Stay active by providing care in other people’s homes.
How renting herself out as a grandma helped this empty nester.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
As I sat down with my morning cup of coffee on the day of my youngest child's twenty-first birthday, I felt unaccountably bereaved. She'd been living in another state for the past two years, I told myself, so why should this day feel grayer than any other? Yet it did.
Pensively, I leafed through an old psychology magazine until I came across an article about empty nesters syndrome . . . a piece detailing "the acute depression that sometimes affects parents when their children are grown". Could that be the cause of the malaise I was feeling? Well, if it was, I was determined to stop it dead in its tracks. I'd find a way to be active again and use my teaching aptitude, training, experience, and never-say-die energy to keep my horizons expanding!
It took me a while to figure out just how I was going to do all this, but finally—after listening to my husband grumble something about "car rental dealers"—I came up with a perfect plan to beat the empty-nest syndrome. Since one role in life that I both enjoyed and excelled at was being a "grandmother", I'd simply rent myself out as a bona fide grandmother to folks who needed a temporary live-in baby-sitter! For a very reasonable fee, I'd go into someone's home and care for the children as if they were my own kissin' kin. I'd rock, cuddle, scold, praise, listen to prayers, and bake cookies. I'd tell stories and play games and let the kids call me "Grandma" so they'd feel comfortable around me. (Why, I might even help clean house!) In short, I'd be an on-the-job, round-the-clock, all-around grandmother to my clients!
With the help of "Grandpa", I came up with a minimum rental period of one week and a maximum of three, for which I'd charge a daily fee plus any transportation costs. And I'd be willing to go just about anywhere, as long as someone was willing to get me there.
Once all the groundwork was laid for my "rent-a-grandma", I made a few placards and—together with friends—spread them around within a 200-mile radius of my Minnesota home. Well, that was over six years ago . . . and I've been busy ever since! (I've had offers for "grandma-ing" from as far away as Kentucky and California!) My little advertisements have brought me a passel of rewarding experiences and a host of devoted "grandchildren" . . . from ages 8 to 82! And what about those expanding horizons? Rest assured, they continue to widen!
For another idea about in-home care, see Start a Home Nursing Business.
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