As I wake up to another beautiful spring day, I am filled with joy. Birds are singing; the flowers are blooming; and I have time to enjoy a cup of Chai tea before heading to work.
And yet…and yet. I hear the birds clearly, because my neighbourhood is now quiet. I keep checking on my daffodils through the window, because I no longer travel 30 kilometres to work….instead I walk a few steps to my new office in my home. And if I’m not careful, that cup of tea will be followed by another and another as I adjust to my new routine and try not to think about COVID-19.
I am also struggling with my role as a mother to two adult children and a grandmother to three children. Very little in my parenting journey so far has prepared me for physical distancing. Other grandparents are struggling with this too. Here are some thoughts and tips on how we can get through this together…yet apart. Remember to BREATHE.
B – Breathe – yes, practising deep breathing can help me relax and keep me calm for my grandkids, when we do have a chance to talk. Speaking of breathing, how about sharing this adorable Sesame Street video with your grandchild.
R – Reach out –Connect with your grandchildren by mail, phone, email, or any of the ways you can see them online, like FaceTime or Zoom. Even if they laugh while you are trying to figure out your mobile device, they will be happy that you are trying, and interested in how they are doing.
E – Engage – Read a book over the phone or online to your grandchild. Or send them a link to a children’s author reading a book, and talk about it later. Ask about the best and hardest thing in their day. Ask what they miss and what they are learning, now that life is different. Listen well, so you can continue the conversation another day: “How’s that Lego bridge coming? Are your tomato seeds sprouting yet? What did you learn in school today?”
A – Appreciate – Giving thanks can make you happier, as this article shows. Tell your grandchildren what you are thankful for that day. Tell your grandchildren’s parents, that you appreciate what they are doing as they deal with household duties, working from home and homeschooling.
T – Teach – Do you have a special skill like baking, knitting, gardening or speaking another language? Share these during your connection time with your grandchildren. I am enjoying speaking French with my oldest granddaughter!
H – Hope –Even young children can sense sadness and anxiety in the home. Read Tamara’s blog on supporting kids in stressful times. Ask your grandchildren how they are feeling and help them name that feeling. You can offer empathy and hope: “I miss seeing my friends too, and some days it makes me sad. Things sure are different now. Maybe we should think of what fun activities we can plan for later. What would you like to do?”
E – Endure – One of the greatest gifts a grandparent can bring is perspective. I survived the terrible two’s, the teenage years, moves, job changes, and good and bad moments in close relationships. I know there are lessons to learn, even in the most difficult times. I have faith that after COVID-19 we will have a new understanding of human connection. The ability to keep going is an important skill we can share with our grandchildren.
The daffodils will fade but new flowers will bloom, the birds will continue to sing and in time frogs, crickets, and cicadas will join in. For now, I enjoy my short commute, but I will adjust when the time comes to return to the office. Fellow grandparents, we will get through this. Remember to Breathe, Reach out, Engage, Appreciate, Teach, Hope, and Endure. Your grandchildren (and children) will thank you.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000
About this guest blogger:
I have worked as a Public Health Nurse with Halton Region for many years. On any given week you will find me at one of our Prenatal Nutrition (HPNP) or Adjusting to Parenthood (A2P) groups. I enjoy having supportive conversations about mental health. As a survivor of perinatal mood disorders (PMD), I have a passion for helping new parents navigate the sometimes challenging transition to parenthood. When not at work, I enjoy the company of my grandchildren and going for walks with my goldendoodle Finnegan.