Successfully raising our own children often leads to the joy of being a part of our grandchildren’s lives. While my children were growing up (whether we were living in Tennessee or Florida), it was very important for our family to be near the grandparents. We wanted our children to grow up around them and to enjoy making memories with them. Now our grandsons live about four miles from our house, and my husband and I get to spend a lot of time with them. We don’t take that for granted!
What does a fun day with the grandchildren look like? Should we really spoil them rotten? Let them eat whatever they want and have a negotiable bedtime? Yes, and no.
Here are some tips that I have found useful when spending quality and quantity time with my grandsons:
1. Have a plan, but be flexible.
When I know that the boys are spending an entire day and night with us, I try to plan activities for us to do. This may involve going to a park, a farm, or an indoor playground. It may also involve chasing each other around outside with water guns or drawing with sidewalk chalk. We spend time playing with toys, educational computer games, and watching a cartoon or two. They may even help me prepare a snack or simple meal.
2. Toys? Oh yes!
I love playing monster trucks, trains, and play-dough with the boys. My husband and I keep a toy box at our house and add to it from time to time. We also buy a toy or two at birthdays and Christmas to keep at our home instead of sending them all to their home. They’ll soon be old enough for simple board games, and I really look forward to that.
3. Have books on hand.
I learned as a young mother that if I wanted my children to read, then I needed to read to them. I pick up new books for the boys occasionally or download them on my e-reader. Remember the classics you loved as a kid or your children’s favorite books? Introduce them to your grandchildren! My oldest grandson’s favorite book was published in 1934 by one of my favorite authors of children’s books. It doesn’t always have to be the latest and greatest, but it should be read with joy and enthusiasm and in character!
4. Food and drinks.
Keep a supply of their favorite snack items, juice, and treats at your house. It makes it easier for mom and dad when packing to bring the kids over. My youngest grandson can’t have dairy, so we keep a small carton of almond milk on hand. I also keep some of their favorite quick meal items in the pantry for when they drop over with lesser notice. I almost always have a special treat on hand for them to enjoy if they finish their meal. They may even get donuts for breakfast on occasion!
I keep a couple extra sets of clothes, underwear and socks, diapers and wipes, and pajamas at my house. That way, when we decide to play in water or get dirty at the park they always have clean, dry clothes to change into.
I have toothbrushes, kids toothpaste, and no-tears body wash/shampoo at my house. And of course, there’s bubble bath, too!
I do like routine. And let’s face it, after several hours of running around with two little boys, I’m usually ready for them to settle down and get some rest so I can rest, too. Personally, I like sticking roughly with their typical bedtime routine. It seems to help them to wind down easier, and they know what to expect at Grammie and Papa’s house. While I’m not hugely strict on what time they go to bed, I try to keep it within an hour of when they usually turn in.
Ah, yes. The “D” word. Is it possible to be a fun grandparent and discipline the grandchildren? Personally, I think it makes me an even more fun grandmother because I discipline them! It totally exasperates me to see children completely out of control and their caregivers at a loss for what to do. I know sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, but for the day-to-day, we all have a much better time when the expectations are set and consequences are carried out when the kids choose to act out. It also reinforces what the boys are being taught at home. Listening and obeying makes for a much more fun and less stressful visit for everyone.
9. Don’t sabotage their parents.
Let mom and dad be the mom and dad. Don’t talk negatively about them around their kids or sabotage what they are doing in raising their own children. Remember, you were also a young mother at one time just trying to figure out exactly the best way to raise your kids, and the last thing you wanted was an intrusive grandmother telling you that you were doing it wrong or could be doing it better. And little ears hear and pick up on more than you think. They are also good at repeating what they hear…
10. Know when to say “no.”
Sometimes it’s best to say “no” to the grandchildren when they ask for something that isn’t best for them at the moment. If it’s going to rain, don’t stress yourself out by getting everything together to go to the park only to spend ten minutes and then have to bug out quickly to avoid the deluge! Also, sometimes you need to say “no” to the parents of your grandchildren. Especially if you live close to your kids—and you don’t charge for your services. You run the risk of becoming the default babysitter. Learn to encourage your kids to look at other resources and not to always assume that you’re chomping at the bit to babysit. After all, you have a life, too. You may still be working full time and/or caring for elderly parents, so you need to have time to refresh yourself and enjoy just being with your husband and friends.
There’s nothing quite like being a grandmother. As much as you love your children, there’s a whole new part of your heart that opens up when you lay eyes on your grandbaby for the first time. As you have opportunity to spend time with them, you can certainly create a bond and sweet memories that will last a lifetime. Happy grandparenting!
You’ll also like How to Start Your Own Granny Camp, Dear Daughter, As You Become a Mom and Dear Parents of Millennials: It’s Time to Stop It.