Did you know that recent studies have shown that almost half of all grandparents in the U.S. live more than 200 miles away from their grandkids? The world may seem smaller in a day and age of technology and instant messaging, but it can feel extremely big when you ache to see your kids and grandkids, and they're just too far away.
However, fortunately, technology presents quite a few options for keeping in touch with far-away grandkids. Here are eight things grandparents can do to connect with out-of-town grandchildren.
Skype can open up whole new worlds for grandparents. You don't have to have webcams for this, although, if you do, it opens up the possibility of video chat. All you need are two computers with high-speed Internet connections. In fact, you can even do Skype with some phones that have Internet access, too. Camera phones allow for video chat.
2. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a lot like Skype. You can chat from your desktop or laptop computer, and it has video options - as long as you have the hardware. Also like Skype, you simply download Google Hangouts from the internet.
3. Social Networking
Facebook, Myspace, Pinterest, and other social networks provide a convenient platform for out-of-town grandparents to keep up with their grandkids. This approach may be particularly helpful with grandchildren of pre-teen or teen age.
4. Online Photo Albums
The Internet offers lots of options for storing your photos. Family members can then share the password to their photo album, and grandparents can log in any time to see the latest pictures of their grandkids.
5. Telephone Calls
The telephone may be considered old-fashioned in this day and age, but it's still a perfectly legitimate and, for many grandparents, comfortable means of communication. Try scheduling regular phone calls, maybe once a week, to keep in touch. Grandparents can read selections of stories over the phone to young grandchildren, and older grandkids can have special topics and subjects they talk about with grandparents. Many grandkids like to hear stories about when their parents were kids!
6. Tape Recorders
Another old-fashioned but fun approach is for grandparents to make tapes. Grandparents and parents each need a mini tape recorder, and grandparents and grandchildren can mail audio tapes back and forth and play them on the tape recorders. Usually, all you need is a padded envelope to mail such tapes. Agree to mail them at regular intervals.
7. Online Chat/Instant Messaging
Most email platforms offer instant messaging and chat. If yours doesn't, you can download specific chat software such as Google Chat. Again, all you need is a computer or modern cell phone with Internet access.
It's easy to forget one of the simplest types of technology for staying in touch. Email can accommodate pictures and videos that you can include with the message, too.
Keeping in touch has never been so easy!
The notion of buying less and being happier runs contrary to the more popular concept of 'more (and bigger) is better'. As more and more people become disillusioned with all their 'stuff', the idea that buying less can actually make you happier is beginning to take hold. (And, let's face it, with what's happened to pensions and interest rates over the last few years, some retirees just don't have a choice!)
Here are some suggestions on how you can buy less and be happier:
1. Distinguish between needs and wants. Before making a purchase, ask yourself why you're buying it. How will your life be better with that particular item in your home? Can you afford it? Does it have a practical use?
2. Spend time, not money, with your family and friends. This is the key to being happier with buying less - you will cultivate more meaningful relationships instead of spending money on stuff. Think in terms of relationships, not things. This may require a shift in priorities and, for some, may mean learning to put people ahead of material items. If you accomplish this, life will be much more fulfilling.
3. Learn (or relearn) to refurbish and fix used items, and learn to create and build. Often, these times of creativity can also be times when you come together with friends and family to get a job done. In other words, DIY can help you be happier!
4. Pay cash or write a cheque whenever you buy something. This is a safeguard against debt, which is, of course, one of the biggest robbers of happiness there is. You'll be much happier buying less if you can also look at it as way of incurring less debt.
5. Change your perspective about the role of stuff in your life. Think about the big picture before making purchases - will owning this item make me a better person? If I buy this electronic gizmo, will the world (or even just MY world!) be the better for it?
6. Take time to find out what true happiness means to you. When you're not trying to fill some imagined void with material things, it gives you some breathing room to figure out just what makes you tick. Accumulating stuff is probably not what really makes you happy. Dig deep and learn something about yourself. Keep a journal, meditate, spend time alone...
When you begin to cultivate relationships instead of buying more and more stuff, you might just find that you become much happier.
