Tips For Guiltless Grandparenting

Guiltless grandparenting starts with self-acceptance that most grandparents are trying to instill in their grandchildren.

So if you really want them to value themselves, you have to show them how by valuing yourself.

Here are ten grandparenting tips

1.  Break the guilt habit and stop should-ing yourself. Replace thoughts of “this is who I should be” with thoughts of “this is who I am.” Take the grandparenting journey with less stress and more fun. You don’t expect your grandchildren to be perfect. Why should you have to be?

2.  Practice saying ” No” sometimes. Grandkids actually appreciate the extra TV time, special snacks, and new toys when grandparents are not so predictable and dole out a little less often. And grandparents see that they are still loved when they are not a push over. Plus it causes less conflict between parents and grandparents that is a plus.

3. Don’t try to keep the grandkids entertained every minute.  Downtime is an opportunity for imagination so  don’t feel guilty if you take them with you to run errands or just leave them alone for a while to read and relax.

4. Play with the grandkids, don’t just supervise. Grandkids will remember all the laundry you did for them while they sat in front of the TV but they’ll never forget the time you went down the slide with them and neither will you.

5. Expect the best from life. Remember anticipatory anxiety does not help grandparents to be prepared for the big and small problems that come with grandparenting. It can add stress even before anything negative happens. Remember to say, positive prophecies instead of negative ones because the words we speak are self-fulfilling!

6. Stop over scheduling your time. Grandparents tend to forget to budget their time and energy and they can wear themselves out. If an emergency or another essential task arises it’s okay to cross something off your-to-do list before you add the new item.

7.  Don’t wait for permission to take care of yourself. Grandparents don’t have to make themselves so exhausted with al their chores and responsibilities that your children have to beg you to rest. That sets a bad example. Show them that you value yourself  and your time putting your feet up or taking time off to read a book. And if you can’t give yourself permission, then your kids do!

8. Treat your family the way you would treat your friends. Grandparents know who their friends are and they know what they are like. They don’t expect them to change overnight and they don’t take everything they say or do personally. They ask them questions, listen to their answers, and give them the benefit of doubt. Do the same with your family and you’ll be a great role model for your grandkids.

9. Be your own best friend. Be on your own side. Listen to yourself. Pat yourself on the back when you do well. Forgive yourself when you don’t. Grandparents teach this to their kids and grandkids now is the time to apply it to themselves.

10. Put yourself on your list of loved ones. Grandparents need to make themselves number one on their lists, they need to take care of themselves at least as well as they take care of their grandkids and everyone else. Watch your sleep, nutrition, and exercise and make sure you’re having fun too!

Grandparents make mistakes but that doesn’t mean they have to punish themselves, or think that everyone else is grandparenting so much better. They’re usually not! Some moments are memorable, some are forgettable, but remember grandparents are all on this journey together. It’s time for grandparents to let go of the guilt.

Teachable Moments

Ever since I read about “Teachable Moments” I’ve believed they’re the easiest and most enjoyable way to teach a child anything. And grandparents, have more teachable moments with their grandchildren, than even their parents do, because they have the time and the desire to pass on snippets of information.

Grandparents like to take advantage of every opportunity to explain something to your grandchildren it might be an idea, how something works, why something is important, how we do things, and answer to a question, pointing out something interesting a new word, a new sensation, a new feeling.

A teachable moment arises out of an ordinary everyday activity or situation where you feel that there’s an opportunity to explain something. Unsurprisingly children love those moments. The setting is informal, it doesn’t feel like teaching, and best of all its piecemeal, which is how children learn anyway. It’s appealing to a chid because a teachable moment has it own logic. Here are some teachable moments that I’ve experienced with my children when they were growing up or even more recently with my grandchildren.

  • You’re “Gardening” together and you see a worm. You can talk about how worms aerate the soil and turn it over (as worm casts), and how a worm  has no eyes because it’s always in the dark.
  • You’re crossing a street with traffic lights. Hers’s a good opportunity to talk about the light sequence and how RED means STOP and Green means Go. Extend this to talking about how you should look left, then right, then left again, then cross.
  • It’s bath time, and as your grandchild gets into the bath the water rises, then when she stands up, the level drops. You explain why and you could mention Archimedes and “Eureka”. You explain how some things float and some things sink.
  • You use a word that might be difficult for a toddler or young child to understand, for instance, words such as recognize, reflection (in the mirror), camouflage and immediately explain what it means and give examples of how to use it.
  • Use every opportunity to explain a concept this is hard, but this is soft; a cat meows but a dog barks; birds fly and so do airplanes.

You are an expert as a grandparent, because of your experiences, the life you’ve led, and your range of interests and hobbies, you can stimulate your grandchild in a way that a parent can’t. Your grandchildren will learn very easily from you, and I’m sure that. like me, you will get huge satisfaction from the hours you spend playing and learning together.

You have a caring interest in him or her, which they can sense because it makes them feel special, the perfect setting for new games and skills. You have the time to play until your grandchildren get bored. You take obvious delight in their tiniest achievement and make them feel confident. Nothing is too much trouble for you so games can extend his concentration and foster his curiosity.

