Aug 28, 2019 04:40PM
written by lauren witt | photos provided by wyim
Bonnie Reed, 74,
has five granddaughters and one great-grandson. Bonnie loves hands-on activities that spur the imagination or impart valuable lessons like giving back. If Bonnie had known her grandchildren were going to be so fun, she said she would have had them first!
• Give little girls opportunities to play dress-up and put on fashion shows. Go to the local thrift shop and pick out a bunch of inexpensive formal wear and accessories. Wash them and put them in a dress-up bin for little girls. Make time to help them get ready and watch their production. You could even pick out music for them to walk to down the runway.
• Impart family traditions such as a knowledge of cooking and secret family recipes . After making several recipes with my grandchildren, I compiled a very special cookbook that features my family’s favorites.
• Make a charitable donation together. One year, we had the girls pick out their favorite toy and then we donated it to the Salvation Army so another child would receive it for Christmas. After that, it became our tradition every holiday season. We pick out gifts for people in need.
Favorite Tradition: Baking and decorating sugar cookies for holidays and special occasions.
When it comes to being a grandparent, it’s not about providing a living to sustain a family, it’s about having fun and simply being there for them while exuding unconditional love.
Barbara Justiss, 77,
has seven grandchildren. Barbara relishes any time spent with her grandkids and signs up to be a babysitter any chance she gets. She believes the more effort you put into spending time with them, the stronger the bond.
• When they are little, get on the floor and play with them –whether it’s Barbies, toy cars or stuffed animals. Be available when your kids ask you to babysit, then come prepared to play. You could even host a “Grandma Camp” and have them all over at the same time for a play-date.
• Let them participate in activities their parents may avoid because they’re messy, like stomping around in a mud puddle or doing experimental cooking in the kitchen. The girls love pulling new recipes from Pinterest. Create an environment for them in which they can have fun and try new things without anyone telling them they are doing them wrong.
• Teach them how to do something beneficial or pass on a special skill. For example, I taught my grandchildren how to sew, and one time we made quilts together.
Favorite Tradition: Presenting everyone in the family with a stocking filled with goodies at Christmas.
“The more effort you put into spending time with them, the stronger the bond.”
Ken Klutts, 76,
has two grandchildren. Ken plans a family reunion every year to give everyone the chance to spend time together and catch up. He enlists the help of his grandkids to make the crafts they sell to pay for the event space and refreshments. He enjoys sharing passions and practical life lessons with his grandchildren.
• Build something your grandkids can enjoy and show them how to use it and take care of it. One summer, I built two go-karts, one for each of them. After they learned how to drive them and maintain them, I got enjoyment out of teaching them how to drive the tractor and eventually how to drive my truck.
• Take them on adventures that speak to their interests, like bike riding, fishing and hiking. One of my grandchildren is passionate about animals and the outdoors, so we visit state parks and other natural areas. Find something you both enjoy doing, then make time to do it.
• Pass along helpful knowledge and life skills, like how to change the oil in the car. Then be available when they call for advice on anything. My grandson calls or texts me for help with mechanical issues regularly. Spend time with them, talk to them if they need help and love them no matter what.
Favorite Tradition: Visiting a local pizza place with arcade games.
All agree that if time is spent developing these connections at a young age, a deep and loving relationship will develop, and grandchildren will continue to be a part of one’s life even into adulthood. If you make yourself available to them, spend time with them, support, cherish, and love them with all your heart, you really can’t go wrong no matter what you do together. †