It’s been said that being a grandparent allows you all the good parts of parenting – the love, the snuggles, the smiles – without the more unsavory parts – the disciplining, the late nights, and the constant monitoring. After all, you’ve paid your dues in the trenches of parenthood; now is the time to relax, enjoy, and – let’s be honest – spoil a bit in the role of grandparent.
But it’s important to remember that spoiling does not have to mean monetary items or sweet treats (although what grandparent doesn’t love sneaking an extra cookie when mom is not looking?). In fact, what your grandchildren really crave and will remember most about you is the quality time you spent with them.
Check out these ideas below to “spoil” your grandkids with lots of fun and great memories, and you’ll be glad you did.
Unplug and Get Out.
Today’s kids are bombarded by technology everywhere they turn. Sadly, many have never enjoyed a long hike through the woods or an entire afternoon spent at the park. Make a rule for the afternoon; no cell phones or electronic devices (that means you, too!) and put them away and out of sight so it’s easy to stick with the plan.
Consider planning a simple activity, like a nature scavenger hunt (take along a magnifying glass and binoculars, as well as a plastic bag to carry their souvenirs) or a picnic (could be as simple as crackers, cheese, and juice). Plan for the weather and the season (bug spray, sunscreen, warm hats, or clothes in layers) and make sure your son or daughter know where you are going for the afternoon in case of emergency. If your grandkids are older, it may take a bit to sell them on the idea of being outdoors for several hours, but don’t give up. The fresh air and physical activity will win them over and you’ll find your next outdoor afternoon even easier to execute.
Peruse the Past.
These days, many of our family photos are posted online or saved to our computers or phones. This makes storage easy but your grandkids may be missing out on the fun of sitting together, flipping through pages of old family photo albums.
And it’s most likely not their own baby photos they are interested in; they’ll want to see their own mom and dad, and even you, at a younger age. They’ll get a kick out of the clothing and hairstyles of the day, and will love the stories you can share for various events and life milestones. It’s exciting to see family resemblances, and explore the family genealogy. Teen grandkids may be especially interested in understanding their heritage and where their ancestors came from. Share what you can so that family stories will live on for generations.
Keep in mind that the photos may lead to interest in other things (say, a service medal, an old uniform, or a keepsake from another country), so be prepared to go digging through storage if the opportunity presents itself. The grandkids will love seeing tangible evidence from the past.
Prepare a Family Favorite.
One of the easiest ways to break the ice with your grandkids is by sharing a hands-on activity, and nothing creates a connection like spending time together in the kitchen (or by the grill). Grandmas and grandpas alike can think of a favorite family recipe that’s been passed down for generations to share with the grandkids, whether it’s cookies, pie, chili, or barbecue.
And if you don’t have a passed-down recipe, pick one of your own favorites, christen it with your own name, and institute a new family recipe. Your grandkids are guaranteed to think of you every time they make it in the future, and will love sharing with their own kids some day as well. Not only is making the recipe fun, but you’ll get to share it at the dinner table afterwards. Younger grandkids will be especially proud to share their creation with mom and dad when they come to pick them up.
Even though these activities seem simple enough, you’ll be surprised at how they impact your grandchildren. Time is what most retirees have in abundance, and time is what your grandchildren crave. These everyday moments forge wonderful memories, for both you and your grandchildren.