They might not be able to be close by, but I can stay connected to my grandchildren and help out my children during this time—and you can too!
Are you watching from afar as your awesome children manage bustling households and wishing you could be “the extra pair of hands” you usually are?
Let’s turn that wish into reality. I would like to share things I started doing (and some that I will iy”H start doing this week) to help my children AND to stay connected to my grandchildren. Win/Win!
This list is not comprehensive; it is a jumping off point for you to consider what would work best for you and your family.
- One of my grandchildren calls every day to practice kriah
- One granddaughter calls and we do the crossword puzzle from “The Voice” together
- Another grandchild likes the Sudoku puzzle in “The Voice”
- Another one likes the fun pages in the Family Room Magazine that are included in the “Lakewood Shopper”
- We plan to add Spelling and Vocabulary practice and reviews this week
- I find that children ages 8-12 are captivated by The Kids Speak series by Chaim Walder – this series is an oldie but goodie. It’s an excellent choice for reading aloud to the kids at bedtime. And even proficient readers like to be read to!
For the Bubbies that are available and/or interested in getting involved, here are tips that will help effect a positive outcome for you and your entire family:
- Respect: My children and I discuss everything I do with the grandchildren, and nothing is done without their approval. I’m mindful of the different levels of technology each family is comfortable with and would never compromise that. To wit, the activities above do not require internet usage by the grandchildren. As for the publications mentioned, the Lakewood grandchildren have hard copies of the magazines and I access them online.
- Flexibility: It would be nice if we could schedule the grandchildren to call us at the same time everyday to review the Spelling words or to practice kriah. That just cannot be expected with all the variables our children are juggling these days. If it works out that way, great. If not, flexibility on your part will be key to making this work.
- Dayeinu: Even if you learn only five spelling words and not ten, dayeinu! Even if you read only one story and not two, dayeinu! Even if you do puzzles with only two children and not three, dayeinu! Even if you have time to work with the grands once a week, dayeinu!
- Family Dynamics: Objectively, five or ten minutes might not seem like a long time, but if your children are busy with a fussy baby and/or a toddler tantrum and you are available to read to older siblings while the parents are taking care of the younger ones, those 10 minutes are GOLDEN. And when the grands are fighting and bickering for what seems like hours and the whole mood improves because Bubby grabs one of the combatants for some one-on-one activity, those 15 minutes are GOLDEN. Every moment of your involvement eases the pressure. Bubby Moments Matter!
- Practicalities: Why shouldn’t you learn from my mistakes?! For best results:
- Ask the child you are working/playing with to please find a quiet room or space to be in. This should be the default protocol because otherwise distractions abound. Also, it makes the child feel special that this is private time with Bubby and no one else is a part of it.
- While you actually do want to make progress, especially with kriah, it’s good to have a light touch. The 80/20 ratio is nice.
- Whenever possible, give the grands options; kids are always more invested when they have a say in a decision. You can read them some titles from the table of contents and they can pick the story or they can choose which perek of tehillim to read for kriah practice.
- When you are reading aloud, please remember to speak slowly and clearly (I’m talking to myself here and you are eavesdropping!) This is important – especially if you are doing the bedtime reading – because it lets the kids relax and just enjoy the story instead of having to concentrate too hard lest they miss anything. And if you can inject some pizzazz in your reading, kol hakovod!
May Hakadosh Boruch Hu bless our efforts with success and nachas.