Raising Richmond: A family of visitors

Sharing the city you love with the people you love (when you get around to seeing them, that is).

One of the greatest things about being in my family is that we have a lot of family. My husband and I have dozens and dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and then fake aunts, some parents, grandparents, siblings, and fake siblings. We have it all.

One of the bummer things about having all of that family is that there are so many people we’d love to see, but it’s hard to make time; sometimes it’s easiest to not see anyone and just tell ourselves we’ll plan something soon. Weeks go by without seeing any family. If we were Sims characters, that would cause us to die.

I have no idea how to prioritize family over anything else we’re doing. Here are my excuses:

  • My husband and I both work full time, and he often works evenings and weekends.
  • Our weekends have small pockets of hours that we can use to do things that aren’t errands, chores, and naps (we really value our naps, and also our child’s naps).
  • On a typical weeknight we can probably do something with other people, but it feels like it’s not worth anyone’s time to invite them over for an hour, especially if the trip to see us is an hour round trip.
  • It’s never appealing to plan just to “see” someone, and it’s easier for us to get motivated to invite someone if there’s something to do. We’re over afternoons of family visits when everyone just stares at our child.1 And it’s hard to find something that anyone from ages three to 65 could be interested in.
  • A lot of time the planning is on us to initiate (see previous bullets).

So, if you’re reading this: I’m sorry. We’ll see you soon. Also: How about YOU call us sometime? Geesh, why do we have to plan everything?

But when the weekends align with the busy schedules of the people we love, we like to plan for something fun for everyone–especially since our family visitors are almost exclusively out-of-towners. Here are some things we do to keep family visits entertaining and interesting:

Invest in memberships

We have had many great visits to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We go to these places often as a family, and our daughter is comfortable enough with them that she’ll show them off to whoever we’re with.2 This is especially good stuff for the moms and mom-like people in our lives. And when the butterflies come to Lewis Ginter, it’s great for everyone. We purchased a guest pass with our membership to the garden, so we can always bring a plus-one.

Start traditions

My father-in-law has been coming to town for the Monument Ave 10k and the Richmond Marathon (we’ve run the 8k and half marathon with him) for the last few years since my husband and I started running them. It’s a great tradition, and I think it’ll make a positive impact on my daughter and get her interested in running in the future. Now my dad has been signing up for runs, so it’s grandfathers all around on race day, and that is a nice thing.

Pair everything with a good place to eat

What we really want as Richmonders is for outsiders to think of this city as a place with great restaurants. Which we have! We pick out nicer places that we’d like to try when we have family with us, but then it’s also fun to go to a place like Dot’s Back Inn, which everyone will like just as much. Richmond is full of places to stomp around for an easy hour (a quick art walk to see murals outside, a stop at the children’s farm in Maymont, a loop around Belle Isle), and anyplace you can visit is close to a good place to eat.

Talk about the fun times

My daughter tells us about the races we’ve run with her Dido (her dad’s dad), or that “we went there with Grandma” when we go back to a place we visited with one of our moms. She also loves to look back at the photos we take during these visits when we show off our hometown and get in quality time with people we care about.

Now that I’ve documented all of this, I should probably call my brother/grandparents/aunts/cousins. Or I’ll get to it next weekend.

Photo by: Leshaines123

  1. Realistically, my child’s grandparents would be happy just staring at her while she shouts crazy things at them. Also, I would gladly have my dad visit twice a month to help us fix things around the house–and I tell myself that’s his preferred way to spend his time. 
  2. Fun fact: when we get promotional mail from the garden and my daughter sees the logo of the conservatory on the envelope, she says “There’s the Lewis Ginter.” 
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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

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