FULLY Engaged Grandparenting Despite Living with Pain


Being a grandparent is one of the biggest joys that anyone can have in life. Being able to spend time with a new little love can knock your socks off when it’s been years since you last spent extended time with children. However, if you want to spend time with your grandchildren, you need to be the best you can be. Your time and your effort put in are both going to shape your grandchildren in the future – your role is key!

There are some ways that you can be a fantastic grandparent, but the key point here is that by being yourself, you are already fantastic. Your grandchildren will love spending time with you, as long as you are taking care of yourself. Chronic pain coming from Fibromyalgia can steal away special moments with your grandchild if you haven’t found ways to manage it.

Two years ago, I was overwhelmed by the symptoms of Fibromyalgia: constant, roving full-body pain, deep within the muscles and joints; utter exhaustion making any action seem herculean, and thick brain fog making my thoughts and language disjointed.  I’ve come a long way since that time, finding my way due to the help of a multi-disciplinary pain management program such as the one at  Sound Pain Solutions. Mine involved a pain psychologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and pain medical doctor, through working together, guided my journey through education on mind/body connection with how I can rewire my brain to help manage pain.



My wellness journey over these past two years has been fueled by my desire to be with my granddaughter and to be active in her life. My current protocol using Low Dose Naltrexone, full-spectrum CBD, meditation, Yin Yoga, swimming, taking walks, and being mindful to take breaks to rest both mind and body are allowing me to be fully engaged as a grandparent.


Related Wellness Journey Posts:

The Benefits of Being a FULLY Engaged Grandparent


By being able to get my FM symptoms managed and able to be more predictable and present, I am now the grandparent that I want to be.  The benefits of the time my husband and I put into our granddaughter are innumerable. (As a granddaughter who was close to my own grandparents, I know first hand how that relationship guided my life, making me strong and self-confident.) Research has shown that the connection is reciprocal.


1. Reduces depressive symptoms in both

2. Grandparents (GPs) can give exposure to experiences and ideas that otherwise might be limited.

3. GPs give a first-hand understanding of family history.

4. A close connection helps grandchildren develop pro-social behavior.

5. GPs keep mentally sharp, active, and live longer when regularly interacting with their grandchildren.

6. Creates a deep unconditional love for both.




How to Be a FULLY Engaged Grandparent


Communicate: To be the best grandparent, you need to communicate with the parents – ie, your children! You need to ask them their rules, their routines, and their wishes for their children so that you can play them out, too. It’s polite to ask your children what they want for their children, even with your years of experience! You may have been a parent for most of your life, but it’s time for your children to make their decisions. If you want to make sure that life runs smoothly, you need to go with their wishes. 


Dark haired woman, blond young girl, and bearded man all wearing sunglasses

My husband and I had the opportunity to really

get to understand my son and daughter-in-law’s

parenting goals and style when they lived

with us for two years. We have great respect  

for how they are raising our granddaughter.

They, in turn, have come to fully trust

that what we do strengthens and enhances

growing our little girl. We stay in constant communication,

even while she’s with us via text, photos, audio clips, and videos.

Be Silly: Grandparents are great for baking and gardening and cuddles, but there is nothing wrong with a little silliness, too! You can have all of the fun with none of the responsibility, and you get to hand the sticky, glittery, jelly-filled children back to their parents at the end of the night! As the silly, fun grandparent, you can always get the attention and love from your grandchildren, and the memories you’ll make will last you a lifetime.


Young girl  with hair in messy bun, wearing a headlamp & using an magnifying glass
My husband and I take our granddaughter’s lead. 
Her imagination astounds us. 
Here we are dressed ready to catch “Greenie,”
the mischievous, naughty, super-villain that seems
to plague our house and yard.
I used to hate role-playing and make-believe, 
but now, I find acting like a kid with her 
to be invigorating. I watch in amazement 
as I see her thoughts percolating
behind her ever animated, blue eyes.


Love Your Limitations: When you’re grandparenting in pain, you only need to honor your limits and respect the pain you’re in. On bad pain days, choose activities that involve more reading together, movie nights and cuddles, and on good days you can get down on the floor and play with the train set. You don’t have to choose to feel guilty for respecting your limitations. You can teach your grandchildren a little patience and teach them about you at the same time.

