I love the fall – I think I’ve said that before. This past week my son and his wife went on a much needed overnight adventure which meant that grandma and grandpa had the three kiddos overnight. I think there are several things that make for a successful grandchild date (which for us this time included a sleepover).

First lets talk about the benefits of spending time with our grandkids.

Benefits of time with Grandma

There is all sorts of science about the benefits of your grandkids spending time with you. For example:

  • Kids who grow up to have greater emotional closeness with grandparents are less likely to be depressed as adults, one study shows.
  • Grandparents who babysit grandkids live longer than same age adults without child-rearing responsibilities, according to recent research.
  • Another study revealed that when grandmothers spent one day a week caring for children, it reduced their Alzheimer’s risk.
  • You both have a built in support team.
  • Other research suggests that having an intergenerational identity, or an understanding of one’s family history and where they fit within it, can make kids more resilient and help them feel more in control of their lives, even when the world outside their family seems out of control.

Now that we understand the benefits of spending time with the grandkids lets move on to what a “grandkid” date entails.

Buy In

The first thing is to do is to check with your kiddos and make sure the things you are planning are things that they would enjoy doing. Make sure they are age appropriate so that they are excited and can enjoy the things you want to do them.

Buy in is huge – if you have a princess and a tough guy (which we do) you need to make sure you are either taking turns in what you choose and that they know this before hand, or that you do something for both of them.

Anticipation

I personally LOVE the anticipation part. I love to plan things and then talk about them as we move towards the date. So make sure that when you see or speak to you grands moving towards the date, that you are showing your excitement about the upcoming date night.

Talk to them about what you are going to do, how you’re going to do it as well as what you’re going to do.

Preparation

  • Set clear expectations with the parents – let them know the plans. Talk to them about pick up and drop off time. Having your kiddos for a long period can be exhausting!
  • Get supplies – if you are doing any sort of craft or other thing that may need supplies, make sure you have everything purchased and ready to go.
  • Check hours and costs- if by chance you are going some place call ahead to check out hours and costs as well as anything that may be of concern.
  • Food – make sure you have all their favorite foods in house so you’re ready to go.

Day of Date

Like I said – our grandkid date was a sleepover. We picked up the older two at 3:00 to go to their cousins to paint and decorate pumpkins.

We went to Costco for dinner. I know a bit crazy (and it was SUPER crazy on a Friday night) but that’s where they wanted to go.

The plan from the beginning was for the 4 year old tough guy to watch a scary movie with grandma while the princess watched a princess movie with grandpa and the baby went to bed. They each chose their treat, popcorn for the princess and applesauce for the tough guy, and settled into the movies.

We were going to watch The Haunted Mansion – but my sister informed me it was too scary for a 4 year old tough guy, so we borrowed Blackbeards Ghost instead.

With about 10 minutes left in the movie – my tough buy got up, took his blanket and let me know “This movie is not scary at all!!! I’m going to go watch Tangled upstairs.”

Make Food Fun

While the movie may have fallen short breakfast the next morning was Mickey Mouse pancakes. Grandpa has always scored big time with the grandkids when it comes to the cool things you can do with pancakes.

Make your food fun, create traditions that they love. We have a friend that has “grandpa pancakes” because one time he used a blueberry muffin mix to make his grandkids pancakes – so now he has to do it every time they are are in town.

Be active

One thing I’ve learned with my grandkids is that they LOVE to be out and running around. The more you can get out of the house and away from the day to day things the more memorable it will be for your grandkids.

For this outing we took them to a pumpkin patch – with lots of slides, hay rides, pumpkin choosing, pony rides and zip lines. We spent a few hours there and they loved every minute.

Watching my 3 year old princess climb an old grain silo to go down a giant slide was nothing short of terrifying for grandma but the confidence it gave her was well worth the risk.

Watching my 4 year old tough guy figure out how to run a zip line and go all the way to the end was fun.

Time well spent

In the end spending time with grandkids costs a couple of things – money and time. Don’t let either of these be a reason to not spend time with them. Make them feel important and loved.

I guarantee that it is time well spent.  If you want to have an influence on your grandkids then spending time with them, especially when they are younger, is the best way to guarantee they will listen to you and respect you when they are older.

Not only that you may bet a text the next day like we did from their mom –