Hugs all round for Grandparents Day

Chris Wilford, of Maroochydore, is a happy grandmother of seven.
Chris Wilford, of Maroochydore, is a happy grandmother of seven. Che Chapman

THERE'S nothing quite like a hug from grandma and grandpa. And come November 7, there will be hugs all around as Queensland celebrates the first ever Grandparents Day.

The inaugural celebration is part of the State Government's Seniors Strategy and is designed to recognise the contribution and support provided by the state's grandmas and grandpas.

Maroochydore's Chris Wilford is a proud grandma of seven grandkids – the youngest two and the eldest 16. Her face instantly lights up when talking about her grandmotherly duties and how she loves to spoil her brood.

“I love to make quilts for the kids,” she said. “They each have one. I'm on to the second lot for the two older boys.”

She proudly holds up the two quilts in progress. One has cross-country bikes for her bike-loving Cody, the other features a large baseball player for baseball enthusiast Cory.

Her home is crowded with numerous pictures of each of the kids, and she has just completed a collage of her favourite photos.

But the thing Mrs Wilford loves most about being a grandmother is the hugs.

“The hugs and kisses, the big smiles, the cuddles – I love the cuddles,” she said, her smile reaching from ear to ear and her eyes twinkling.

Her grandkids don't live in the area but Mrs Wilford makes sure she sees them monthly and never misses a birthday.

“Nico's last birthday, he was four,” she recalled.

“He said when I was leaving, ‘Thank you for coming, Nanna' – you just melt. You don't expect a four-year-old to say that.”

Mrs Wilford said she enjoys doing different activities with each of the kids according to their interests.

“With Ashley, we do craft,” she said. “We're making beaded necklaces at the moment. I've given her a sewing machine but she hasn't been taken with it just yet.

“But I also love just getting on the floor with the little ones and playing blocks. They love when Nanna gets on the floor – although she has trouble getting back up.

“I love when you are giving them a bath and they ask Nanna to dress them – it just melts your heart.”

Mrs Wilford describes the relationship that she had with her grandparents compared to that which she has with her own grandkids as “chalk and cheese”.

“My grandparents lived five houses down the road and I spent more time there than at home,” she said. “My grandma taught me to knit, crochet, cook and sew.”

She speaks lovingly of the visits and how she loved to go around and eat with her grandma.

“I was always hungry,” Mrs Wilford remembered.

“It was just after the war in England. We were on rations. Life was very much different.”

The lasting impression her own grandparents made on her is clear to see: “They were good to me.

“They spoiled me being the first born.”

Mrs Wilford believes grandparents play a vital role in their grandkids' lives and the relationship they share is unique.

“We're not the disciplinarians,” she said. “We have more knowledge than the parents and probably more patience. I'm happy to sit for hours and read to the kids.”

Vicki Tolliday has photos of her five grandkids proudly displayed on her desktop and wall at work.

Her grandkids range in age from six months to eight and a half and she loves nothing more than being with them. “I just love to spoil them rotten and spend time with them,” she said.

Mrs Tolliday, of Currimundi, plays an active role in looking after the kids and has 18-month-old Indy once a fortnight, soon to be increased to once a week.

“I took Indy to her swimming lessons yesterday – that was a lot of fun,” Mrs Tolliday said.

“My other granddaughter comes into work sometimes and spends the day with me.

"She gets the faxes and puts them in the pigeon holes and does some stapling. ‘Stumbling', she used to call it. ‘Nanny, I'll do some stumbling',”

Mrs Tolliday said she was a more active grandma to her grandkids than her own grandparents.

“My grandma had nine kids,” she said.

“We loved her but we didn't see her much.

“It's different. We're a lot more active with the kids than they were.”

She said that with mother often working these days, grandmas played a much more active role in childcare and looking after the kids while the parents were at work.

“That's the biggest difference,” Mrs Tolliday said.

“We get to spend more time with the kids when the mother's at work. My mum was always home.”

Like Mrs Wilford, Mrs Tolliday also believes grandparents play a vital role in their grandkids' lives.

“We can teach them a lot – well, we think we can, at least!” she said.

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