Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Guests, like fish, get smelly after three days.” Short trips are wise, Mr. Franklin, for grandparents who live fairly close to their out-of-town grandkids. But if we’re spending $763 for plane fare across the country, most of us feel it’s economically foolish to stay for only a long weekend.
Just as with picking the dates of our stay, we ask our son and daughter-in-law what length of stay will work well for their household for the upcoming trip.
If it were up to the grandkids, they would want us to stay forever, as they frequently tell us! A few years ago, shortly after we arrived, Charlotte took her jump rope and started tying my hands together as I was talking to others in the room. When at last I noticed and asked her what she was doing, she began to wrap the rope around her own wrists as she proudly said, “Now you can’t leave me!”
TIP for those buying an airline ticket: first, ask the parents gently if a week would be okay and see the reaction you get. If they say, “Only a week?!?” you can ask for more days if you’d like.
Some trips might warrant a longer stay than ordinary visits. For instance:
- The parents might want you (need you!) there longer after a baby is born.
- When grandparents are going to take care of the grandchildren while the parents take a getaway trip, the grandparents wisely want to be there a couple of days before the parents leave. That gets the grands comfortable again with their grandparents and lets the grandparents learn the current routines of the house.
If I’m arriving for a special occasion, such as a grandchild’s birthday party or a holiday, I find out if the parents need me extra days for prep before the occasion or for recovery afterward. I never assume it’s one or the other – or either.
Because grandchildren get older and the household dynamics change, toward the end of each visit, I try to evaluate the length of time we’ve been there, to see if it’s been “about right” or should be altered for the next visit. Maybe six days was a good visit when there was only a three-year old but the same length visit might be wrong when the family includes a new baby. Evaluate the length of the stay while the visit is happening (not later when you’re pining for your grandkids) and adjust the next trip longer or shorter, if need be, if it’s okay with the parents.
How long do you usually stay when you visit your grandchildren? What works well for you and the family? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below. Thanks!