Wednesday, March 18, 2020


I had to have a very difficult conversation with my mom yesterday.  She's 71.  She's a retail worker in a neighborhood store.  She's a friend, a wife, a mom, and probably her most beloved role, she's a grammy.

Most weeks, she drives out to our house (about 20 minutes away) and spends time with my sons, ages 5 and 7.  She plays WWE wrestlers with them.  She chases them around in our yard.  She walks them to the park.  She learns the names on all their Pokemon cards.  She reads books with them.  

She sneaks them extra treats like most grandparents do.  She lets them stay up later than they should.  She doesn't get mad when they break the rules.  

Together, they make slime with them and play board games.  They build Lego creations and have impromptu dance parties in the living room.  They have cereal for dinner.

My children cherish this time and can't wait to know when Grammy is coming to visit.  In turn, I know my mom looks forward to this time more than anything.  

My mom is active, but she is not always the picture of health.  She's in that over 70 age bracket that puts her in a vulnerable position, especially when it comes to my children and COVID19.  If it is possible that my kids could carry the virus and pass it onto her, then we could be putting her in danger.  

I can't do that.

I had to tell my mom that it was not a good idea for her to come out and see the kids for a little while.  I had to deny her the complete joy that I know she gets when she sees my boys.  While we believe that is the best way to proceed right now, it felt horrible, to say the least.

Since that conversation, I have been reflecting a lot about the grammies, nanas, paps, and poppas of the world.  While they are worried about their own health and wellness, they are also being separated from some of the people that they love the most.  Being with their grandkids brings them so much joy and often keeps them motivated to stay healthy.

How are you staying connected to grandparents and relatives in your family?  Here are some of the things that you can do while your kids are at home and separated from loved ones.

1. Facetime-- As you are figuring out your schedule for the "new normal" add in time to Facetime a grandparent or loved one each day.  Make that connection.  Revel in the smiles and check in with the people that matter.

Make this time meaningful for your kids and your family.  My boys are generating questions that they are going to ask Grammy when then talk to her today:

  • What do you like to do when you get bored at home?
  • Was school ever closed like this when you were little?
  • Do you have a favorite movie or TV show?
  • If you could safely travel anywhere right now, where would you go?
I'm planning to extend this idea as the days go on and have my kids interview my mom.  I'm thinking about all the generational things that my kids can learn from her, while also building a sense of family history.

  • Where did you go to school when you were my age?
  • Did you have a favorite subject? favorite teacher?
  • What activities did you like to do when you were little?
  • Did your family go on vacation when you were in elementary school? Where did you go?
  • What things do you remember doing with your grandparents? 

2.  Pen Pals--Keep your kids' minds sharp (and their older loved ones too) by writing letters to family members.  This can certainly be an email, but the idea of traditional letter writing allows kids to practice some academic skills at home, too.

Here are some things my boys are going to write (and draw):

  • My favorite thing to do with Grammy
  • The funniest thing Grammy ever did
  • What Grammy would do if she hit the lottery

3. "Play" Together--This is a challenge to do from a distance, but think creatively.  Create videos to share with one another.  Can grandparents share a magic trick or cooking tip with the kids?  Can the kids tell jokes or teach their grandparents how to code a robot? Send videos back and forth as another way to stay connected. 

I'm sure there are lots of other ideas that we can try, but my family is going to start here.  I will continue to post more ideas on how to stay connected.  We are going to do one thing each day to connect with the loved ones who feel so far away right now.  I know this will help my kids during this time of uncertainty, but it will also help my mom.  It will help all of the grandparents out there who are craving time with the little people in their lives.  What will you do stay safe and stay connected?

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