Our kids go crazy at the first mention of the grandparents planning a trip to visit us. For days, we answer the endless question, “How many more days until Grandma and Grandpa get here?” It’s the same question we hear in reverse when we travel either to Texas to visit my husband’s parents or to South Carolina to visit my parents. With both sets of grandparents living a long-distance from us, we work hard to have those valuable interactions with each set of long-distant grandparents.
- Calendar – When the visit is planned, check the calendar and be honest about whether your family can disconnect from the community and school events in order to enjoy the grandparents.
- Overnight Arrangements –If you have the space available, ask the grandparents if they wish to stay with you. Encourage them to be honest and don’t be offended if they need some space. Tell them about local, reasonably-priced hotels if they choose not to stay at your house.
- Meals – Have a meal plan where everyone knows the cook-at–home meal days and the days you plan to eat out. Consider family members’ budgets in determining your plan.
- Extracurricular Events – Invite grandparents to visit when your child is participating in a special event or recital. Long-distance grandparents miss out on many of these events, so try to invite grandparents to visit when you know these events are scheduled. If you need a date night, ask the grandparents to babysit, or get a sitter and invite the grandparents to dinner with you.
- Be a Hometown Tourist – Admit it! You haven’t seen everything in your own community. Go to a free park or take in a touristy activity. Grab some hometown memories with the grandparents.
- Picture Day –Either grab your own camera or go to a drop-in photography studio and have some generational pictures made. Video the grandparents telling stories of their childhood to the grandkids. Nobody regrets this…you might have some unenthused participants, but you’ll be glad you did.
- Slow It Down – Some grandparents are just pleased to sit in the living room and enjoy the interactions with the family. As parents of young children, we sometimes fail to sit and enjoy, use the grandparent visit as a time to slow things down.
- Grandparent Projects – If grandpa is great with woodwork and grandma is great in the kitchen, put them on kid projects and offer to assist if needed. Otherwise, lock yourselves in a bedroom and nap or catch up on a movie you’ve missed.
- Bedtime – We are often tempted to stay up later when grandparents visit, but someone needs to initiate regular bedtimes. The grandparents are also likely to be exhausted from everyone trying to talk to them at the same time.
- Welcome baskets or drive-back-home baskets – If the grandparents are staying at a hotel, a bag packed with their favorite snacks might be a nice addition to the hotel room, or you can pack a similar bag for a long drive back home if they drove to your house.
Wild Ideas for Grandparents
* Grandparent Camp – If the grandparents are feeling young, you might want to ask if they have any interest in doing a grandparent camp. Suggest a possible week when school is out and possible activities your kids might enjoy. Camp can be at your house or at the grandparent’s house. Ideally, try to use the time for you to get away to revitalize your parenting skills or your marriage.
* Funding for Church Camps and Mission Trips – If grandparents ask for gift suggestions, suggest something that totally invests in your child’s spiritual growth. Set up a mission trip/church camp fund for each child and give the grandparents the opportunity to help. Ask the kids to always send a note from camp to thank the grandparents.
> Joy Emery