A strong bond with a grandparent teaches children about their family and about the world. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is crucial to a child’s socialization. Children relate to, confide in, and play with grandparents differently than they do with their parents or other family members. And the benefits go both ways; studies show that taking care of grandkids helps keep grandparents’ brains healthy, provides a greater sense of wellbeing, and reduces the risk of depression. Recent research even shows that grandparents who babysit tend to live longer. So how can you make your time with your grandkids special? Here are some ideas of activities to try when the grandkids come over.
Make something special together in the kitchen and then share it. Dig out the recipe box and make something you haven’t made in a while. Or you can make something fun and kid friendly, like cupcakes, fruit smoothies, or design-your-own personal pizzas.
Go for a walk
Kids’ lives can get busy with school and extracurricular activities. Encourage them to slow down! A walk around the neighborhood or a trip to a walking trail or greenway will get everyone a little exercise and some fresh air.
Tend a garden
Planting or taking care of a garden is another great reason to get outside with the grandkids. Their parents may not have time to grow flowers or vegetables, but maybe you do. It doesn’t have to be a big garden; just planting a few fun varieties of tomatoes in pots on the patio can show the grandkids a plant’s journey from seed to food.
Keep a stash of craft materials – paint, magazines to cut up for collages, glue, markers – so you can help the grandkids make something special. It’s even more fun if you can help them make a gift or card for their parents. The kids will think it’s fun to have a secret gift with which to surprise their parents.
Teach them a game you like
Think about what games you liked when you were their age. It’s likely your grandkids have never played jacks, marbles, or some card games, so you can teach them something new.
Learn about a game they like
You may not be up to date on the most recent video and board games your grandkids like, so it’s time you learned something new, too! Showing interest in the things they like shows you value the things they care about – even if you never touch Minecraft again after they go home!
Read a book together
Share a book that was a favorite of yours when you were young. You can also give the grandkids an idea of what their parents were like as children by reading something you read to your own kids.
Watch a movie together
Show them a classic movie that they may not have seen. So many movies these days are remakes; dig up an older version of a recent movie, maybe one filmed when you were young, and give the grandkids a dose of cinematic culture.
Share family photos
Swiping through photos on a phone doesn’t hold a candle to curling up with a family photo album. Show the grandkids what you and their parents looked like when they were their age. They might be tickled by the hairstyles or surprised by a strong family resemblance.
Go on a special outing
Plan a day trip to a museum, park, or local event. If you have more than one grandchild, you can make this can be even more special by making it a one-on-one outing (just make sure to keep it fair by planning the next special event with another grandchild).