Last week my daughter and son-in-law went out of town for a few days and they left their three year-old twin boys with me and my husband – known to the boys as “Gigi and Pappa.” This was super special for all of us because though the boys have spent a good deal of time at our house, they have never stayed overnight. I must admit that I was a little fearful about how this would all go down.
- Would they miss Mommy and Daddy and cry?
- Would we be able to keep them busy for three days?
- Would WE wear down before it was over?
- How would they do when darkness wrapped around their bedroom?
- Will they eat the food I prepare?
- Will I run out of things to do?
- How will I maintain the structure they are used to?
On and on the questions rolled in my head. But I prayed and prepared much, and truly anticipated their time in our home.
I could be a typical grandparent and tell you how good they were, how they went to bed without any struggle, and that we all had so much fun…and that would all be true, but I must also admit that we got tired, and there were a couple times when there was a bit of a struggle about who would be in control. There were several times I had to stop and pray with the boys. But in the end, Gigi and Pappa won, and each situation ended with smiles and happy hearts.
I’m no expert, for sure! I’m still learning, but today I’m writing this to encourage all grandmothers in two areas:
- I want to remind you of the important role we play in our grandchildren’s lives and also our children’s lives! We are to be a support. It’s so important that our children know we will uphold their rules and expectations in their absence. If they’ve been working on immediate obedience and we allow the children to do what they want instead of what we ask, we’re doing both the children and their parents a huge disservice. We’re really making things harder for ourselves as well. So, don’t cave in and be simply the doting grandmother, be a loving support in the training of those precious children.
- I also want to give a few ideas of things you can do with a young child that will fill their days with fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a young child in my care for three days, so I gave it some real thought before they arrived so I would be ready. I didn’t want there to be a time when we were trying to come up with ideas of something to do. That spells disaster!
Now, on with the fun!!!
- Let them help in the kitchen. Starting with the preparation of the meals to mixing up cookies, children love helping! My boys enjoyed helping to stir up the mac and cheese we had for lunch one day, adding the sauce and toppings to their homemade pizzas, and also setting the table.
- Give them time for independent play. I had purchased a used set of wooden trains, planes and little village pieces and the boys enjoyed playing with them outside on our patio area. I was nearby, but I tried to encourage them to play together without my assistance.
- Encourage time outside. I was always one of those moms who would send my girls outside to enjoy outside play. Whine as they might, they learned to love being outside, use their imaginations, and enjoy being outdoors. The fresh air and outdoor play also helps to tire little people out! The boys played in the swimming pool the Lord provided for us, “painted” with sponge brushes and a bucket of water, dug in the dirt of the raised beds, enjoyed wagon rides, played with sidewalk chalk, watered the garden, picked cherry tomatoes, and chased their shadows!
- Make mealtime fun. I tried my best to make mealtime delicious and fun. The boys sat at the small table on our patio and ate some of their meals there while we sat on the patio furniture near them. I also tried to make foods I knew they liked. This isn’t the time to try new recipes or “weird” foods they have never tried.
- Try to keep their normal routine. The boys are in bed by 7:00 when they’re home, so we did our best to follow suit. One night we forgot to sing, as they do with their mommy and daddy and one of the boys whimpered a little as we were tucking them in. He asked for a song, and of course we were happy to do that! His disposition immediately grew calm and he went right to sleep! Be sure to find out what their normal pattern is before bedtime. That little blanket, stuffed animal and bedtime story might be the key to helping ALL of you to get a good night’s rest!
- Library books! Of course we know getting the books from the library can be a challenge right now, but I simply called in my list and picked them up! The boys enjoyed reading in the afternoon, and that quiet time was helpful for all of us!
- Craft time – Most all children love using a glue stick! I had gotten The Pout Pout Fish (adorable book!) from the library, so we made a pout pout fish for our craft time.
Let me add one more important thought – in ALL the activities and talking you do with your grandchild, point them to Christ. Talk about the Lord. Pray with them over needs and burdens and cares. I have some special memories tucked in my heart regarding prayer times with the boys. Oh, how their faith in what God can do puts me to shame! What a joy to take them to the Throne of Grace!
I hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing so you can enjoy a sweet time with your grandchildren. I was really thankful that when their parents came to get them, the boys said they wanted to stay longer! They went home, but I was thankful that our time together was special enough to make them want to come back, and that happened without breaking any of their home rules!
What ideas could you add to this list?
Refresh your time with your grandchildren by having fun and supporting their parents at the same time!
Here’s a post about helping your children become more independent, which is what we must be teaching them to do! Remember, you’re training them to become adults!