For most children, spending time with grandparents is a memorable experience, a time of relaxed rules and special treats that can be withheld from parents. The experience is priceless for seniors as well, even when the constant activity and boundless energy of young children can be exhausting. More rest cannot compete with the pleasures of having grandchildren around, even if you live in an assisted living apartment.
It may help to have some activities in mind that will occupy the kids and aren't too time-consuming or complicated. But focus on connecting with them and their interests, but don’t feel like you have to have a schedule in place to keep them entertained every minute.
Here are 4 ideas for capturing the imagination and the undivided attention of those little humans who call you Grandma or Grandpa. Try one the next time you have a chance to spend a few hours with them:
Create a Story.
Start with two sentences. Then let the child add two sentences. Write the words, or tell the story to a portable recorder. You'll be amazed at the flights of fancy those little minds take. Continue adding sentences as you take turns. Speak in varied voices, move about the room, make faces, laugh a lot. It doesn't have to end with "happily ever after."
Supply paper and crayons to illustrate the story you have just completed. But, maybe have a cookie first!
If there's a holiday or a family special event approaching, make decorations. Paper chains, posters and signs are always good projects. Thumbprint-decorated ping pong balls are easy with colored stamp pads; yarn, string and pipe cleaners all can be used creatively. Find other ideas online.
Trace footprints and handprints on a piece of paper and draw "self-portraits." And share the finished product on Facebook or Pinterest. Know that you'll be required to make one as well. Be a good sport and have fun doing it! Then consider framing the finished products for your gallery or fridge.
Plan a tea party. Invite other residents to your assisted living apartment or gather in a commons area for simple refreshments and cookies. The children will love it. Your friends will love it even more. It's impossible not to have fun with exuberant children!
Go for a walk. If you go outside and have a place to sit, lean back, look up at the clouds and talk about the animals they remind you of. Or enlist your neighbors in a modified, indoor scavenger hunt for treasures that can be found inside the community.
Go to the movies— with a twist. Rent DVDs classic movies that have remakes— think Superman or Miracle on 34th Street. Plan a double feature day with the kids, complete with popcorn and soft drinks, and invite a few neighbors to join in!
Share Hobbies or Memories
Teach the grandkids to do what you love, whether it's knitting or stamp collecting, baking or building models, or let the kids teach you something— maybe the words to a popular song or how to play the latest video game. Be as enthusiastic as they are, and you might just find a new passion.
Get out the old family photographs and tell the grandkids the stories their parents won't tell them. They will enjoy seeing pictures of their parents at various stages of life. Be prepared to answer children's questions about when you were their age, whether 6 or 16.
Even if you have moved from a house to an assisted living apartment, you can still find plenty of activities to enjoy with visiting family— especially the grandchildren.