One of the things we get to do as grandparents is offer a respite to our children as they parent.
Inviting our grandkids over for an evening or a week-end allows their parents to go out for dinner or to get away for an overnight mini-vacation, and it allows us to connect with our grandkids in fun ways.
We had an opportunity to do this recently. A long week-end with four of our granddaughters included a trip to our local Children's Museum as well as a trip to our local zoo where we saw the bears and tigers get dinner, walked through the tropical rain forest house with birds swooping overhead, and watched a river otter glide gracefully through his pond.
We also made sure there was time to relax. Although our usual week-end chores still had to be done (and the girls got to help with those!) we had time to watch a movie together, play in the yard, color, blow bubbles, and just hang out. There was a lot of eating (especially ice cream -- ice cream with strawberries, root beer floats . . . ) and a lot of just talking.
Our kids had a good time getting away, and we had a good time connecting with them.
If you're having grandkids over this summer, whether it's just for an evening or longer, here are some things you might want to think about:
* Food -- have plenty of it, and make at least some of it fun. Ice cream usually works, but so does popcorn and orange juice, or cupcakes with lots of fun frosting. Be sure you have any special foods you need for kids with allergies; one of our granddaughters is lactose intolerant so we make sure we have milk she can drink.
* A good balance between being busy and being together. Cooking together is a good way to spend time with grandkids, and conversation seems to happen naturally in the kitchen.
* Have some fun things to do at the house. For younger kids this might be as simple as a bottle of bubbles and a good supply of coloring books and craft supplies; for older kids it might be a classic movie with popcorn, or a chore like painting the porch that they get to do with you. Or get out some family photographs and tell family stories.
* Plan something fun you can do as a treat. We live in a place where there are lots of options: museums, parks, zoos, and friends to visit. What's special about where you live that you can share with your grandkids?
Inviting your grandkids to spend time with you is an investment in your relationship, with delightful dividends.