6 unusual ways to spend time with your grandchildren that they’ll absolutely love
Activities together anchor our relationships. They give us something to look forward to when we see each other and a way to stay connected when we’re not together.
September is Intergenerational Month, a time to celebrate the differences between youth and agedness and also the ties that bring us together.
All generations learn by engaging with the ones that came before and after. Our grandkids need our advice as much as we need their creativity and tech savvy when it comes to programming the TV or swapping printer ink cartridges.
For Intergenerational Month, we have a list of six somewhat unusual ways you can spend time with and connect with your grandchildren of all ages. We’re all busy (and so are they), so these ideas are easily accomplished in a single visit or a little bit over time.
Kids love receiving mail. Write letters to your young grandchildren telling them about your day and the things you see and experience. It doesn’t matter if you live closeby (or even if you live with them) or far apart. Encourage them to write back like a pen pal, but it also works if they don’t. Keep it up once a month or every other week. Over time, you can forge an intimate bond with your grandkids, one they’ll cherish forever.
This can be done in one sitting or piecemeal over time. You can be as detailed and formal or as casual as you like. Write out your family tree and describe each character. Ask your grandchildren to draw pictures of each person to populate the tree. It’s a great way to teach them about where they come from and help them connect with their ancestors and distant relatives.
As you can imagine, this gets even more interesting when you’re part of a blended family.
Tweens and teens
This one requires you to abandon common sense and maybe even a little dignity, but it can be super fun and a way to connect with your grandkids doing something that’s important to them.
If you’re a little confused to start, ask them what TikTok is and to show you some of their own videos. If you have limited mobility, you might not be able to do the milk crate challenge (again, ask your grandkids; it’s ridiculous), but there are plenty of other viral trends you can jump on. Ask them what kinds of videos they like to make and see if they have any ideas for a way to collaborate.
Tell them you want to try going viral. The internet is full of grandparents who shock the world by doing funny things on social media. You might be the next viral sensation, or at least part of the reason your grandkid achieves some momentary stardom.
It’s a war between you guys and your kids. Harmless pranks, pulled at the right time, help you and your grandchildren grow closer (and also prove that you can be fun, too!).
Your grandchildren probably have their own ideas of ways to befuddle their parents. Ask if they have any ideas for harmless pranks (emphasis on harmless). If not, check out some of these ideas.
You’ve got a lifetime’s worth of experience they can learn from. A bottle of wine (or a pot of tea if wine isn’t your thing) becomes an intersection for you to talk about important decisions you made, milestones in your life or hard lessons. The conversation should be natural and in search of mutual engagement. Invite them over to visit for nothing more than to spend time together. For many families who only see each other on holidays, that kind of request may be surprising enough, so you might have to start even slower than that.
When you do finally get together, see where the conversation goes. Show interest in their own experiences. You just might learn something, too!
No matter how old, just about every grandkid loves receiving gifts from their grandparents. It makes them feel special. It doesn’t have to be something valuable, like jewelry or a car or anything. But it should have a good story behind it.
The transaction should be intentional, maybe even a little ceremonious. Make sure first that they’re responsible enough to treasure it like you do, then explain why you’re giving it to them. It helps if the object has some kind of mutual importance.
For example, if you both like working on cars together, give them an old wrench set. If they’re interested in learning how to knit, an old pair of knitting needles. If you share music, maybe some sheet music or an LP of favorite showtunes. Old things have their own intrinsic value simply because they’re old. Letting go for posterity gives you a sense that the thing will live on and continue to give the next generation utility or enjoyment. For your grandchildren, it helps them connect with the duty they have to carry on a legacy