Whether you are the grandparent of an out-of-town grandchild or one who lives in the same town or even neighbourhood, it can sometimes be challenging to forge a bond with them. If you feel at a loss when it comes to connecting with your grandkids, here's a list of ten bonding ideas and tips you can try:
1. Find some activities you can share
Are you a grandpa who likes to work on engines or build things out of wood? Maybe you can do a project with your grandson or granddaughter which involves making or building something together. You'll be building memories at the same time! Or maybe a shared interest in photography or sport will get you the two of you out and about together?
2. Beauty treatments
Grandmothers and granddaughters can make a day of it by going to get their hair or nails done, or getting a makeover at a makeup counter. Some grandmothers may be great hair-stylists, and can style their granddaughter's hair. You can build some wonderful, fond memories this way.
3. Cook together
Some of the fondest memories kids have of their grandparents involve cooking. Maybe it's a favorite cookie or dessert recipe, or a special afternoon spent learning how to barbecue. Whatever it is, making and sharing food and passing down family recipes are great ways to bond.
Long-distance grandparents can form a bond with grandkids by texting them, now and then. Texting can involve pictures and videos, too, if you have the right phones. Grandkids can take a picture of the woods they're walking in, the coffee shop they're sitting in, or have Mum or Dad film the play they're in - then send the pictures and videos with a text. (Just don't worry too much about the 'text speak' and missing capital letters that are part and parcel of texting!)
5. Video chat
Skype and Google Talk are great ways to stay in touch with out-of-town grandkids. Try to schedule some time to 'get together' for a video chat once a week (or whatever works with your schedule - just try to schedule it into a regular time-slot, so your 'get together' doesn't get put off or overlooked).
Seasonal crafts or just fun 'make-it-yourself' type crafts can be great fun for grandkids. Cigar box (or tissue box) guitars, pinhole cameras, paper snowflakes, sewing, knitting, etc. are all fun crafts grandparents can share with their grandkids.
Growing food, repotting plants, planting flowers and seeds... gardening is a wonderful way to share a skill and hobby that's generations old. Then you can share what you've grown with each other (and other people too).
The old-fashioned art of letter-writing can be revived and cultivated whether your grandkids live out-of-town or not. Letters also make wonderful keepsakes for the future, too - to be read again, years down the road, and have all the memories come flooding back.
Games can be played long-distance or right at home. Video chat and even the telephone are great ways to include grandchildren in a night of board games, card games, or even sports. Parents can take a mobile or cell phone to the grandkids' soccer game and shoot videos and take pictures, then text them. Or just have Grandpa and Grandma on the phone during the game.
10. Volunteer together
Grandparents can take the grandkids to the local RSPCA or humane society and volunteer to walk the dogs. Or maybe volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food bank would be more appropriate. Teaching your grandkids about the importance of community is a life-long lesson and a wonderful bonding idea.