My #1 goal when visiting my out-of-town grands.

A decade or two ago, I used to pine for vacation trips to explore a new city, state, or country. Sightseeing, shopping, fun, restaurants, art museums! Now my dream vacation is to be in a certain backyard in Washington, sitting under a tree, reading books to my grandkids.

Whether you’re driving 200 miles in your SUV or boarding an international flight, the time you’re about to spend with your grandchildren has you as excited as the night before your birthday. Your empty arms will soon be filled with the darlings of your life.

child hugging adult

Since you and I are “miles away grandparents,” as exciting as visiting is, it’s also a bit of a challenge. After all, we’re not able to do what “local” grandparents can do. They make three-hour visits here or there, get tired and worn out, but know they’ll see the grandchild again in just a few days. So they go home — and rest.

On the other hand, you and I have a “feast or famine” situation: concentrated, intense periods of time we’re with the grandchildren – perhaps constantly in their waking hours – followed by months with no hugs, no kisses, no fun. So we have to “grandparent NOW!” and that’s quite different from the grandparent who visits a few times a month.

Add to that challenge: we’re not just a grandparent — we’re also a house guest. We’re not the garden-variety house guest either, only having to adhere to traditional etiquette practices. We have to try to be a positive addition in dozens of different ways to a busy household of our loved ones. Our unique house guest “position” makes us go waaaay beyond just cleaning up after ourselves and complimenting the hosts.

When thinking about those early trips my husband and I made to see our first grandchild when she was a baby, at first, my goal for the visit then was: be with the baby as much as possible and help out as much as I could.

But the more I thought about what I really wanted, I realized this about what my goal has to be:

After all, I could have a wonderful visit but be such a pain-in-the-tush that my son and daughter-in-law would not be overly eager to have me back again. If I disrupted their household, was bossy and opinionated, etc., who could blame them if they were relieved when we were packing our bags for our return flight. I never wanted that to happen. Of course, they probably would feel obligated to ask us back, but I wanted them to want us to come back!

I vowed to be the type of guest the family can’t wait to see again. That’s my goal and I’m stickin’ to it, every single visit. And it’s working.

What are your goals when visiting your grandchildren who are miles away? Please share in the Comments section below.

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8 thoughts on “My #1 goal when visiting my out-of-town grands.”

  1. Never thought of it that way, but you’re right. Having my daughter really want to have me come back for another 1,332 mile visit is what I desperately want!

  2. Our grans are in Alaska and we are in North Carolina. It is especially hard for us to get together, but somehow we get to see them once a year and Skype. You do what you can to maintain that closeness.

    • Alaska and North Carolina — that’s a lot of territory in between. But it sounds like you’re making it work and, yep, we “do what you can do” to keep connected.

  3. We encourage our son and daughter in law to have a night out while we babysit. I take projects for the kids to do with me. We go to the grocery and buy foods that I can prepare with them too. I love to cook, my daughter in law doesn’t, and I can be a part of sharing my cooking skills. We also set a limit of time we are there so we don’t wear out our welcome.

    • Sounds like they would be ready to happily invite you back again. Wish I could cook like you do! That is a skill set I don’t have.
      Thanks for letting us in on your tip.

  4. I ask permission before “ spoiling”….. and I limit the spoiling to once a day. It may mean an extra 10 minutes at bedtime with them with a special story, or a small cookie/piece of candy/favorite snack they don’t get normally, a small gift that allows granny to play with, etc. I also try to explain to the child (age appropriate) that this is special because Granny got mom and dad’s permission and this is not going to happen once Granny leaves. Of course spoiling does not include extra kisses, hugs, and Granny play time/attention.


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