March may be roaring in like a lion in your neck of the woods. But with the Olympics behind us and Daylight Savings Time just ahead, the words “Spring Break” will soon be on everyone’s lips. While that conjures up images of college students frolicking on the beach for many, in your family, it may mean a phone call from your daughter or son desperately looking to get a “spring break” from your grandkids or unable to take a week off from work. Your job, should you choose to accept it, will be to make sure the little rascals get entertained, enriched and returned to their parents safe and sound like gentle lambs.
Whatever age your grandkids may be, Spring Break can be an excellent time to shake off the winter doldrums and get out in the sunshine again. We’ve got a few excellent ideas on how to keep the kiddos happy. And don’t let a few rain showers dampen your spirits. Many Sunshine Retirement communities have playrooms with toys and kid-sized furniture. And with a little
Here are a few kid-approved activities that are guaranteed to be fun and promote a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.
Chances are, there’s a park or playground within easy walking distance of your community. But why not turn that ordinary walk into an adventure by making it a treasure hunt? Make a list of things to collect or spot for each child — an acorn, a squirrel, a feather, etc. — and start hunting. If the kids are older, make the objects tougher to find or give rhyming clues that are harder to figure out. Take a camera with you and have kids take a photo of something that begins with each letter of the alphabet.
If it’s not a good day to be outside, set up a scavenger hunt at your retirement community by having the kids collect things – a piece of candy, a coin, a cookie, a mint – from your friends up and down the hall.
Not your grandchild’s baby books. Your kids’ baby books. Grandchildren love seeing their parents as peers rather than the person who tells them to clean up their room and go to bed. Tell them about what their mom or dad was like as child; first words, fears and failures; things he or she did that were naughty or funny. They might be amazed to learn that their mom or dad wasn’t much different at the same age.
As long as everyone is in the mood for looking at books, take the grandkids to the public library. Encouraging reading, of course, is a great thing at any age, and no matter how many books they have at home, there’s always something new (or old) that they’ll love at the library. Most libraries will have regular story hours and special Spring Break events that are great for youngsters of all ages. While you’re there, pick up some books in the children’s section with your grandchild and start your own mini-book club together.
If you have access to a kitchen at your community, this is a no-brainer. Not only do kids love to be included in grown-up activities, like cooking and baking, it’s important to pass on family traditions and history. So while your grandchild is measuring and stirring, you‘re teaching how to plan, follow instructions, and develop patience, and maybe even sharing how your mother or grandmother taught you how to bake. The rewards go far beyond having a tasty treat with milk.
Speaking of family history, your jewelry box is like a mini-time capsule of your life. Almost every piece Inside could have an interesting story attached to it and kids — especially tween and teenage girls — will eat them up. If you trust them, let them try on some items. They’ll feel like royalty and ask to see the jewelry box every time they visit.
If you have access to a car and enjoy driving, the possibilities are endless for taking trips to the beach, going to the zoo, or taking an extended road trip. Plus, you have an almost automatic nap-inducer for the little ones in the back seat. But a boat ride or an out-and-back train ride can be even more enjoyable when you all can watch the scenery go by, have a snack, and play cards or “I Spy.”
Spring break is just a couple of short weeks away, so get your plans into shape. If you are a member of AARP or AAA, check their travel sites, because you may be eligible for discounts on lodging, car rentals and tickets to theme parks. Pay close attention to the age requirements listed when calculating prices. Sometimes age 50 is considered a senior; sometimes it’s 70. And “children stay/eat/play/free” can have age restrictions too.
The bottom line is, we want you to have a great time with your grandkids so that everyone gets back refreshed. And anxious to do it all over again this summer.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2018.