Not too long ago, grandparents were like an extension of the nuclear family, regularly participating in daily activities like meals, attending church together, and helping out around the house. Involvement with the grandchildren was seamless, as most grandparents lived close to their children and grandchildren, often in the same house.
Times have changed. Now, it had become so important that you grow your relationship with your grandchildren, and work at it all of the time. Grandparents don’t always live close to their grandchildren, both parents are often employed outside the home, and grandparents are sometimes employed as well. In order to spend time with grandchildren, grandparents have to be deliberate about how and when this will happen.
Here are 6 ideas to make the most of your time and grow your relationship with your grandchildren and create lifelong memories.
1. Share Your Own Hobbies & Interests
Share your passion! The hobbies and interests that kept you entertained over the years might be just as thrilling for your grandkids. Whether your hobby is collecting WWII artifacts, building model cars, or woodworking, you likely know a great deal of interesting and valuable information to pass on to the next generation. Invite them to help you organize a collection or select a pattern for your next project. You never know what might trigger a lifelong passion when you share with your grandkids. If your passion does not become their passion, they will still love learning about the things that interest you.
2. Grow a Garden Together
Even the tiniest tot can plant a seed and douse it with water. Watching their little seed grow into a plant is almost like magic. Not only is gardening a great way to bond with your grandkids, it also helps them understand where food comes from and what it takes to sustain life.
3. Volunteer at Their School, Church, or Daycare
Involvement with your grandkids can include volunteer work, too. Volunteer work models the behavior of all good citizens, so you’re giving them a moral lesson while spending time with them and nurturing your relationship. Look for opportunities like cleaning up local parks or renovating the playground at their school. Schools, churches, and other community properties host regular painting, repair, and clean-up days, which are all great opportunities to show your grandkids that you really care about their school and their future.
4. Fill in For Mom & Dad
Today’s parents get the idea from magazines, TV shows, and the media that they have to do it all themselves. From working full-time to keeping an impeccable lawn to shuttling kids to and from soccer and music practice, modern moms and dads think it’s all on them. You can take the load off your kids and increase your involvement with your grandkids by simply filling in for one or two of their weekly responsibilities. Take the kids to give them a date night or offer to act as chauffeur to after-school activities sometimes.
5. Attend Their Activities & Sporting Events
Even if mom and dad don’t need help shuffling kids to and fro, take the time to attend those ball games, dance recitals, and school plays. These are all opportunities to get to know your grandchildren and their world. It gives you something to talk about with them and lets them know you’re an active participant in their lives. Offer to help Kayla improve her softball pitch or to help Jonah rehearse his lines for his class production. Who knows, you might learn something, too!
6. Learning to Use Social Media Improves Involvement with the Grandchildren
Instead of becoming frustrated over the endless hours your grandkids spend with their heads stuck in a screen, step into their digital world for a bit. It’s surprisingly easy to learn to use their favorite social platforms, like Twitter and Instagram.
Above all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your grandchildren. If a few minutes at the ice cream shop once a month is all you have time, energy, or money for, that’s okay! Even a little time is meaningful if it’s spent with the ones you love doing something you enjoy. This is one time when you do get an “A” just for the effort. Grow your relationship with your grandchildren, and make memories for generations!
We’ve all heard the cliche’ about how we spend time with those we love – quality over quantity. When it comes to spending quality time with your grandchildren, this can take on a whole new meaning. While we may feel pressure to spoil our grandchildren with lavish gifts, special treats, and other extravagances, this is not necessary to develop a strong, connected relationship. Rather, your hands-on involvement and presence with your grandchildren will be the most meaningful gift you can give.
Many grandparents are in a unique position to provide their grandchildren with devoted, uninterrupted time together, something parents or other caregivers aren’t always able to provide amidst the daily hustle-and-bustle. If you play the role of both grandparent and child care provider, it is especially important to prioritize this quality time together. Take off your “Babysitter” hat – when you might also be juggling carpools, after-school activities, and daily routines – and savor your time wearing your “Grandparent” hat!
Below are some ideas for quality time with your grandchildren that will help grow and nurture your relationship with them.
To Get More Quality Time with Your Grandchildren – Share a Hobby
Children are generally very interested in “grown-up” activities, such as baking, getting to use special tools, helping around the house, or exploring items such as makeup or office supplies. Sometimes the most mundane task for us (emptying the garbage) can feel like an exciting opportunity for your grandchild! Allow your grandchildren to share in these activities with you whenever you can, as they can be powerful teaching opportunities and create many memories!
Or, Find Some One-on-One Time
If you have multiple grandchildren within one family, set aside time together or plan a small outing with each child individually. This allows for you to have quality, one-on-one time without the distraction or competition of siblings. Allow your grandchild to have a say in what you do, perhaps something they wouldn’t normally get to do with their younger/older siblings around. This could be an ideal time to complete a baking activity or share another hobby or interest.
You Could Be a Special Guest
Find a day to have lunch with your grandchild at their school or volunteer to chaperone a field trip. Your grandchildren will likely think it’s a big deal to have such a special guest to show off to their friends!
And Always Keep in Touch
If you live at a distance from your grandchildren, consider all of the ways you can keep in touch to nurture your relationship from afar. Children are always thrilled to get special messages, whether it is through old-fashioned snail mail, a text message or email addressed to them, FaceTime, or an animated e-card. An older grandchild may enjoy special “phone dates” with Grandma or Grandpa, as well. When you are able to physically be together, prioritize a special date with your grandchildren, ideally without parents around.
Create Your Own Tradition
Start a tradition that is unique to you and your grandchildren. Perhaps you take your grandchildren out for half-birthday celebrations each year. Spreading out the fun allows them to anticipate and appreciate the celebration even more and is something special for you both to share. Again, it need not be anything grandiose – a picnic lunch with their favorite sandwich and a small birthday treat for dessert would undoubtedly be a big hit. Other fun traditions to incorporate could be sharing a special lunch at the end of the school year, taking your grandchildren out shopping for Christmas presents for their parents and siblings, or having a popcorn and movie night every first Friday (or some other agreed upon date).
Take a Special Trip Together – Great Fun!
Start a tradition of taking each of your grandchildren on a trip in a designated year, such as for their 10th birthday or when they graduate from high school. Set parameters around what types of destinations are reasonable (it doesn’t have to be expensive to be special – camping out in the backyard could be great fun!), and then let your grandchild help plan the trip. This “rite of passage” will be something they look forward to, and fondly remember, for many years!
As you have seen, most of these ideas are free of cost or inexpensive, and all can be kept quite simple. Remember: simple does not mean any less meaningful or memorable! More than anything, your grandchild will cherish the time spent together. Sharing this quality time with your grandchildren will not only strengthen your relationship with them in the present, but will create a lifetime of wonderful memories.