I have often said the only sad part about raising ones grandchildren is we are robbed a bit of being a grandparent because we are now placed in the position of being a parent. Aside from that one small drawback, the benefits for myself and many other grandparents in my situation feel so blessed to be able to help our little ones grow and thrive.
I have always kept what I call a grandparents toy box. It isn't very large, but oh the treasures and joys inside this small box, give my husband and I time to grandparent and not parent even if it is for just a few short hours at a time.
I had a large plastic box about the size of a file box and inside are all kinds of wonderful things the kids love to sit down and share with me and now, I want to share these with you. Of course, yours does not have to be like mine, use your imagination and you will find the right treasures for your precious grandparenting time.
The first thing in my box is some old pictures of their parents during happier times, pictures of their parents holding them, playing with them, as children themselves. I keep letters and cards their parents send them, because these are the most precious things to my grandchildren, words on paper confirming their mommy and daddy still love and care for them.
I have coloring books (I keep these refreshed and new), crayons, markers, gel ink colored pens, pretty stationary, construction paper, blank note cards (they can design their own), beads, shells, glitter, glue, flower seeds, veggie seeds, a pack of bubble gum (we have bubble blowing contests during our craft sessions), buttons, etc.
The unique thing about this box is that it is used on a day when they don't have homework, friends over or anything else taking up their time. It is just a day where you want to sit down and take time to spend as a grandparent, laughing, sharing stories, listening and being a child yourself.
This small box has given my family hours of pleasure and hours of laughs, hugs, jokes and fun. During this time, their is no right ways or wrong ways and if you are having a bad day and want to draw or color outside the lines, thats okay, it is time to do as you want, to relax and not worry about correcting homework or doing laundry.
The one thing I have learned with my grandchildren is they would rather eat a sandwich and have time for me to sit down and read them a story or color with them, than have the living room perfectly clean or clean socks to wear.
Sometimes I think as grandparents raising our grandchildren, we get caught up in the everyday and forget to take time to just be a child again or see things as a child does. One thing I have learned is if my grandchildren ask me to play with them, I need to stop what I am doing and take time to play with them. If not, I am loosing some very special time with them that I may never get back.
Yesterday my grandchildren wanted to help me clean my van, so we scrubbed and emptied and washed and dried and in the middle of it one of their friends asked them if they wanted to go on a picnic. It was actually a long walk up our hill to eat apples, play tag and watch the harbor. I could see they were torn because they told me they would help, but I said, go play, this old van hasn't been cleaned since winter began, I will be cleaning it for hours.
How much joy was given to me to see these 3 with their friends and older cousins all singing and laughing to the top of the hill?
Life is short or so they say. Grandparenting our grandchildren while it comes with its own special challenges, makes my life happier and I believe extends it a bit more by taking the stress off of me and showing me life through a childs eyes.
Don't forget to hug those grandchildren and remember a little bit of praise goes a long way and a smile lives in their hearts forever!