The words, “Grandma, I’m bored!” can strike fear into even the hardiest of grandparents. Having grandchildren is a blessing with all of the benefits and little of the responsibility of having children of your own-until it’s time to entertain your grandchildren when they come to visit.
Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s can be disruptive to children. Their routines are disturbed, treasured toys are left behind and friends are not available. Preparation is the key to ensuring the kiddos have a good time and want to continue to spend time with the grandparents. Here are a few tips to prepare for the visit:
Babies and Toddlers, 0-4 years
Routine and familiar items are most important for keeping youngsters in this age range smiling.
Make sure parents bring comfort items such as favorite blankets and stuffed animals.
Write down the little one’s schedule and keep bedtimes and nap times consistent.
Know the child’s nutritional habits and stock up on appropriate foods.
Provide visual, tactile and auditory stimulation such as age appropriate crib mobiles, colorful blocks and lullabies (CDs if you can’t carry a tune!)
Children, 5-12 years
Making visits to the grandparents “special” will keep kids in this age range wanting to come back.
Kids this age are creative. Have materials for art projects on hand. Make collages, paint (canvas and faces!), make chalk drawings on the sidewalk, design dresses for older girls, let older boys build things.
Let the kids build “forts” out of old sheets and blankets and sleep there instead of in bed.
Make meals fun and let the kids help in preparation. Smiley face pizza is a favorite in our house.
Plan for some kind of physical exercise. Tired kids are well-behaved kids.
Adolescents and Teenagers, 13-18 years
Ah, the joys and challenges of the teenage years. These grandchildren are most interested in feeling like adults.
Give children this age responsibility. Let them help you.
Plan to give this age child some alone time. Let them text, phone and Internet chat with their friends, with appropriate supervision where appropriate, of course (i.e., Internet chat rooms.)
This is a great age to let them invite a friend to come with them to Grandma’s house for the weekend, if you’re up for it.
Peruse the movie listings and you find something age appropriate, don’t be offended if they don’t want to sit with you.
Having the grandchildren over for a visit doesn’t have to be stressful. With a little (okay, a lot) of preparation the experience can be a joy for everyone. Take the time to consider what the child needs out of the visit, not only your own needs. Breathe. And have fun!