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When you move to a retirement community, at first you may worry about how you will entertain guests, especially small children. Your new home has less space and you share yard space now. If you have young grandchildren or great-grandchildren, it is hard to imagine how they would visit without disturbing others. Children can be loud and restless and without parks to occupy them, what do you do?
Children love to hear and tell stories. They like knowing what their grandparents were like as children. It is important to share generational history with young people today. With families living across the country and kids connected to so much technology, it seems like the art of simple conversation, without disruption, has diminished. Here are some ideas to help make the next visit meaningful:
· Tell them a story about what you were like as a child
· Create a family scrapbook
· Look through old photo albums. This alone can keep them busy for hours in my family. Remember happy ties and relate those stories to the next generation so they have reference to history when they have children.
· Read books, taking turns if the children can read themselves, or read to the younger ones, and then compare your life to the characters in the book. Ask your grandchildren to compare their life too.
· Sharing a movie together, perhaps after reading the book, and then compare how they were the same and how they were different
· Take advantage of the many group activities and speakers offered in your community
Whatever activity you choose the key to success lies with shared interests. Don’t be afraid to talk to the kids about their interests by asking direct questions. Instead of asking “How’s school going?” Ask them, “What are you studying in history this year” Or “What do you and your friends like to do?” Having a conversation with your teenage grandson about the reasons he wants to get a tattoo or body piercing, and the fact he feels he is responsible enough to make that decision, may seem unimportant to you, but it will carry more weight than you realize down the road.
Living in a retirement community or assisted living facility does not mean you cannot spend time with children, it simply means your time will look a little different.