Last week we republished an article by Bob Lowry entitled “What do you do all day?”. It proved to be extremely popular with our readers so I thought I would take a moment to talk about the importance of developing new interests in retirement.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, “I have a fulltime gig as a nanny and chauffeur to my grandchildren, what would I need new interests for?”.
The answer to this I think, is two-fold. In the short term, it would be quite fair to say that you already have a “new” interest – the grandchildren themselves. In the longer term, however, you might consider what you will do to fill the void once they start riding the bus to school on their own, or going to soccer practice after school every day, or texting in code and you are no longer the center of their little world.
I know that this is hard to fathom as they nap peacefully on the sofa in your living room, but a natural part of growing up is for children to enter a world where then shun “old people” (aka anyone over the age of 20) as they develop a sense of self and independence.
As much as this will sting a little, you must resist the urge to smother them if this happens as this will only make them squirm and recoil even further (remember the aunt that you had that always insisted on rushing up to you with big hugs and forced excitement when they saw you?).
Instead, look for a way to develop a new interest that is compatible with the “new person” that has emerged inside your grandchild. Better yet, ask them to teach you how to do something that they think is “cool” such as using an IPad, recording shows on cable, skyping on your phone, playing Candy Crush.
It doesn’t really matter what the activity is as long as they are interested and you are engaging in an activity that will help you maintain a connection to them as they grow. For example, did you know that you can play online games together from your respective homes? Or how about baking cookies together via skype? Or building the family tree together at ancestry.com? Or how about letting them read you the story that they wrote at school?
The key to successful interaction is to figure out how to be there for them on their terms. If this is unfamiliar or uncomfortable ground for you, take heart – you will never have trouble retrieving the voice messages from your cell phone or recording your favorite TV shows again; you can get the kids to do it for you.