Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.
One of the greatest joys of getting older is the arrival of grandchildren. And nothing is more fun than spending time with them when they visit. Following are a few tips to make your visit as mutually enjoyable as possible.
Your first step before the grandchildren visit should be to childproof your house. The extent of the childproofing will depend on the age of your grandchildren, but at the very least be sure that all medications—prescription, over-the-counter and herbal—are put in a secure place where they cannot be reached. If your grandchildren are young you may need to acquire either car seat or, if they are a minimum of 4’9” tall, a booster seat. Older children should always wear their seat belts when riding in a car.
Your grandchildren will probably bring some of their own toys, but it’s helpful to have a few things on hand like crayons, paints, coloring books, puzzles and DVDs. You might also want to stock the pantry with some “kid friendly” foods like string cheese, macaroni and cheese or their favorite cereal. Check with your children and ask them what your grandchildren’s favorite meals and snacks are.
The most important thing you can do when your grandchildren visit is to make them feel wanted. This might mean putting aside some of your regular activities while they’re with you in order to spend time with them. It also helps if you can give them a small space of their own where they can keep their toys and other belongings.
Younger children benefit from being on a schedule and if you can stick to the routine they are used to at home, while still accommodating your own schedule, it will make for happier children and a more pleasant visit.
There are numerous activities you can enjoy with your grandchildren—depending on their age, you might take them to the zoo, a museum or the theater. But there are plenty of things you can do at home that might be even more meaningful to them. If you knit or crochet you can spend time teaching them. If you enjoy crafts or hobbies such as scrapbooking or bird watching, engage your grandchildren in the activity. They’ll learn something new and will cherish having your attention.
And don’t forget exercise! Children need lots of it. If there is a park or playground near you and the weather permits, have them spend some time outdoors burning off energy. Older children might enjoy hiking or a game of tennis or golf.
The image of the indulgent grandparent allowing grandchildren to do anything they want is common. But it certainly doesn’t have to be that way. A little indulgence is fine, but grandparents retain certain rights:
- The right to protect your property—that can mean putting fragile or valuable objects where children can’t reach them or teaching your grandchildren that there are certain things they are not allowed to touch.
- The right to enforce safety rules: You can and should insist that children sit in their car seat, booster seat or use seat belts depending on their age.
- The right to require respect and to ban the use of offensive language.
- The right to ask for help—setting the table, raking leaves or other small tasks.
Every visit with your grandchildren is a wonderful opportunity to make memories. A little planning will pay dividends when it comes to having time together that you will cherish forever.