Bonding & being there
With 15 grandchildren between them, including a new grandson and granddaughter, born just eleven days apart, pat and Jen Mackenzie have plenty of experience as proud ‘grandies’.
Grandparenting has been a joy for the GemLife Highfields couple, who make it a priority to spend as much time as possible with their grandkids, aged from just a few months to 16 years old.
“The most important thing is to put the time in with your grandkids because if you miss that time, you can’t get it back. You have to bond with them,” said Pat.
Jen, or “Jen-Ma” as the grandkids like to call her, said it is especially important to make the effort to spend time with the children in the first year of their lives because they change so quickly.
Last month the couple returned from a trip to Mackay – a long 12-hour drive from Highfields – where they saw their then ten-week-old granddaughter, McKenna, again. Pat and Jen were also in Mackay in June for her birth.
The Mackenzies agree that it’s the little things, the small moments and milestones that make being a grandparent so special.
“They grow up fast. If you don’t take the time to be with them, you miss the first smiles or first giggles,” said Pat.
As grandchildren get older and become more independent, Jen said it’s also important to stay ‘relevant’.
“For older grandkids, you’ve got to acknowledge they’re not babies and get creative about how you put the time into the relationship. You’ve got to make an effort to keep knowing them and what their interests are,” said Jen.
“It’s lovely to observe the similarities the grandkids share with their parents – and the differences too. Just the experience of having them in our lives is special and being able to watch them grow,” said Jen.
“Nothing beats the feeling when they’re pleased to see you and want to talk to you, and are genuinely curious to know more about you and your life. It’s wonderful.”
Pat and Jen said some of their grandkids had visited them at GemLife Highfields and were impressed by the facilities.
“We had a game of pickleball with them – they loved that,” said Pat.
The couple, keen travellers, love the secure, lockup-and-go environment at GemLife, as well as the friendliness of the community and the huge choice of facilities.
“We’re loving our time at GemLife. We’ve been wanting to move here for two years and we’re looking forward to having the grandkids visit more and enjoying the facilities with them,” said Pat.
“There’s plenty to do here and it’s great we can bring the grandkids too.”
The couple is living in a temporary home while their GemLife Highfields forever home is being completed.