I’m a grandmother and babysit my grandchildren often. Playing with them allows me to be a kid again.

I have three grandchildren aged 11, 10, and 7. When they come over to my place, I make sure to have activities for them to enjoy. I’m always overjoyed when their parents call to let us know they want to come stay with us again. 

I am 68 and still working as a travel writer. My husband is a retired professor aged 70 who still dabbles in special projects and teaches online. I love babysitting my grandchildren during school holidays and when their parents need a break.

We spend time playing games that I have created. I spend a lot of time pulling together activities because I get to tap into creativity in a different way than my work and the enjoyment they get out of it is incredibly rewarding. My husband and I have simple fun with the kids and get to be kids ourselves, a reminder of our childhood.

We have a unique connection to our grandchildren. We both embrace our inner child, and it is perfectly acceptable to be silly and laugh outrageously.

We enjoy our time together; time flies by, and everyone has fun. As a bonus, grandparents who engage with their grandchildren live longer, stay more active, and have more purpose, according to a 2016 study.

Our three grandchildren, ages 10, 11, and 7, are two girls and a boy. Every time they visit, I give them a choice of activities I know all of us, including Grandad, will enjoy.

I let them choose what activities they want to do

Every time they come over, I present the choices on a prepared menu, each item in a different color with boxes to check for the young ones to select their preferences. I sometimes make a “choosing clock” with the activities written in a circle on a paper plate or construction paper. The children turn the arrow to each activity in order of their preference. The fun begins just by doing this. They now expect choices and enjoy having a list to choose from and prioritize. If I pick them up in the car, I bring it with me to give them something to do on the way to our house. Sometimes, they jump from one activity to another, and other times, they stick with one for the whole afternoon.

One time, I made a doctor’s kit with a toy stethoscope and plastic surgical tools from the dollar store. Grandad is usually a willing patient. Children of all ages love a tea party, and if we want to take it up a notch, we decorate tea party hats.

Playing restaurant is a variant of the tea party. The children draw up a menu on construction paper or a chalkboard. We can play one game of doctor for an hour, then have afternoon tea for another hour. It’s mindlessly relaxing because I don’t think about anything else while I am with them.

The children love maps, and we often draw maps of our town with them, adding their school, favorite stores, where both parents work, and where other family members live. Trees and cars are added. At times, these maps turn into treasure maps, with one grandparent aging the paper ahead of time, burning the edges to age them, and adding a pirate story to the treasure map.

Recently, my 10-year-old granddaughter came over and mentioned she wanted to paint her bedroom, so we went to the paint store and let her choose as many paint chips as she wanted. She then spread them out on the dining table and prioritized them in piles. We drew the layout of her bedroom, cut out templates for her bed, night table, dresser, and desk, and had her move them around to change the layout of her room. She went home with a rolled-up plan of the new layout, paint chips stapled to the design and was happy with the afternoon she spent with us. Something unplanned and fun for all of us. It’s an example of making everything into a game. It encourages creativity and participation.

I love spending time with my grandchildren

The reward for this effort comes every time the parents call and say that the kids are asking when they can come over.

Playing with them is an escape because I play whatever they want to focus on and don’t think about anything else. We can play one game of doctor for an hour, then have afternoon tea for another hour.

What’s not to love? The children like to come to our house to spend time with us and don’t want to leave.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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