Sunday, March 28, 2010

You’ve Got Talent

I’m at a point in my life where I have some time to devote to doing things that I haven’t done in a long time; and my grandchildren are my main motivation for getting back into it. Since becoming a grandmother I have written 3 children’s stories; none of which have been published but they made it to my grandchildren’s bookshelf and that’s good enough for me - I have written countless poems and actually write each of my grandchildren a poem every year for their birthday; writing poems for them every year really makes me pay attention to what they are doing - and I have drawn portraits of both my grandchildren which are framed and hung in their bedrooms (which I am very happy about). Sometimes your talents get put on the back-burner, for whatever reason, or you just don’t realize that they can translate into something meaningful that you can do for (or with) your grandchildren.

Some ideas:
Crocheting, Knitting and Sewing: You can make finger or hand puppets, doll outfits, clothes for teddy bears and lots of other crafts - or you can teach your “talent” to your grandchildren.
Drawing: If you are comfortable with it, you can draw their portrait or something that they are interested in, but you can also teach and encourage them to draw. If you just "like to draw", you can have fun laughing at the drawings that don’t look anything like they should – and at the same time, help them develop their creative side!
Writing (Poems/Stories): There is a “free”, rhyming site that I find useful for writing poems. For childrens’ stories, start by writing about things that your grandchildren are interested in or something they do that is inspiring you to start writing. On a more serious note, write the story of your life – or blog about it, for easy access to your grandchildren.
Singing, Dancing or Playing an Instrument: Children love to listen to music, so singing to them or teaching them to dance or play an instrument, will keep them entertained. Put on a show together and entertain your family and friends.
Woodworking and Construction: The possibilities are endless if you are lucky enough to have this talent.
Baking: I know my children enjoy their grandmother’s baking (brownies, buns and those wonderful Christmas cookies), and that is something they will always remember - they don’t last a lifetime, but the memories do...

There are a lot more skills/talents that translate well to things you can do for, or with, your grandchildren and there are endless websites devoted to this topic, so start searching...

Spending time with your grandchildren doing something that everyone enjoys, or giving your children something that you’ve made for them, is something that will be treasured forever.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'll Be There!

How important is it that you stay connected with your grandchildren and attend special events that they are involved in (or events that are important to them)? As a grandparent, I think that my presence is very important and I don’t plan to miss too many events. There's nothing like the sound of your grandchildren yelling "Grannie, Grannie", as they jump into your arms to give you a big hug. I came across an article that talks about the importance of grandparents being a part of their grandchildren's lives “directly” and “indirectly”, and I think it would be worth your while to read.

Of course, there may come a time that I cannot attend some of their events, or physically be with them as much as I would like, but I plan to stay in touch "somehow", to show them that I care about what they are doing and to let them know how much I would have loved to be there if I could. A simple phone call or card goes a long way. As with some of you, I struggle with just what to say to them on the phone, but I realize that it doesn't have to be a long conversation, in fact, when your grandchildren are younger, “short and sweet” works best. As you know, younger children don't have a long attention span, so just a “Hi” and “What did you do today?”, then, of course, “I love you”, is enough. As your grandchildren get older, you can talk about things that they are interested in, so keeping in touch is key. My grandfather used to write me letters, in his shaky handwriting, to tell me what was going on in his life and to ask about mine. I treasure those letters to this day. I just know that if he was alive today, the Internet would have been a very important part of our lives, since we lived a few thousand miles apart. There are challenges with distance relationships, but in today's world, it is much easier to keep in touch.

It's so easy to lose touch with people, including your grandchildren, so don’t let that happen. I think it is important for your grandchildren to have as much love and support around them as possible – and we are an important part of their “family life”.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It wasn’t me, “I Swear”

For the most part, children learn to talk by listening to the language their family members are speaking. Therefore, they can’t be to blame if they sometimes say words that aren’t appropriate. Listen to the words you are using to show anger or frustration or, in some cases, the words you are using in your everyday language. “Think before you speak” when children are around because you never know what they will decide to repeat, and when. In certain situations, when they blurt out a "bad word" it sounds funny and it can be hard to hold back your laughter, but try not to make a big deal of it because if it comes out in a different situation, ie, at a library, in school or at church, for example, then it’s not quite so funny (and can be pretty embarrassing for everyone), so best to nip it in the bud right away.

A friend of mine used to say that when he was with his buddies (the boys), he could talk the way he wanted to, but if he was around women or children he did not swear, nor did he condone his friends doing it (and everyone complied). I think it’s a good rule to follow. At least if those words do slip out of your grandchildren’s mouth you can honestly say, “It wasn’t me, I don’t swear in front of children”!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

“Where’s My List?”

At work, I have checklists for everything! At home, however, I didn’t realize the value of having a checklist (or list) until I had grandchildren to take care of. When my grandchildren were younger, my daughter-in-law would obligingly write me a list every time I watched them. With a grandson who has cystic fibrosis, forgetting to do something isn't an option, but I wanted a list for my granddaughter too.

My list included:
medications for my grandson, but also any medications my granddaughter was taking, including how much and when to take them
food choices (for my grandson) but also if there was anything special my granddaughter liked (Kraft has some great food ideas for kids), how much formula to give and when, etc.
• what time are bedtimes and naptimes
...and anything else that I needed to know.
Sometimes my list was four pages long, other times it was one. The more information the better, in my opinion.

I would refer to my lists frequently, to make sure I was doing everything I needed to. Taking care of your grandchildren isn’t just about having fun with them (and knowing how to make them laugh), you are also “responsible for them,” and you need to know what you are doing. Having a list just makes it easier for you to concentrate on having fun and not worry about forgetting something.

The list isn’t just for you; it also helps your children feel comfortable knowing that you are referring to it and no one has to rely on their memory, which is a good thing, especially as we get older! Also, we may sometimes forget as grandparents, that parents are trying to keep their children “on a schedule,” so you should try to keep to the "usual routine" as much as possible. Now, you just have to remember to keep those glasses handy so you can read the list!! My daughter-in-law used to write in big black marker on top of the formula can, how much formula and water to use. It certainly worked for me!

Some things you can ask:
• do they need a soother (and where is it), bottle or sippy cup?
• what about potty training and naptime?
• do they sleep with a blankie or special toy?
These things change and most of us are not with our grandchildren 24/7, and sometimes the parents forget to tell us.