I am blessed with two grandchildren–Lauren who turned 3 in August and Sean who is 7+ months old. My son and his wife are wonderful parents.
How they juggle so well the demands of both working full-time and raising two children is beyond me. In addition, Allison is not only working full time but is getting her 2nd Masters degree and goes to school one or two evenings a week and has to also find time to study and write papers. T
heir marriage is a true team effort. On the nights that she has to stay after work for class, my son picks the children up from day care; feeds them and gets them to bed. (He says he is not going to get a Masters degree but he is getting a PhD in Support and to that, I say AMEN.)
I am proud of both of them.
They spend every non-working second they have with Sean and Lauren and all their friends seem to have the same mind-set. They take the children to parties at friends’ homes and out to dinner with them. It is a good thing for them and for the children.
However, it is not such a good thing for me (aka Nana) as my opportunities for babysitting are very limited. And I do not feel comfortable just “dropping in” for 30 or 60 minutes over a weekend to play with and/or hug the kids as I feel it is disruptive to their weekend routines. (I need to go on record quickly and say they have never implied this…. but this is how I feel.)
So, what’s Nana to do?
In August of 2011 when Lauren turned 2, I began spending one week-day a month with Lauren. We call it “Nana Day”. She does not go to school/daycare on Nana Day. I get to spend time with her without infringing on her parents’ time. It is win-win for all.
I pick her up at 8 AM and return her around 6 PM. Our day starts with breakfast out and the location varies… Wafflehouse…IHop…Sugarcakes…Douceur de France….etc. The activities are determined by weather and time of year…going to the park… playing at the playground … perhaps lunch or dinner out also…..Chattahoochee Nature Center…throwing rocks in the river or the pond at the park…. watching the ducks swim……baking cookies …..making a craft to take home….playing games…swimming at the pool and having a picnic lunch….. reading …..buying Nana’s Christmas Tree.. working puzzles, and of course, the all important nap.
I have discovered that Nap time is critical. Not critical for her necessarily but critical for me. She may not want her nap (but she always goes to sleep quickly ..most of the time) but NANA HAS TO HAVE A NAP. So, Lauren takes her nap in my bedroom and I crash on the sofa.
I am always looking for something for us to do and for a way to create not only memories but traditions. I have a container that I put Pin-Wheels in and set out when she comes (all my neighbors know that means I am having a Nana day!).
Lauren loves to blow the pinwheels. I put paper Butterflies next to the walkway to my front door; she has to ring my wind chimes before she comes in.
Over this past year I made “The City” for her. It consists of a board and I have made stores and the like for her to put on the city. As she cannot read, the stores have pictures on them such as Brewster’s Ice Cream and Chick-fil-A. We have wood peg people that are her mommy, daddy and baby Sean as well as cars.
We have a zoo that is on another table and the Georgia Aquarium and then we “drive” the cars to the beach–which is blue foam paper tucked under the map inside my front door area. I keep the various pieces/buildings in wicker baskets and she puts them out as she sees fit. We play imaginary games with the people and move them all around “The City”. It is a bit “off the wall” and funky but we have good time playing our pretend games.
I am now trying to determine how to create Nana time with Sean until he is of the age where Nana days would be of benefit. I have some ideas in mind and hope to put them into play into 2013.
I am not foolish enough to think that Lauren or Sean will ever remember all the silly things I try to do and the time I spend with them but I truly believe that the small seeds of love that I plant will create echoes and memories in their minds.
So, here’s to the joys that come from the small and very ordinary moments of one-on-one time with grandchildren…….and to the love that comes from such moments.