For any working parent, the issue of time is important. Time to wake up, get to work, make meetings, home for dinner, etc.
Well, for people who are retired, staying on a schedule can be less of an issue. And when retired people live with those who work, this can be both a blessing and a challenge.
The blessing is that my retired parents have time on their hands to enjoy their grandkids, be present in the moment, and for the most part, not worry about where they need to be. (Though they remain militant about the evening news – do all people over 65 have to hear every word Brian Williams utters starting at exactly 5:30?)
I marvel at and am grateful for the fact that my dad can sit in the playroom for hours with my son and work on his trains, and that my mom will sit with my daughter as she reads, or bakes with the kids and lets them hold the hand-mixer, measure ingredients, etc.
The challenge can occur when their less rigorous schedule comes in contact with our daily careers.
My husband and I have days that can be a little unpredictable and “on-the-fly” changes to our schedule can be tough on my parents. Anyone with a 5 and 7 year old knows there is a certain amount of fluidity to any day, but my mom and dad, though they have all the time in the world, appreciate a certain predictability. They like to know what to expect. (And I fully admit, this is a facet of MY parents, others might be far more free-wheeling.) I can tell it frustrates them when I call and say I am running late – hell, it frustrates me, too.
The one thing that keeps me sane is our family calendar. I actually love printing it out and giving it to my dad because he will examine it thoroughly and ask questions about deviations to the schedule – “should we get the kids dinner this night?” or “your mom has a doctor’s appt this day so we can’t pick up the kids from school” or “really – you are traveling to the upper peninsula of Michigan for work?”
This seems to be the one tool that puts them at ease – if it is written down, they know what is happening. In fact, it is not uncommon for my dad to remind me of things on the calendar.
So, as the new school year is approaching, I am getting organized and updating the family calendar – maybe you are, too? This will, in the end, save everyone a headache and should allow my parents to watch the evening news regularly – for which I can only say – thank goodness – we would all suffer otherwise.