Grandparents' timePublished Date: 11 Aug 2022
Spending time with your grandchildren can be very happy, enjoyable, and positive, and they say it keeps you young! I have three grandchildren: Oliver (8), who is deaf, Thea (6) and Lara (3). It’s very rewarding watching their smiley faces, constant questions and honesty, but at times it can be hard work keeping them occupied, not to mention expensive especially during school holidays. Here’s a few tips which I have found worked for me, and these tips should work for everyone, whether you live in the city or countryside, in a flat or in a mansion. By the way, your grandchildren don’t care where you live, they love you for being their grandparent and spending time with them – time is priceless, so are their smiles and cuddles!
Park time – dry weather, but if raining wear a coat
Most towns have a park or play area to take the children. If you’re concerned about watching them all at once, choose a small park with only one or two entrances. You can watch them all from one position, just like a tennis umpire, but watching the children run around instead of the balls. Just remember to keep shouting ‘Not out! Stay in!’ if they forget.
I always take a small picnic, including drinks and spare batteries for Oliver’s hearing aids. Don’t forget the sun cream as the sun may come out.
A big playing field is just as good. They can take a football or frisbee or have running races. Of course, you don’t have to join in the running, just supervise!
Beach time – dry weather, best to avoid in the rain
Taking them to a beach takes a little more preparation. In addition to a picnic, drinks and sun cream, I pack spare clothes, and I keep spare batteries in a bag away from the sand! If you are concerned about watching them all, take a rug to sit on and tell them they must all stay within two metres of the rug. Don’t forget the bucket and spades and wet wipes to get rid of the sandy hands when eating, although sandy sandwiches were part of the fun in the 1970’s! And also remember 20p now for the toilets!
Hide and seek – rainy or dry weather
One of the games the grandchildren love is hide and seek. If you don’t have enough space for them to hide, get some sweets or chocolates and hide them. They will love it when you say ‘hot’ if near or ‘cold’ if far away. If you have enough space for them to hide, tell them you are counting to 100 - that should give you enough time to make a cup of tea!
Arts and crafts – rainy or dry weather
Using recycled cereal boxes or toilet rolls are a great way to spend an afternoon doing arts and crafts. You don’t need to buy anything expensive - cheap pens or crayons will do, and if you cut slits in the boxes, you don’t even need glue or tape. The grandchildren can let their imagination go wild, and you will end up with all kinds of robots, castles, and Star Wars lightsabers. At the end, ask them to make up a story about the object they’ve made – they’re always interesting!
Baking time – rainy or dry weather
We can all remember how much fun baking cakes were when we were younger, especially years ago when you had to bake rather than buy. If you don’t want to use the oven, you can buy a pack of plain fairy cakes (most supermarkets sell them for a pound), and you can get the grandchildren to decorate with their favourite colours or decorations.
If you don’t mind using the oven, you can spend the afternoon baking cakes – weighing out the ingredients, mixing the ingredients, baking then decorating when cooled down. This takes up the whole afternoon, especially cleaning up the kitchen afterwards! Then sit them in front the screen and make yourself a well-deserved cup of tea (or glass of wine if after 6pm)!
Film time – rainy or dry weather
I know they say you shouldn’t have too much screen time, but the cinema can be so expensive these days, so why not have a movie day? Let the grandchildren choose a film, buy some crisps or popcorn (or eat the cakes from the day before) and enjoy the afternoon sitting together and watching a movie.
Build a den – inside if raining, outside if dry
Everyone likes to build a den, so why not get some old sheets or blankets, deck chairs or dining room chairs and let the grandchildren build a den? You can use all the materials in the house (don’t give them your best bedding) and let them design it and build it. They will be so pleased with the results at the end. Each of my grandchildren like to build their own so we end up with three, then they build tunnels to one another’s. If dry, they can build it in the garden.
Nature walk – dry weather, but if raining wear a coat
All children love being outside. If you live near to a park or a field even better, but just walking along a path, your grandchildren will enjoy getting out and about. One of the things we enjoy doing is ‘walking and talking’ – getting the grandchildren away from screen time and outside is great. We walk along the path and try and notice different insects, birds, trees, and flowers. Oliver is really good at seeing things, and he can spot an insect a mile off! We also listen out for sounds which Oliver has to pay particular attention to, and we also use this time to learn about road safety.
We have regular sleepovers which the grandchildren enjoy. It gives their mum and dad a break and a bit of time to themselves to get a good night’s sleep. It also allows me bonding time with the grandchildren. It doesn’t have to be a late night - just set the rules of bedtime and what time they are allowed to wake you up (unless it’s an emergency - and wanting a biscuit at 4am is not an emergency!). Even if you can’t do a sleepover, just a couple of hours here and there is really good, not just for your grandchildren but for you.
I hope some of these tips will be useful, and enjoy the school holidays!