Tip of the Week

There are laundry lists of reasons why grandparents are the best. They say yes when parents say no, they tell the best stories but make even better listeners, and often they’re the first people we call with news, both good and bad.

That’s why each September, we celebrate National Grandparents Day — a day of recognition for all the amazing “nanas” and “pop-pops” out there. But connecting with Grandma and Grandpa shouldn’t be just one day a year. Whether near or far, grandparents can keep connected to their family’s lives any day of the year with the following tips.

Make a daily photo album

When family members live far away it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s new in their lives. It’s easy to forget to call one another and share life’s ups and downs. To help bridge this gap, make digital scrapbooks and schedule a call once a month to exchange your albums with each other. Voila — an entire month’s worth of memories to catch up on in one place!

Schedule a weekly dinner

Sure, it’s easy to sit down to enjoy a meal together as a family if you all live nearby, but for some families, that’s not possible. Luckily, technology makes it easy to share life’s experiences without being in the same place. Take turns choosing a recipe and pick a date for everyone to make it (Mom and Dad can assist the little helpers). At the end of the meal write a review of the food — what steps were easy or hard, which part was your favorite — and send to one another to see if your experiences were similar. If Grandma and Grandpa are tech savvy, try video chatting while you create and enjoy your recipes to make it feel like you’re dining together!

Play games together online

Don’t let distance put a damper on game night — grandkids and grandparents can play virtually! Downloading and playing is simple with today’s smartphones and affordable phone plans. Try a service like TracFone — they offer a 30-day smartphone-only plan with talk, text and data for just $15 a month — all on the largest 4G LTE networks. Grandparents will have plenty of money left over to spoil the grandkids.

Call at bedtime

Bedtime can be hectic for moms and dads with little ones. Grandparents to the rescue! Make a call part of children’s nightly ritual. Telling stories with Grandma will keep one kid busy, allowing Mom and Dad to tend to the others. It’s a sweet ending to the day for all!

Send postcards as you travel

There’s still something uniquely special about receiving a handwritten note from someone you love. Grandparents and grandchildren can share that experience by making a “pinky promise” to send one another postcards from their travels. Grandparents and grandchildren will look forward to checking the mailbox daily for it to arrive, and a phone call to discuss all of the trip’s adventures will soon follow.

— Brandpoint/TracFone

Family Movie Night

“Home Again”

Rated: PG-13

Length: 97 minutes

Synopsis: Life for a single mom (Reese Witherspoon) takes an unexpected turn when she allows three young guys to move in with her after she moves back home to Los Angeles.

— Open Road Films

Book Report

“The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day: Awesome Games and Crafts to Master Your Moods, Boost Focus, Hack Mealtimes and Help Grownups Understand Why You Do the Things You Do”

Ages: 5 - 12 years

Pages: 208

Synopsis: Each of the 75 unique sensory-rich projects in this book will help kids navigate the most challenging times of day. Whether kids struggle to get out the door in the morning or hate to sit for homework, this is the book for you. Kids will be begging to clean their room, their dinner plates, and more with exciting activities.

— Page Street Publishing

Did You Know

The beginning of the school year is stressful especially when trying to get dinner on the table, but practicing mindfulness can help. As soon as you get home, just take a few minutes and chill out. With deep breathing techniques, you’ll lower your heart rate and feel much calmer. Sit in your favorite chair, soften your gaze and start those long, drawn-out inhales and exhales, counting your breath if needed.

Being mindful is all about staying in the present and following each action with intention and awareness. But when your mobile device is pinging that can distract us from this calm and aware state of mind. For now, while you’re preparing and eating the meal, put the devices out of reach — or in another room, if that’s practical.

With devices out of the way, it’s also much easier and more pleasant to focus on the people in the room. If your kids are hanging around the kitchen, take it as a sign they want to be with you, so use this time to connect. A great way to do this is to include kids with the meal preparation. The youngest ones can rinse fruits and vegetables, cut soft foods with a butter knife and tear lettuce. Older kids can help measure ingredients, stir and whisk, and eventually peel foods with a paring knife.

— Brandpoint/SeaPak