If you're due to retire in the near future, my free eCourse, The 6 Stages of Retirement, will give you a birds-eye view of the retirement process so you know what to expect. It includes a list of the major pitfalls at every stage of the process and self-coaching questions to help you avoid those pitfalls...
For many retired people who are looking for love, online dating makes sense - with today's busy schedules (even in retirement!) and widely varying lifestyles, finding someone to date 'in real life' (IRL) may not be feasible. The Internet offers the chance to meet people who might not otherwise cross your path - especially when you're no longer out at work every day and, consequently, may not be meeting that many new people.
But the world of online dating can seem intimidating, especially if you're new to it. Here are some tips for getting started with online dating.
It's Okay to Be Proactive
For some, being proactive about finding a partner may seem like a sign of weakness or simply 'not the way they were raised'. But relying on chance is getting less and less effective in an era where people seem to gather in front of their computers in the evenings more than they go out and about. These days, it's okay to be proactive about dating, whether you're male or female.
Choose Your Site
As you begin to look around for the right online dating site, check with your friends who are also looking for love online. They are excellent 'filters' who will tell you what the pros and cons of the various sites are. You can also do a search for reviews of the sites that interest you.
Some sites do more 'filtering' than others, so if you're very cautious, you might want to go with the sites that have many detailed questions as part of their joining process. If you're more relaxed and open, you might prefer a site that leans more towards letting the members sort things out themselves.
As you begin to fill in questions and talk about yourself, dating experts point out that it's good to avoid statements that are too general or cliched (such as "I enjoy spending time with family"). Remember that you are one of many thousands on the site, so make your profile specific and unique. Instead of the bit about spending time with family, mention how you love to spend time with your crazy niece (or whoever) and how that makes you feel.
Many people agonize over this one, and it's understandable; that's the first thing people see when they look at your profile or are matched with you. But your picture should, above all, be something that is typical of you. It's not a great idea to get dressed up in an outfit that has nothing to do with your personality type or interests, for example.
You can get away with a decent self-portrait, or have friends and/or family take your picture. It's also a good idea to have more than one picture on your profile, and to have a variety of pictures (some just your face, others full length, etc.). Above all, make sure the pictures are current - there's nothing more disappointing than meeting someone and realising that the photo they posted was 10 (or 20!) years out of date!
Even if you've heard of someone who met the love of his/her life within 24 hours of joining a dating website, such stories are the exception, not the rule. Experts point out that it can take many weeks to find someone you'd want to get to know better and you may need to take a break and re-join later. Just like IRL dating, you have to sift few quite a few potential matches before you find the right one!
Whether you are the grandparent of an out-of-town grandchild or one who lives in the same town or even neighbourhood, it can sometimes be challenging to forge a bond with them. If you feel at a loss when it comes to connecting with your grandkids, here's a list of ten bonding ideas and tips you can try:
1. Find some activities you can share
Are you a grandpa who likes to work on engines or build things out of wood? Maybe you can do a project with your grandson or granddaughter which involves making or building something together. You'll be building memories at the same time! Or maybe a shared interest in photography or sport will get you the two of you out and about together?
2. Beauty treatments
Grandmothers and granddaughters can make a day of it by going to get their hair or nails done, or getting a makeover at a makeup counter. Some grandmothers may be great hair-stylists, and can style their granddaughter's hair. You can build some wonderful, fond memories this way.
3. Cook together
Some of the fondest memories kids have of their grandparents involve cooking. Maybe it's a favorite cookie or dessert recipe, or a special afternoon spent learning how to barbecue. Whatever it is, making and sharing food and passing down family recipes are great ways to bond.
Long-distance grandparents can form a bond with grandkids by texting them, now and then. Texting can involve pictures and videos, too, if you have the right phones. Grandkids can take a picture of the woods they're walking in, the coffee shop they're sitting in, or have Mum or Dad film the play they're in - then send the pictures and videos with a text. (Just don't worry too much about the 'text speak' and missing capital letters that are part and parcel of texting!)
