Listen in on Nature Grandparenting

Listen in on Nature Grandparenting

Grandparenting happens informally in families. Whatever form grandparenting takes in your family, know that your time and intentional involvement is a gift to both child and parents. I can't speak for grandparents, but I'm guessing it can be pretty darn rewarding for you! 

Nature Grandparenting is when grandparents prioritize spending time with their grandchildren outdoors and interacting with nature. Sadly, the combination of urbanization, scheduled activities and parents working full time has led to children having fewer opportunities to build comfort and connection with nature in their early years. Thankfully, Grandparents can be an important nature mentor in their granchildren's lives - someone who makes space in their life to explore, dream and play in biodiverse spaces.  

If the years of adulthood responsibilities have worn away at your sense of wonder and play, you might consider participating in a Nature Grandparenting program. Programs like the one offered by Wildernook Fresh Air Learning are designed to be a fun intergenerational nature outing, while also providing grandparents with practical ideas on how to hook their grandchildren on nature at a young age. 

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Mentored by Grandpa

Mentored by Grandpa

Spending the day with grandpa could mean helping with any number of tasks.   There always seemed some small role for us to take part in such as flouring the counter for baking or looking for trains on our walks to get groceries.  Where other caregivers could have easily plunked us down in front of the TV, grandpa would get upset if he thought we were spending too much time inside. Grandpa loved to walk, and although we grandchildren slowed him down, I think he enjoyed our company.  When we visited him in the city, he thought nothing of taking us on hour-long walks at his brisk ‘going somewhere efficiently’ pace to buy groceries downtown.  I think he viewed it as a chance to show us how to get around and look after our basic needs. 

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Beyond Babysitting

Beyond Babysitting

Does the term ‘babysitting’ serve much purpose in describing what you do with your grandkin? Perhaps for the rare occasion where the parent(s) are out and the kiddos are tucked soundly in bed. It could also apply when tending to a sickly, bed-bound child. Either way, the term conveys a caregiver offering a sedentary service to a dormant little darling. How often does that happen?

The term 'babysitt'ing' must be old as the hills, right? After a little digging this Gen X-er was surprised to learn 'babysitting' only became a household term in the 1950's alongside 'suburb' and 'baby boomer.'  

Curious...  

 The article History of Babysitting asks the question, "Why didn't your great-great grandma babysit people?" The answer is fascinating:

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Expectations Reboot

Expectations Reboot

Treating your beloved grandchild to a shiny new toy or piece of technology is bound to garner initial squeals of excitement, but does regular gift giving affect how you and your grandchild are able to relate to one another? Breaking from this pattern could prove difficult because you care about your grandchildren so darn much! You just can’t help yours---

Stop!

Step away from the stuffy.

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The Problem with Making Nice Meals

The Problem with Making Nice Meals

If you only have a two or three hour window together with your grandchildren, make the focus on doing together instead of doing for. Making nice meals for your loved ones can be a way of nurturing them and demonstrating your hosting capabilities, but it's also another form of busyness. 

Consider this me giving you permission to ditch the hour or more meal prep. Sure, you might be responsible for feeding the gremlins, but you run the risk of spending your time making the meal instead of making experiences with the goofy, gooey children in your life. I’ve seen it in my friends, family, and certainly in myself. If you came over for supper, I'd want to serve you roasted beet salad, barbecued salmon and wild rice pilaf. Realistically, preparing food with a toddler dangling from my pant leg, or worse ‘playing’ too quietly by himself, drastically reduces my ability to focus. Whatever prep time the recipe creator claims, double it! Once you add a diaper change, nap, text to the parents, pre-meal-snack, and snack mess clean up and that ideal window of time you had for playing outdoors with your grandchild has passed you by.  

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Waiting on Perfect Weather

Waiting on Perfect Weather

As an advocate for children spending more time outdoors, you likely have the good intentions, knowledge and experience to make it happen. If a few friendly nudges are all you need to get your grandmonster bundled up and out the door, this post is for you. 

Nudge #1: A nudge from an outdoor educator

The weather today is neither good nor bad, simply different.* The weather outside your climate controlled home today is a result of the number of daylight hours, air temperature, precipitation and wind.  It's the same weather conditions all species encounter at your particular location. Rather than teach your grandchildren that grey days equal cancelled plans and a case of the grumbles, remind them we cannot control the weather—only our response to it. 

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Calling all Grandparents

Calling all Grandparents

Through time and mentorship grandparents are able to contribute to their grandchild's learning and development in ways that parents have limited capacity for. Jana Miller, of Wildernook.com researched intergenerational environmental learning in her masters thesis. Her writing in the Nature Grandparenting blog as an educational resource tailored for grandparents.  

The Nature Grandparenting blog is designed to provide grandparents with ideas, practical information and a supportive community to integrate nature connection in their grandparenting practice.

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Creating Wildernook

Creating Wildernook

“What type of work would you do if money were no object?” As a teacher, I’ve asked this question of my students, but never fully clarified what I'd put my energy into if money were no object.

The birth of our son and the time I've taken off teaching to spend with him have been an incredible gift-- he renews in me a love for experiencing life. He teaches me to be present, to be humble, and to toss out all the 'shoulds' camped out in my pockets. My version of if money were no object doesn't exist on a job board. Join me as I recalibrate my journey and engineer my own job description.

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