When I first got pregnant, my husband and I developed a game plan for parenthood. This plan involved the usual items – raising our children to be Catholic, emphasizing the importance of reading and school in general, letting the children try any sport or activity in which they express an interest – and some not so usual plans – opting not to become a stay-at-home parent, the need to foster a close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. I feel we have been successful in all of these things, especially regarding my children’s relationship with both sets of grandparents.
One of the best things about summer vacation is the summer camps. I know that I was fortunate enough to attend a camp on archaeology, one on architecture, band camp, volleyball camp and a myriad of others throughout my childhood. As a working mother, I regret that my children will not have the same opportunities to attend summer camps, as I did, only because around here, various locations offer summer camps right smack-dab in the middle of the day (10:30 AM to 2 PM does me no good, camp directors), and I work too far from home to be able to flit back and forth. However, my husband and I discovered an alternative that resolves the issue of attending summer camps as well as fits into our general scheme of building a close-knit relationship with grandparents. The trick is vacations to their grandparents.
These are no ordinary trips. These involve just the kids and the grandparents. Mommy and Daddy have to go back home while the kids get to experience their grandparents without Mommy and Daddy in the picture. We have done this in the past, one week each summer, and both my parents and the kids rave about the week long after they return. This year, however, we opted to take it one step further. This year, the kids will be gone a full month, and they will be visiting both sets of grandparents, the ones in Texas as well as the ones in Illinois. This involves flying and some logistical maneuvering, but it will be well worth it in the end.
My parents have already scouted out various week-long camps for the kids, priced out certain events at the Chicago museums, planned day activities to movies, rock-climbing, the driving range. My in-laws have figured out how the kids are going to split their time among the three aunts and uncles that also live in the area and have also come up with a list of activities. It is difficult to discern just who is most excited about this month-long excursion, the kids or the grandparents. I know that no matter what happens, this will be a summer to remember for everyone and helps further our goal of creating that tight relationship between the two groups. This is far better than any summer camp they might attend.
Thanks, Lisa! That is definitely our goal with this experience. It is very amusing to get play-by-play descriptions of meal time behaviors or other anecdotes as the grandparents express incredulity at certain behaviors that we experience every day. It is a great opportunity to have them get firsthand knowledge of why we get so frustrated at times!
What a great solution! and what a wonderful thing for your kids. That amount of time with each set of grandparents gives the kids time to really get to know their grandparents.
Rae – It was a long time ago, but I did! We didn't do much other than research archaeology, but I still remember attending that camp. It was a blast!
Archaeology camp? Are you serious? I am so jealous!!!
Katrina – I know that my grandparents lived far away when I was growing up, so we did not see them often. When my grandfather died when I was eleven, one of my biggest regrets was that I didn't see him more, even if I had no control over it. My husband had a similar experience with long-distance relationships with his grandparents, so it remains very important to us that we present this opportunity to the kids before their grandparents get too old or sick to do so.
Valerie – This is the first year my in-laws ever said yes. Until this year, they have been very hesitant to take them. I feel that there may be a bit of jealousy at play here because my parents have taken the kids for at least one week every year for the past three years. It is a big deal for all involved, so I can understand that some parents may not be interested or willing.
Jennifer – We have never lived near family, so this is a wonderful way for the kids to get to know their grandparents and for us to get a break. As for plans, we don't really have any. Jim is out of town this week, but we've discussed going out on the boat, going to a baseball game, going to a winery. We shall see how it plays out!
I think that it is great that your children have such close relationships with their grandparents. My husband and I were both the youngest in our families with the result that the grandparents were already dead or died when our boys were just babies.I hope that you all have a lovely, memorable summer.
You are lucky the kids' grandparents are willing to do this! My kids' grandparents would not so much. I'm guessing one set of grandparents probably could manage a week, but not longer. The other set have already said they want to only take one kid at a time but not all three at once. So it's not worth thinking about trying to do at this time. Anyway, I know your kids will have wonderful memories being built this summer!
This sounds wonderful! We live in the same town as both sets as grandparents so a month away from home to see them seems a little strange, but with the distances you have it is a great idea! I was also wondering what you are doing during this month…what fun plans do you have???
Enjoy your month too!