The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren is hard to deny. We love spending time with the grandkids and watching their little personalities develop. Or celebrating their milestones and introducing them to the sweeter side of life (hello, granny’s biscuit tin). All without the responsibility of raising them.
But, these days, many grandmas and grandpas are more involved in the day-to-day care of their grandchildren.
So, what exactly is the role of a modern-day nan and pa?
The evolving role of the modern grandparent is a hot topic of conversation. In New Age Nanas: Being a Grandmother in the 21st Century, the authors present the views of over 1,000 modern Australian grandmothers in easy-to-digest vignettes. They describe their day-to-day lives and share advice on managing their changing grandparent roles.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies notes grandparents have always played an essential role in family life. However, in recent decades, many have taken on increased responsibilities. Today, grandparents are often the primary providers of childcare for their preschool and school-aged grandchildren.
While spending time with the grandkids is special, juggling school pick-ups and drop-offs with your other commitments can be difficult. Not to mention zipping them to training, music lessons and other activities. And with retirement age pushing back, the juggle becomes harder for grandparents still working.
While there’s no one right way to manage your role in caring for the grandkids, building boundaries will help you find a better balance between work, caregiving and leisure time.
One tip is to let your family know your weekly plans in advance. That way, they'll work around you and not expect you to be available for last-minute childcare requests.
If you’re still working, be clear with your children about your work commitments and what you can and can’t be flexible about with your employer.
If you can’t care for your grandchildren on the requested day, could you help organise an alternative family member who is available each week? Or maybe there’s another time that suits everyone’s schedules.
When it comes time to take a break or go on that holiday you’ve been planning, make sure you give plenty of notice. You can’t put your life on permanent hold for regular childcare commitments, but letting people know in advance will make it easier to make other plans while you’re away.
Whatever you do to balance caring for your grandchildren with work and other commitments, remember to allow time for what you want to do outside of being a grandparent.
While the role of modern grandparents continues to evolve, one thing remains true. The bond between grandparents and grandchild is undeniably special.
And whether it’s days together in the school holidays or regular childcare, finding things to do together can be challenging.
That’s why we’ve come up with a sure-fire list of fun things to do with grandchildren to keep both the little ones and yourself entertained.
A day trip to a museum.
Whether you're a city dweller or live in a smaller pocket of Australia, there are historical museums in many towns. And it's a great learning experience for the littlies.
Hold a DIY cooking class.
You could create a special recipe book as a wonderful way to pass on family recipes through the generations. Or if they're older, book into a real cooking class.
Build a little boat.
Build a little toy boat together and take it to a local lake to try it out. If you don’t have a local lake, you could try a paper boat in the bath or sink. Search online for kits or tutorials.
Drop into your local op shop.
A fun and frugal shopping trip to pick up donated clothes and create a dress-up basket.
Build a herb garden together.
They'll love to watch the progress of their little plant babies, and you can use them later in your cooking.
Write a story as co-authors.
Jump on the computer and get them started with an exciting tale, then ask them to finish it. Who knows what they'll imagine!
Send them on a treasure hunt.
Hide 'treasure' around the yard and give them a basket to collect their bounty.
Netflix and popcorn.
Children's movies can be surprisingly witty if given a chance. Pop the popcorn, grab a few cushions and get comfy for a cosy night (or day) in.
Make cards or drawings for the family.
Kids love creating cards, drawing pictures and writing notes to their loved ones. Make a list of the people they can make one for, and lay out some paper, crayons and stickers.
Catch public transport.
Take the grandkids on a 'local tour' of your town. A ferry or tram ride is extra exciting if you live in a bigger city.
Have a pamper session.
Set up a hairdressing station with hair clips, bows and brushes and let them 'style your locks'. You'll have a good giggle seeing what they come up with. (Note: if you’re lacking in the hair department, try a make-up makeover instead.)
Backyard water play.
When the weather warms up, create a 'Seaworld' in your backyard. Pick up a few seashell pools and a slip 'n' slide from your local cheap shop and watch their faces light up.
While it can be a juggle to manage the balance between caring for the grandkids and all the other things in your life, the bond between grandparents and grandchildren is important. When you spend time creating memories with your grandchildren, you’re fostering a sense of love, wisdom and stability they will cherish forever.
Whether it’s sharing stories, passing on life lessons or doing some of the fun activities above, the time you spend with your grandkids provides an incredible way to help shape their lives and leave a lasting legacy of love that will endure for generations to come.
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