Sorry children, I’m staying put

When writer Donna Davis became a grandma twelve years ago, she wished she didn’t have to drive two hours to see her granddaughter.

When writer Donna Davis became a grandma twelve years ago, she wished she didn’t have to drive two hours to see her granddaughter. “Whenever I visited, my daughter showed me the latest house for sale in her neighbourhood. But I didn’t want to move. One of my friends told me: “I’d never relocate near my grandchildren. I’d be giving up too much and it’s such a big risk,”” said Donna.

“I know three grandmas who took that risk. They sold their homes and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to be near their grandchildren, said Donna.

“Being a native San Franciscan, I know it’s easier moving to the Bay Area than leaving it! Still, these grandmas left family and friends they’d known for 45 years to be closer to their grandchildren, ” said Donna who is the author of ‘When Being Grandma Isn’t So Grand’.

“I’m awed by their courage to start over at this stage in their lives, as well as their commitment to their grandchildren,” she said.

“Holly and her husband raised their three children in Hawaii. After 17 years there, they moved to San Francisco. When they retired in 2000, they moved back to Oahu where they intended to stay. But when all three of their children settled in San Francisco, the pull was too great. In 2007 they returned to San Francisco so they could be closer to their two grandchildren, 6 months and 2 years. Holly babysits her daughter’s son two days a week and watches her granddaughter every other week so her daughter and son-in-law can have a date night.”

Donna also told the story about her friend Judy who was born and raised in New York. “Judy sold her home, quit her job, and said goodbye to family and friends last August. She moved to an apartment in San Jose, CA to be near her daughter and her partner and their five-year old son. She tells people it was like “getting on a train and not knowing where it was going.””

She took the risk because she knew her daughter needed her help and she was willing to make the sacrifice. “Three nights a week she stays overnight with them so she can take her grandson to school and help with the housework and cooking. She’ll be even busier when her daughter gives birth to twin boys this month,” said Donna.

Judy’s son and four other grandchildren, ages 8 to 18, still live in New York. She used to visit them once a week. She recognises the huge commitment she’s made but considers it a blessing to be able re-live her days as a parent and re-learn all the fun things she did with her children when they were growing up.

Another woman, Anita, sold her home in Santa Monica, CA where she’d lived for 45 years, and moved to an apartment in Berkeley last November. According to Donna, “She wanted to be closer to her family and always wanted to move to the Bay Area. She gave up old friends she’d known for 40 years, yet she’s noticed that people in Berkeley are much friendlier than they were in Santa Monica.”

“Now she babysits her 2-year-old grandson every week and has a bigger picture of him and his personality. Her challenge is keeping her mouth shut when she disagrees with her daughter or son-in-law’s parenting style. She tries to remind herself of the advice a psychologist once told her: “You can never change the way parents raise their children. But it’s important to raise children with grandparents close by.”

Are you considering about moving near your family? Here are some things you might want to consider:

• Getting to know your grandchildren as they grow up.
• Getting help from adult children with decisions such as budget and long-term care.
• Getting help with daily life such as shopping, transportation, and doctor visits.
• Getting emotional support when your spouse or partner dies or you become ill.

• If you didn’t get along with your children when they were young adults, moving near them usually doesn’t make it better. You may have to face the fact that your children may not want you to be that close.
• Your kids may move somewhere else because of a great job opportunity or better education for their kids.
• You may end up doing more babysitting than you want.
• If your kids live in different places in the country, who do you move near?
• Location, weather and cost-of-living may not be what you like.

It may be the best move of your life, but before you pack up and move near your kids, make sure it’s something you think has a good chance of working out.

Have you moved closer to your grandchildren?

  1. patricia dick  

    As you get older family ties become very important. It is hard to ignore what could happen in your future.
    Pros and Cons are important to consider and it is a very very major decision, one there is no going back from.
    We are in the middle of this decision and believe me it is not easy. We moved to another state when we retired and after 6 years we have made many friends, joined groups and been taken in by wonderful people.
    So to leave this behind and begin again is both daunting and yet exciting. So I guess what I am saying is don’t do this unless you give it plenty of thought. We are taking a three year “thinking” before we do anything. Heard so many awful stories that it pays to be as certain as you can.

    • Elaine Henderson  

      We are facing this dilemma at the moment. We will retire at the end of the year. Our kids all live in the same city as we do, but we want to leave the city and I want to return to my home state. It’s a very difficult decision, as we’ll now be a day’s drive away from the kids and the grandies, but my thoughts are that they will go where they want to go (as they should) and if we stayed put, they might all leave anyway.

  2. Donice Keenan  

    My only Grandchildren live in another State . I won’t move as I know several who have done so only to find their families move on for work leaving the Grandparents to move on again or stay put.

  3. Pat Daley  

    For eight years I had just the one grandaughter. I was in the delivery room the day she was born and I had the honour of bathing her. We had a relationship that a Nana dreams of. When my grandaughter was 14 months old our family moved south to Northern NSW. My grandaughter followed with her Mum ,my daughter a few short weeks later. Eight years on her much awaited sister arrived. Ten years later and I have a total of eight grandchildren, the ninth due in March. For some time we were within driving distance of each other. However a couple of years ago our youngest son, his wife and littlies moved to a mining town in Central Queensland, a 14.5 hour drive away. We knew this time would come, afterall ones children are only on loan as are the granchildren. Initially it was extremely hard not to see our two little grandsons but you have no option but to adjust. Our sons family has increased and they now have a little daughter who is 7.5 months . My husband would like to move to the mining town. But as I have always said that is not an option at our age. Nor would it be anyway. I dont believe with three grown up children that you could choose between who you should live near. As a family we all moved south and my youngest son chose to move his family north. So here we stay 17 years later with 4 granchildren close by with another due in March, three in Central Queensland and one who recieved his angel wings far to early. My first grandaughter will turn 18 in October and graduate from year 12 this week . Thankfully I will be here to see her and her long time partner arrive for their formal in November. While I would like to see all my granchildren graduate from school its just not possible. Nevertheless each graduation or special moment is celebrated ,just from a distance. Cheers

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