Today’s post is an important milestone for me—it’s my 100th post. With Thanksgiving this week I want to express my gratitude to all of you readers, especially you grandmas who’ve enriched my life by sharing your blogs, books, and comments with me.
It seems fitting that for my 100th post I share a book that has hundreds of fun, low-cost activities for grandparents to share with their grandchildren whether they’re near or far. Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren is written by a grandmother, Sue Johnson, and her daughter-in-law, Julie Carlson. This unique writing team knows first-hand the challenges of long-distance grandparenting. Sue and Julie have lived in different states since Julie’s three boys (now 15, 11 and 5) were born. Both Sue and Julie are former teachers and have included their favorite ideas in their book along with tips and activities from over 350 families around the world.
The book was an immediate winner for me when I spotted an idea for my two granddaughter’s Halloween costumes this year. In their chapter “Heartfelt Holidays and Family Traditions,” I found a simple “do-it-yourself” costume that worked for both girls: bunches of grapes. The girls’ costumes took first prize at all three parties they attended.
The authors devote a chapter on how to use their book. They encourage grandparents to make the most of visits with their grandchildren by creating activities that are interactive, open-ended, and process-oriented. They advise keeping your suggestions to a minimum and emphasize the fun of doing rather than the finished result. The activities in the book are organized into two categories: those to do with your grandchildren and those you can send to your grandchildren. The bottom corner of activity pages shows an icon to quickly identify which type it is. The activities are also organized into nine themes, from art and cooking to science and staying in touch.
What distinguishes this book from most activity collections is the generous sprinkling of helpful advice for grandparents as they navigate the relationships with their adult children. For example, “there may be times when your views conflict with those of your grandchild’s parents, but if you consider every difference a learning opportunity, you’ll soon see that positive childrearing can accommodate many styles.”
Sue and Julie emphasize the importance of respecting the privacy of new parents as they build their attachment with the new baby. “Hop in the back seat for most of the ride,” they suggest, “the view is still good and you might even find ways to be helpful back there.” The book is filled with such gentle reminders of ways to show that you’re sensitive, such as asking the new parents if you’re calling at a convenient time.
Grandloving would make a wonderful holiday gift for a new or “expecting” grandparent.