As a grandparent, you have you own life to lead. That’s why, when it comes to grandparenting, you want the gestures you do have time to make, be memorable and appreciated. Here are 5 ways to stand out as the grandparent everyone wants to have in their lives.
1. Signal ahead
Parents are busy, and they often plan weeks (if not months) in advance in order to keep the family show on the road. Join them in their planning by signalling as far ahead as possible, with an email or a written note, when you will and won’t be available (passing this information on verbally just creates another job for Mum or Dad, as they then have to note it down or try to remember it). Of course, no-one is making you stick to your schedule, but the more you can, the more your family can depend on you. Remember to update your signals regularly (popping a note on your calender can remind you to do this).
2. Download the school calendar(s)
If you don’t know what’s happening in your grandchildren’s school lives, you won’t be able to plan ahead to support them, or to fill in for Mum or Dad when they can’t make it to an event. School calendars are often publicly available on a school’s website (if not, request them from your grandchildren’s parents). Individual classroom calenders are another reminder it’s good to have, so be sure to request these from Mum and Dad, too. Look through the calendars ahead of time, and check with parents if there are specific events where you can be of help (baking for a school camp or offering to be a ‘parent’ helper on an outing are both generous gestures which will be appreciated).
3. Be the co-ordinator
Family connections are important, but in today’s busy world, the opportunity for extended family get-togethers can easily be missed. More often than not, this is simply because getting everyone together at the same time takes a great deal of planning and patience. The grandparent who puts up their hand to co-ordinate family gatherings is nothing short of a hero! If you decide to take on this challenging task, be sure to get started at least 1-2 months in advance (any longer and the event may drop off family calenders). Never be pushy, and exhibit endless patience as you work around not only parent, but child commitments. If you manage to get 70% of aunts, uncles and cousins together at one time, consider your planning a success!
4. You be the host
Extended family meet-ups often fail to happen because no one wants to put up their hand to be the venue. But when Gran or Grandad offer to host the event, suddenly everything becomes a whole lot easier. Being the host, however, doesn’t mean you need to provide the venue or the menu. Stake out a few parks or seaside picnic spots with undercover space, should the weather turn wet, or set up a gazebo on your lawn and restrict access to the house to all but the toilet and bathroom. Above all, make the menu simple by restricting it to barbecue food or takeaways (you can take a hat around at the time to help with the cost). You’ll be surprised by how grateful family are to you for your simple gestures.
5. Snap happy
Memories can be relived when they are captured in photos, but not only is taking the shots hard work, it’s also quite a call to get round to sharing the pics with the rellies. Grandparents who take on this role will be remembered with gratitude. To make it easy for yourself, group all family emails together under one heading, and send out the snaps in one one big bundle. Do it as soon as you can after an event, and remember to keep copies on your own device so when busy parents (who haven’t filed the photos) come looking for them, you have them on hand.
Grandparents who reliably take on these important roles, will be viewed by their families as absolute treasures!