Writing a column for a magazine is interesting. Right now, I am sitting on my dock, listening to the gentle lapping of waves, watching birds diving into the water hoping to catch a fish, enjoying a soft breeze that feels wonderful on a hot, humid summer day, and thinking about what to write. It is the end of June, full-on tourist season, beaches and restaurants are crowded, lots of traffic, kids at camp, and I am about to write about school starting up again.
I love the summer months – except for days when the mercury shoots up and you don’t want to leave the air conditioning. What I love is the freedom of a schedule for my grandchildren which, on most days, means a spur of the moment ability to just pick up and go. Obviously, there are planned day camps, away camps, and outings, but it still leaves plenty of free days.
For those grandparents who are in charge of their grands throughout the year while the parents are at work, it means less time for themselves during the summer. We all love our grandchildren, but after months of their daily care, it is time for some self-love.
If you are responsible for getting them to school, once they are on the bus or dropped off by you, plan to spend some time with your spouse, a sibling, a friend, or just a day to yourself. Go have brunch or lunch, go shopping, take a walk, or find a quiet, lovely place to sit and read that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand. My sister has a group of friends who get together when time permits and play bridge after which they enjoy having lunch together before picking up the children from school. Another couple I know try to plan one day a week for a short, day trip. They leave in the morning and, as my mom used to say, just putt around until it’s time to pick up the children. They never go too far from home; sometimes they just explore areas in their own town.
Getting involved with a volunteer organization is another great thing to do. When living in Winston-Salem, a friend of mine and I volunteered for Meals-On-Wheels. It was one day a month, the clients were so grateful, and it gave the two of us time to catch up on our comings and goings. Deliveries started in the morning, and afterwards, we had lunch together. It was a rewarding experience for both of us – a way to give back and spend time with my friend.
I also loved volunteering for the Backpack Program my church sponsored. I met up with one or two other ladies at church, and we filled bags with two days’ worth of meals for children at a certain school. We then delivered individual bags filled with these meals to the school where they were parceled out to ones whose parents had signed up to receive them. This provided these children with meals on the weekends. When I started with this project, we served 50 children. When I left, we were providing weekend meals for 125, through the generosity of the food bank and monetary donations.
There are plenty of hours in the week to handle household needs, so make sure to take time for yourself. Whether it’s volunteering, getting your hair and nails done, or just relaxing and watching an old movie on TV, enjoying some “me” time while the grands are in school, even if it’s a day here or there, will be a gift you give yourself that you rightly deserve.