Diary Of A Modern Gran: Granny Survives Half Term!

What a week! I’m exhausted, but also exhilarated.

As I write this, we’ve just got to the end of half term. My daughter is now working during the school holidays. So she asked if I’d mind looking after them for two half days and two full days.

Obviously, as I’m a working gran, I was a little nervous about how I was going to write and look after George aged five and Rose, seven. It felt as if I was going back to the days when I was freelancing from home and bringing up my three.

I have to admit that it wasn’t easy…. But so far, my new role seems to be working rather well. Perhaps that’s because I’ve decided to compartmentalise my working hours more rigidly than I did when my daughter and sons were little.

During the day, I concentrate on my grandchildren. Then, when they’ve gone home, I work in the evening. I only check emails at lunchtime. If they’re urgent, I send a quick email back to say I will sort out whatever it is, as soon as I can.

It’s funny really. When my own children were little, older mothers were constantly telling me to enjoy every moment because time goes past fast. At the time, it didn’t feel like it. To be honest, the days felt very long when I was trying to juggle working-from-home with childcare at a time when the former wasn’t as fashionable as it is now.

But now I know that it’s true. Time does go past fast. So I’m determined to make the most of every moment with my lovely grandchildren. And wow, did we pack a lot in during half-term!

We’re lucky enough to live by the sea, so we played French cricket on the beach. Obviously I kept a very close eye on them to make sure they didn’t go near the water without me holding their hands.

We also played crazy pitch and putt. It wasn’t meant to be crazy, but my two made it that way! They raced round the course, disobeying all the rules but they had a whale of the time. (I just hope the other players around us felt the same way!)

‘I won!’ trilled Rose.

‘I won,’ insisted George.

‘You both did,’ I told them.

It was probably true and even if it wasn’t, it stopped an argument. That’s another thing I’ve learned – to defuse arguments before they erupt!

After that, I took them to a local art exhibition – they both love painting and it was great to meet the artist. After all, it’s all part of education, isn’t it? Then we went home and did our own artwork on the patio table. The latter is a different colour now because we all got rather enthusiastic, but I’ve told my husband that it’s retro art.

We also went for a walk in the woods with the dog and my husband on his crutch. They loved it, although things did go a bit awry when George came into contact with some stinging nettles. Still, that’s all part of life‘s lessons.

I discovered that the trick was to do the outdoor stuff in the morning and then in the afternoon to do a little bit of homework.

We are still sorting out some of the complications of the English language when it comes to spelling. Take the difference between the words ‘where’ and ‘were’. I tried explaining that ‘where’ referred to a location or place like ‘home’.

‘Home’ starts with a ‘h’,’ I said. ‘So ‘where’ has an ‘h’ after the ‘w’.

We also went to the village fair where they emptied my purse on the tombola and lucky dips and the puzzle table. As we walked home happily, our T-shirts coated with mango and raspberry ice lollies, I thought I’d do a bit more spelling.

‘A fair’ has an ‘i’ in it because the kind of fair we’ve been to sold ice creams and ‘ice’ begins with an ‘i’.

‘But what if George isn’t being fair to me?’ asks Rose.

‘That kind of ‘fair’ still has an ‘i’ because being ‘fair’ to someone is something that ‘I’ and everyone else ought to do,’ I say.

‘What about a bus fare?’ asked George.

‘There’s no ‘I’ in that,’ I say.


‘It just doesn’t,’ I say, suspecting I might have gone too far out of my depth.

As I write this, it’s Friday. My daughter has the day off so I haven’t got the children. Instead they’ve gone to visit my first husband and his wife. To be honest, I’m feeling rather bereft. It’s too quiet and I miss running round the house, checking that they’re all right, sorting out squabbles and painting the patio table by mistake.

But I know they’re having a good time. And that’s all that matters. Meanwhile, I’m off to catch up on some sleep!

How did you spend half-term? Do email me at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk

Ask Agony Gran

Thanks to Amanda who emailed this in:

This might sound very silly, but I’d still like to ask your advice. My husband and I have a rule in our house that everyone takes off their shoes when they come in. It feels much more hygienic. But my daughter-in-law insists that our grandchildren, keep their shoes on. She says that it’s perfectly all right for them to wipe them clean on the doormat.

She’s not the easiest person to get on with. However, when we go to the house, we have to obey their rules. Do you have any advice?

Pairs Of Shoes On A Welcome Mat

Pic: Shutterstock

Jane Says:

Thank you for sharing this with us. I can’t help wondering whether the shoes aren’t the issue here. Maybe your daughter-in-law is making a point. It sounds as though there is some friction between you. If that’s the case, it might be worth addressing this first.

It’s a fact of life that not everyone gets on with their children’s partners. But it makes life so much easier if families get on. Sometimes, we just have to bite the bullet and give in to make life calmer for everyone. Of course it’s irritating, to put it mildly, that your own rules are being walked over. But is it worth falling out over shoes? (I’m speaking here as someone who also has a ‘no outdoor shoes in the house’ rule.)

Of course, you could try buying slippers for your grandchildren and suggesting that they wear them inside. But that might cause more trouble.

If it was me, I would try to ignore it. In the long run, it’s better to keep family harmony. I’m aware that not everyone will agree with me. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a house where my mother and her live-in mother-in-law didn’t get on. It left its mark on me and I still don’t like arguments. However, in the end, you must do what you feel is right. Good luck.’

Children’s Book of the Week

When I Became Your Grandad by Susannah Shane and Britta Teckentrup £7.99. Published by Nosy Crow.

A lovely rhyming-text picture book about that special relationship between a grandad lion and his lion cub grandson.

Grandparent Tip

My grandchildren live a long way from me, but we send each other emails – they are aged 10 and 12. I now post them a word of the week and explain what it means. It helps to improve their vocabulary. The other day, my eldest grandson got top marks for using the word vocabulary in an English essay!

Elaine, Worcestershire

Thank you, Elaine. If you’ve got a grandparent tip about anything, please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

The Funny Things They Do And Say

I have one of those box calendars in my kitchen and my ten-year-old granddaughter likes to help me turn the squares round to the right day and month when she visits. But she got confused when it was June this week. ‘That’s my friend’s name,’ she said. ‘How can it be a month as well?

Peter, Uxbridge

Life can be very confusing, can’t it! Thanks for sending this in. If your grandchildren have done or said something funny, please email us at  moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk

Where To Take The Grandchildren

Source Park (BMX/skate park), White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JA

Tel 01424 238360


I recently took my teenage grandchildren to this amazing underground BMX and skateboard park. They had a great time.

Alf, from Kent

If you’d like to recommend a day out, please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Family News

Picking up grandchildren from school can help mental health, according to a new survey. Personally, I can see both sides.

I love chatting to the other parents and grandparents when I’m waiting to collect mine. I also love it when they come running out into my arms. But I do get stressed about making sure they’ve got everything they should have (where’s your cardigan?’); getting into the car safely (hold my hand!); and giving them snacks (only one chocolate biscuit!).

What do you think? Please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk

Jane Corry is a journalist and Sunday Times best-selling author. Her new Penguin mystery COMING TO FIND YOU is out soon. It’s about two women who live in the same seaside house, 80 years apart in 1943 and the present day. You can pre-order by clicking amzn.to/3FD7sMp.