Sunday, April 25, 2010

NO, I don't want that!

Ah, it’s a frustrating and worrisome time when children decide they don’t want to eat. I know with my own children, there was a time when one of them liked meat, the other liked potatoes and the other liked vegetables, so at least I didn’t have to fix more than one meal to get everyone to eat! On the other hand, maybe you had children that ate everything on their plate and you can’t relate to grandchildren not eating what they are given.

Picky-eaters are something you may have to deal with if you are taking care of your grandchildren for an extended period of time. Of course, they may not be picky eaters at all, but maybe you’re not feeding them things they are used to, or at a time they are used to. If little Johnny is too tired to eat or has never eaten what you are trying to give him, you likely won’t get the result you are looking for even if you’ve prepared what you think is the “perfect meal”. It’s always a good idea to consult with the parents on what the children like to eat and to know if they are on somewhat of a schedule for snacks/meals (as well as nap and bedtimes). They know their children best. In the meantime, you could look up some new recipes using the guidelines that the parents have given you of what the children like to eat. It may not work out though, and that's where having an alternate (quick) meal plan in mind is a good idea, or just make sure you have extra vegetables and side dishes available that you know the children like. Who knows though, your new recipe could be their new "favourite food"! I know when my children were growing up, I would have welcomed any new food ideas to try...

I know children won’t starve just because they don’t eat everything they are given all the time, but it still is a worry when it happens! If you are really concerned, call the parents and ask them what to do, otherwise, just do your best and let the parents know if you think the children didn't eat as much as they should have. It may not be a concern for them at all...but on the other hand, it might be.

In my case, my grandson has cystic fibrosis, so he does have to eat something within a certain time-limit of taking his enzymes pills or it will cause stomach irritation, constipation, etc. but you can’t force-feed children or rush them; they will eat when they are ready.

I certainly remember it being a frustrating time in my life when my children wouldn’t eat very much, but things worked out and they eventually started eating a full meal by themselves...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Better Shape Up...!

I knew I wasn`t as active as I should be but I didn`t realize just how out of shape I was until the first time I had my grandchildren over after they started crawling. Being on the floor with them and running after them totally exhausted me! I needed to get in shape and soon if I was going to keep up with them as they grew older (and as I grew older). I immediately started a fitness program to get myself in shape, but I also learned I had to pace myself when I was with them; high energy games, running around, etc. when they first arrived and I saved the quieter games, etc. for later on in the day. I have a few examples of things that I do which I don`t find too hard on my poor old bones...and sometimes it works out that they are exerting more energy than me, which is fine with me...

• If you were going to plan a walk for yourself anyway, why not wait and take your grandchildren on a “Nature Walk” in your own backyard. Last weekend, I took my grandchildren for a walk in our backyard and I made a checklist of what I thought we might see , ie, trees, birds, rocks, etc., and I asked my granddaughter to mark an “X” in the box everytime we seen something on the list. Since she is just starting to write letters, she thought this was great. By the end of our walk, she was asking for the checklist saying she needed to put an "X" in the box and then she would say “check”. It was a great time, and we didn’t have to go far to enjoy the experience.
• We have a trampoline in our backyard in the summer. I don’t usually get in on the jumping fun (my bladder wouldn’t stand for it), but I definitely can sit and watch them enjoying themselves.
• Throwing a ball, or kicking and running after it. Either is fun and active.
• Get a hula hoop and let them go at it - and join in if you are able to.
• If they are signed up for swimming lessons, consider joining in. When they are younger sometimes they need a parent, or adult, with them, so if the parents don`t mind, maybe you could join in every now and then. On the other hand, you could take them to a swimming pool or wave pool when you have a chance. Be sure to take someone with you if you don't feel like you can handle it yourself. Their safety is first and foremost.

For those times when you just don’t have the energy, there are less physical things you can do like reading, watching movies, watching them do a play or puppet show, singing, colouring, or if you need to, get someone else to take over and tell them that you need a rest. You could promise them that you will run with them later, or better yet, tell them that Grandpy will ha ha Seriously though, you will want to be in better shape so that you can keep up with your active grandchildren. It will make your time together that much more special and a little less exhausting!

