With the holiday season in full swing, finding the perfect gift for your loved ones becomes a top priority. Securing a wish list from your kids and grandkids is one way to figure out what to order on Amazon. But, the best gift grandparents can give is time. When you take the grandkids on a trip, your kids (and their spouses) receive the gift of free time. For you and the grandkids, the gift is time together. And that gift lives on through shared memories for years to come. With the stresses we’ve all endured over that past two years, this precious gift has never been more important.
As the holiday gift-giving season emerges, the first thing I do each year is check in with my daughter, Jen, and my daughter-in-law, Ashley, to see what’s on the grandkids’ wish lists. I suppose I could ask my son, Chris, for a list, but we all know that moms are the true keepers of the wish lists. Like all kids, my grandkids’ – Katherine (14), Marshall (12) and Benjamin (11) – interests continually evolve throughout the years. The wish list brings me up to date. Because, as a grandparent, the last thing you want to do is give an American Girl doll to a teenager who’s moved on to more mature things. Living over 1,000 miles away, it’s impossible for me to keep up. But there’s one gift we all look forward to—the gift of time. And for the parents, the gift of time alone.
Parents Need a Break
When COVID took over the world as we knew it, parents immediately assumed multiple duties. Many balanced working from home with monitoring kids during virtual school. Others, like my daughter and her husband, TJ, were faced with keeping an overactive boy focused through the school day. Parents had plenty of explaining to do. Why do I have to wear a mask? Why can’t we go on vacation? Is Disney ever going to open again? These are big questions! And, depending on the kids, some parents had a tougher time than others. But I think we’d all agree that any parent who survived the COVID lockdowns and disruptions could use a break. As a grandparent, I’m happy to give my kids the gift of free time. It gives me that much more time with the grandkids!
About this gift of free time we’re offering our kids: what’s in it for them? I called my daughter and asked what she loves most about me taking Benjamin on a trip for a few days. “Freedom!” she immediately replied. “I can sleep until I’m ready to get up. I can cook whatever I want for dinner and no one will complain,” she continued. “And, it’s quiet in the house!” Can you tell she had a tough COVID homeschooling experience?
The Best Gift A Grandparent Can Give
So how do you plan time with the grandkids to give this much-needed gift of free time? During school breaks and summer vacation, planning a skip-gen trip with the grandkids always leads to fun memories. But, if your adult kids need a break during the school year, scheduling a trip could be difficult. Why not offer to spend time at home with the grandkids and let their parents travel?
Last January, I stayed at my son’s home with Katherine and Marshall for a few days. Although they had school during the day, we enjoyed going through their morning routines together. I loved hearing about their school day when they returned home. Running carpool to crew team practice with Katherine and attending one of Marshall’s flag football games provided me insights into their daily lives…something I miss by living so far away. Meanwhile, Chris and his Ashley spent their free time exploring the charms of Beaufort, SC including a beach picnic in Hunting State Park with wine, of course.
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Sometimes the gift of free time can be something as simple as taking the grandkids on a new adventure for the day. For grandparents that live close to their grandkids, this option provides ample opportunities to gift throughout the year. Since I don’t live nearby, I typically work a day out with the grandkids into my visits to Florida where everyone lives. While visiting in Spring 2021, I “borrowed” Benjamin for a day trip to Gatorland. We had a blast hanging out with the reptiles and squealing with delight on the Stompin’ Gator Off-road Adventure. Meanwhile, Jen and TJ benefited from a sanity break!
A Gift for Grandparents and Grandkids
As an avid traveler, whisking the grandkids away on a trip to a new destination delights me. Sharing my love of travel and discovery with them not only creates special memories, it also strengthens the grandparent/grandkid bond. Sure, we’ve done multi-generational trips over the years–with four generations. But my individual skip-gen trips with the grandkids are special.
When Katherine was barely seven, we escaped to Aruba together for a few days. I witnessed her receiving the first stamp on her passport. She learned to snorkel in the surf and even now, seven years later, we reminisce about our experiences.
A few years ago, Benjamin and I spent a night glamping at the Westgate River Ranch. Just an hour from his home, the ranch provided an ideal test for future trips. I cannot tell you the number of times he declared our time there “the best day ever.”
In September 2021, Marshall and I ventured to Gallup, New Mexico together. Watching him marvel at the wonders of the wild west for the first time will remain etched in my memory for life.
And, after a COVID-induced year-long delay, I finally had the opportunity to take all three grandkids to Clearwater Beach for a few days. We shared miles of laughter, innumerable stories about their parents as kids and all manner of silliness as I attempted to create my own rap songs. I (unsurprising) failed miserably–but being goofy comes with the grandmom territory!
No matter where we roam together, the memories follow. In Clearwater Beach, we joined Queen Fleet for a half-day deep-sea fishing trip. As we cruised out to our casting point, the kids spotted a sea turtle swimming alongside the boat. I’m not certain who was the most excited, me or the grandkids! My three anglers went on to catch 26 fish between them making our expedition a huge success. Watching their delight as they reeled in the fish and posed for a bragging-rights photo filled me with immeasurable joy.
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So you see, the best gift grandparents can give will always be time. And the best part…it works for any season! Why not add that to those Amazon purchases?