Easter Tips for Grandparents: Keep the Grandkids Amused
Are your grandchildren coming to stay in the Easter holidays? Or do you take care of them on a regular basis? Four out of five children in the UK are routinely cared for by a grandparent, whilst 25% of grandparents look after their grandchildren when their own children work.
So if you’re one of this growing band of granny-nannies, you’re in good company. In this article we share some Easter tips for grandparents who are looking to keep the grandkids amused.
Looking after your grandchildren can be immensely rewarding. It’s precious time for you and them, giving you the opportunity to get to know each other even better and make some happy memories. Perhaps you can’t wait for the little darlings to arrive. Or do you feel daunted by the idea of keeping them entertained? Maybe those darlings aren’t so little any more and the prospect of keeping an eye on teenagers makes you rather nervous! Here are 5 top Easter tips for Grandparents to make your grandchildren’s visit a success:
5 Top Easter Tips for Grandparents:
1. Plan your days around a routine
Children like to know what’s happening and when. If they know there’s an outing to the park planned for the afternoon, they’re more likely to be content drawing, junk-modelling or playing board games in the morning. And having a basic routine for the day, even if that’s just that lunch is at noon and tea is at 5, helps children feel at home. Of course, if you’re looking after your grandchildren for a just a few days you might want to dispense with routine a bit, especially if you’re going out and about. But if you’re on duty for a week or more you’ll probably find that having well-structured days, planned outings, regular mealtimes and calm bedtimes makes for very happy grand-families.
2. Choose from a huge range of activities
There are any number of activities and trips that will keep your grandchildren amused. Get some inspiration for entertaining children at home by visiting www.artsandcraftsforkids.co.uk If you want to go further afield, take a look at a website like www.familiesonline.co.uk with its ‘What’s On’ listing for different areas around the country. Or explore www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk for more family-friendly attractions. You could also look in your local library or newspaper for activities run (and often subsidised) by councils, churches and other organisations. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
You know all those cereal packets, yoghurt cartons and toilet rolls you recycle every week? Save them up and let your grandchildren recycle them into something they can take home. My daughter spent many a happy hour making cars, castles and even a hot air balloon using bits and bobs I was planning to throw away. Or even something Easter-themed like eggs or chicks. You just need a pair of scissors, a glue-stick (both child-friendly), some sticky tape, and a few felt-tip pens or colouring pencils. Add a plain drawing pad, available for next-to-nothing at large supermarkets, and most children will happily draw, write stories or even design the placemats for lunch!
Larks in the park
Children of all ages need time to enjoy open spaces. Jumping in puddles, playing outdoor games or spotting wildlife are free and almost everyone has some kind of open space nearby. If your local park lacks play equipment or your grandchildren are too old for slides and swings, make sure they pack a football as well as the inevitable computer games.
Make a splash
If wellies in puddles aren’t going to cut it, take a trip to your local swimming pool. Make sure you check the timetable – toddler splash sessions won’t suit teenagers and lane swimming won’t be a hit if they’re expecting giant inflatables. And if you’re taking little ones, don’t forget the all-important swim nappies!
Dinosaurs to Dora
Many libraries run free activities during school holidays. You’ll often find story-time, craft sessions, reading competitions and even author visits on offer. Do book a place where possible to avoid sad faces. And allow the children time to wander around, settle down with a book or choose some books to take home. Another fantastic source of free activities and indeed whole day-trips is your local museum. If you’re lucky enough to live near a major city you’ll probably have a choice of good museums. Check the websites and pick somewhere with exhibits and activities designed to match the ages of your grandchildren.
Take to the stage
A trip to the cinema or the theatre might be the highlight of your grandchildren’s visit. Family films are often released during school holidays and larger cinemas will offer a range of times so that even young children can join the fun. Older films are sometimes shown in the morning at significantly reduced ticket prices and you and your grandchildren might discover a true classic together. If popcorn and big screens don’t appeal, children’s theatre productions are a great alternative and some venues even offer workshops or behind-the-scenes tours.
3. Decide on a budget
Many of the activities suggested here are free or can be arranged at very low cost, and there are savings to be made through early or online bookings. Yet, even if you plan to spend very little, your grandchildren will doubtless spot the ice-cream van in the park or the gift shop at the museum. All those costs can mount up, so if you’re concerned about your budget it’s a good idea to raise this with your son or daughter in advance. And when it comes to little extras, children may have their own pocket money – don’t be afraid to let them use it!
4. Set some boundaries
Whether you’re looking after your grandchildren in their own home or having them to stay, it’s important that everyone involved – you, your children and grandchildren –agree some ground rules. Start by finding out what the children are allowed to eat, when they go to bed, how much television they watch and so on. You might feel that you’re happy for the rules to be relaxed whilst you’re in charge – but make sure you check this out with mum and dad! You may also have your own rules, especially if the children are staying with you. So if it’s important to you that they only eat at the table or clear up their toys at the end of each day, discuss this with everyone early on. I can’t promise a visit entirely free of sulks or tantrums, but when your grandchildren know the rules and know that you stick to them, they’re more likely to co-operate. And happy children make for happy grandparents! If you’d like to find out about other grandparents’ experiences of looking after their grandchildren, visit www.grandparents-association.org.uk, a charity that supports grandparents and their families.
5. Enjoy yourself!
Yes, that’s right – enjoy it! All this planning might seem like hard work, but when your grandchildren arrive you’ll have done your best to ensure everyone has a wonderful time. Spending time with your grandchildren can be a real joy. You’re going to make happy memories that everyone will cherish. And if the Easter holidays turn out to be more tiring than you’d imagined this year? Well, you’ve always got the other joy of handing the little darlings back! Written by our guest play expert Jenny Liddiard