Being active is an important part of everyone's life, but for my grandson who has cystic fibrosis, physical activity is proven to be a real benefit to his well-being, so I also keep that in mind for him. The Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation holds many activities throughout the year which not only benefits the Foundation (and Research) it benefits the participants. To find out more about about the many activities and fundraisers that the Foundation organizes, please go to their website

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Even Steven

If you are constantly spoiling one grandchild over another (with gifts, or attention and affection), you need to stop, because you may inadvertently be causing a rivalry amongst your grandchildren as well as your children, and that likely isn’t your intention. Not to say you should feel guilty because you bought one grandchild an ice cream cone when you went to the store, or even a toy, but maybe think about tossing some money into a jar for each of your other grandchildren, or keep track of it and when you get to spend time with the other grandchildren take them out shopping with you and get them something - even if it is only an ice cream cone. On the other hand, if it is attention and affection that is not being shared equally, consider why that is. Are you trying your best to keep connected with each of your grandchildren? If distance is part of the problem, are you calling your grandchild or sending them a card when something special is happening in their life and you can't be there, or even sending a card when there is no reason?

Of course, it is possible that you get along with one grandchild over another because of personalities, age, gender, closeness of homes – but please keep in mind that your actions towards one grandchild over another could cause problems not just with your grandchildren, but for more generations of families than you think. If, you don’t get along with one of your children and decide to keep that riff going, that’s your decision, but don’t take that out on your grandchildren; they are innocent bystanders. In some cases, you might think that some of your children/grandchildren need more help than others, and that may be why you are spending more time with them, or money on them, but don’t take for granted that the others will know or understand your reasons. You may say that you don’t have to explain your actions, but when you don’t, people come to their own conclusions on why you are doing things for one and not the other (ie, you like the other person better), and resentment will follow...

My husband’s parents have always given equally to each of their grandchildren, in every way – which I think is terrific. On my family’s side, there definitely was no money to buy material things, but my mother gave her love and attention equally and unconditionally to all of her grandchildren. Even though I was out West when my children were growing up, when I did come home or they came to visit, I knew they loved my children just as much as the others just by the way they acted with them. Maybe you don’t have positive examples in your life, but it’s up to you to change things if that’s the case...

So, if you are thinking of buying that expensive gift for little Johnny or maybe you are attending functions for him and not the others, just think about whether it is going to cause problems if one of the other grandchildren finds out about it (and usually they do). If the answer is yes, then I would reconsider my actions - or try to figure out how you can make things fair for everyone.

It doesn’t take much to be a special grandparent, in fact, it takes something that is very easy, and not expensive, to give - your Love!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I’m No “Dr. PhilTM

We may be able to tell our children about grandma’s “cure for the hiccups” but they know everything else that there is to know about hiccups, all in the click of a button. Sometimes it’s scary to learn too much information on a subject though because before you know you could start believing that the hiccups is linked to a serious disease, whether it is in your situation or not.

I think you will agree that our children have more parenting information at their disposal than we ever did. I am sure if you searched the Internet for “parenting tips for a new mom”, you would get quite a few hits. I would have loved to have this available to me when I was a young mom. I had all my children out West, thousands of miles away from my family and friends, so having an anonymous person to ask all my “dumb questions” about parenting, would have been great. Our children also have the benefit of sites to keep in touch with other young parents and their friends, to vent about something that’s happened or to ask questions, and sometimes they are more comfortable with that. Children never seem to outgrow the fact that they don’t want their parents “telling them what to do”, so my advice is to not make advice-giving your priority. Your children may be feeling insecure about being a new parent (as you probably were), and if you are constantly telling them what to do, then you could make them feel even more insecure. On the other hand, they may think they know everything there is to know and don’t see the “easy solution” to a problem. Keep in mind that if they are seeing your advice-giving as criticism or meddling in their business, it can cause misunderstandings and relationship problems that never get resolved. You want to spend time with your children and grandchildren, and there usually is no reason to get involved in their lives to that extent. If asked for advice, give it, but otherwise, the best thing is just to not say anything. If, and when, they want your advice, they will ask for it, but it will more than likely be because they have exhausted all other avenues to get answers, which is fine. It’s no wonder they get confused about what to do sometimes with all the information they are reading and hearing, but that’s where we come in to support them and help them. We don’t know all the answers either, but we know what worked for us, although it’s probably a good idea to quote Dr. PhilTM when giving advice, to give yourself some credibility ha ha