Time with your grandkids is incredibly precious. You’re making memories that will last a lifetime and teaching your grandkids more about the world around them. Grandparents support their grandchildren in a way that research is only beginning to understand.
Although they’re a blessing, grandchildren can also be challenging at times. You may have different rules at your house than your grandkids have at home – less screen time, for instance. Your grandchildren may be hyperactive or difficult to discipline.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make the most of time with your grandkids. With the right preparation, meltdowns can be averted and you can build strong emotional bonds. Here are seven ways you can spend quality time with your grandchildren.
1. Ditch the Screens
Many grandparents today worry about the amount of time their grandkids spend on screens. Typically, screen time goes up when parents aren’t around and the children don’t have school or other activities. Unfortunately, more screen time means less time connecting with you and the outside world, which is why you should limit screen time to promote healthy behaviors.
The next time your grandkids come over, plan bonding activities that fill most of your time. For example, you could take a walk, play a board game, cook dinner together, go to the zoo or take your grandkids to an art gallery. Let them know you’ll be doing this activity for a while and they can have some screen time later.
2. Tell Them Stories
When your grandkids are old enough to understand, start telling them stories about yourself and their parents. Kids will be delighted to hear about their Dad’s favorite hobbies in high school and what their Mom did when she was five. These stories will create a relationship that’s unique and treasured between you.
You are a valuable resource for your grandkids, connecting them to a time and place they know nothing about. Storytelling is a great way to fill the time on a walk, long drives in the car and the evening before they go to bed. Don’t use so much entertainment that your grandkids never hear your stories.
3. Do Things Together
Although your grandchildren will no doubt appreciate any gifts you give them, the best gift you can give is quality time. Kids learn through modeling and they crave respect. When you give them your attention and let them do life with you, they grow in self-confidence and their sense of self-worth.
You have the unique opportunity to teach your grandkids valuable life skills simply by doing life together. Activities as simple as baking and cleaning can prepare your granchildren for the future. You can also take your grandkids on special trips to the zoo and the beach to give them new, exciting experiences.
4. Choose Age-Appropriate Games
As your grandkids grow, they’ll be interested in different kinds of games and activities. You can take this journey with them by planning age-appropriate activities for when you’re together. For example, a one-year-old won’t be interested in flying a kite. However, a five-year-old might really enjoy it.
Age-appropriate games teach your grandkids new skills and expose them to exciting experiences. These games advance their knowledge while still being simple enough to understand. For example, older children will enjoy climb monkey bars while younger kids have to be pushed in a swing on the playground.
5. Be Silly Together
Good relationships are built on laughter. When you spend time with your grandkids, find as many ways to laugh together as you can. Plan a dance party, watch a funny movie and find ways to be silly throughout the day.
Many kids are naturally silly – they make animals out of food and know how to have a good time wherever they are. This ability to see the funny side of life is well-matched in grandparents who have developed a sense of humor through life experiences. You can have a lot of fun being silly with your grandkids.
6. Plan Rest Time
You can protect your grandkids from emotional overload by planning moments of rest during your visits. Very young children won’t function well without a nap partway through the day. This is a good opportunity for you to rest and reset as well.
When grandkids get older, try dedicating a half-hour to quiet time. They can spend this time on their screens, reading or even playing quietly by themselves. Having a regular break in the day will help your grandchildren stay calm and feel refreshed when they leave your house.
7. Connect When You’re Apart
Your relationship with your grandkids will be stronger if you connect with them while you’re apart. For example, some grandparents send birthday boxes or personal letters to their grandkids. You can also use technology like Zoom and Facetime to connect with your grandkids on a regular basis.
If you stay up to date with each other’s lives, it’s easier to relax and have fun when you’re together. Your grandchildren will know you care about them and are thinking about them even when you’re apart. Forging this relationship while they’re young will help to build a bond that continues when they’re older.
Enjoy Every Minute
Spending time with your grandkids is a precious opportunity. You can tell them about your life, engage them in fun activities, give them new experiences and teach them life skills they’ll need for success later. Being grandparents is one of the best jobs in the world.
If you’re unsure how to engage your grandkids, use these seven tips as a starting point. The more you enjoy your grandkids and listen to them, the more fun you’ll have together. Whatever you do, enjoy every minute you spend with them – kids grow up much faster than you expect.