When my oldest grandson was about 3, a neighbor asked him, “Where does your Grandma live?” and without hesitation he replied, ” In an airplane.” Of course, we all laughed, but his comment made perfect sense considering that every time they came to pick me up, I was at the airport. Between running my business, checking off my bucket list items and being a grandparent, I am constantly on the road or in the air. And when I travel I meet a whole lot of other Grandmas and Grandpas on their way to taking care of their grandkids. There’s a whole brigade of us out there.
Why is this? Parents have always been busy. My husband and I held professional jobs while raising our children, and so did most of the parents in our community, but we always were home for family dinners. However, in today’s environment , it is increasingly common for one parent to work out of state or out of the country, leaving the other one with the task of taking care of the kids as well as running the home. That parent needs help. Parents have also always been stressed but with the financial downturn, many young families were hit at a time when incomes should have been rising. Layoffs and downsizing took place instead, so now parents are struggling to keep up with student loan payments, mortgage payments, rising food prices, childcare and the general cost of raising their children. That family needs help. Grandparents play a vital role in getting things back on solid footing by reducing childcare expenses.
Taking care of your grandkids is a special treat in life. It’s fun to witness their thinking process when trying to make a decision, or to see their level of compassion when something happens to a friend. There have been times when I have been humbled by my oldest grandson’s ability to understand other kids and events. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a lot of work too. It’s a big commitment, especially if you do it for long periods of time or permanently. Some grandparents live close by and will take care of the kids when they get home from school as well as during the summer, but others travel long distance to stay with the kids. The level of your commitment depends on the situation at hand. The grandparents who are still working in the corporate world have the hardest time when it comes to helping out because they don’t really have time to give. They usually get 2 weeks of vacation, and may have to plan in advance which may or may not work for the parent’s schedule.
Owning a business gives you more flexibility, but it still needs to be managed. As an independent kitchen and bath designer, my workday schedule is not 8 to 5. My schedule changes constantly depending on projects and client’s schedules. Every project has times when I can be gone and when I absolutely must be there. As long as I have the three areas listed below covered, than my projects don’t run into any snags:
1) Communication: Communication is a big part of our jobs all the time but when you are off-site it becomes more important. Make sure everyone involved in the project knows you will be gone and in what time zone you will be traveling. Make use of computer tools such as FaceTime. It comes in handy during installs and impromptu meetings.
2) Good Documentation: I always travel with my computer so this is usually not a problem. Most of my projects are done either in 20/20 or AutoCad . I can change the drawing, create a PDF and email it to all parties involved.
3) Admin Task: I bill my clients every month, so this task is routine. But I always fall behind on my Blog. I just get busy with the kids and social networking in general gets lost in the shuffle. This is where I could use an assistant. I have a list of Admin Tasks, such as adding more projects to my Houzz account and looking into podcasting . . . someday.
I love being a grandmom and spending time with the kids, but being away from home for any length of time makes me a little crazy. To help maintain your sanity, here are a few pointers:
1 – Maintain Your Routines: I enjoy having 2 cups of coffee in the morning before I start my workday, so that’s what I do no matter where I am. If you are a person who takes a bath at night, then keep that up. The important thing is to do those things that give you support and energy.
2 – Honor Your Bucket List: If you have just one thing on your bucket list and it’s to be a grandparent, than you’re done. If your bucket list is anything like mine, you’ll need more than one lifetime to complete the list, so get moving. You have reached the age where you can finally play, so play!
3 – Respect house rules: Things have changed since you raised that adult parent you are now helping out. They will do things differently.
4 – Define your own Grandparent style: Be yourself, so that your grandchildren know who you are. Do not let the adult children or the other grandparents define your role.
Above all don’t be too hard on yourself . You will probably make mistakes but hopefully the mistakes won’t be any worse than the ones you made as a parent. So, just relax, have fun and don’t lose your sense of humor or your sense of self. Take care of that bucket list. You deserve it.
Clare Marie Kronemeyer, AKBD entered the world of design as a furniture designer and has been practicing kitchen, bath & custom furniture design for over 15 years. With a degree in Interior Design and certification through NKBA, she offers creative solutions to problem areas. As an independent designer with hands-on experience, a down-to-earth approach to design and an understanding of budgetary considerations she will manage your project from concept to completion. Clare Marie can be reached through her website: www.asyoulikeitdz.com