Children are welcome, but preparations are essential.
Making a trip to visit grandparents safe and fun
Be safe. A visit from the grandchildren can be a long-awaited pleasure, but requires preparation, especially when small children will be visiting. Survey the home for choking hazards, sharp edges, dangerous chemicals within reach, and easily-breakable possessions. Remove and/or protect as needed. Block stairs, if necessary. Store medications and weapons out of reach. Don’t forget to child-proof the garage also.
The greatest dangers to children outside the home are motor vehicle accidents and drowning. Car seats are far more complicated than a few decades ago. Practice using the car seat restraints while family can help with them. As for drowning, insure that the children can swim, sign them up for classes, and swim in areas attended by a lifeguard. Use SPF 30 sunscreen liberally before exposure to the sun and reapply every couple of hours. Use bug spray (no more than 30% DEET), if the children will be exposed to bugs. Finally, if educate children about dangers in the area, like snakes and bears.
Establish a routine. It’s easy to indulge grandchildren, but there needs to be some rules to avoid going insane after a few days. Set some reasonable rules and discuss them with the kids. Supporting the parents is part of responsible grandparenting. While flexibility is fine during vacations, the kids will eventually return to the parents who have set rules for the family.
Before a children/child arrive(s) for a long visit, make sure the home is ready for them. Have a place set up with closet/drawer/storage space. Have extra clothes, toothpaste and brush and other toiletries in case they are needed. Stock up on kid friendly food and drinks.
Have fun. A visit to the grandparents should be a special event for everyone. Grandparents who have the extra time to spend with the grandchildren can provide opportunities for them to explore that they might not have with their parents. Kids can do what they enjoy traditionally, but can also learn to cook, work in a garden, or try out unfamiliar hobbies. Making simple snacks and recipes can give a sense of accomplishment and teach life skills. Books and photographs and story time about family, especially their parents, can replace excessive time in front of the TV or computer.
While children may enjoy down time while on vacation, unique and fun activities may be available. Board games, cards, chalk, and water play can provide hours of fun. A list of suggestions about things to do can provide a starting point to make plans with the child for the visit, as well as teach decision-making skills. Encouraging conversation with open-ended questions encourage thinking skills and conversation skills.
Finally, grandparents don’t need to entertain the kids 24/7. Communities offer many opportunities to participate in camps, academies and other activities. With some pre-visit research, kids will have a wealth of choices. Art, theatre, athletics may interest a child, or simply attending vacation bible school. Kids can learn something new or improve their skills doing something they enjoy, while the grandparents get a rest break. Overall, everyone can acquire happy memories that will last a lifetime.