Grandchildren are a blessing and a joy and most grandparents cherish the time they spend with them. Even if you live near your grandchildren and so see them frequently, their solo visits are special times. To make them even more memorable, plan carefully for each one.
Regardless of how fit you are, chances are you don't have the energy of the children's parents. Pace your days. Allow time for rests between activities.
Even the most energetic kids enjoy a story--read a chapter book to keep them coming back for more. When necessary, stream a movie on the computer or pop one in the DVD player and give yourself a break.
Simple activities such as cooking and gardening are fun with the grandkids. These are even better if the grandkids have their own aprons or garden tools. Keep some basic art supplies in a special drawer or basket, ready for the little ones. Display their artwork proudly!
Bedtime rituals are important to children, so try to replicate what they do at home, whether it's a warm bath, singing a song, reading a story, or playing a quiet game.
To make the visit extra-special, incorporate some rituals of your own. Spin yarns about your own childhood or read favorite books from your children's childhood, augmented with anecdotes about those now-grown youngsters.
Encourage the children to bring their favorite stuffed animals, blankets and pillows with them. Supply a cuddly animal just for Grandma's house.
Although grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandchildren, do so within reason. Respect parental rules about snacking, gifts, and television viewing and electronic devices. Make sure the parents realize you might bend these rules a little, and discuss boundaries before the visit.
Plan outings that are age appropriate and not overly ambitious. Both children and grandparents get tired. Alternate days at the zoo or museum with lazy afternoons at the pool, beach or playground.
If you know other children in the neighborhood, suggest playdates. Depending on their age, the grandkids may be receptive to the idea. Younger children usually jump at the chance to play with other children, while older kids are more resistant. Don't force anything.
Childproof your home before the kids arrive. If they are very young, stow cleaning supplies and install outlet covers and safety locks on cabinets. Put away prescription and over-the-counter drugs--don't forget those in your purse (put it on a high shelf).
Stock first-aid items, including Ipecac (to induce vomiting) and children's ibuprofen.
Check the batteries in the smoke alarm and update the carbon monoxide detectors.
Get written permission from the children's parents to act in case of a medical emergency. Make sure it includes the medical insurance information and the pediatrician's telephone number.
Most of all, enjoy the children. You know better than anyone how quickly they grow up!