by Crystal Bowman
The baby-boomers are grandparents and I am one of them! Today’s grandparents are actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren like never before. Statistics show that today, more than ever, grandparents are helping to raise their grandchildren either part time or full time. Grandparents often step in if Mom has to work. Grandma helps her daughter who may be a single mom, or perhaps Daddy travels for business or is in the military. Grandparents attend school programs, soccer games, and piano recitals. But whether they are helping to raise the grandchildren, or just want to spend time with them, many grandparents are looking for ways to make that time more meaningful.
#1 The Power of Make-Believe
Preschoolers live in the world of make-believe. When adults enter that world, imaginations soar, fun memories are made, and strong-willed little ones can suddenly become compliant.
My daughter used to run and hide whenever she saw the hairbrush in my hand. Brushing her hair was always a battle— until we played beauty shop! All I needed was a chair for her to sit in and a purse for her little hands. When we played beauty shop, she would patiently sit as I styled her golden locks.
If you find yourself in a tug-of-war with your grandchild, remember that a little imagination can result in some sweet cooperation.
Having the grandkids overnight? Do they resist bedtime? Go camping in the family room! Sleeping bags and flashlights can turn an ordinary night into an adventure. And you might even get some sleep yourself!
#2 Arts and Crafts
Encourage your grandchild’s inner van Gogh with easy art projects. Keep a healthy supply of construction paper, crayons, stickers, water color paints, glue sticks, and a safety scissors in a kitchen cabinet or plastic box so that creative supplies are always on hand. Here are some easy ideas that will keep your grandkids occupied for hours (or at least a few minutes):
Give your grandkids plain white paper plates to color instead of paper. It takes forever to color all those grooved edges!
Let them paint or color empty tissue boxes, shoe boxes, or brown paper bags.
Have them cut out pictures from old magazines to paste onto construction paper.
Homemade play dough is easy to make and less crumbly than store-bought brands. Mix the following in a heavy pan over medium heat:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
½ cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
5-6 drops food coloring
Stir constantly until the mixture is thick and blended. Knead for several minutes while it is warm (caution—it may be hot). When it’s cool enough for the kids to play with, it’s ready to use. Rolling pins, cookie cutters, and plastic knives will add to the fun. When finished, store the play dough in an airtight container or plastic bag.
For more ideas, do a Google search of easy art projects for young children. One good site I found is www.amazingmoms.com
#3 Create Traditions
Traditions are simply a repeated activity that a child learns to anticipate. For example, my daughter’s birthday is December 8. Every year, for 25 years, my mother gave her a Christmas ornament for her birthday—the fancy kind—monogramed and dated in gold. My daughter looked forward to her birthday gift from Grandma every year, and now has over two dozen beautiful ornaments that she dearly treasures. My boys’ birthdays are in January and February, so my mother created a tradition of taking them to a local toy store to pick out their birthday gifts each year. My sons are now in their thirties. They may not remember the gifts they selected, but they have warm memories of their birthday trips to the toy store with Grandma.
Create a tradition with your grandchildren that works with your schedule and budget. Consider giving your grandchildren a Christmas book every year, so they will have a collection of holiday books from you. You can give one book to each family (if there are siblings) or one book per child, depending on how many little ones you have on your shopping list. Also, keep in mind that traditions don’t need to include gift giving. Playing your grandchild’s favorite board game or making gingerbread cookies can be just as rewarding.
#4 Be a Spiritual Mentor
As grandparents, we have the privilege of investing spiritually into the lives of our grandchildren. When my friend’s father recently passed away, the funeral program included notes from his children and grandchildren. One of his grandsons wrote, Grandpa led me to Jesus. Wow! Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to lead one of your grandkids to Jesus?
Reading Bible story books or children’s devotional books can prompt meaningful discussions between you and your grandchildren. This past October, Tyndale House Publishers released my first book for grandparents titled My Grandma and Me—Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Grandchildren. This book is a 68-page picture book for grandmothers to read to their grandchildren (Grandpa is welcome to read along!). The book offers age-appropriate rhyming devotions for preschool children coving a variety of topics from being kind and sharing, to praising God and learning how much He loves us. It also includes Bible verses, prayers, and short, easy songs. It ends with The 10 Commandments (paraphrased), Psalm 23, The Lord’s Prayer, and a prayer for grandmothers to pray for their grandchildren. The interactive text gives grandmothers the tools they need to fill little hearts with truth from God’s Word.
The introduction explains how to use this book with grandchildren who live too far away for regular visits. Using the telephone or Skype, grandmas and grandchildren can enjoy sharing this book even if they are miles apart.
The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren is special. You can make it even more special by providing fun and meaningful moments that will create lasting memories for both you and your precious grandchildren.
Crystal Bowman is a best-selling author of over seventy books for children including The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers, J is for Jesus, and God’s Big Promises for Kids. She has written many I Can Read! books, as well as stories for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. She is a mentor and speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and also speaks at churches, schools, and writers’ conferences. Whether her stories are written in prose, rhyme, or short sentences for beginning readers, “The most important part,” she says, “is to teach children that God loves them very much.” Formerly from West Michigan, she and her husband now live in Florida. They have three married children and one granddaughter.