Grandma: The best gift you can give your grandkids isn't for sale. Can you guess what it is?
It's tempting for grandparents to spoil their grandkids (And why not! You raised your kids - now it's time for the fun stuff, right!). Just remember there should be balance, and you must respect boundaries that the parents have. Bringing gifts every time you visit can be very overwhelming for parents and might give the kids the wrong impression.
So instead of trying to understand today’s trends and figure out what your grandchildren want (and likely don’t need), give your time instead!
That’s right, we said it! Gifting items is not necessary, gift your time instead.
Here are 5 ways that grandparents can gift their time
1. Make Crafts
Bring some crafting items with you and sit down and make something with your grandchild. Crafting stimulates visual and motor skills, it teaches problem solving and encourages creativity! Check out several craft ideas here!
2. Color or Read a Book
Ask your grandchild to color or read with you. Explore a child’s mind through books and coloring pages. Select a favorite story and make a puppet show to follow along!
3. Play with their favorite toy
Pull out their favorite toy, like the Play & Learn activity cube and use the book to find new ways to play with it.
4. Create a Game
One grandma has her grandson help organize their room and toys by making it into a fun game! BONUS - it helps out mom and dad, too! There are infinite ways to pretend play and make any task extra special.
5. Have your grandchildren volunteer with you
Bring them with you to volunteer and be your 'helper' or take them for a walk at a local park. Showing your grandchildren the benefits of helping others from an early age is a great way to instill values.
Of course there will be times when you CAN give a gift and should for that matter but before you do make sure to do the following:
Conversation can help you determine the right gift
It may be uncomfortable for parents and grandparents to have these tough discussions, but it can make life much easier and keep relationships healthier.
As soon as you can, ask your son or daughter what their thoughts are on gifts for the kids. Just the act of asking will open up a great discussion and allow all of you to talk through what you want and need. Parents also want to buy their child meaningful gifts and you don't want to steal their thunder by purchasing that one special item they were planning to give!
If they want certain toys that align with their beliefs or values (eco-friendly, minimalistic, or no electronics, for example) or they don't want you to bring random gifts, respect those boundaries always.
Crossing them once here and there may seem like no big deal to you, but it can be a very big deal to moms and dads. If you must buy them something, ask the parents first what you could bring to be helpful or provide a needed item ('we ran out of diapers this morning!').
Look for the Right Toys, Not More Toys
While it can be hard to know what kids are interested in, especially if you're far away, it's relatively easy to look online for age-appropriate gifts. Do some research to find out what toys are designed for the child's age. Good quality developmental toys like, this one, are usually a winner for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Also find toys that can be easily stored and put away, are non-toxic, responsibly manufactured, and have multiple activities so the child can play with it many different ways.
The right toys will enhance their learning, last longer, and be less stressful for parents.
Remember that kids sometimes love the simplest things. Look for one simple item you have around your house that they might enjoy playing with.
Show them how a flashlight can be fun, make a dollhouse out of an empty box, or make animal sounds into empty wrapping paper rolls. Cheap, fun, and educational!
A grandmother recently told us,
"Grandparents want to be loved by their grandkids, but you don't have to give them something to earn their love. They love you no matter what!"
That really stuck with us, and it's helpful for us as parents and grandparents to remind each other of this.
Buying more stuff (toys, clothes, electronics....) isn't necessary for the child to love and appreciate you. In fact, what we've seen in our research and conversations, especially with younger children, is that time spent with them —playing, reading, cooking —is what they really love and get excited about!
So it's ok to leave the gifts behind or save them for a special occasion, and just spend time playing with your grandkids. Gift-giving for children should be fun, not stressful! We hope this helps you and your family find more joy in the act of giving.
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