Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
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Thursday, July 16, 2015
|Photo via Deseret News/istock|
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Summertime for our family often includes a lot more grandparent time. My parents live nearby and my husband’s parents live five hours away. We love visiting with all of them and especially watching our children develop wonderful traditions and memories with their grandparents. However, sometimes it can be hard for the two generations to connect! Different personalities, ages, and interests can make it hard for kids and grandparents to find things to talk about.
There is a great movie called Parental Guidance that really highlights (with a lot of comedic license) some of these differences between generations. In this movie, the parents come to their daughters house to watch their grandchildren while she and her husband are out of town. These grandparents don’t visit often and as they look at photos on the mantle they see several examples of the grandkids having a ball with the husband’s parents. Then, shoved in the corner behind those photos they find one tiny picture of themselves. The grandmother looks at her husband concerned and says, “You know what we are? We’re the OTHER grandparents!” To which her husband comedically responds, “Well, we can’t be all 4.”
While I realize this movie is a bit extreme, I don’t want there to be “other grandparents” in our family. I want my children to love and connect with all of their grandparents and really get to know them.
Here are 5 ways that have helped our family encourage a little more togetherness between grandparent and grandchild:
1) Come Prepared
Some grandparents really don’t know how to interact with children which is something I remember from when I was little. Recently we posed a related question on our Facebook page and many of our readers commented similarly. To help set everyone up for success in this area we like to bring things with us that help initiate those conversations and moments. These are simple things like books, puzzles, board games, movies, etc. Grandparents and children want to connect but sometimes they just don’t know where to start. Have your child bring a stack of their favorite picture books and encourage them to ask grandma or grandpa to read to them. Call everyone to the table for a round of a favorite game. Nothing is more fun to me than seeing all of us around the table from the 6 year old to the 70 year old taking turns bumping people out in a rousing game of “Sorry.”
2) Teachable Moments
Grandparents are a wealth of knowledge and skills so why not take advantage! Have your children ask their grandparents about their hobbies and talents. What did they like to do when they were younger? What do they like to do now? Is there something they enjoy that they could teach each other? My daughter has had a long running obsession with all things baking. My husband’s mother is a wonderful baker and many times when we go to visit they will make cookies together. It is something they both enjoy and my daughter has been able to practice her baking skills and learn from her grandmother.
3) Get Outside
I have found over the years that the dynamic changes significantly when we leave the house with the grandparents. We have gone to many places including museums, hiking, theme parks, the library, and the beach. Going somewhere as simple as the neighborhood park brings out a different side of the grandparent/child relationship. Even grandparents who are a bit more serious can be found laughing and acting a bit silly when their grandchild asks them to go down the slide or ride the tea cups. One of my children's favorite outings is a special day at Disneyland with their grandmothers. We only do this once every few years but it is so fun to watch the children take the lead and the grandmas play right along with them.
4) Do as They’re Doing
When we are visiting it can be nice to let the grandparents take the lead and follow what they’re doing. On our Facebook discussion someone commented that they would sit with their grandparents while they watched their favorite television show. Relationships are about compromise and give and take and I think this is a great way to teach that. I was thinking about this when we went on a trip recently to visit my husband’s parents and really wanted to do something my father-in-law would enjoy. We decided to ask him ahead of time to plan a small simple hike that we could go on together. He is very active and enjoys going for long walks and hikes which is something we don’t often do. He chose a good place to go near the house and even had little notepads and pencils for the kids so they could take notes of things they saw. He pointed out the different vegetation to them (who knew there were so many different types of cactus?) as well as animals they saw or heard along the way. Grandpa was in his element and although there was a bit of complaining here and there from my youngest we all had a great time.
5) Stay Connected
We have spent most of the past 10 years living far from our parents and visits only happened once a year. When they would come the kids would spend the first couple days getting reacquainted only to have them go home a few days later. My husband and I would sometimes refer to them as “visiting grandparents” because that’s how it felt. Then, shortly after one particular visit from my husband’s parents two letters arrived in the mail. Grandpa had written one to each of our children not only saying what fun he had while visiting but asking them questions and even included a few photos. They were excited to write back (or draw at the time since they were quite young). This went on for almost a year and now that I think about it we should bring it back!