5. Video chat
Skype and Google Talk are great ways to stay in touch with out-of-town grandkids. Try to schedule some time to 'get together' for a video chat once a week (or whatever works with your schedule - just try to schedule it into a regular time-slot, so your 'get together' doesn't get put off or overlooked).
Seasonal crafts or just fun 'make-it-yourself' type crafts can be great fun for grandkids. Cigar box (or tissue box) guitars, pinhole cameras, paper snowflakes, sewing, knitting, etc. are all fun crafts grandparents can share with their grandkids.
Growing food, repotting plants, planting flowers and seeds... gardening is a wonderful way to share a skill and hobby that's generations old. Then you can share what you've grown with each other (and other people too).
The old-fashioned art of letter-writing can be revived and cultivated whether your grandkids live out-of-town or not. Letters also make wonderful keepsakes for the future, too - to be read again, years down the road, and have all the memories come flooding back.
Games can be played long-distance or right at home. Video chat and even the telephone are great ways to include grandchildren in a night of board games, card games, or even sports. Parents can take a mobile or cell phone to the grandkids' soccer game and shoot videos and take pictures, then text them. Or just have Grandpa and Grandma on the phone during the game.
10. Volunteer together
Grandparents can take the grandkids to the local RSPCA or humane society and volunteer to walk the dogs. Or maybe volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food bank would be more appropriate. Teaching your grandkids about the importance of community is a life-long lesson and a wonderful bonding idea.
If you’re like most grandparents of more than one child, you probably get tired of hearing, “He touched me” or “She’s on my side of the car”, when the little darlings come to stay with you for any length of time. You may also get weary of the bickering and name-calling that are so prevalent with siblings.
Even though these ideas are not the only ones grandparents have come up with, the following five strategies for helping siblings get along may be just what you need to get a little peace and quiet in your home.
1. Establish house rules about acceptable behaviour and be prepared to follow through with agreed-upon discipline if they break the rules. When your grandchildren know what's expected of them and that you will dole out discipline when necessary, they may be more willing to stick to the house rules.
2. When the bickering starts, separate the children so you have a chance to talk with each one on their own. Ask them to slowly explain, without calling names or blaming the other child, what caused the disagreement. Acknowledge their feelings and try to understand what is underneath them.
Explain to your grandchildren that, even though you understand their feelings, the way they handled the situation isn’t acceptable. Are they jealous because their younger sibling gets to do something they weren’t able to do at their age? Are they angry because their older sibling took something away from them? Suggest that they think about what was said and done, how things could have been handled differently and how they can make amends.
Once you've determined the underlying cause, and the children have had a chance to think about things, you can help your grandchildren make peace and get along better - at least until the next time.
3. Try to focus on each child’s strengths rather than on their weaknesses. Try giving your grandchildren tasks that play to their strengths and allow them to show their accomplishments. Give them a reason to feel good about themselves without having to compare themselves with the other children in the family. Celebrate their uniqueness and ask them to cooperate rather than compete.
4. Obviously you know that each child is an individual but sometimes it's important to verbalize it. While you may enjoy Amy’s singing voice, you also appreciate Todd’s willingness to help cook. Be sure you let them know that you love each of your grandchildren as much as the other and that you don’t have favourites; however, because each child is different you may appreciate different things about them. It may also be helpful to explain why you decided to let one child do something while the other one is told they may not.
5. Encourage them when you see them doing something nice for their sibling or when you catch them playing nicely together. Sometimes hearing “It was very good of you to let your brother play the game instead of continuing to play yourself” or “Thank you for reading to your sister while I was cooking dinner when you wanted to watch television instead.”
These five strategies for helping siblings get along are by no means exhaustive. You may find some strategies work better for your family than others. Remember to use what works and scrap the things that don’t. When your grandchildren understand that you're serious about their behaviour and their getting along, it may be easier for them to follow the house rules and finally get along with their siblings. Well, at least until you can hand them back to their parents!
The onset of Dementia can be a frightening experience for both the children of elderly parents and the parents themselves. The emotional roller coaster can be exhausting. Dementia is not necessarily the same as Alzheimer's Disease, but it can present similar symptoms, so you might find some help in Alzheimer's support groups and other resources.
