If you’re so blessed to be called Grandma or Grandpa, your life is rich. All over again, you’re given the opportunity to be inspired by the innocence and wonder of childhood; to see the world through the eyes of a child; to love unconditionally with all of your heart; and to bestow your wisdom and family traditions to the next generation.
What a gift.
One of the greatest blessings of my life has been bearing witness to the overwhelmingly beautiful relationship between my parents and my children. The joy they bring each other and the immeasurable love they share are gifts that our whole family treasures. Each of them is better in every way because of it.
Time spent with grandchildren is precious. Here are seven ideas to make the most of your time with yours.
Children are naturally curious and love stories. Give them details about when you were a kid—what you played, what you liked to eat, where you lived, what life was like then, the people you knew, the dreams you had, where you went to school. Describe the jobs you’ve had, the places you’ve visited, what it was like when their parents were born.
You’ll be helping them understand their place in your family and in the world; where they’ve come from and what life can be like. You’ll bond with them and laugh with them. They’ll understand you and themselves more as a result.
One of the greatest benefits of being a grandparent is the excuse to play again. Play checkers or hide-and-seek, toss a ball around, and soak up the joy in sharing a most important pastime with your grandchildren.
Teach Them Skills
Kids these days, right? Don’t let them grow up not knowing the life skills you know to be invaluable.
Bake a cake with them, show them how to sew a button on a shirt, ask them for help fixing the car, or ask them to help you with the laundry.
They’ll love doing these things with you and they won’t forget the lessons you’ve taught them for the rest of their lives.
Trace Your History
Take a walk down memory lane with your grandchildren. Show them old pictures of their ancestors. Trace your family tree, making connections. Get together with extended family and teach them how they’re related. Point out where your family hails from, study maps or a globe, and discuss the characteristics of those places.
Listen to Them
Let your grandchildren regale you with their stories and all they have to say. Be a good listener and a comfort to them. From the little things to the big things, be attentive to it all.
Bend the Rules
As a parent, perhaps you ran a tight ship. Your children may be doing the same with your grandchildren. But now that you get to be a grandparent, it’s time to have fun!
Let your home be a place where they get a second, even third scoop of ice cream if they want; where they can stay up as late as they want when they sleep over; where they can help you use “dangerous” tools; where they can try on your tie or your lipstick.
Of course, you’ll care for them and respect their parents’ wishes, but who’s really going to know if you bought them a toy just because they liked it at the store and they ordered the extra-large popcorn and had candy at the movie you took them to? It’s OK. They were with their grandparents.
Make Visits Regular
Life is super busy—especially for families with children. If possible, establish a standing appointment to be with your grandchildren. Perhaps their mom could use a day of the week to run errands and you can watch the children for her. Perhaps you can all save a weekend evening for a family dinner together.
Making a routine of time together will greatly increase how often you see your grandchildren and strengthen your family bonds in immeasurable ways.