Grandparents Gift of Time

What’s one of the great things about being a grandparent? It’s having and giving the gift of time. When my own children were little, I honestly can’t remember ever saying to them, “Take your time, we’re in no hurry.” Like most parents, I hurried them through getting dressed, eating breakfast, and getting out the door, with plenty of admonishments along the way about us potentially being late!

Grandparents playing with toddler in leaves
Now, one of my greatest pleasures is allowing time for my 4-year-old granddaughter to walk slowly through my neighborhood, looking for “clues” to the animals that might be hiding. She looks high and low, and points out noises she hears and what she sees. When we’re baking cookies or bread, I have the time to let her shape the cookie or knead the dough in her own way. Since I can’t have a “do over” and go back to re-parent my children, I am comforted by offering their children the gift of slowing down and savoring the small things. My priority now is following the child’s lead, enjoying every precious minute with each of them.

Busy families can “buy” some time in their hectic daily lives by utilizing routines. Establishing simple routines gives structure to a young child’s day, and allows a family’s time to be better prioritized. For example, the routine of having your child pick out the next day’s clothes each evening makes for a much smoother start in the morning. You can even engage them in getting their backpacks by the front door and setting the table for breakfast.

In addition to saving precious time, routines help you limit potential morning chaos and power struggles. Children benefit by being ready to learn and adults avoid the frustration of starting their day with struggles.

Parents tucking smiling girl into bed
Specific bedtime routines can also be very comforting to children and allow them to get to sleep at an appropriate time. Most of us have heard that many people don’t get enough sleep, and that certainly also applies to young children. In my preschool teaching days, I would often find the culprit of a child’s challenging behavior to be a lack of sleep. Keeping bedtimes at about the same time each night and keeping pre-bedtime events in the same order (as often as possible) will go a long way to helping a child transition to much needed sleep.

The routine that works well for many families is:
Dinner together
Bath time
A little free play, art, puzzles
Child chooses a book
Bedtime story
Eight hours or more of sleep

Some additional ideas to fine-tune your time and provide healthy routines are:

  • Establish a place for much used (and easily misplaced!) items near the front door. That includes shoes, coats, backpacks, library books to return, and more.
  • Keep the order of events the same, even when you need to change the time schedule for some reason. Think bath, teeth brushing, stories, bed.
  • Maintain your same schedule (within reason) even when traveling or having guests at your home.
  • Use unscheduled time (Saturday mornings!) to allow your child to savor the luxury of unhurried time.

When you’re the parent of a young child (or more than one!) it’s hard to believe that these busy days will pass all too quickly. Take the time to slow down and enjoy one of the most prized times of your family’s life by using the almost magical power of healthy routines. And, if you’re a grandparent, you already know exactly what I mean!

About Kathy Barry

I am a wife, mother and very busy grandmother learning more every day about the fascinating world of early learning. I’ve put my Master of Arts in Early Childhood to excellent use as an educator, parent, and grandparent. I am now retired from my professional role as executive director of Early Childhood Services for the Shasta County Office of Education and eager to share some Bits of Early Wisdom.

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