One of the hardest parts of moving to a different country, away from our hometown, has been to be away from our parents. So when we had the opportunity to coordinate a trip with both of them, to a destination they all wanted to visit, we had to take advantage! Traveling with grandparents proved to me multi-beneficial for us!
Extra Help when Traveling with Grandparents
It is refreshing to have extra hands helping out with the kids, and they are truly the only other humans as invested in your children as you are (if not more). After traveling quite a bit, just my husband and I managing the kids, it was a breath of fresh air having extra people helping with the stroller or to hold the kiddies. They can also watch the kids while you take a little break.
It is important to remember there is a balance, when asking grandparents to help with the kids on a trip. After all, it is their trip too. Here are some ways we leveraged their help:
No night shifts for grandparents: My husband and I try to stay consistent with our rule that only we should handle night shifts, because asking elder parents to wake up and assist at night doesn’t feel right to us (they’ve done their time with us).
Ask the grandparents to take breakfast shifts: However, we know our kids are in a good mood in the morning and breakfast is usually the easiest meal to feed them, so we would ask the grandparents to take turns with breakfast duty so we could sleep in a bit.
Ask the grandparents to help read books, coloring books, or play during down time. These are the fun tasks that can help them bond more and reduce things like screen time that can de-regulate the kids moods for the day. And bonus for you is that you can re-energize from actual tasks like meals, baths, and handling any tantrums.
Long-Term Benefits of Time Spent with Grandparents:
As I watched our parents love on our children, I remembered the studies that I have read about psychological benefits of time spent with grandparents on kids. Studies show that spending regular time with grandparents has links with:
- Fewer emotional/behavioral problems
- Higher scores on emotional intelligence assessments
- Increased empathy and compassion in social settings
- Higher engagement in school
- Feelings of affirmation that they are heard and seen
- Decrease in symptoms of depression
- Deeper connection with family history and culture
- Increase in oxytocin (love hormone) with cuddles
Because of COVID and life’s circumstances, we don’t get to see our kids grandparents as often as we like. So in addition to trying to coordinate trips and regular FaceTimes, I have another idea on how to keep my children connected to our parents (and their parents).
Ask Grandparents to Send Kids Email
I set up an email address for each of my kids, and have asked our parents to send them emails with anecdotes, childhood memories, or random thoughts. I will give the kids the passwords when they are older, and hope this will connect them to their grandparents further. You can use Google’s feature of ‘family manager‘ to set up your children’s accounts and conveniently manage all the information from one dashboard.
My 91-year-old grandfather emails the kids as well. I imagine how surreal it will be for my babies to open their inbox in 10 years and see his emails! For my grandparents, who have passed, I try to email old pictures of them or write my memories or stories of them to my kids. I truly value the connection we have with our parents and grandparents – we wouldn’t be who we are without them, and I would love my children to know who they come from.