by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

Some of you will remember our recent survey on grandparents and the pandemic, where we asked for your feedback. (Thank you to all who participated. Your feedback is very valuable!)

Now, I want this blog to be encouraging to you, and I think it will be. But I should also mention that many grandparents said the pandemic and social distancing—from their grandkids and other family members as well as friends—has been very difficult. It’s especially tough for those who live alone.

Our survey yielded some very interesting responses, and this week I want to highlight one question:

What behaviors or activities have been most helpful to you and your household in keeping perspective during the pandemic?

Here’s a sampling of some of the interesting responses we received:

“Living in gratitude.”
“Staying away from network news.”
“I love that we have had more time to actually be a family without the hustle and bustle of school and after-school activities and ballet.”
“Boating and Netflix!”
“Simple pleasures: ice cream breaks. We can swing again! Picnics, blowing bubbles, short road trips.”

Click to view image full size.

The survey tool created a cloud image to represent some of the most common words used in people’s answers, which is interesting to me as a researcher. And my own observations after scanning through the open-ended responses, are consistent with those key words.

These are the top three positive behaviors and activities that stood out from your responses:

Stay busy & active. Grandparents found it helpful to maintain involvement in hobbies, music, cooking, reading and so on. They also found it therapeutic to be outside and exercise, whether it’s simply walking, riding bicycles, gardening, or participating in a range of other favorite activities. A number of people mentioned using this time to learn something new—a great idea—and, as mentioned in one of the responses above, quite a few said that they avoid the watching or listening to the news. Maintaining a positive outlook is vital.

Do what you can. This category includes much of what you have probably heard for grandparents to stay connected to grandchildren and other family: Zoom, Facetime, texting, and any other modes of communication. And as more of society reopens, they can once again enjoy in-person visits, even if some are still wearing masks, maintaining six-feet of distance, and/or getting together outside somewhere. It isn’t ideal, but grandparents are finding ways to make the best of it.

Hold on to what is meaningful. It’s unmistakable in the word picture above and in the complete list of responses: many grandparents are using this time to reinforce the vital importance of their faith. They’re participating in online worship services, spending more time in prayer and reading Scripture, and practicing other spiritual disciplines.

Whatever you may turn to for good health and a deep sense of purpose, meaning, and personal connection, continue to pursue those as much and as often as you can. This pandemic—and being considerate of those around us—has required some big adjustments. We’ve missed out on some events and experiences that we looked forward to. But we can keep growing, and we can keep finding ways to invest in our grandkids’ future.

What has helped you stay positive during the pandemic? Please comment on our Facebook page and encourage other grandparents.