14 Traditions to strengthen family ties.
Published: August 25, 2022
By: Kerrie McLoughlin
Grandparents, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how important you are to your grandchild(ren). You are so much more than an occasional babysitter. You teach without it even seeming like you are, and your wisdom is soaked up better than any lecture from a parent. You may not realize just how profoundly you affect your grandchildren. To keep your connection with them alive, read on for 14 traditions you can start with your grandchildren. Most of them are pretty adaptable so you can continue them as your grandchildren grow.
Explore your “stuff” with them. Why have you kept what you have over the years? Take the kids on a tour of your attic, basement and special treasures throughout the house. Kids learn so much about you and history through this tradition. Baseball cards, music that is important to you, books, photos, autographs, special toys and journals are all interesting to explore.
Go fishing. Boys and girls alike are always up for a short bout of fishing, either on a boat, off a dock or in a nearby pond. They not only learn how to bait a hook and cast the line, but their faces light up when they catch a fish. And if they don’t… well, you still get some time to find out what’s on their mind.
Have a day of beauty or an at-home spa day. My girls love it when Grandma Mac brushes their hair because she is so patient and gentle and talks to them so lovingly while doing it. A simple session of nail painting can be very relaxing and the perfect time for a girl-to-girl chat.
Do an activity that interests your grandchild. For instance, if you have a granddaughter who loves ballet, take her to see The Nutcracker. If your grandson loves trains, take him on a train ride.
Snuggle up and read some stories. Make up stories, write them down, and illustrate them, too. Tell them what your child (their parent) was like at their age and some of the messes they got into. My parents love to tell my kids how I used a poison ivy leaf as a powder puff once… and paid the price!
Write each of your grandchildren a letter. You can write one when each is born, sharing your feelings about their birth and hopes for their future. You can write one later, giving advice and pointing out their strengths. Write one just for milestones or write one every year. They will be treasured.
Teach a skill. Do you crochet, build furniture, paint or cook the best chicken and noodles in the state? Could you teach your grandchild how to start a budget, how to care for animals, and how to grow strawberries? Tutu (my mom) got my kids interested in rocks when she gave them some quartz crystal chunks.
Make something together. The possibilities are endless: bake cookies, start a sewing, woodworking or crafting project, plant a tree or a pot of wildflowers. My husband’s grandma made wooden stick horses for all of her grandchildren, and they still have them. Now my kids play with them 40 years later.
Go on a nature walk or to a nearby park, zoo or nature center. If you aren’t physically fit, now is a great time to get that way by going on a short nature hike with the kids or pushing them on the merry-go-round. If you just don’t have the energy, indoor children’s museums are a great place to sit and observe and participate with your grandchild while he plays.
Play a game, throw a ball. You can play something your grandchild wants to play, like Candyland, or tackle something you want to teach, like checkers, chess or gin rummy.
Call it a night. My sons love shrimp, so my dad makes them a dinner of shrimp, potatoes and green beans and tops it off with a big bowl of sherbet while they watch a movie. Then they spend the night and wake up to eggs, hash browns, bacon and a day full of fun.
Take your grandchild on a trip. This is a great learning opportunity and makes some special memories in the process. It doesn’t need to be lengthy or costly. A day trip to a neat landmark or fun activity would do the trick. Check out www.ChildrensMuseums.org to find children’s museums all over the world.
Volunteer together. My father-in-law takes my 10-year-old son to a food bank every few weeks for three hours of sorting donated food, then they go out to lunch. Head to www.handsonbroward.org or www.handsonmiami.org to find all sorts of volunteer opportunities you can do with your grandchild.
Show up. Attend as many sports, recitals and other events as you can. This can be difficult if you have many grandchildren living close by who are big into activities, so just do your best. Your presence is looked forward to
Kerrie McLoughlin is a freelance writer who feels blessed that her five kids have all six of their grandparents living so close.