By Lane P. Jordan, Crosswalk.com
I just have to say that I LOVE spending time with my granddaughter!
And why not? Maybe its because when I raised my daughters, I was always worrying and rushing around making sure my girls had enough food, sleep, clean clothes, clean house, activities, schoolwork done, manners taught, etc. But now I have this precious little girl who just comes to me already fed and dressed and who just wants to play with me.
And for some reason, I have so much more time. Probably because there aren’t any other distractions: no other children to take care, I’m not working full time and she is just my number one priority at this time in my life.
But since most of us grandmothers are on a limited budget, I started to think of ways I could play with my granddaughter without it costing anything. And you know what? I discovered plenty of them!
- Skype with them. My granddaughter lives in another state and when I wasn’t there with her, I sure wanted to be. So, my daughter would put her in front of the computer with a toy and I would talk to her. When she got older, I would read to her! Then when she was old enough to hold a book, I bought two of the same books. She would hold her copy and I would read my copy showing her the pages on Skype. I can’t tell you how much fun and rewarding it was for me!
- Eat lunch with them. My daughter would take her computer into the kitchen and call me and we “would have lunch together”. Of course, I was in another state, but my granddaughter thought I was right there! If you live in the same town as yours, set up lunch dates with your grandchild either at their home or yours. Make funny sandwiches by cutting up the bread into shapes.
- Tea Parties. Little girls love tea parties! If you don’t have a small tea set, then just use your own cups and saucers. What to eat? Why something you two just baked of course!
- Bake together. We usually think of baking around Christmas time, but why not have a date with your grandchild and just bake breakfast breads, cookies, bars, even smores in the microwave.
- Play outside together. Take walks. Ride bikes. Play hopscotch. Jump rope. Play with your dog or cat together. Walk down to the creek if you have one or up to a field or train track and wait for a train to come by. Or find a hiking trail. Now some of you may have bad knees (I do at times) but some of these will still work. Tie one end of a jump rope to a tree and you hold the other end and let her jump!
- Go to a park. Most communities have a park nearby. Pack a lunch and snacks, take a blanket and plenty of water and enjoy the outside and the park swings and slides.
- Go to an inside mall that has an indoor play park. Young kids just love to climb on the structures there and you can just sit on the bench and enjoy watching them have fun. Doesn’t cost a thing and they love it!
- On a rainy day, curl up together and watch a movie they would like. Make sure you ask their parents what movies and snacks they allow.
- Play board games together. This is an excellent time to teach manners as taking turns and good sportsmanship. Once children realize the point is to win, help them see its nice when others win, too.
- Play cards. Children love Go Fish, Old Maid, and Uno.
- Spend-the-night parties. I think one of the nicest thing’s grandparents can do is to give the parents of their grandchildren a night off. They need time to be together, work on their marriage, work on house projects, spend time with friends, and just sleep! So, ask if the children can sleep over at your house. This is really a great time to bond with them. I also would like to add that if you could give the child’s mother a set, weekly day she can count on, you could help so much!
- Let them make tents! I know, it can ruin the look of your home, but kids love to make tents and then put chairs and pillows and blankets in them. A great time to make a tent is when they spend the night with you, and they can sleep right there in it.
- Do crafts. There are so many crafts you can do together that don’t take any money at all. Take a pinecone from the yard, put peanut butter and seeds on it, hang it up outside on a small tree and you have just built a bird feeder! Find some cardboard or blank paper and let them draw or color anything they want. If you like to sew, give them a needle and thread and teach them how to sew.
- Let them help you with chores. When children are young, they want to help! So, give them a duster, let them collect dirty clothes, set the table, etc. Chores teach children that they are capable, and it builds self-esteem.
- Realize that when your grandchildren are with you, you have an audience with a complete attention span! They want to talk to you so listen. And, they want you to tell them stories of your life and how you met your spouse, where you went to school and what you did to that bully in the fifth grade! You are teaching them, and God has given you the time and the knowledge and the wisdom to help them grow and mature.
- Take them to church, AWANA or youth group. Nothing means more to a child’s emotional and spiritual development than going to church together. Hopefully, their parents already have a church home. But if not, it is vital for you to take them. Of course, share with the parents that you will be going there. Most parents are thrilled even if they aren’t church goers themselves.
- Take time on a walk or at night before bedtime or even eating a meal to share your life stories, your dreams, your faith, your mistakes and your victories. God has placed these precious children in our life for us to help raise them up into Godly young men and women. Be bold in sharing your faith and your love for the Lord and His Word.
- Read to them. This is my favorite tip when I speak to young moms. It’s free. It’s easy. And children gain more from this one activity than almost anything else you can do with them. Why? Because when we read to them, we are totally with them--present with them, especially if you read before they go to bed and can snuggle with them. The books can instill in them right from wrong and books can teach them history, biographies, space, the oceans--everything!
- Help them keep their innocence by keeping negative influences away from them. Do not encourage screen time on your phone or any tablets and let your TV viewing be very limited with them. And, do not get on your phone. It is an epidemic with children watching their parents and others constantly looking at their phones and not present with them. I am guilty of this and I need to work on it. I like to watch the evening news and so I turned on my daughter’s TV when I was visiting. Negative images of bombings and murders immediately came on the screen. I turned it off and I won’t do that again. So, think about what is going on around your grandchildren.
- And the last tip? Just love on them! Love truly is the greatest gift God has given to us to give away. Children know when we are sincere and if you are, you will have a treasured friendship for the rest of your life.
“Direct your children on the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock-BowdenImages
Lane P. Jordan is a best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher, and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas with her husband who partners with her in ministry and waits impatiently for daughters and granddaughter to visit! Lane’s desire is to encourage, support, and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers, and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: www.LaneJordanMinistries.comand her blog at www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.