Seeing our children develop close and loving bonds with our own parents is one of the primary joys of family life. Unfortunately, while this relationship is straightforward while your parents are living independently, maintaining that bond becomes a whole lot harder if your parents ever face the reality of entering an assisted living or care facility. Suddenly, visits go from being an everyday occurrence to being a pretty big deal, and you may even prefer to keep the kids away while your parents settle.
Eventually, though, grandchildren and grandparents alike will be desperate to reunite, and we’ve got some crucial tips to help you manage the smoothest possible first visit when that happens.
Tell your children what to expect
While most kids won’t bat an eye at their surroundings when they’ve seen them more than once, children can find it quite overwhelming the first time they visit their grandparents outside of their home. This is especially true in things like care homes, where the environment can be busy, and entirely unlike the home space that kids are used to. Even in more home-like assisted living apartments, children may struggle to settle if they aren’t quite sure where they are or what it means. To avoid this, it’s always worth talking to your children about what they can expect, including things like staff presence, on-site activities, or any health-related changes that they might not be prepared for in your parents. This way, they’re far less likely to experience unpleasant shocks and distress on the day.
Find a time that works for everyone
If kids or grandparents are tired, hungry, or anything else, this visit could become more emotional and rushed than you would ideally like. Hence why it’s also vital that you time your visit carefully based on everything from your children’s meal and nap times to the care home schedule where relevant. This way, you make it far more likely that the visit will run well without unexpected hiccups or the risk of a bad atmosphere, which is going to make all of the difference for keeping everyone happy for the duration.
Plan activities if you can
Particularly if your grandparents aren’t in the best of health, sitting around in their apartment or care home room can be difficult for them and your child. As such, you may also want to fill this visit with activities that can keep everyone occupied and ultimately show your child the fun grandparents they know and love. Luckily, most care home facilities will have family-friendly activity schedules that you could sign up for. Equally, if an assisted living facility offers additions like restaurants, swimming pools, etc., you may find that heading here helps to keep everyone busy, having fun, and distracted from the more medicalized or scary elements of this move.
Kids are resilient, and once they’ve visited your parents a few times they likely won’t even notice this change in scenery anymore. That’s especially true if you make their first visit as good as it possibly can be using these pointers.