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Balancing Work and Family as a Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 20 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Work Family Children Grandparent Time

A few generations ago, the word ‘grandparent’ brought to mind images of elderly people who had nothing more pressing on their to-do lists than bake cookies and bounce small, giggling children on their knees.

They had plenty of time to dedicate to family matters and didn’t have time management issues like today’s grandparents, who often juggle full work and social schedules, in addition to setting aside time for family.

Picture of a Modern Grandparent

While the old-fashioned picture of a grandparent may have been somewhat universal, today’s grandparents are less easily pigeon-holed.

Some become grandparents while in mid-life, at the height of their earning years while others wait decades more to be blessed with a grandchild. Many healthy, active grandparents enjoy a full social life, travel often, and are up-to-date on the newest trends and gadgets. Some wouldn’t know how to bake a cookie if their lives depended on it.

So, what does today’s grandparent look like? They have gray hair, or chestnut brown, or fiery red. They may shun fashion or they may set trends. Some grow gardens filled with lush organic produce to support their vegetarian diets while others prefer the rich, buttery dishes served at the trendiest little bistros.

Some are up at the crack of dawn to take a brisk morning walk, but their peers may prefer the nightlife and choose to come in right around the time that the sun comes up. Being a grandparent today doesn’t come with a roadmap – modern grandparents write their own rules and blaze their own trails.

The Demands of Career and Family

Work is a necessity for most people and even those who love their jobs often find that the demands of their careers can make it difficult to find enough waking hours for fun and family.

Many with high-powered careers have work that requires them to spend long hours away from their homes, but even the most dedicated employees need to carve out time for friends and family. When time is short, it’s important to make the most of it, scheduling get-togethers and outings so that the children and grandchildren understand how much they mean.

Helping Grown Children with Their Families

Many grandparents provide some assistance to their grown children, whether financial or hands-on help with the grandchildren, and some are in a position to offer child care, either full-time while their parents are at work or occasionally to allow the grown children an evening out.

Work obligations are important, but most grandparents would agree that there is more to life than making money. Being a part of a happy family requires the commitment of at least some time, but with proper time management, grandparents can have the best of both worlds.

Building Bonds with Grandchildren

One thing that grandparents have in common, no matter whether they spend the majority of their time at work or simply work because they must is the pure adoration that they hold for their children’s children.

Many adults have fond memories of their own grandparents and strive to build similar strong relationships with their grandchildren, despite having less time to spend with the little ones because of career obligations.

By taking an active interest in the lives of the children, grandparents can work out ways to be with their grandchildren and support them in their interests. Grandparents who live near their grand-kids can choose to attend the kids’ athletic school or events, or may simply want to host a regular family gathering where all of the children can build bonds and memories. When geographical distance makes it impractical for grandparents to see their grandchildren on a regular basis, they can rely on phone calls and email to keep close.

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