As the saying goes, “Spring, when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.” Well, that may be, but since Valentine’s Day with hearts and Cupid comes in February, there may be an argument made that February is the month of thoughts of love.
As grandparents, you have experienced many types of love, but probably none so much as the love of your children and grandchildren. However, there is another person you should love that is just as important, and that is yourself. As an older adult, you want to be there and be strong for your family. You have been a caregiver most of your adult life, watching over your children, possibly your parents, in-laws, and other relatives. You did this while also handling a full-time job, whether at home or in an office. It left little time to examine yourself, evaluate your life, your contentment, and self-esteem.
Now, as grandparents, most of us have reached the age when life isn’t quite as hectic. The downtime allows for more introspection and assessment. Recently, my niece wrote about things she had learned over the past year. Even though she is much younger, I found wisdom for all ages in some of her thoughts.
- Love yourself.
- Forgiveness. Do not hold hate or anger in your heart. Most importantly, forgive yourself—no one is perfect.
- Apologies. If you are in the wrong, apologize. Own up to your mistakes.
- Your happiness is your responsibility.
- Friends will come and go, but family is forever.
- Good deeds bring good outcomes—even if it is simply a smile.
- Never give up on your goals and dreams. People do amazing things at all ages. It is only too late if you let it be.
- Try new things.
- Stay active.
- Focus on the positive, and be grateful.
- Never stop learning.
As grandparents, these are ideals we need to impart to our grandchildren through our own actions, words, and deeds. Children are like little sponges, soaking up way more than we are aware of. They go from babbling infants to having amazing vocabularies in a very short span of time. From making us guess what their different cries mean—Are they hungry, tired? Do they need a new diaper?—to full sentences a few months later. It seems that in no time at all they are repeating everything they hear. You can reinforce their parents’ teachings by incorporating some of the above into your life.
You owe it to your grandchildren to give them the best of yourself. It is easy to put your needs on the back burner. If you have been sliding on eating healthy and exercising, start making it a priority. Easing into it makes it something you’ll start to look forward to, instead of a chore you dread. You are likely to stay with a program if you have support from your spouse, family, or friends. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking your grandkids for a walk or playing any number of games outside. Hide-and-seek indoors when the weather is bad will still keep you on your feet and off the couch. A step counter is another great motivator.
Another great exercise is focusing on the positive and being grateful. It is not uncommon for children to forget to be thankful or grateful for all the blessings they have been given. I recently read that, once a week, you ought to write down three things you were grateful for that week. If you do that every week for several weeks, you will find yourself realizing how blessed you are and how happy it makes you. Have your grandchildren write down three things each week they are grateful for, and let it serve as a reminder to them, as well. Keep your weekly notes in a jar. Every once in a while, when you get together, read them to each other. It will give each of you a wonderful bond and an insight into each other’s life.
Everyone needs love in his or her life. Start with yourself, and watch it grow.