Does mindfulness fit with your goals as a grandparent?
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Finally! Covid restrictions had eased, we’d all been vaccinated, and we were going to spend a glorious six days with our grandchildren and their parents! It had been seven months since we’d seen them, and the baby had gone from a barely scooting bug to a fully walking toddler. We’d missed so much! I was determined to make the most of every day. I’d read Grandparenting: Renew, Relive, Rejoice and was committed to being fully present during the short time we’d have together.
Within a day, I realized I’d forgotten something crucial: being with small children is an endurance sport, and I’m not an endurance athlete. Trying to be fully present created an intense overload on my system, especially after the cocoon I’d been living in during Covid. So how could I use the lessons of mindfulness to deepen our relationship without ending up longing for the end of the visit? What was I doing wrong, that one day with my grandchildren left me exhausted?
That night, I reread my grandparent vision statement and Grand Plan*. No where did my grandparenting plan include being fully present at all times. What it did include was letting my grandchildren know they were important to me, and helping out my children as much as possible. I needed to take the principles of mindfulness and apply them to help me be the grandmother I wanted to be. There were five ways to be more mindful that I found fit well with my goals.
After that exhausting first day, I adjusted my expectations and my actions. I spent some of the time focused on the grandchildren, and some of the time folding laundry or straightening the playroom. I skipped bath time to clean up the kitchen after dinner, and took a morning to meet with a friend. I soaked up as much as I could when I was with them, but even sponges have limits! Recognizing mine, and making sure that my actions reflected my values, made the visit more rewarding for all of us.