine.
And, there are free sites like FamilyTreeNow that will help you create a simple FamilyTree or sites that will create amazing depictions of your family ancestry like MyHeritage. Some of these sites will also encourage you to dig deeper into your family's past which is intriguing but generally involves a cost factor.
Just keep that in mind and decide beforehand whether you will stick with the free options or pay for more depth and information.
6. Create a family website
Although the thought of setting up a family website may initially sound really daunting, it's not as difficult as you might imagine. And... there are some really good reasons why this can be a wonderful way to remember, reflect and share your family history- family traditions, activities and memories.
Interested in using this tool to build and share your family's history? Take a few moments to read a bit more here about just how a website for your family can be a really meaningful tool.
But there are other ways to go about setting up a website for your family. An online/app family journal is a more simple option and it won't take much time at all to set up.
Don’t let the good times slip away: build memories that can be easily shared with an online/app family journal like Cozi to quickly capture and share stories and family photos. A Cozi calendar app can be shared with the whole family.
The included journal feature allows you to keep memories of vacations, holidays, perfect spelling tests, amazing soccer goals, and fabulous family trips. Take a few moments to check it out.
7. Plan Trips to Discover Your Heritage
This final suggestion is certainly a lot of fun but it may be more difficult financially to achieve. A fun way to talk about and discover history to share with grandchildren is to plan heritage-themed vacations and trips. For example, if your family comes from Ireland, why not travel where everyone came from? If your great-great-grandparents met in Paris during the war, go to Paris and walk on the same streets they did.
It certainly would be heaps of fun and an amazing way to share your family background and history. But it may take a lot of saving and planning. Still, it's certainly worth considering. And if the cost of travel is beyond you and your family, the internet provides amazing resources to access photos, maps, images and movie clips to share with your grandkids.
The more you can pass on family history to your grandchildren, the more connected your grandkids will feel to their heritage. Being connected to the past is a great way to ensure that the future is better than the past, and it can all happen through stories.
There are millions of people all over the world who would love to grow their own vegetables or have a small flock of chickens but feel they can’t because they have chronic health conditions that limit their mobility. It makes sense not to take on too much if you’re living with a long-term medical condition, but on the other hand, the benefits of gardening are immense, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might imagine.
Assessing your capabilities
The first step is to make a realistic assessment of what you’re capable of. This may be more complicated than you think because if you tend to spend most of your day resting and doing very little exercise, you won’t have the fitness levels that you could achieve.
Conversely, if you fight against your condition all the time in an effort not to let it govern your life, you’re probably so exhausted that the prospect of doing even more seems out of the question.
Numerous medical studies have proved that taking regular exercise is highly beneficial for people with chronic health problems, and that a lack of exercise inevitably makes symptoms worse. Arthritic joints seize up, blood flow becomes sluggish, you tend to put on weight, and stress levels increase. None of these effects is helping you manage your condition, but taking gentle, regular exercise each day improves blood flow, keeps you stronger and more supple, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and is great for reducing stress.
Gardening is a perfect form of exercise as it’s gentle and consistent, and you’ll enjoy the process so much it won’t even feel like exercise.
Many people with chronic health problems are on a reduced income because they aren’t able to work or have to work fewer hours or in less well-paid jobs than they’re capable of. Make sure that you’re receiving every benefit that you’re entitled to and taking advantage of concessions that are available to boost your income and make what you have go further.
You should also consider how you came to be in this position; would your state of health have been better if your healthcare provider had done more for you? Are you the victim of a medical misdiagnosis? If so, you could be entitled to compensation, which would be a great help in making your life more comfortable.
The best way to get going is to start small. A simple planter that you can sow with lettuce seeds is as good as anything, and you’ll soon find that the enjoyment of watching your seeds germinate and grow and harvesting fresh greens for the table is so rewarding you’ll be looking to add to your crops.
Planters and pots are ideal for people with chronic health problems, as there’s no heavy digging involved, no bending and stretching, and harvesting is easy.
There are many more gardeners aids you can use to make gardening easier, so have a look and see what’s available that could help you with your particular problems. The benefits of gardening are so many that it’s an activity you can be sure will improve your health and quality of life, so get started this spring.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.