With phones, email, skype, and yes, even snail mail there is no reason we can’t stay connected in between visits. Maybe your kids could write letters to their grandparents and get the ball rolling? Did you go anywhere recently as a family that would be fun to write about? If the grandparents in your life live close by invite them to participate in family activities! My parents enjoy coming to dance recitals, school performances, and of course holiday events. They won’t always be able to attend but let them know you’re thinking about them.
Grandparents are wonderful and the grandparent/child relationship is a special one. I treasure the memories I have of my grandparents who have passed on and love visiting with my grandmother who is still here. Spending time with them and getting to know who they are has influenced me in so many ways, to the point that I named my first child after one of them. I hope my children will be able to say the same about their grandparents.
Question: What ways have your children connected with their grandparents? What would you add to this list?
Challenge: Pick one idea from this list and plan for it this week. If your grandparents live far away perhaps write them a letter. If they live nearby maybe plan a trip to the park. Keep those connections going!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Mom time. Alone time. Me time. Whatever you call it, we need it! Everyone needs a break no matter who they are.
For those of you who are deep in the "mom trenches" and are happy to just get 2 minutes alone in the bathroom, let's review what me time looks like.
This time is rejuvenating and encouraging. You feel renewed and refreshed after having me time. It includes anything from reading a book you love for 10 minutes, good for a long run, all the way up to a vacation.
Me time will vary for each person and what works for one might not work for another. Case in point: I tried joining a running group with my friends one summer because they said it was so much fun. It probably is, if you like running.
Just like family time, me time is less about quantity and more about quality. I love a good television show and that can be a good me time activity. However, binge watching Downtown Abbey probably loses it's rejuvenating effect after a while.
So how do we get it? Some moms have no problem finding time in their day for me time. What is their secret? I have finally figured it out and it rocked my world. You ready?
"No one is going to give you me time."
That's it! That's their secret. The person who makes time for you is YOU! Of course we have spouses and friends who can be great supporters of me time and help us make time. In the end, however, it really is up to you.
For years I thought "why doesn't my husband see that I've had a long day and I just need a few minutes to myself." A friend and I were talking about "those days" a few years ago and she said something I'll never forget. She said if it had been a particularly trying day and she needed some me time she welcomed her husband home from work with a hug and simply said, "I'm going to go for a bike ride." Occasionally bike ride was swapped out for a walk or Target but you get the idea. She recognized she needed some rejuvenation so SHE made the time.
Some wonderful moms I know have said they feel guilty or selfish taking time for themselves. These sweet mothers are so dedicated to their families, which is beautiful, but it often comes at their own expense. If you can relate to this let me say: You are allowed to take care of yourself too!
There is that old saying "When mom isn't happy no one is." It's kind of a trite saying but there is some truth to it. When one of my kids is grumpy or not themselves it affects everyone around them. So it is with us. When we take that time for ourselves we are more centered mentally, spiritually, and physically and we have more to give!
So moms of the world, make the time and take the time! Make a list of activities of varying lengths that would rejuvenate you and keep it somewhere you look often. Then when the baby is napping, the kids are happily playing, everyone is at school, or you have a few moments after bedtime stories and goodnight kisses you will be ready to relax and rejuvenate with a little "me time."
Monday, March 30, 2015
After leaving home at the age of 17 for college out of state I haven't been geographically close to my family. And by close I mean the closest we ever lived was a good 7 hour drive.
For the last year and a half we have lived an hour away from my folks and I've got to say, I don't hate it.
In fact, I kind of love it.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
You know that friend, the one who is so amazing and smart and beautiful...and has the incredible talent of making everyone else around them feel that way amazing and smart and beautiful too? Yes? Well I got to spend time with one of those friends today as well as another amazing gal and it was wonderful. A great event, a picnic in the sunshine, good conversation, and she even threw in the best shoulder rub I've had in a long time.
Only "problem" with such a friend is that you feel so inspired and rejuvenated when you are around them that you feel like you can conquer the world! So now I have all these ideas and inspiration for my family and my blog and my work at Power of Moms and...well, my whole life. But I guess that's a good problem to have.
In the words of one of my favorite movies, "So much time and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it." (Virtual high five if you can name that reference)