You are endlessly patient and show him how to try, try, try again until he succeeds, and then praise them. You love him them enough to let them fail on their way to their success’. Remember to let your children and grandchildren fail instead of trying to rescue them from failure all the time.

Take a moment and think about a time that you failed and turned that failure into a success. Would you have conquered it if your parents, teachers, mentors, or grandparents had rescued you out of it? I remember when my son was learning to ride a bike I can’t tell you how many times he fell down and we just ignored him and he got right back up on that bike and finally mastered riding it. Later in life when he learned to drive a motorcycle there was no room for failing.  He had to do it right the first time and he did.

I remember when I started playing baseball at first I couldn’t hit the ball and my teams mates were not happy about that. But I can tell you no one told the couch to rescue me or even how to handle it. All my mom said, was you’ll figure it out just pay more attention to the way you are holding the bat. I kept trying and then one day I hit a home run. It’s good thing too because girls didn’t play baseball back then. Enjoy all those teachable moments and let the kids learn to turn their failures into success’.

Mom Knows Everything

Last summer I was performing one of my favorite grandmotherly duties, which is spoiling my grandson’s rotten!

 Their names are Jeremy and Jesse. This particular time we were eating ice cream on a hot summer day. It was a special treat, and they were enjoying it thoroughly.

 Suddenly, Jeremy scrunched up his little five-year-old face and started pounding his forehead with the palm of his hand. “Jeremy, what are you doing?” I wanted to know. “I’ve got brain freeze!” he wailed.

It was obvious that he had experienced brain freeze before, since he knew exactly how to identify it. I smiled on the inside, and jumped up to pour him a glass of water hoping that it would ease the freeze. Then he asked me a question that stumped me. “Why did God make brain freeze when it hurts so bad?”  “Well, ummmm…well,” I stammered in response.

How on earth do you explain the problem of pain and suffering to a five-year-old? Do you go back to the Garden of Eden and explain how perfect things were before Adam and Eve took a bite out of forbidden fruit? (You don’t dare identify it as an apple when you’re talking to a five-year-old, or he might never eat another one again.)

 And if you start your answer with an explanation of Adam and Eve in the perfect paradise, then the next time your grandchild comes over, he’s going to want you to take him to the Garden of Eden to play. And he’s going to want to know, “Is it kind of like Disney World?”

And when you explain that it didn’t have any rides or pirate shows, he’ll wonder why on earth God wasted his time building it and why wasn’t there a pirate ship there?  I realized that I could try a different approach to explain how only Gods knows why but all my possible answers were triggering red flags.

Then as I sat there stumped, I realized that Jeremy wasn’t the only one with brain freeze. I was suffering a terrible case of it myself!  Even though I had answered this question many times throughout the years. I couldn’t come up with an appropriate explanation for a five-year old to save my life!

 Finally as he stared at me, waiting for my response, I replied, “Hey, that’s a great question, Jeremy. We’ll have to ask God when we get to heaven.” “Okay,” he replied.

Then he said or we can wait until my mom comes home and ask her cause she knows everything. I said, that’s a great idea Jeremy! 

 He finished scraping the bottom of his dessert dish, took one last sip of water, and jumped down from his seat. He ran to play cars with his brother, his brain was sufficiently thawed and so was mine.

 Apparently, it seems the best answers are the simple ones. By the time his mom came home we forgot all about the brain freeze.

Chose Your Own Grandparenting Style

 The Power of Myths reminds me of the classic children’s storyLittle Red Riding Hood” it has almost all the main features of one stereotyped image of a grandparent.

Once upon a time, at the edge of a large forest there stood a tiny cottage almost hidden by the trees. In it a little girl lived with her mother. The little girl could often be seen in her hood and red  cape flitting among the tall trees. Her grandmother had made the hood and cape for her and because the little girl always wore them, she was called Little Red Ridding Hood.

Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is old and feeble, caring and gift-giving, and lives within convenient walking distance (wolves not with standing) of her granddaughter. There are probably some grandparents who fit this image. There are probably even more who wish they matched some parts of it. But in today’s world, many grandparents are neither old nor feeble.

They don’t eat chocolate cake or drink creamy milk especially when they’re sick. Their lives are not focused on their grandchildren but on their jobs, friends and social activities. Oh! We can’t forget that some of us can end up spending all day trying to figure out how to use our latest techie devices.

 Often they don’t live on the other side of the woods but on the other side of the country, on another continent, or at least somewhere where the winters are milder and the weather is sunnier. However grandparents are enjoying their beach cottages and mountain cabins. Aren’t they?

 One morning Little Red Riding Hood’s mother packed a basket full of homemade  goodies that included a chocolate cake, a jar of strawberry jam and a bottle of creamy milk. She told Little Red Ridding Hood to take this basket to your grandmother because she was sick in bed and this food will do her good and it will make her happy. I would’ve preferred a cup of tea and a piece of toast myself. 

My friends and I didn’t realize how powerful myths could be until we became a grandparents. We have discovered that when it comes to the topic of family life how surprised we were to see how many people are still clinging to idealized images from the past.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with having romantic and nostalgic ideas but if we walk around feeling that our lives are only second best because things were once better it can sap all our strength. And if we invest our energy trying to live the way we imagine people used to live we’re bound to be disappointed.

