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It can be incredibly rewarding to hang out with the grandkids, and while you may not always agree with their parents on the best way to do things, the most important thing is that the little ones are happy.
It’s never hard to find things to do with them, of course, but here are a few essentials that will help you bond more than ever with them – and with their parents too!
1. Cook from scratch
Whether mum and dad prepare gourmet standard dinners on a daily basis, or rely on ready meals all too often, a freshly prepared feast will always go down well. The grandkids will not only love putting something tasty in their tummies, but their growing bodies will appreciate the nutritional boost of a meal made from scratch.
You could use this as an opportunity to pass down some of your favourite recipes, or if you’re stuck for ideas check out our tasty and healthy comfort foods. If you don’t fancy the idea of slaving over a hot stove for hours, then try these easy recipe ideas, and let the slow cooker do all the hard work. And if you’re worried about their health, why not try our healthy food swaps to update old classics?
2. Spend one-on-one time
The juggle is real for parents. They’re often constantly in demand, trying to find time for work, family life and friends, as well as keeping the household running and looking after children. And if there are two kids or more to take care of, it’s hard for parents to focus solely on just one of them.
But relationships with kids get stronger when you spend one-on-one time together, whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, so you could help out by taking it in turns to spend one-on-one time with each child. Plan a favourite activity with each of the kids in turn, and while one has your attention, the other can be with mum or dad – they’ll feel special, and so will you.
3. Praise them generously
One of the biggest issues for parents is discipline. As a grandparent, you can enjoy taking a softer stance, and encouraging them in the things they’re good at. It’s not to say you’re a pushover – you do still need to support their parents’ house rules – but why not take a moment out of the hectic everyday routine to notice what’s been going well and to tell them. You’ll soon find the encouragement works wonders.
And while you’re at it, try it with your children or other half – give a compliment, get more compliments back!
4. Get yourself fitter
Being an active grandparent is hard work – whether you’re lifting up a growing kid, crawling round on the floor with them for a game, or picking them up from school and entertaining them. And as you get older, let’s be honest, things can get a bit creakier!
Getting fitter makes it all that little bit easier, though. It’s never too late to get back into regular exercise – yoga or Pilates and brisk walking are all great, gentle starts. And there’s no need for the gym to feel intimidating, even if you’re concerned that exercise can trigger your sensitive bladder. Just pack Always Discreet Pads in your gym bag - its DualLock core prevents wetness and odour for hours, so you won’t need to worry about little leaks as your stretch and strain.
5. Share favourite books
We’re all obsessed with technology now – and that includes the kids. However obsessed they are with consoles and smartphones, most children love physical books too, especially if you find something they can really relate to.
Many children actually prefer reading on paper to reading on electronic devices. The bonus is that it prevents them getting distracted by whatever else is happening on the device – emails, Snapchat, text messages. Books can be expensive for parents to buy, so if you can afford to, it’s a good regular gift that will last them a lifetime.
Start with a guaranteed win – the Hungry Caterpillar or Harry Potter – to whet their appetites, ideally in a really beautiful edition, and then keep an eye on the most popular books. It’s also a great opportunity to share and bond over the books you yourself loved as a child, and start conversations of those times.
What’s the one thing you do that’s guaranteed to make your grandkids smile?
Share your suggestions in the comments below.