It has been said that the best part of being a parent is becoming a grandparent. For the most part, grandparents don’t have to worry about homework problems, bad attitudes, and everyday life with kids. As a grandparent, you can dote on your grandchildren (a.k.a. spoil them rotten) and send them back to their parents at the end of the day.
But when you do get the grandkids for a day or more, how will you spend the time together? Kaye Swain, a baby boomer and grandmother of more than a dozen grandchildren, offers eight time-tested, super-fun activities for a variety of ages, abilities, and numbers of grandkids.
1. Board Games
“Board games are a big favorite with my grandkids,” says Swain. Their top picks include chess, checkers, Trouble, and Sequence games. She highlights Sequence for Kids as a board game that’s great for all ages – even a group as disparate as a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 10-year-old, and Grandma.
2. Card Games
Swain’s family favorites include Crazy Eights and Go Fish, and Gin Rummy with her older grandchildren. And she and her grandkids feel free to modify the games to suit their needs. In their version of Gin Rummy, for instance, they can put down sets right away or hold onto them. “We can pick up any number of cards in the discard pile as long as we use the bottom card,” she explains. “And we don’t have to discard when we go out unless we want to.”
3. Indoor/Outdoor Games
“Hide and Seek, Mother May I, and Simon Says are perennial favorites and are easily adaptable to different ages and abilities,” says Swain. So with a few modifications, games like these can work well for young kids, older kids, and kids with special needs. In addition, she says, these games can be a good way to “get the wiggles out.”
4. Ball Tag
This game, where you get people out by throwing a ball to tag them, has been a hit with Swain’s grandchildren for years. “I love it for the exercise and because I can actually catch them,” she explains. “Traditional tag is more challenging as it’s hard for many grandparents to run as fast or get around corners as easily to get our grandkids out. We stand a much better chance with ball tag.” Of course, it’s best to use cheap, lightweight balls so no one gets hurt.
“Crafts are a great way to keep grandkids busy and happy using their hands and brains,” says Swain. Plus, the finished products can be given as gifts. “Since I usually work with several grandkids at a time, I pick crafts that don’t require a lot of one-on-one help,” she adds. Her personal favorites are wooden ornaments to color with washable markers or paint, and foam gingerbread houses. If she’s only working with one or two grandchildren, she chooses simple crochet and cross-stitch projects.
6. Cookie Decorating
Cookie baking isn’t just for the holidays, says Swain. “We bake the cookies, they decorate to their hearts’ content, and then we enjoy delish cookies for the whole visit,” she says. She recommends buying Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough that you can cut and bake, as well as a variety of toppings. “It’s easier than from scratch, which is a big help if you’re in someone else’s kitchen or you have several grandkids.”
7. Singing and Reading
“Singing songs and reading books together was something we all enjoyed for many years and that I highly recommend,” says Swain. “I still occasionally do it over the phone when talking with one grandkid.” Their favorite songs include faith-based anthems like “Jesus Loves Me” and “The B-I-B-L-E,” and their best-loved books include Sandra Boynton stories like Pajama Time! and the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series.
8. Game Apps
If you don’t live near your grandchildren or you just want to connect with them between visits, Swain recommends using game apps like Words with Friends and Carcassonne. “They are handy for long-distance grandparenting, but it can sometimes be challenging if they don’t have someone at their end who can help them get started,” she points out. If the kids are old enough to manage the app on their own, or a parent is available for assistance, gaming with Grandma and Grandpa can be tons of fun.
The best part is all of these activities can still be done right here at Lighthouse Senior Living, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of our care!