Having parents who want to be involved with your kids is a blessing. Having kids who want to be around their grandparents is a gift as well. Family time, especially the quality you give it, is vital. Strong connections have been found to correlate with a longer and happier life. It’s not a definite factor, of course, but it can certainly help.
The life and memories you can help foster between your children and your parents will bring almost nothing but joy to everyone. It can be hard to get started, though, so check out these ideas to encourage intergenerational family time!
- Time Together
The most important aspect of any relationship is time together. This is easier for some families than for others. If you live close, then frequent visits are the best, and easiest, option.
If distance is an obstacle, then try to make the most of the times you do get to see them. Extend visits as long as you can, and encourage your kids to remember your parents when you have to go a while without them.
- Leave Them to Babysit
It can be tough to leave your kids with someone else, but your parents are not exactly unqualified. It’s also a great time for your child to really focus on and bond with their grandparents.
Letting your parents be in charge for a while allows the kids to learn to trust their grandparents — and for the grandparents to trust themselves.
When you can’t visit, use technology for all it’s worth. If you’re worried about data usage, then take your kiddo out to the coffee shop and use theirs.
No matter how you do it, giving your kids a chance to see and interact with your parents on a regular basis, even if it’s not in person, is invaluable to maintaining their relationship.
- Send Mail
Kids love mail, both getting it and sending it. Ask your parents to send a short letter to your kids. Even if they can’t read, they would love to have you read the letters to them.
Then you can help them write a letter back. Include some trinket like a paper heart and some pictures to make it special. Both the kids and the grandparents will absolutely love getting the letters.
- Encourage Family Story Time
Asking your parents to tell stories about their childhood isn’t just good for reminiscing. It helps your kids to see them as whole people who have lived entire lives that are different from theirs.
This might be awkward at first since grandparents are probably a bit out of practice talking about themselves, but stories like this also help your parents to remember how it was to be a kid. They might find it easier to relate to your child after a story about their own childhood. My father likes to talk about the time he swung an old lawnmower around and put it straight through the front window of their house!
Let your kids spend the night with their grandparents, assuming their grandparents are willing to have them that long. It’s good for the kids to get used to a variety of caregivers, and sleeping in a new, safe place is an exciting experience.
It’s also great for the adults. The work forces them to keep up with the kiddos. Staying physically active gets harder as you get older, especially once you retire. However, it’s vital to staying healthy, both mentally and physically.
- Cooking Time
Learning to cook is a life skill, and it can start sooner than you think. For example, a two-year-old can help stir cookie batter and wash veggies or fruit for a salad.
If your parents are up for making dinner, then encourage your kids to help, and show them how. Once they’re a bit older, they can start setting the table and working on the stove.
- Go Through Old Pictures
Old photo albums are amazing. Some families have pictures going back generations. This is especially effective for younger kids who can’t read yet but love to hear stories and look at things. The pictures are a perfect lead in to telling stories together.
This kind of recall also helps keep the adult’s memories fresh, and it allows kids work out storylines. This kind of practice is excellent for their language development, which is a key their success in scholastic settings. It’s excellent for all parties involved.
- Have Kids Help With Family Traditions
Holidays are typical times for family gatherings, and they usually come with some traditions attached. These traditions can be perfect for fostering the bond between your kids and their grandparents, and they can give everyone some great memories.
Whether your family gathers to read a holiday story, watch the same movie every year or parade around town singing, get the kids involved.
- Family Movie Night
Movies are always awesome, but they mean more when they’re home videos. It’s similar to going through old photo albums, but it can actually give young children a more complete image of their grandparents — and probably their parents, too.
Films don’t lie or get distorted by time like memories do. The videos can be a great way to remember some of the best times, and they can provide a bonding experience for everyone there. This goes double if they happen to be funny!
- Let Them Teach
If your parents know how to do something, give them a chance to teach their grandchildren about it. It might be hammering a nail into wood, gardening, crocheting or fixing cars. No matter what, your child can have an introduction to it and gain a life skill. They might not always use it or remember it, but they’ll at least have the memories of learning about it with their grandparents.
Encouraging your family to get together and love each other is mostly common sense. The fact that it’s also good for the whole family is just icing on a seven-layer cake. Get together. Put aside differences and take the time to really love each other. You’re family. If you won’t do it, who will?
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