My kids are lucky enough to live within close proximity to both set of grandparents. My parents moved to a city 20 minutes away before my son was born, and my in-laws moved to a small town about 20 minutes north of here about 2 ½ years ago.
When the kids were not going to public school, they saw my parents quite a bit – Sea World, the zoo or even just spending a day over at their house. However, now both kids are in elementary school, and our schedules have gotten busier – karate, gymnastics and homework.
The chances to see the grandparents have dwindled down to the few date nights might husband and I go on or only seeing them on holidays or birthdays. It isn’t just that we are busier but both sets of grandparents are busy with doctor appointments and other activities. (My dad is on the city council for his city and my parents are both active in their church and with the police alumni group.)
So last year as we drove back from a trip to the beach, my husband and I decided to introduce “Family Dinners” once a month. We would set aside two evenings each month – one for each set of grandparents. We would then alternate having them at our house or going to theirs.
Both sets of grandparents quickly jumped on board with this plan. The actual idea came from the fact that my husband’s grandparents use to have everyone over EVERY Sunday. That included the grand kids so hubby and I would make the one-hour drive about every other Sunday. As college students, it was always nice to have a home-cooked meal.
So this July, we will have been at the Family Dinner thing for a year. Has it gone as expected? Well, no. We haven’t actually had a dinner every month as planned. My mom spent some time in the hospital which caused us to miss three months in a row. We also missed three months with my in-law due to sicknesses or scheduling conflicts.
But the dinners (or sometimes lunches) that we have had are great. I usually have them come over to our house about an hour before dinner to hang out and see the kids. When my in-laws have done their turn, they have always chosen lunch over dinner. They have a go-kart at their house, and they want the kids to ride it in the daylight (and when the temperature is at its best.) My parents have done mostly dinners, and since they have a huge train layout in the backyard, the kids are easily amused.
Part of the family dinners is the person hosting it gets to decide what they want to serve. I enjoy cooking so I always make something, even trying out a new dish for my monthly featured recipe. My in-law opt for ordering pizza a lot while my parents have gone both ways – picking up fried chicken or cooking a meal.
We plan to keep up the Family Dinners as long as we can. Now that school is about to get out for the summer, I expect we will be seeing both sets of grandparents a little more often, but it is nice to have those set days to plan for too.