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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
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Quality Time With the Grandchildren

     By Jene Hedden and Paula Moore Hurtt

      “Quality Time” is a modern day catch phrase most of us understand as making the most of the limited time we may have with loved ones.  

       All our modern day conveniences and technology were supposed to give us lives of leisure, but parents, grandparents and children seem to be busier than ever. 

     That’s why we need to really make a concerted effort to spend time with our grandchildren when we can focus on them and our relationships with them. 

Changing Times

     Back in the day…as the grand-kids would say…time together was a given. Grandparents lived close by if not on the same property. The whole family worked together to grow, harvest and preserve the food, take care of the farm animals and care for the homestead. The generations depended on one another for the everyday needs of life and sometimes even for survival. So grandparents were a part of the grand-kids’ daily lives and opportunities for passing on traditions, moral guidance and life lessons were frequent and expected. 

     When, in our parents’ generation, moms began to go to work during and after the war, grandmothers were the go-to baby sitters and grandfathers took up the slack at home when fathers went off to war. Although they may not have shared living arrangements on the family farm, grandparents and other family members pulled together and supported each other. In those tough times, grandparents continued to be a major influence on their grandchildren as they spent time with them and depended on them. 

     Now, it’s our turn to be grandparents. But, for many of us, getting time with the grand-kids can be tough. Not only are they busy with their school, club, sports and church activities, but due to better health care and changing social norms, we are more active than any grandparents before us. Grandma is more likely to be attending a yoga class than sitting in a rocking chair knitting. Grandpa is on the golf course. And they both may be off in a travel trailer or a cruise ship or spending the cold months in warmer climes. 

Finding Opportunities for Connection

     Here are a few tips for connecting and spending quality time with your grandchildren.  

·        First, talk to your children. Make sure your son, daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law are on the same page regarding time you want to spend with your grandchildren. Your son may be perfectly comfortable with you taking your grand-kids to the lake…while your daughter-in-law may be leery of the idea. Make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding what you may or may not do with the grandchildren, how long they can be away from home, what sort of entertainment you can offer and so forth. Having a family meeting ahead of time can avoid misunderstandings and problems down the road.


·        Look at your grandchildren’s activities and see which ones you can join or attend. Offer to take them to their soccer games or dance classes. Spend time before and after the activity talking together or having lunch. Use the time to share stories about your own activities as a child and the lessons you learned that may be useful to them.


·        Look at your activities and see which ones your grandchild can join. If you enjoy gardening, invite your grandchild to join you. If you enjoy movies, take a weekly trip to the library to check out a movie you will both enjoy. If you enjoy hiking or just walking, take your grandchild along with you and walk at his/her pace. You can always adjust your activities to include your grandchild in some way.


·        Create a particular activity or tradition that you always do with your grandchild at every visit. Whether it is reading a favorite book, baking cookies, taking a walk in the woods, looking at old family pictures or working on a project that he/she can have as a keep-sake, such as a quilt or scrap book…repeating a favorite activity at every visit will create lasting memories for your grandchildren.


·        Turn off the electronics. Better yet, don’t turn them on in the first place. According to some recent research, children spend as much as 8 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort. For teens, it can be as much as 11 hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics is so concerned about these statistics that they have recommended pediatricians ask the following questions at every well-child visit: “How much screen time does your child consume daily?” and “Is there a TV or internet connected device in your child’s bedroom?”


     What happens in your grand-kids’ home is between their parents and them, but grandparents have the option of making their grandchild’s visit electronics free or at least reduced. 
The best way to go about this is to turn all electronics off before the grandchildren arrive and declare your home an electronics-free zone. We all know the hypnotic pull electronic devices have on us and our grandchildren once they are turned on. So, unplug before they arrive. Then have activities planned to keep them busy…preferably outdoors. By the way, this means we grandparents must also unplug during their visit…no sneaking a look at our facebook pages.


·        Be intentional about passing on family traditions and stories. 
We are the repositories of the family history. A  knowledge of the family’s history is an important indicator of a child’s sense of himself and his self-esteem. (See our article
The Surprising Impact of Your Family Story.

     Every visit with your grandchild presents an opportunity for telling your family story.
Including a family heirloom will bring even more impact to the story. If there are items you intend to pass on to your grandchildren, don’t wait until you’re gone. Present the item to him or her during the visit and tell the story behind it. Explain why it is important to you, who owned it, where it was obtained, who made it and so on. 

·        In the same vein, use your time with your grandchildren to show them their “roots.” Visit the old home place or family farm. Travel to the town where your parents and grandparents were born, go to the courthouse and look up their birth records and land purchases. This will make them more real to your grandchildren. Visit cemeteries where their ancestors are buried which often are located at the churches they attended. Visit the towns where your parents and grandparents grew up, walk the streets, then find a place for lunch and talk about what it was like growing up or visiting there.


·        Finally, take advantage of the opportunities all around us for shared experiences. Visit museums and historical sites together, attend movies together, visit the local water park or amusement park together, visit a petting zoo or pick-your-own farm together. Take an arts or crafts class together. Memories are made when experiences are shared. Following are 25 ideas for creating shared memories. If you have some favorite grandparent/grandchild activities you’d like to share…let us know by visiting our contact page, and we’ll share them on the site.


1.      Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary and Audubon Center, Frankfort, Ky.

2.      Kentucky History Museum, Frankfort, Ky.

3.      Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville, Ky.

4.      Salato Wildlife Center, Frankfort, Ky.

5.      Frazier History Museum, Louisville, Ky.

6.      Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, Ky.

7.      Howard Steamboat Museum, Jeffersonville, In.

8.      Kentucky Science Center, Louisville, Ky.

9.      Muhammed Ali Center, Louisville, Ky.

10.   Falls of the Ohio State Park, Clarksville, In.

11.   Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory, Frankfort, Ky.

12.   Louisville Mega Cavern, Louisville, Ky.

13.   Louisville Zoo, Louisville, Ky.

14.   Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum, Versailles, Ky.

15.   Old Bardstown Village Civil War Museum, Bardstown

16.   Bernheim Arboretum and Forest, Clermont, Ky.

17.   Old Fort Harrod State Park, Harrodsburg, Ky.

18.   Lincoln Homestead Park, Springfield, Ky.

19.   Shaker Village, Harrodsburg, Ky.

20.   Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Ky.

21.   State Botanical Gardens, Lexington, Ky.

22.   Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum, Elizabethtown, Ky.

23.   Shelbyville Heritage/Welcome Center, Shelbyville, Ky.

24.   Toyota Plant Tour, Georgetown, Ky.

25.   Hummel Planetarium, Richmond, Ky.