Visits with the grandkids are more fun when everyone puts down their handheld gadgets and spends time enjoying each other’s company. Here are 10 easy, low-cost or free ideas for making the most of your time together, whether your grandkids are young or nearly grown.
1. Get outdoors. A nature walk in a nearby park, a stroll along your city block, or just sitting and watching birds visit your feeders on the back porch can open up avenues of conversation and create memories. It’s a great way to remind yourself and your grandkids to pay attention to the small wonders all around us.
2. Deal some cards. Card games are a great for a hot or rainy afternoon, and they’re easy to pass down from one generation to the next. “Hearts” is a popular choice for teens, but simpler games like “21” and “Go Fish” have timeless appeal, especially for younger kids
3. Play video games together. Okay, this one’s not free, but if you or your grandkids already have a gaming system it can be a great bonding experience. If you’re a gamer, you can face off with the grandchildren to test the long-standing theory that age and guile beat youth and enthusiasm. If you’re a newbie, let your teen or tween be the expert and show you a few digital moves.
4. Put together a scrapbook or photo album. Kids who like to do arts and crafts may enjoy putting together family memories with you. Elementary-age children can be enthusiastic helpers when it comes to sorting boxes of old photos, identifying the people in them, and putting them in chronological order.
5. Garden together. Whether you have a greenhouse for your orchids, a kitchen plot filled with tomatoes, or a few potted herbs on your windowsill, plant care is a science lesson, a practical skill, and sometimes delicious. Teaching children where their food comes from is a valuable lesson they can take on with them for many years to come.
6. Go fishing. Quiet kids who don’t mind sitting for a spell make great fishing buddies. Teach your grandkids the intricacies of tying on a hook and bobber, baiting the hook, reeling in a catch and releasing it or taking it home for dinner.
7. Make something together. Those scraps of wood in the shed can become a toy “boat” you can test out in a nearby pond. Fabric scraps can be stitched together to make a small lap quilt that’s the ideal size for a short-visit project. Or you can just break out a box of Legos or wooden blocks and see what you come up with together.
8. Watch the stars. If you’re lucky enough to live away from city lights, treat your grandkids to a tour of the Milky Way and the constellations from your own backyard. Remember to wish on shooting stars.
9. Cook something together. Now is the time to teach your grandkids the recipes you’ve kept in your head all these years. You can enjoy the results together, and your culinary secrets may become family traditions. Baking with young children can be especially fun!
10. Read aloud. Young kids need to be read to every day, and even older kids enjoy hearing a well-told tale. Read it all yourself or let your grandkids that can read take turns, and story time can become a must-do feature of visits with you.
These activities are just the tip of the iceberg, of course. If you have any unique suggestions, please share them with the VeteranAid community!
Written by: Casey Kelly-Barton