Being a grandparent is a grand thing indeed, and getting to spend time with your grandchildren is special, sweet – and occasionally challenging. Of course you adore them, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to keep them entertained and out of trouble when you’re looking after them.
We’ve complied some tricks and resources that may make babysitting your grandchildren a little easier and more fun for everyone.
- Know the rules. Sometimes you’re stuck in a car, or in a line up, or somewhere without toys to distract and appease bored little ones. It’s during those times that simple, classic games like Mother May I, What Time is it Mr. Wolf, and Simon Says are life savers. Check out Fun Games Kids Play, or Very Well for rules and regulations to some great games kids still love to play.
- Savor the silence. A sanity-saving move might be to ban electronics during part or all of your time with your grandchildren. But the trick is not to let them know that the ban is in effect! Plan quiet, indoor games you can all play together (drag out the old board games or a deck of cards), or look for fun, crafty activities that aren’t too difficult (or too messy!). Chances are your grandchildren will be happy to set aside that iPad for a chance to play with homemade playdough.
- Create a safe space. If it’s been a long time since very small children were in your house, it may need some baby proofing. In a pinch, an inflatable child’s wading pool makes a great, soft-sided, indoor play space where smaller children and their toys can be safely contained. Just make sure they are never left unattended. For more tips on baby proofing your home to make it safer for your grandchildren, visit Grandparents.com.
- Encourage young artists. Kids love to color, but you may be concerned about your walls, tabletops, and furniture. The solution? Before the kids arrive, find a large cardboard box – appliance size is ideal. Place it down so the bottom of the box is on the floor and the top is open. Invite the kids to color the inside of the box, not the outside. All the markers and the mess are contained within the walls of the box. You may need to cut a small “doorway” if the sides of the box are too tall for them to climb in easily.
- Prepare yourself for tantrums. Tantrums are perfectly normal and something you should probably expect if you’re babysitting for any length of time. Giving in and letting a child get their way will only encourage more tantrums, and yelling at them will ratchet up the stress for everyone concerned. The best way to handle it is to be prepared in advance. Ask the parents of the child how they deal with tantrums so you can be consistent in your approach. Chances are they’ve already figured out a method that their child responds well to, so there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. For more tips on dealing with a grandchild’s tantrum, visit Grandparents.com.
Spending time with your grandchildren is feels wonderful. In fact, studies have shown that strong bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren is good for the mental health of all involved – even when the grandkids are all grown up1 – so try out some of our tips and savor those sweet moments.
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