Grandparents have so much to share, but as the rush of our busy world has a way of inevitably shifting our priorities, for many grandparents it may seem that quality time with the grandkids is less easy to come by without going out of your way. But sometimes, that’s just what it takes – a little more effort.
Some grandparents have decided to make a special event out of time spent with the grandkids by devoting a day (or a few days) just to them. While not every moment spent with grandchildren needs to be turned into a major production, making the kids feel special by devoting some extra-special time just for them will lead to wonderful memories all around. Here are some ideas from a few “Grandkids’ Days” experts.
Birdhouses and Bonding
Grandma and Grandpa Hoge (Pam and George) from Idaho Falls, Idaho, just started their new Grandkids’ Days tradition this spring. Because of the success of this first year, they plan on making it an annual event.
”We knew that with the kids’ busy summer schedules it would be nearly impossible to set aside a time when a majority would all be available, so we decided to take advantage of spring break,” says Pam. “Any grandkid that was not still in diapers (we just wanted to make it a little easier) was invited.”
Once the various families were on-board, the Hoges and seven of their grandkids (ranging in ages from three to twelve) headed to the family’s cabin near Yellowstone for a three-day weekend. They played board games, told bedtime stories, and made treats and crafts. Grandpa made birdhouses and the older kids helped the younger ones put them together and paint them. “This was one way we found to involve both the older kids and younger ones in the same project,” says George. “The older kids helped us out a lot and it was really fun to see all of their personalities in their art.”
The Hoges had several goals in mind when organizing this event. “We wanted the grandkids to all get to know each other better as cousins and we wanted them to be with ‘just us’ so we could have fun and get to know them better as well,” says Pam. “We also wanted to give their parents a break. My son and daughter-in-law were able to take a little vacation together.”
On Sunday, the Hoges (who teach the CTR 7 and 8 class in Primary) ambitiously took all of the kids to church. “It was wonderful to be able to go with all the kids,” said George. “We have thirteen primary children. Three of our grandchildren went to our class (the others went to their own classes). It was our class’s turn for sharing time that day, which was great because our grandchildren helped out and I was able to use one granddaughter as an example in my lesson on being a missionary. Her best friend isn’t a member but she has started inviting her to activities.”
It was one of the best times we’ve ever had,” says Pam. “The kids are still telling their parents about it and asking when they get to do it again. I think their parents are more pleased with the idea than anyone,” she adds with a wink.
Finding that “Special Place”
For Shirley Klein of Provo, Utah, her “Grandma’s Day” has been around for a while now and is always a huge hit as well. She has done everything from themed “Nemo” parties to sleepovers to park exploration adventures. “One of our best times was just walking down the street together to visit our ‘special place’ – a place we’ve discovered in the woods nearby,” explains Shirley. “We also like to go to the park. I remember watching the kids playing in the streams, trying to float on a piece of wood in the pond. It was so fun to watch them overcome their fears and master an unknown.”
Shirley also points out that being a good grandma and showing your grandkids how much you love them, doesn’t always need to cost money.
“One time I had six young grandchildren (all under age five) peeling a bag of potatoes in the kitchen with me. We had potato peels everywhere, but we did have fun! It was a great feeling to sit down to eat those mashed potatoes that evening.
Grandchildren love to get involved in the kitchen—they know where the apron drawer is and even the two year old will ask to join in.”
The best thing about Grandma’s Day is the one-on-one time that’s so hard to come by in an everyday setting. “I am able to concentrate on my grandkids without distractions of other adult conversations.
I really enjoy talking with my own children and their spouses, so when everyone is together the grandchildren tend to play together and the adults spend time together. On Grandma’s Days, we have special time to do things that just kids like!”
Planning on Having Fun
Elaine Cobia of McCammon, Idaho, has been doing a “Grandma’s Week” for fifteen years. It’s something she plans throughout the year and something she and the children look forward to tremendously. “They came at about two or three years old and continued coming until the summer jobs kept them home.” It’s no wonder that the grandkids look forward to the week so much and continue going even into their teen years—Grandma Cobia’s Grandma’s Week is a blast!
”I plan to have enough activities that will keep them busy, but not tired,” she explained. “Three activities a day worked well for us. I wanted to have a week with no TV, but we did watch some uplifting movies for a few activities.”
Elaine raises the anticipation of this event for her grandchildren by getting them involved in her planning. “I ask one family of kids to get together and plan a menu for the meals (three a day) for six days. They loved to do this and we were not too concerned about nutrition as we would provide good veggie snacks and nutritious treats for them. They like to choose nachos, pizza, tacos, hamburgers, fruit, cookies, chicken strips, and the like.”
She also sends invitations to the kids about the activities she’s planning. “About two weeks before the date, I would send a list of things they should pack to bring with them. They love getting mail.”
Grandma is continually planning for her week throughout the year because she’s able to watch for good buys on things like food, crafts, t-shirts, paints, and canvases. She also plans ahead by making reservations at various places they plan to take the kids.
After having done it for so long, Elaine has been able to develop a great game plan to make sure her week runs smoothly. “When all the kids arrive, they are anxious to have their parents leave so they can start having fun. We call all of the children together and discuss the do’s and don’ts. If you make the rules clear, the kids are great at seeing to it that everyone obeys them.
Elaine’s Grandma’s Week, with all of its activities and fun, is a great way to have a good time, but above all, it’s helped everyone to form special relationships. “They help each other and take care of each other. Serving each other makes special bonds. Our grandchildren all know each other well and when we get together it is wonderful to see how they respond and support each other in special times like baptisms, Eagle Scout awards, priesthood ordinations, graduations and more.”
Grandparents certainly have an added perspective on parenting after having gone through the bulk of the process already, but, according to Shirley Klein, the added insight that comes with experience doesn’t mean she’d necessarily change much about what she did as a parent.
”I believe that the act of parenting actually is meant to teach us the qualities that are needed to be an effective parent. Maybe some people find that these qualities come easily or naturally, but I think they are further developed over time and with different experiences. If I could inspire parents of young children based on what I have learned, it would be to be kinder, gentler with them and find joy in the association on a daily basis. Don’t wish for the day they aren’t there, but make memories everyday. I’m still learning important lessons of parenting by being a grandparent, like being kinder and gentler and enjoying the moments.”