Some of the most popular here articles at GrandkidsMatter.org are about activities to do with your grandkids. Many of you are looking for more ways to make that time rewarding and special for you and for them.
So, to try to help you a bit more, we asked grandparents on our Facebook page about this and got some great ideas. They probably aren’t activities you’ve never thought of, but maybe this list will be a good reminder for you and challenge you to renew some good habits with your grandkids.
The responses were generally in 10 categories:
With young grandkids especially, this is a favorite. An added bonus is that it brings your grandchild right next to you or in your lap. (Provided that you and the parents are all on board with the close contact and no social distancing.) One grandmother described her routine this way:
As soon as my grandson arrives at my house he heads straight to his bookshelf and brings me a stack of his favorite books.
Do finger painting or find another creative activity you think they might enjoy. Maybe even keep a desk or corner of your house stocked with paper, crayons and markers, paints, and other supplies they might need (and that you’d be willing to help with and clean up). Join with them to make those activities more interesting and engaging for them.
Baking and Cooking
Making cookies together can be fantastic fun, and while that might be the first recipe you try with a grandchild, feel free to expand to other foods as they show more interest.
Taking the grandkids to the park is a great way to break up the routine and get out of the house. Maybe find different parks each time to make it more interesting. Grandparents also mentioned fishing, going to the pool, having a picnic, playing sports, going for walks, and playing outdoor games.
Several grandparents mentioned cleaning or doing chores with their grandkids, and it’s a good reminder for us. We want our grandkids to enjoy being with us, so we can’t be strict taskmasters or keep them on a project for too long—except maybe with older grandkids we’ve hired for a job. At the same time, it’s good to expose them to the benefits of working, being responsible and finishing something they start. There are ways to make working together fun for them if we present it the right way and maybe offer a reward or treat once it’s completed.
Games & Toys
Try a game they like or introduce them to one you enjoyed as a child. Or just dump a bucket of blocks in the middle of the floor and get down there with them to see what they create. Download apps or find websites that have fun, interactive, educational games for them. Find good conversation starter questions and make a game out of getting to know your grandkids better.
This can be a tricky area because we want to be sure we’re consistent with the grandkids’ parents wishes and approach. That applies to how long they’re looking at screens and which movies and programs they’re watching. If you’re watching them for a weekend or a long time on a certain day, it makes sense that you can “keep them occupied” with a video while you recover and gather your wits after all the other activities you’ve done in a day. But be careful not to let that be the default activity. And the best idea is to watch with them. Maybe introduce them to a clean, fun movie or TV show you watched as a kid.
In addition to home-baked cookies or brownies, there’s also something to be said for going out to eat, getting ice cream or frozen yogurt, or even coffee for teenage grandkids. Going somewhere together also gives you more focused time to get to know them. You’re spending a few dollars, but it’s worth it to have more of their attention while sitting in a restaurant, coffee shop or ice cream parlor.
Quite a few grandparents mentioned activities that are somewhat unique to them and their grandkids, and they’re just silly: blowing bubbles, dancing and singing (loudly) to kid-friendly tunes or your oldies mix, and so on. As one grandparent said, sometimes those silly moments are completely unexpected:
My 15-month-old grandson was highly entertained watching me swat flies with a rolled up newspaper. He thought it was the funniest thing he ever saw! When they’re this young you never know what’s going to trip their funny bone!
Grandparents, let’s figure out what trips each grandchild’s funny bone.
Any list like this has to leave room for each grandparent’s own personality, interests and experiences. As one grandparent responded, “What do you enjoy? What did you enjoy as a child?” So often, sharing a hobby, pastime or educational pursuit can pave the way to a shared interest that could become a lasting connection point for you and a grandchild. Or simply including a grandchild in something you’re doing could become a time for teaching and bonding.
What would you add in each category? What are your favorite activities with your grandkids? Contribute your ideas and check out more tips and encouragement at our Facebook page.