Grandmother cuddling granddaughter on a couch
With my husband and I both retired, we often tag team.  When I’m getting worn out, Bapa might take her for a walk to the garden to visit the white frog she’s named Ghost who lives in the rain barrel there. Or he may take a snooze when she and I are doing a craft or playing a game.  But some times, especially when she spends the night, we have to let her know we need to take it easy.  We love watching kitty vs balloon videos on YouTube, read books, or watch a good movie on Disney+.
(It’s also a great excuse for extra snuggles!)



Don’t Worry About The Mess: Those grandchildren of yours are going to step into your house and leave it a paint-covered, glitter-bombed showroom. You can love the mess or reject it, but the best thing to do is embrace it. The house will be loud once more, and that’s exciting!


Blond haired young girl wearing fairy costume
When our granddaughter leaves, we often joke
as we look around the house
that the miniature tornado has hit; toys and dress-up
outfits are strewn everywhere.
Our new dining room table has glitter embedded
into the wood grain. There’s a bit of nail polish on the
chair, but you know, we don’t care. It’s just
evidence that we have had a wonderful time together.

We, grandparents, are lucky to have the chance to know our grandchildren. We have the opportunity to be fully engaged when we are with them (even more so than parents who have all the responsibilities that go along with parenthood). However, some of my friends don’t have the luxury that my husband and I have because their grandchildren don’t live nearby. Thank goodness for technology. It’s worth buying a special set up so that you are able to talk to them with video regularly. During the past few months of quarantining due to COVID-19, people are getting creative ways to use video chatting: 10 Activities to Make Family Video Calls Fun for Kids.


I’d love to start a whole section of blog posts on FULLY Engaged Grandparenting. If you have any stories, activities, suggestions, tips to being a FULLY Engaged grandparent (especially if you are also dealing with a chronic illness that can be an obstacle), I’d love for you to share them with me either in the comments section or by sending me an email (see contact me).


10 thoughts on “FULLY Engaged Grandparenting Despite Living with Pain

  • July 6, 2020 at 12:54 am

    We don't give littles enough credit. Like you said, they can learn to be patient. They are also compassionate little creatures who really don't care what you do with them, just that you spend time with them. Great article Katie!

  • July 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    She is amazingly compassionate. Living with me when I was at my worse, she has learned to give love to those who are not feeling well. That has carried over into preschool. Her teacher said she was very caring and helpful to her classmates. We often try to shieled our children from the difficulties of life, but by doing so, we rob them if much needed lessons.

  • July 6, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    Great advice. I don't have grandchildren yet but this has been a big concern of mine. scheduled on FB

    • July 30, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Mandy. I’m coming to understand that being engaged doesn’t necessarily mean active. Yes, I try to do that, too. But kids just need to know they are seen. I have friends who watch their grandson of 2 1/2 years on Zoom while his mom gets something done. He plays with his cars or whatever, telling them stories and they pipe in here and there and watch him, connecting with him.

  • July 7, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    It's difficult to stay positive when living with chronic pain, but it is helpful to find a purpose and a positive attitude does go along way.

    • July 30, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      Yes, it does. And my granddaughter’s unconditional love just gives me a boost. It doesn’t mean that I always have the energy boost, but she has learned patience and empathy.

  • July 7, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Great advice, Katie! Now I just need a grandchild to carry it out! I would love one, but I'm pretty sure my stepson disagrees. For now, I satisfy myself with being a pet parent!

  • July 24, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Yes, I have found a lot of strength from this kid. However, there are times after she's left that I know I've pushed myself too hard and have a day of utter fatigue, pain, and sadness. It's a difficult balance. But it does give me purpose to get up each day and start again.

  • July 24, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Thank you, Mandy. It's something that , I believe, we can do within our abilities. Thank goodness that their love is unconditional and that they accept us as we are. MY granddaughter is growing in patience and empathy due to our relationship. I believe it's good for both grandparent and grandchild.


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