How should I reconnect with grandchildren?

How should I reconnect with grandchildren?

A problem shared…GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice: How should I reconnect with grandchildren?

  • Grandparents worried about relationship with grandchildren during lockdown
  • Anonymous UK-based grandparent asked for advice on how to reconnect
  • Clare Bailey advised the reader to try playing a game or telling a story on Zoom 

Q: How do I reconnect with my grandchildren — aged three, eight and 12 — once lockdown is over?

I am desperately hoping to meet them in a matter of weeks, having not seen them since last summer. Even then it was at a distance outdoors and it felt remote and awkward as have video calls.

I’ve had both vaccines, but am wondering if it’s safe to hug them? I’m fearful that the little one may not remember me. They have all grown and changed so much, I’m worried we’ll feel like strangers?

An anonymous UK-based grandparent asked Clare Bailey for advice on how to reconnect with their grandchildren. Pictured: stock image

A: Millions of grandparents have experienced the agony of separation from their grandchildren. Being able to hug a family member is top of many of our wishlists for when lockdown eases and we can meet six people outdoors from March 29.

Having shielded for so long, it’s not surprising to feel concerned as to whether it’s safe to see or hug loved ones, even after having the vaccine. By three weeks after your first jab, any risk to you should be significantly reduced. Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines prevent severe illness by as much as 90 per cent, and more after the second dose.

But nothing is zero risk and England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries still recommends that children do not hug their grandparents “too much”, even if they have been vaccinated.

For immunised grandparents already in a childcare or support bubble, doing the school run should be OK with the right social distancing. The risk of getting an infection from young children is very low, although it’s potentially higher with secondary school children.

Clare Bailey advised the reader to try playing a game or telling a story on Zoom, as well as having questions ready to ask for when they finally meet in person

A Gransnet survey showed that 44 per cent of grandparents were worried about their relationships with their grandchildren during lockdown. There are certainly things you can start to do to rebuild a close connection.

You are right that phone calls and zooms are no substitute for time together, but have you tried reading a story to them or playing a game such as I Spy, where you choose things that you can see on screen?

When you do finally meet, don’t swoop in and smother them, or get too emotional — it might overwhelm or even alarm them. A young grandchild may be reserved at first, as they could be feeling a sense of abandonment or rejection if they don’t understand why they haven’t been able to see you for so long. Bring a little treat and take things slow.

Try to be clear about physical boundaries, perhaps in a jokey way by bumping elbows and, if you aren’t able or ready for hugging, explain you would love to cuddle, but we need to keep granny healthy.

You may, understandably, be desperate to catch up on everything at once, but don’t interrogate them. Have a few questions ready to ask about what they’ve been doing.

For the older children, find out in advance what their current interests are from their parents and think about whether there was anything you could follow up on that was mentioned in a video call.

It’s clear grandparenting has never been so hard as it has been this last year, but try not to expect too much from the reunion. Relax, give it time and try to be in listening mode. Your unique and special relationship will be back on track before long.

BEETROOT TO GIVE YOU A BOOST

With that distinctive sweet, earthy taste, not everyone is a fan of beetroot, but I love it. I’m still digging up the rich, purple gems that I planted last year, then I roast them with cumin.

Here are a few health benefits: beetroot is high in nutrients including iron, folate and vitamin C; it improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. Drinking half a cup of beetroot regularly lowers blood sugars, while its antioxidant properties help against chronic diseases. Persuaded? I hope so but don’t be alarmed if your urine turns pink after eating!

You can write to Clare at [email protected] or Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT .

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