Whether you are the grandparent of an out-of-town grandchild or one who lives in the same town or even neighborhood, it can sometimes be challenging to create a bond. You may feel at a loss when it comes to connecting with your grandkids. But there are all kinds of things you can do to remedy that, and many of them are totally free!
Here are 10 bonding tips for grandparents (both long-distance and local)
1. Share Hobbies
Chances are grandparents share some interest(s) with their grandchildren. Does grandpa like to work on engines or build things out of wood? Maybe he can do a project with his grandson or granddaughter – they can make or build something together. Does grandmother like to knit or sew or craft or bead? Include the kids. You'll also be building memories!
2. Have a Spa Day Date
Grandmothers and granddaughters can make a day of beauty treatments (and make it a regular thing, too!) by going to get hair done or nails done, or getting a makeover at a makeup counter. Some grandmothers may be great hair-stylists, and can style their granddaughter's hair. You can build some wonderful, fond memories this way.
3. Cook Together
Some of the fondest memories I have of one of my grandmothers involve cooking. Maybe it's a favorite cookie or candy recipe, or a special method of grilling out. Whatever it is, making and sharing food and passing down old recipes are great ways to bond.
4. Text Each Other
Long-distance grandparents can form a bond with grandkids by texting them here and there. Texting can involve pictures and videos, too, if you have the right phones. Grandkids can take a picture of the woods they're walking in, the coffee shop they're sitting in, or have Mom or Dad film the play they're in – then send the pictures and videos with a text. We just did this for Father's Day. Our kids made cards and we took photos and texted them to Grandpa on the phone.
5. Chat by Video
Skype, Google Talk, and so forth are great ways to stay in touch with out-of-town grandkids. Try to schedule some time to “get together” for a video chat once a week (or whatever works with your schedule – just try to schedule it in so it doesn't get put off over and over).
6. Create Stuff Together
Seasonal crafts or just fun “make-it-yourself” type crafts can be a blast for grandkids. Cigar box (or tissue box) guitars, pinhole cameras, paper snowflakes, sewing, knitting, etc. are all fun crafts grandparents can help their grandkids create. If they don't live near you, consider sending a sunshine box craft kit package every once in a while, so they can make the craft and send it back to you or send photos.
7. Grow Things
Growing food, starting plants, planting flowers and seeds… gardening is a wonderful way to share a skill and hobby that's generations old. It's also a great time to talk about life or share memories of when you were a child. Then you can also share the fruits of your labors with each other and the rest of the family.
8. Be Pen Pals
The old-fashioned art of letter-writing can be revived and cultivated whether you are local or not. Then you have keepsakes for the future, too – letters are wonderful to read again years down the road. Even if it's just a birthday card note, be consistent and the impact of your remembering and of your words will be felt for many years to come. I treasure those letters and cards hand written by my grandmothers.
9. Play Games
Games can be played long-distance or right at home. Video chat and even the telephone are great ways to include grandparents in a night of board games, card games, or even sports. Take the cell phone to the grandkids' soccer game and shoot videos and take pictures, then text them. Or just have Grandpa and Grandma on the phone during the game.
10. Volunteer Together
Grandparents can take the grandkids to the local humane society and volunteer to walk the dogs, or maybe volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food pantry would be more appropriate. Our grandparents taught us to sing and would take us to visit and sing for the elderly in the nursing homes, teaching us service and giving us a love for those sweet older folk. Teaching your grandkids about the importance of ministry and of community is a life-long lesson and a wonderful bonding idea.
What else would you suggest? Please comment below with the other ways you bond with your grandkids.