A great day with the grandkids that helps you bond with them doesn’t have to be expensive – here are some fun ideas to get you started.
Get outside and into nature
Pack up some sunscreen, drinks and snacks and head down to your local playground. You’ll see that they have come a long way from the basic slide and swing set. The beach is also beautiful in the cooler months for a walk and beachcomb, and many have playgrounds and a café. Or head to your local nature reserve for a bushwalk – bring some binoculars and turn it into a wildlife spotting adventure.
Arts and crafts
If you go on a nature walk, collect some leaves and flowers and take them home. You can make pretty tea lights by cutting some baking paper into strips, gluing the leaves onto them and wrapping them around jam jars, securing the paper with sticky tape and some brown string. Add a candle and the leaves will show through the glowing paper.
If they enjoy crafts, keep a box on hand with textas, pencils, paints and scissors and old magazines, plus some white paper. Sit with them and draw portraits of each other or still lifes, or create collages. Making birthday cards is fun, or you can buy them a journal and have them write a few sentences about their day and then draw a picture to boost their writing skills.
Get the dinner on
If you don’t mind a bit of chaos in the kitchen, and if your grandkids like to cook, get started on dinner. Kids love to make homemade chicken nuggets, these delicious homemade chicken burgers from Recipe Tin or pizza – make the dough and sauce and let everyone add their own toppings. Although you might end up with a messier kitchen than normal, at least dinner is done. Add some chopped veggies, serve fruit and ice cream for dessert, and everyone will be happy and well-fed.
Head to the library
If you have a library near you, check out upcoming kids’ activities (especially if you’re looking after grandkids during the holidays), such as Lego clubs or storytime. While you’re there, find some books to borrow and read with them at home and a movie or two. Many libraries have puzzles you can either borrow or do while you’re there, and when you get home with a big stack of books kids love being read to, even older ones.
Most local councils will offer holiday activities for the kids, usually very reasonably priced or free. And most councils have regular activities for younger children. Bookshops have readings and author visits, and local galleries and museums often host events. Sign up for emails from your council and any local venues so you know what’s coming up and can plan ahead.
Watching a movie together is relaxing for everyone and kids’ movies have come a long way, now offering just as much entertainment for adults. Make it an event with popcorn, Maltesers and lots of cushions and blankets, turn down the lights and enjoy.
Check out Minions, Jurassic World (both the originals and the new releases), Daddy’s Home or the latest Lego movies for easy crowd pleasers. If they have already seen these, old favourites such as Toy Story, Home Alone and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids are still a hit today.
If your grandkids visit frequently and you have a garden, giving them their own little patch of garden to work on will teach them about caring for plants. Choose some easy, fast-growing seedlings such as marigolds, cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers or beans, and talk to them about watering, feeding and picking off bugs. If you have limited space, a pot on the balcony will give them a sense of ownership and pride at taking care of ‘their’ plant.
Let them loose in your house (within reason)
Many kids find their grandparents’ homes enchanting – they are intrigued to find out more about their family and there are lots of stories to be told through your photo albums, pictures and various treasures. Let them know that as long as they are careful, you don’t mind them looking around. Often, this is the easiest way to entertain them. Get old photo albums out before they arrive and encourage them to look through and ask questions. Or, if you have a collection of clothes, hats, jewellery and shoes you're happy to let them play with, pile them all up for a dress-up session. Be sure to get some photos!
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