Grandparents are living longer that in the first half of the century, the grandparenting phase might last two or three decades or more.

 In short, grandparenting has developed as an independent role in the family cycle and often extends as long or longer than parenting.

Here are a few questions grandparents can ask themselves when choosing their grandparenting style.

What kinds of things to you enjoy doing? What special skills do you have?  How much time do you have available and how much do I want to spend grandparenting? What are your children’s and grandchildren’s needs? What religious and ethnic traditions do you want to pass on to your grandchildren? 

Keep in mind there is still no set definitions of what makes you a good grandparent any more that whats makes a good grandchild. The consensus about what makes us good grandparents makes it easier for each of us to reinvent grandparenting in own style and enjoy our roles.

The Golden Princess

Baby Boomers are cruising to places like Alaska, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia, and Italy and where ever the cruise ships will take them.

My friend Ruby‘s nick name is the “Golden Princess.” Ruby announced to her family and friends that she has decided to go on a Princess cruise instead of going to a nursing home. When we asked her why? She quickly answered, “It’s better than a nursing home and cheaper too!

She went on to explain to me that a nursing home costs about 200 dollars per day. The cost aboard a Princess cruise? About 145 dollars per day(with senior-citizen discounts). Add 10 dollars per day for gratuitous, and you’re still ahead! Make that 15 dollars and the staff will be begging to treat you like a queen!

She considered these amenities:

1. Ten great meals a day (the last one at midnight even has an ice sculpture!). If you can’t make it to one of the great dinning rooms, you can order room service and have breakfast in bed every day of the week.

2. Free toothpaste, razors, soap, and shampoo.

3. TV repaired, lightbulbs changed, mattress replaced. Energetic young men and women will fix anything and everything and apologize for your inconvenience.

4. Free sheets and towels every day without asking.

5. Free housekeeping and friendly folks come in each day to clean the bathroom, make the bed, and vacuüm.

6. Three swimming pools, a work out room, free washers and dryers, all without maintenance fees or other costs.

7. Floor shows and other entertainment available every night.

8. The opportunity to meet new and interesting people every seven to fourteen days.

9. Treated like a customer, and not a patient. “Yes, ma’am! “Of course, ma’am!” Will there be anything else, ma’am?”

10.The opportunity to travel the seas and visit exotic places.

Like most baby boomers I’ve given serious thought about the golden years. I have decided that becoming a “Golden Princess” on a cruise ship is the most appealing way to go. 

A Poem Called Grandma Wings

This is a poem called ” Grandma Wings” author unknown. The other day when I read it I started to image what it would be like if grandmothers really had Grandma Wings. I hope that you enjoy reading this poem and my thoughts about it.

“GRANDMA WINGS AUTHOR UNKNOWN”

 I wonder where you keep your wings? Are they in your closet, with the rest of your stuff?  Do you put them away, and just use them at night?  Do give them to grandpa to polish up bright? I know you have wings, for this is true. Because God, always gives them to Angles like you!  I wish that I had a pair of wings. That would be awesome. Wouldn’t it?

Can you image?  The places we could go if you had angel wings? If I had angel wings, I would go to the heaven’s. I would ride with my grandkids grandpa, on his heavenly motorcycle. What would you do?

 We know that angels exist. We know God uses them, to send his messages and the angles meet among us. The holy angels never draw attention to them-selves. They typically do their work and disappear. We are told, that these heavenly beings are invisible. Being created by God for his service. They are mentioned 294 times, in more than half the Biblical books. The books record the activities of angels as serving as warriors, guardians,delivers, messengers, instruments of praise. It’s awesome, to read that grandmothers have a lot in common with angles? Isn’t it?

Kids Say The Darndest Things…

Kids PlayingKids Say the Darndest Things” was a segment on a television show called House PartyArt  Linkletter was the host on CBS radio and television for many years and his interviews were never scripted, the kids said what they really thought. It could have been called “Straight Talk.”  One thing we can count on is that children are still saying the darndest things and they never stop surprising us. Do they? Sometime you just have to wonder how do they come up with some of the questions they ask us grandparents. Don’t we?  Like for instance a few years ago a friend was telling me about a conversation she had the night before with her four-year old grandson while they where watching Cat In The Hat together.

He looked into her eyes and said, Nana you have lines on your face. Then she said, I’m an old person with old skin. You’re a little person, and you have young skin. She figured that was the end of the conversation but then to her surprise he said, Nana when are you going to get them fixed?  My other Nana is old, and she doesn’t have lines on her face.  Wow! He sure is lucky that his Nana has a good sense of humor. Isn’t he?  As she was sharing her experience with me, we laughed at how unexpected his response was. Then I couldn’t help but wonder. How would have Art Linkletter or Billy Crosby reacted if they had that same conversation with a four-year old boy? I can only image the audience laughing because he is such an adorable little boy and enjoys making everyone he meets laugh. This goes to show that grandparents need to remember kids say the darndest things and to keep a good sense of humor.