Maintaining close relationships with young grandchildren or great-grandchildren is important for the emotional health and well being of seniors. Here are some things to consider whether you live close or far away:
When you live nearby
Play dress-up. Go through your closet and set aside unused clothes for pretend play – the more vintage and outlandish, the better. Add shoes, handbags and costume jewelry, too. Let your grandchild choose clothes for both of you to wear.
Do a puzzle. Pick out a jigsaw puzzle together at the store, and when it’s done, use puzzle glue to create a keepsake the child can hang on his or her bedroom wall.
Make portraits of each other. Use crayons or paints to tap into your inner artists. Display your grandchild’s artwork at your house, and let him or her take home your masterpiece.
Cook or bake together. Even very young children can follow simple directions and help mix batter or shape dough. Keep track of what you make together in a blank journal. This is a great way to pass on heirloom family recipes.
Share a special hobby. Whether you knit, collect coins, go fishing or play cards, involve your grandchild in these activities. They are a wonderful opportunity for learning.
When you live far away
If you aren’t close enough for in-person bonding, try these easy high-tech ways to stay close to grand kids:
Try video chat. Get help setting up a webcam so you can have live video conferences with your grandchildren. It’s a fun way to connect in a more personal way instead of using the phone.
Send a DVD bedtime story. Record yourself reading your grandchild’s favorite book. They can watch it at home and read along before bed.
Start a photo scavenger hunt. Pick a theme each week, like animals, food or even a certain shape or color. You and your grandchild can take pictures (film or digital) of things relating to that theme. Then, share the images via e-mail or regular mail and collect them in a photo album. Bring the albums when you do get together so you can talk about the pictures.