Here are some tips on dealing with your elderly parent with dementia.
It's Not Your Fault
Like kids whose parents divorce, sometimes the children of elderly parents with dementia feel like it's somehow their fault. Remember, you didn't do anything to cause the dementia, and you can't make it go away. It's important to remember that not everything hinges on you; it can be an ironic relief to recognize that you can't control everything.
Consider Your and Your Family's Safety
As dementia takes hold, some elderly sufferers become violent. It's important that you keep yourself and your family safe, whether you're visiting your parent in a nursing or residential home or having him/her live with you. It's particularly important, of course, if your dementia-stricken parent is living with you.
If your parent is exhibiting signs of violent behavior, such as banging their fists into walls, screaming angrily, or throwing things, then consider talking to your parent's doctor about anti-psychotic medications and other helpful pharmaceuticals. You certainly don't want your parent to be a zombie; but medication can help manage symptoms.
Tap into Dementia Care Resources
Some of the symptoms of dementia may be relieved by participation in activities specially tailored for people with dementia. After all, your aging parents may still need an outlet for their more negative feelings and emotions, even if they do have dementia and their need for an outlet can't be expressed in a healthy, normal way anymore. Anxiety, frustration, and other negative emotions may be simmering away in your elderly parent's mind, and some regular activities may provide some relief.
You might be able to find some activities you can do with your parent, such as painting, crafts, working with clay, stringing beads, planting a garden/potted plants, or other activities (not unlike what you'd do with a pre-school child).
What Not to Do
Experts agree that it's not a good idea to engage a person with dementia in an argument or shouting match. It may be your parent and he/she may really know how to push your buttons, but try to respond in a calm manner and re-direct their attention to a more peaceful activity.
There's beginning to be an emphasis, not only on families cooking and eating together at home, but also on teaching children to cook. It's actually very empowering for your grandkids to learn how to cook; it's a step towards independence, and they will take those skills with them throughout their lives. So, next time you and your grandchildren are stuck inside on a rainy day, why not organise a cookery lesson?
For younger kids, you'll want to begin with easy recipes. This helps build confidence and teaches basic skills. Here are some easy recipes that you can 'cook' with your grandkids without them ever having to come into contact with a hot stove...
1. Fruit and Cheese Kebabs (Kabobs, in the U.S.)
Healthy and sweet, fresh fruit appeals to lots of children, and cheese tends to be a kid favourite. Supervise the use of sharp skewers carefully; other than that, kids can get use their own ideas about how to make the kebabs. Put out bowls of various chopped fruits (frozen and canned are possibilities, too; just make sure that the fruits are not too soft to stick on a skewer or too hard to thread onto it) and some cheese cubes. Let your grandchildren thread together kebabs in whatever combinations they like. Fruits you might use include:
* Fresh or canned pineapple
* Banana chunks (slices should be at least 1/2-inch thick)
2. Tuna Salad
Prepare a tasty tuna salad with your younger grandchildren by preparing the simple ingredients beforehand. In separate containers, place:
Let your grandchild mix all these ingredients together in another bowl. Then he/she can see how separate ingredients create something completely different when combined!
To take it a bit further, the child can then use the tuna salad to fill his/her own cucumber boat, tomato half, or sandwich.
3. Banana-Peanut Butter Balls
These make great snack food or a healthy dessert.
In a bowl, your grandchild can mash together 1 small, ripe banana and 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter. He or she can then pour in 1/4 cup of flax meal and 1/4 cup of toasted wheat germ and stir it up. Both of you can form the mixture into balls about the size of marbles, and roll them in chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, or whatever you'd like. Put coated balls on a waxed-paper-covered tray and refrigerate until firm.
You can adjust this recipe to accommodate allergies and food preferences; you can use other nut butters and coatings if your grandchild has a peanut allergy, for instance.
Teach them about veggies early! Salads are a pretty forgiving medium, and children often enjoy the bright colours. Supervised tasks your grandkids can perform include:
You can also grow tasty sprouts with your grandchildren and add these to salads and sandwiches. Apply the salad assembly idea to dishes like tacos and pizza, too.