You are modeling a loving and gracious lifestyle. And in return, you will have grateful adult children, appreciative co-grandparents and grandkids who can’t wait to see you when the next opportunity arrives.

Adjust Expectations 

Keep your expectations in check, especially during the Christmas season. Use the empathy you’ve learned over the years to model grace and joy to your grandkids. Don’t expect holiday schedules to always go your way. In fact, expect that they won’t. Think about how you can support your adult children in developing a healthy nuclear family by honoring their schedules. If you’re not with your grandkids for the holidays, find the right way to be involved — such as phone calls, texts, video chats, cards or visits before or after the actual occasion — so they feel your love and support without any scheduling pressure. However, keep in mind that if they are with the other grandparents, you should honor their special time together and check with your adult children about a good time for connecting with the grandkids.

Think Outside the Grandparenting Box During the Holidays

My sons and their wives currently live in Indiana and Colorado. Knowing there was no way for us all to be together at Christmas last year, we decided to get together at Thanksgiving and have an early Christmas — two holidays in one! Perhaps you will get creative and have an occasional “second Christmas” in January with the grandkids. When the grandkids are with you during the holidays, a nice touch is to have them send a picture of themselves to the other grandparents to show them that you’re all one big, happy family, even when you’re not all celebrating together.

Focus on the Time you Get

As much as you want your grandchildren near during the holidays, the reality is that they have a number of different obligations — and their parents are trying to do what’s best with the limited amount of time they have. That means that some years you’ll get less time. This is where you’ll need to be flexible and understanding. You may want the kids and grandkids for more than just a quick visit. Sometimes that might happen. Sometimes it won’t.

Instead of becoming frustrated over the time you don’t get with them, make the most of the time you do get to spend with the grandkids to embrace no-stress grandparenting. Every year, Mike and Susanne looked forward to spending Christmas Day with their grandkids. When the other set of grandparents moved out of state, however, their daughter-in-law wanted to spend Christmas Day with her family, which meant Mike and Susanne wouldn’t see the grandkids on the actual day. They talked with their son and daughter-in-law about what would work best for everyone and decided to move their Christmas celebration to the week between Christmas and New Year’s. “We reminded ourselves that it isn’t about the date but about the time with our grandkids,” Susanne said. “When we saw them, we acted as if it were Dec. 25. And everyone was happy.”


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