By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received was from my daughter-in-law who posted this statement on social media:
“My kids think Nana’s house is the equivalent of Disneyland. Thank you, Nana and Papa, for being such wonderful grandparents!”
It surprised me to read her post, because I didn’t think our house was that special. In fact, we don’t have any fancy toys or gadgets, and we don’t even have a swing-set in the backyard. But when I really stopped to think about it, I realized that what mattered most to us and the grandkids was the time we’d invested in connecting with them—really connecting.
Even though my husband and I were raised in a completely different era, we’ve been able to interact with the grandkids in ways that show them “we’ve still got it.” So, if you are needing some fresh ideas on how to show your grandchildren that you’ve still got it, here are some super-fun and simple ways to do just that! (Disneyland not included).
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Andrey Popov
Stay Up-To-Date on the Latest Lingo
This may sound silly, I know. But hear me out. I once got called to pick up my grandson from school unexpectedly. His mom was stuck in traffic, so I raced to the elementary school to get him. When I saw him, he was wearing a one-piece dinosaur outfit instead of his usual school uniform.
“Hey, buddy,” I said. “Is it pajama day?”
“No,” he replied. “It’s emoji day and I’m the dinosaur emoji!”
I laughed out loud when he said that and told him he was the best dinosaur emoji I’d ever seen. (What is a dinosaur emoji anyway?)
It’s important for grandparents to stay up-to-date with the everyday language of their grandkids. Not the negative words of course, but the modern language of technology. Listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Then, give some of their lingo a try. You never know, you might just become the coolest emoji-savvy grandparent on the block!
Photo credit: ©Unsplash-Lidya-Nada
Know How to Dance Like Them
When the grandkids get bored and the play-dough dries in clumps on the table, turn on the music and have a dance party. Play all the kids’ movie theme songs, such as Everything is Awesome and Roar. By doing this, you will show your grandchildren you’ve still got the moves.
Yes, it takes energy to get up and get moving, but they will always remember dancing in the living room with Grandma and Grandpa. Plus, it’s a great way to expend some of their boundless energy and hopefully get them to wind down a bit!
Don’t forget to teach them some of your dance moves from the past. Here are a few oldies-but-goodies to get your groove on.
- The Locomotion
- The Twist
- The Swim
- The Moonwalk
- The Macarena
Photo credit: Unsplash/ Gabby Orcutt
Get Your Game On
Almost every kid I know loves to play games. Whether it be an outdoor game of kickball or an indoor game of Hungry Hippo, kids like interaction and competition. Host a family game night at your house and watch your grandkids’ faces light up.
Introduce them to a family favorite or try a new game altogether. It’s especially important to note that introducing regular game nights will show the grandkids that fun can be had without television or video games.
This “you’ve still got it” strategy will soon become a favorite with your grandkids and build lots of memories for the taking. In case you’re ready to try something different, here are some of the most popular games on the market:
- Catan (Winner of “Game of the Century” award!)
- Eye Found It (Encourages team work!)
- Googly Eyes (Fast-paced drawing game!)
- Sequence (Classic game of strategy!)
Photo credit: Unsplash/ Michal Parzuchowski
Read Their Favorites With Enthusiasm
When all the dancing and games have been exhausted, there’s nothing like climbing on Grandma or Grandpa’s lap and reading. Having plenty of storybooks on hand is one of the best ways to stop and engage with your grandkids.
Choose a few of their favorites and read them with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. The grandchildren will bring them to you again and again, just to hear you read in your own unique style. Look online for crafts and activities that you can pair with the stories for extra entertainment. Also, try keeping a box of books tucked away that you can swap out for the old ones once in a while. Or, visit the library regularly and keep a “library basket” in the living room. The kids will be overjoyed to find “new” books at your house every time they visit.
Super-fun books to read aloud to preschoolers:
- No, David! (by David Shannon)
- Moo, Baa, La La La! (by Sandra Boynton)
- Go, Dog, Go! (by P.D. Eastman)
- Peek-a WHO? (by Nina Laden)
Fun books to read with older kids:
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid (by Jeff Kinney)
- Pax (by Sara Pennypacker)
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (by C.S. Lewis)
Photo credit: Pexels/Tookapic
Get Into the Community
Keep an eye on your city’s community calendar and find unique things to do with your grandchildren. Visit the museums in your town. Go on a hike or bike ride. Volunteer at the local food bank. Whatever you choose, involve the grandkids and build meaningful memories!
Some fun and inexpensive community ideas:
- Go on a nature walk and collect leaves and pinecones.
- Grab lunch at a local hot-dog stand, followed by an ice-cream cone.
- Volunteer at your local community garden. (Don’t forget the gloves!)
- Find free or discount days at the children’s museum.
- Attend craft fairs or farmer’s markets together. (A great way to enforce eating vegetables!)
- Do a “Grandma and Me” art class together.
The ideas are endless when it comes to getting out and showing your grandchildren a good time. Take them to some of your favorite parks, cafes, and shops. Chances are, those outings will be new and exciting experiences for them.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
Pour Into Their Hearts
While Grandpa and Grandma’s house is full of fun and games, it should also be full of Jesus. Make an intentional effort to pour into the hearts of your grandkids by praying with them, reading the Bible to them, and worshipping with them. Remind them often that God has a wonderful purpose for their lives. Find opportunities to share the Gospel and explain what it means to have a relationship with the Savior.
There is, perhaps, no better way to show your grandchildren that you’ve still got it, than to be strong examples of Christ-followers. After all, their hearts are what matters most!
Photo credit: Thinkstock
Share What You've Been Through
I still remember my Grandma Helen telling us stories of growing up in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Her memories of her first car, first television, and even her first washing machine kept my attention as a girl and made me want to hear more.
It’s good for our grandkids to know about some of the things we’ve gone through—the good and the bad. Fuel their imaginations by showing them old photos, mementoes, and even videos of the past if you have them. This will help your grandchildren to think outside the box and their own little world. Also, it will build a bond between grandchild and grandparent that goes deeper than the surface stuff of life.
No matter what age and stage your grandchildren are in, or what age and stage you’re in, you can be a grandparent who’s still got it. It will just take a little creativity on your part, plus a whole lot of intentional love and connection. You can do it! And I promise—it won’t require a trip to Disneyland to achieve it.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Laura Fuhrman
Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains — her favorite place on earth.