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Grandchildren are a treasure. They offer the opportunity to relive parenthood without having to do any of the dirty work (like saying 'no'). And for grandkids, a weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house can be the highlight of an entire week.
But it's been a few years since you were taking your own children on adventures and thinking up fun backyard games. Do kids even like the same things? How will you bond with this new generation of your family? What kind of grandparent should you be?
We've got great news: the classics—like catching a ball game and going on a bike ride together—still work.
For Ages 3-6: What kind of adventurer is your grandchild?
- Foodies: Trip to the closest dairy farm or farmers market. Watch the cows being milked or ask farmers how they plant and harvest crops. It's a great education in agriculture and food production and an equally great way to expand their palate. It never hurts to include a special treat of chocolate milk or locally grown, seasonal fruit.
- Naturalist: Get in touch with nature. This age group loves to be outside. Feed that appreciation of the outdoors and take them to national parks or botanical gardens. Their minds are like sponges, and often these locations have great (and free) educational and interactive experiences for younger children.
Ages 7-11: What time of year is it?
- For spring, summer: Go fishin'. The quiet fishing hole is a great environment for conversations. Away from tech and amid the natural beauty of the world, there are no distractions and lots of laughs guaranteed. It also provides great memories when the enormous bass turns out to be a log.
- For fall, winter: Get festive! The holidays are a wonderful time of the year that brings families together. Whether it's attending celebratory light displays or decorating cookies, these annual favorites will get everyone into the spirit of the season.
Ages 12-14: Which best describes your grandchild?
- Doer: Work together in the kitchen. Now that their fine motor skills are well developed, get them involved in the food prep. Try out recipes together—you may end up creating something that becomes a new favorite.
- Thinker: Share the Sunday paper. Reading is important at any age, and a great way to bond together on a weekend morning. Sharing the paper with your grandkids (after vetting what is age appropriate, of course) is a chance to teach them about the world and answer their questions in a controlled environment.
Ages 15-18: How often do you see your grandkids?
- On occasion: Take trips to cultural epicenters. Exposure to arts and culture is really important and can even affect test scores. Bring your grandkids to the theater and art museums. Expand their horizons and talk about themes and motifs. They're also more likely to appreciate these experiences more at this age than when they're younger.
- Often: Build a hobby together. By now, you have a sense of who your grandchild is and where his or her interests lie. Engage in a shared interest. If your granddaughter loves baseball, catch a game at the local ballpark and cheer on the home team. Maybe your grandson is an artist. Buy canvases and easels and work alongside him. You may even learn something.
Ages 19+: How far away do your grandchildren live?
- Far: Become pen pals. Getting a handwritten letter or card in the mail is still incredibly exciting. Make it easy and gift them the stationery and stamps as a going-away present. It will keep that carefully built bond strong and those communication lines open. Always having their current mailing address also makes it easier to send your special oatmeal-raisin cookies
- Near: Everything vintage is now hip again! Introduce grandkids at this age to cultural gems from the past, like music and fashion. Share your vinyl collection, or make a day out of rummaging through your old clothes in the attic or local consignment shops. They'll be thankful, and you'll feel cool.
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