Dr. Ken Canfield of Grandkids Matter has been polling grandparents about their feelings and experiences during the pandemic. He was especially interested in how they’re handling social distancing, travel restrictions, and how the pandemic has changed their relationship with their grandchildren.
About 40% said their relationship had stayed the same. About 30% said it became stronger and 27% said it became weaker. The grandparents in this last group tended to be those who lived alone and were more likely to feel tired, depressed, and hopeless. He encourages grandparents to stay as engaged as possible and asked them to answer this question:
What behaviors or activities have been most helpful to you and your household in keeping perspective during the pandemic?
Here’s a sampling of some of the responses he received:
- Living in gratitude.
- Staying away from network news.
- I love that we have had more time to actually be a family without the hustle and bustle of school and after-school activities and ballet.
- Boating and Netflix!
- Simple pleasures: ice cream breaks. We can swing again! Picnics, blowing bubbles, short road trips.
These are the top three positive behaviors and activities that stood out from the responses:
Stay busy & active. Grandparents found it helpful to maintain involvement in hobbies, music, cooking, reading and so on. They also found it therapeutic to be outside and exercise, whether it’s simply walking, riding bicycles, gardening, or participating in a range of other favorite activities. A number of people mentioned using this time to learn something new—a great idea—and, as mentioned in one of the responses above, quite a few said that they avoid watching or listening to the news. Maintaining a positive outlook is vital.
Do what you can. This category includes much of what you have probably heard for grandparents to stay connected to grandchildren and other family members: Zoom, Facetime, texting, and any other modes of communication. As more of society reopens, they can once again enjoy in-person visits, even if some are still wearing masks, maintaining six-feet of distance, and/or getting together outside somewhere. It isn’t ideal, but grandparents are finding ways to make the best of it.
Hold on to what is meaningful. It’s unmistakable in the complete list of responses: many grandparents are using this time to reinforce the vital importance of virtues and practices like faith, hope, friends, and community.
Whatever you may turn to for good health and a deep sense of purpose, meaning, and personal connection, continue to pursue those as much and as often as you can. This pandemic — and being considerate of those around us — has required some big adjustments. We’ve missed out on some events and experiences that we looked forward to. But we can keep growing, and we can keep finding ways to invest in our grandkids’ future.