Diary of A Modern Gran | Thinking About Her Station

Istockphoto © Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

It’s been quite a week. “George isn’t well,” says a text from my daughter. “He’s got a really high temperature.”

Oh no. It doesn’t help that I don’t see this text until about an hour after it was sent. I started switching off my notifications at the beginning of the virus because the news flash bleeps freaked me out so much.

So I don’t get alerted by that bleep every time someone tries to get in touch. (To be honest, I much prefer a good old-fashioned telephone call.)

So I ring her back. My heart is beating fast.  It’s never nice when little ones are ill but obviously this is a particularly worrying time.

“We’re waiting outside the doctor’s,” says my poor daughter. “I’ll ring you back.”

I try to do my normal thing – writing my novel and loading the washing machine. But my mind is on my little grandson. Regular readers will know that his big sister Rose was in and out of hospital for the first eight months of her life. So we do tend to panic a bit more than some others might.

Then the phone goes. Apparently George has a very slight pink ear but nothing much to speak of.

An hour later, my daughter messages again. His temperature is really high now. As a  precaution, they’re all advised to have a COVID test at the local centre.

Naturally this means self-isolating.

Luckily, the results come back the very next day. They are negative too. Phew.

“My grandson had a high-temperature the other week too,” says one of my Granny friends when we have a catch-up call. “Before Covid, we wouldn’t have thought much of it. But we had to have a test too and it was negative. Better safe than sorry.”

Even so, it took George a couple of days before he was himself.

Then he couldn’t wait to get back to playing with the new cricket set we got him. But now the weather looks as though it’s set for rain this week. I’ve been thinking for a while that we ought to get in some new indoor toys for them to play with. Rose and George have outgrown most of the toddler things we still have. Instead, we do a lot of craft work at the kitchen table such as painting stones from the beach or planting seedlings.

Play stations

And then I read about Carole Middleton, granny to Prince George, Charlotte and Louis.

Apparently she has set up various play stations at her place to amuse the children when they visit. I’ve always been impressed by grandparents who do this. It seems so organised. But don’t you need lots of space to do this?

“Not at all,” says one of my grandparent friends who regularly looks after her grandchildren. “I put some Play-Doh on the kitchen table. Then I have a colouring mat on the floor. And in the living room, I lay out a board game for my six-year-old grandson and a brick sorting game for his little sister. We go round each one of them in turn. It stops them getting bored and also gives us a structure to the day.”

How impressive! It’s made me re-think my own station!

Another grandparent chum, who hasn’t been able to visit her family yet, sends made up crossword puzzles to her little ones. “I make the clues personal such as ‘What does Ben like to eat for breakfast?’ The answer is ‘cereal’. It also helps to sharpen my brain when composing them!”

If you’ve got any good ideas on how to entertain grandchildren of any age, please get in touch. Our email address is moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Meanwhile, life continues to be gradually creeping back to normal…

My husband and I had our second jab – I had a slightly sore arm but apart from that no other side-effects. He had nothing!

Some of my grandparent friends are now gearing up to going back to work. “During the virus, I’ve been working from home,” says Julie who’s in marketing. “I was also in a child bubble with my grandchildren. I really liked spending more time with them. Before, I was always dashing from home to the office. Now, I’m thinking of setting up my own business so I can have more flexible hours. The virus has reminded me of how important family is.”

I know what she means. I tend to write during the morning so that I can be free for the children for tea and bath if I’m needed. At the moment, I’m working flat out on my edits for my 2022 novel. This involves tweaking certain plot lines and making sure that it reads as smoothly as possible.

I’m also doing some zoom interviews and writing articles about this year’s novel which is being published by Penguin on June 24. It’s called THE LIES WE TELL and is about a mother who would do (almost) anything for her son.

Every now and then, I’ll get a new idea when I’m not working and have to write it down fast – usually on the notes section of my mobile. This happened to me the other day when I was supervising the children at their place.

“Don’t use your phone while we’re eating,” says Rose. “It’s rude.”

She has a point.

“But I’m writing a story,” I say.

“That’s all right then,” she says. Rose is highly imaginative.  She’s already starting writing her own little stories. I love the idea that maybe one day she will be a professional writer too.

As for George, who knows? Maybe a champion cricket player? I’m not being a pushy gran. Honestly! After all, it’s not scaling the heights that matters in life. It’s following your passions and doing what makes you feel happy.

Meanwhile, I feel very lucky having my children round the corner with little Rose and George. But I’m also aware that they need their own space, even though they kindly always say I’m welcome any time.

Today as I write, they’re off for a family trip. It’s the one day of the week when it’s not raining so they’re going to make the most of it.

I have to admit that I was hoping to have Rose and George round here (as I sometimes do when Mummy has jobs to do) but instead they’re going to call-in on their way back for tea.

“What would you like to eat when you come round?” I asked my granddaughter. “Pizza, please,” she says promptly, “and ice cream with broccoli.”

“Goodness,” says my husband. “She’s ahead of her time! I’m sure I saw a gourmet recipe for that in one of the Sunday supplements.”

I’d better get cooking then!

Have a great week and don’t forget to get in touch with us good ideas on how to keep your grandchildren amused. I’d also love to know if you’re still doing a paid job while helping to looking after little ones like our grandparent of the week below. Not many children can go to the dentist and have a chat to Granny at the same time! You’ll see what I mean when you read on!

Grandparent of the week – Julia, 64

Julia Austin is a 64-year-old dentist and lives in Bromley, next door to her daughter Marianne, son=in-law Dan and their children, Annabelle (nearly six), Ben (nearly four) and  Jack (nine months). She also has five other grandchildren: Charlie (13), Ruby (nearly 11), Jacob (nearly five), Amy (also nearly 10) and Katie (nearly six).

Julia with three of the grandkids“It’s a happy coincidence that I live next door to three of my grandchildren. Their parents were looking for somewhere to do up and it has happened that the house next to ours was going up for sale. Back then, the children hadn’t been born but I did think that it would be nice if that happened!

“I help out with childcare when I can, work permitting. I often have them here or I ferry them to nurseries and pick them up from schools when my daughter is back late from work. I also take them swimming.

“There are bushes in between the two gardens so they can come in and out though a little gap. Sometimes I find them at my back door asking for their favourite biscuits – Mummy isn’t always so thrilled about that!

“I’ll also have Charlie and Ruby over for a long weekend every year and we go to London. All my grandchildren and their families come to me for their dental check-ups so I was able to see them during lockdown. They might be a bit shy at first when I examine their teeth but then, because I’m granny, they’re fine.

“I always remember their birthdays. Five have them in the same week! Amy and Jacob were born on the same day and Ruby and Annabelle are a day apart.

“One of the things I love about being a grandmother is the conversations you have with them. The other day, I asked Ben what he had painted at playschool. He replied ‘Paper!’.

“I also like teaching them things like trampolining – I have one in my garden for them to play on.

“Katie and Amy call me crazy grandma because I ride a motorbike, drive a speedboat and do zip wiring! But I like to do adventurous things.”

I Made A Mistake book cover

JANE CORRY is the author of five best-selling thrillers, published by Penguin. Her latest novel Made A Mistake is about Betty, a grandmother who lives with her son’s family. Available in paperback (£7.99) and also as an e-book and audio, narrated by Emilia Fox.  http://bit.ly/IMadeaMistake OR https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Made-a-Mistake/24376830

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.