Let’s face it, as grandparents most of us just don’t have the same energy levels we had when our kids were young. So, when the grandkids are coming to visit, I plan an “Energy Defense” strategy. If you’re wondering what that is; it is the 3 Ps: Plan, Plan, and Plan. You love to have them visit and want them to have a good time, but you also want to enjoy the time with them. Out of necessity, I’ve figured out a plan that works for me. I call it my 9-point Energy Defense Strategy. Take a look, maybe some of the ideas can work for you. Good Luck! :
Planning an Energy Defense
- Start your list – Make a list of things that you THINK they MAY want to do.
- Get ideas from the kids – Before their visit, ask them if they have activities that they want to do so you can get ready. IF they come up with new ideas after they arrive, do them if you can. If not, tell them you’ll add it to the list of things to do the next time they visit.
- Over plan – Don’t be surprised to find out that it wasn’t enough. Kids are full of energy and fly through activities.
- Gather materials – Prep the materials you need so they are “ready to go”.
- Know your Energy level – Pacing yourself will help you get through the day. The trick is to get the grandkids to Think they are choosing everything and not that their choices impact your pacing method.
- Label by Energy Levels – Think of activities as if sorting into 3 Energy (E) buckets: active, quiet and solo activities.
- Active – activities that you need to be involved in. Either to teach, play or manage.
- Quiet – activities they can do with you but do not need active involvement. Playing a game, reading together, talking, watching a show.
- Solo —activities are things they can do alone, and your hands-on assistance is not needed. Ex. coloring, drawing, independent play.
- Order of activities – In your planning, keep in mind a good balance of your E buckets. Try giving them 2 or 3 choices of possible activities which gives them ownership in the planning.
- Mealtime – It never fails that I don’t seem to have the right food in the house for whichever child visits. One child only eats white bread, one only brown, one only eats meat, one only pasta, one only juice that’s watered down and one only water. I try to get it right, but I haven’t yet achieved 100% (not even close) mastery on this objective. It’s a “work in progress”.
- Set Morning and 3 o’clock snack times – Setting a “snack time” helps to hold off their hunger until the next meal and decreases the amount of “grazing all day”. Morning snack time can vary but 3 o’clock snack has been set in stone since my kids were small. As a multi-tasking mom, I set a time to have “uninterrupted mommy and kids time”. Now, just the name has changed to “GiGI and grandkids time”. It also serves as a built-in quiet activity to rest up for our next adventure. Oh, how life has changed!
20 Activities Planned and Unplanned for a 7-hour visit with 3 of my grandkids (sorted by bucket level)
- Shared reading of Thomas Edison biography. Child reads a page and I read a page. (Q)
- Math problems (A)
- Basketball outside (A)
- Matchbox cars (independent play) (S)
- Play Jenga and teach 4-year-old how to play the game. (A)
- Color (S)
- Mazes in coloring books (Q)
- Make a bear using paper plates. (Q)
- Find videos online of Grizzly bears, brown bears and panthers to watch. (You Tube and zoos have great sites). Be sure to watch videos before child to avoid any unpleasant animal behavior. (Q)
- Identify the birds at the bird feeder. Try to identify the bird by researching on the computer. Talk about size of head, beak, coloring, eating. (A)
- Watch baby polar bear video at the zoo and talk about mammals (Q)
- I also am a big believer that watching a show, or a singalong show is not a bad thing while kids eat. I consider it to be “lunch or dinner theater”. I give them 3 GiGi “chosen and approved” options and ask them to choose one. Sometimes they must take turns being the “remote boss” to get any agreement on a show. (Q)
- Hide and seek (A)
- Independent play with baby dolls. (S)
- Play musical instruments and put on a show. (A)
- Create a parachute for an action figure and drop from different heights. (A)
- Science Experiment: “How many pennies can fit in an aluminum foil boat before it sinks?” (A)
- Science Experiment: “How can we get a paperclip to float?” (A)
“Bucket Overflowing”: System Is Not Perfect
Be prepared that your buckets may overflow and that the kids may not like all your planned activities. Kids change every day along with their likes and dislikes. If your planned activities are not a big hit one day, recycle the idea for the next visit. That also works if you had great success with an idea. Why invent the wheel? Maybe they’ll ask to do it again their next visit.
When they leave, it’s time to sit back and think about the great day you had together. Of course, with your feet up. I love being a GiGi!