Skip to main content

If you are like me and live far from family, you know that time spent with family is precious. There can be long stretches of time during which I don’t see my children and grandchildren. One of my sons lives near Lake Tahoe and the other lives in Seattle. Since I live in Atlanta and because of this Pandemic I have not been traveling to see them as often as I would like. I’m so happy to say that I have just spent 10 days at the beach with one of my sons and his sweet family. Alex and his wife, Judy, have 2 precious children: Susana who is 4 and Ari who is about to be 1.

Time spent with family

dinner together

We shared meals, fun times in the pool, made sandcastles, and had some trying times when children were tired or had other things they wanted to do. The best thing for me was simply being there. Being able to offer the extra pair of hands and helping when needed. I was also there for story time and snuggles.

building a fabulous sandcastle

One of my Christmas gifts to Alex was babysitting so he and Judy could have a date night. I also gave them a day (well, really a half day) of fun in the sun without children.

And, boy, did I ever have fun, too! Spending the morning alone with Susana and Ari brought back beautiful memories of playing with my boys.  We had snacks after swimming in the baby pool and spent an hour or so at the playground. I held my breathe as daredevil Susana climbed and darted over, under, and around the equipment. I refrained from saying over and over again ‘be careful!’ She was fine. She knew what she could and couldn’t easily do.  

Judy took lots and lots of pictures. Some of which you see here. I was reminded of my own complaint; did I go on the vacation? There were never any pictures of me because I was always the one behind the camera. That is what happened to Judy.

Benefits of being together

Technology is wonderful. I have all these photos and more to remind me of these special moments since they are easily shared between devices. I am also thankful that we are able to keep in touch via phone and Facetime but it does not compare to in-person time. You can read a story over Portal, but you cannot snuggle together while reading. It’s also possible to share the mundane details of your day but it doesn’t give you the quiet moments together when something important may be shared.

As a professional organizer, I have learned to listen intentionally and to concentrate on what the person is saying. So often we begin crafting our answer or comment before the person with whom we are talking has completed their thought. When we do this we can miss important details because we’re busy thinking about our response.

This skill came in handy during this vacation. Since I am a grandmother (and also as a former elementary school teacher) I have experience with children. As I observed, I was tempted to share some advice. But as I listened, I realized this was neither the place nor the time. Further, no advice was requested.

Resist dishing out advice

Instead of providing unrequested child-rearing or organizing advice I chose to keep my thoughts to myself.

My advice on packing or organizing things in anticipation of packing may well have come in handy and probably would have saved time and aggravation. But the time to give advice is not when it’s clear the situation is out of control and people are already stressed.

For you readers who have adult children and perhaps grandchildren take time to listen intentionally and assess the mood before doling out advice. Sometimes our children want to learn from our experience and welcome advice. Other times they have their mind set on doing things their way and unrequested advice will not be well received.

You can probably remember a time or two (maybe 3 or 4) when your parents or in-laws dished out advice on anything from child-rearing to how to do your chores. How did you receive that advice? My guess is that you probably did what I did when my mother gave me unsolicited advice. I rolled my eyes and did what I wanted to do. Sometimes I discovered she was right, and I should have listened more carefully. Other times, it was just fine to do things my way.

If your children live near you take advantage of this to spend time with your extended family. I often think how wonderful it would be to live nearby. Then I wonder if we would enjoy time spent with family as much as we do when we only see each other sporadically.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.


  • Julie+Bestry says:

    Your advice is spot on, but I think it’s hard for mothers, but also for professional organizers, to hold off on giving advice. When you know the solution, it’s hard to let other people come to it on their own. 😉 Also, I’m not a mom, but I am the family photographer; had selfies not become a thing, I might not ever have had a family photo of myself!

    I’m so glad you had this wonderful time with your family. The photos show you glowing!

  • Looks like you had a wonderful family vacation. I am so happy for you.
    Time is precious!

  • While growing up, we had very little interaction with my extended family. They lived in Italy and Australia. So, the small family gatherings with friends were usually status quo for us. After my parents passed, my brother and cousin decided to do a yearly meeting so we could all be together and enjoy each other’s company. It has been now over 16 years, we have done this, and it is a blast. Hopefully, you can start revisiting your kids and their family regularly real soon. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Have you heard of the Yiddish word, “kvfelling?” Not sure if that is how it’s spelled. But it means gushing with enthusiasm and joy. When I look at these beautiful photos of you and your family, that’s the word that comes to my mind. Just looking, but also from reading what you wrote, I can tell how much love and happiness spending time with your family brings you. And while I’m sure it’s challenging to live far away, you seem to have embraced the best of the situation. Your advice is something I’ll hold onto. Like Seana, we’re not there yet with grandkids. But we do have adult kids, and I know how important it is to respect their choices and way of doing things.

    They make it know when they want our advice. But mostly, we try to refrain from feeling giving it without first being asked. It’s good practice for when the grandkids arrive. It’s hard finding your way as a new parent. I remember feeling that. So having support, rather than criticism (especially from your parents,) is the best gift we can give.

    I’m still smiling as I look at your love-filled photos.

  • Beautiful pictures and a great reminder of how to grandparent!

  • Seana+Turner says:

    I’m just a bit behind you when it comes to life stage, Diane. This is excellent advice, and I think I need to hear it over and over. I don’t have grandchildren yet, but I will try to remember these wise words if/when I do. It is hard to be far away. One of my girls lives in AZ, which isn’t so bad now, but will be hard if she decides to start a family that far away. BUT, I take whatever moments God offers, and I will try to avoid dishing out unsolicited advice! Terrific advice.