To highlight Grandparents Day, we've included a list of ideas that you can use and adapt to connect with your grandkids and create lasting memories.
Many families today are struggling with the daily pressures of family life- financially, emotionally and practically; trying to balance work and home responsibilities plus the stresses of time and over-commitment and the potential threats for kids of school violence, internet predators, pressures to conform and substance abuse. More than ever, grandparents have an important role providing stability, security, unconditional love and increasingly, financial and practical assistance.
Some grandparents are separated from family by distance and family work commitments. But most grandparents are searching for creative ways to connect with their grandchildren and families to build strong and lasting relationships.
Cheri Fuller's book, 'Connect with Your Grandkids' outlines many creative and simple ways that you can enrich the lives of your grandchildren and connect with them through different ways, whether you have regular close contact or are separated by distance.
Many of the ideas and activities are suggestions from other grandparents: ways to share your interests with your grandchildren, fun stuff to do together, ideas for travelling with your grandkids, using technology to connect, photo and memory albums, in the kitchen, camping, being a spiritual influence in your grandchildren's lives and so much more.
The book has been described as a treasure trove of practical, hands-on ways to bond with your grandchildren- every grandparent needs a copy! Find it here..
The old adage 'Laughter is the best medicine' may really be more true than you think. Research has shown that laughter helps boost immunity, decreases pain, lowers stress levels, relaxes and eases anxiety.
Children especially need to laugh, and its absence often points to an underlying concern.
So.. how can you encourage healthy spontaneous laughter when you're with your grandkids.
* Dress ups. Keep a box or area for dress-ups and funny masks ready for the kids to play with, especially young ones.
* Jokes and Limericks. Kids love jokes and limericks and yes, they will drive you crazy with their constant jokes, but try having a few corny ones of your own ready to tell to them. They enjoy tongue twisters, too.
* Bloopers. Watch an episode or two of Funniest Home Movies or Best Ever Bloopers.
* Sing some silly songs together or play a silly songs CD. 'The Donut Man', Mary Rice Hopkins music or 'Veggie Tales' are just a few suggestions to get you started. See here
* Funny movies. Choose a great movie that you know will appeal to children's sense of fun, add in some popcorn, and enjoy a movie night together. Here's a few suggestions: George of the Jungle, Madagascar, Toy Story, Up, Baby's Day Out, The Muppet Movie.
* YouTube. There are some really funny clips on YouTube that you can share. Try: 'Emerson- Mommy's Nose is Scary,' 'Angry Birds Game- T-mobile,' 'The Best bloopers ever,' and 'Cat on iPad.' I'm sure the kids will know of some themselves. Check out the sample one below.
* Books. Read some of the humorous books available for all ages and kids will really appreciate it if you try to incorporate silly voices for some of the characters. The following list gives 18 suggestions of fun books for different ages. See here.
Remember, as worthwhile as laughter may be for physical and mental health, it's important not to encouraging laughter when a child is hurting or grieving, or if the laughter will demean or upset a child.
Are you considering taking up a new interest? Why not consider painting? And no, I don't mean house-painting. Research has show that, not only is painting a lot of fun, it has great therapeutic value. It can ease the symptoms of stress and traumatic experiences. And.. it can help you connect with others. So... why not check out your local art and craft centres for local art workshops or, if you don't have the time or feel a little intimated, start with an online course. Check out painting-course.com or simplypainting.com which includes helpful video tutorials.
If you don't want to bother with all the paraphernalia and the cost of painting equipment, you could start with an ipad app. There are plenty to consider like Water Color Pencil, which has received good reviews. Draw It Easy includes helpful, clear step by step lessons.
Whether by choice or necessity, grandparents today are being relied upon to step in and provide financial, emotional and practical support for families. The older generation is now more fit and active than ever before and have the time, energy and means to be able to step in and fill the gaps for the family. But they also need support and encouragement for this role, which, hopefully, will be found within these pages.