I have the best memories of the times I spent with my grandparents growing up. On my dad’s side I remember my grandma getting us a plastic ball and bat and tossing the ball to us in her Illinois backyard. On my mom’s side I remember my grandparents taking me to buy new school clothes in August and a cool rolling book bag (hey, it was the late 90’s).
Recently in one of my online parenting groups there was a meme that said, “Spend more time with your grandchildren because these are the memories that they will take with them into adulthood after the trinkets and toys of yesterday have rusted.”
I couldn’t agree more.
At the end of the day your grandchildren really just want you to spend time with them. Even though I only saw my paternal grandmother once a year due to distance, I still fondly remember her swinging me in her swing in her backyard, reading me stories, singing songs, and playing ball with me. My maternal grandmother and I would spend 5-6 hours in the mall and it was so much fun – even if it was just window shopping. I didn’t need her to buy me anything. It was the time we spent together that meant the most.
If you want to invest in your grandchildren, make memories with them. Here are a few ideas:
- Take them to the local park
- Read them a book
- Teach them how to tie their shoe, write their name, or build a sandcastle
- Play a game or throw a ball with them
- Take them on a walk
- Invite them to your house to play or spend the night
- Tell them stories or listen to them tell you a story
I know sometimes grandparents want to splurge and buy something for the special little ones in their lives. Consider gifts provide experiences to help create those special memories, rather than material items. Here are some great ideas:
- Riverbanks Zoo membership
- South Carolina State Museum membership
- Edventure Membership
- Summer Camp
- Classes at The Little Gym
- Take them out to lunch (my kids love Chick-fil-A)
- Take them to a local sports game
- Plan a shopping trip together for new school clothes
- Buy shoes for dance class or a football for their upcoming sports season
- Purchase tickets to a show or movie
- Take them on vacation with you
- Pay for and attend their next school field trip
And try to avoid the following:
- Too much candy and sweets (aka “Sugaring them up”) – Of course it’s okay to give your grandkids a treat every now and then (just be sure to first ask their parent if it’s okay). My husband and I give our kids candy in their Easter basket so when they end up with a chocolate bunny from the Easter Bunny and two different grandparents – it can be a little much for a small child (not to mention … cavities).
- Toys, Toys, Toys: I’m not talking about the cute doll or truck your grandchild asked for their birthday. I am talking about the tiny Legos, the noise making toys, and the Dollar Tree toys. We love you and appreciate you thinking of us but if you want my child to have something that makes noise or has a hundred teeny pieces, please keep it at your house!
One last thing to consider:
- We love that you love your grandkids as much as we do and it makes us happy you want to share pictures of them on Facebook, but make sure your account is set to private when doing so. If you see the “globe” symbol near the picture on Facebook your photos can be seen by anyone. Most parents (including myself) have their accounts set to “Friends Only” for a reason. Child predators can access these public photos or people can steal these public photos for not so good reasons. Personally I don’t mind family sharing photos of my children as long as their accounts are private and their photos are for their friends eyes only.
Grandparents are incredibly special people in our lives, and we cherish the time spent together. Memories outweigh any material gift money can buy. So while you may be tempted to buy, buy, buy, plan some special time together that will make a lasting impact for decades to come.