By Kelly Goede
I’ve seen the twinkle in my parents’ eyes when they find out we are coming to visit. Bringing my little people to see their grandparents always make my eyes twinkle, too, although perhaps a little less, as I am tasked with making sure they will be safely fed, put to sleep and entertained during their visit.
An ounce of planning goes a long way toward making each visit smooth and enjoyable, and you as grandparents can assist in the endeavor by making sure the basics are covered. Driving to grandma’s house may be fun, but it doesn’t necessitate pulling a trailer, and grandparents can help by reducing the amount of bulk parents need to haul. Before a visit, have a solid chat with the parents of your grandchildren about where they will be sleeping, eating and playing.
Identifying your grandchild’s sleep needs and offering to provide the proper bed to accommodate those needs will lay a good foundation for your visit. A pack-n-play will work well for babies and toddlers, and basic versions are fairly inexpensive. If your grandchild is old enough to use a real bed, providing a bedrail (if needed) will also ease the amount of gear that must accompany your grandchild. A white noise machine would also be a boon, as unfamiliar sounds might keep your grandchild awake. Find out any other unique sleep needs and offer to provide as you can.
When that grandbaby awakes, he will probably be ready to do what he came to do at grandma’s house — EAT! Does he normally use a high chair? No problem — and no need to purchase one unless you really want to. Many portable booster seats and feeding chairs exist, and they can be stored easily when your grandchildren return home. Child-friendly plates and utensils are also simple items to have on hand. Again, a proper discussion about what your grandchild needs and prefers will guide you in what to provide.
After food (and before playtime) your grandchild will need a spot to change. A solid surface in a bathroom, or a bed with a changing pad should do the trick for getting your grandchild changed. If you can, find out what bath products she uses and have them ready to go. And although no one wants their grandchildren to fall ill during a visit, planning for those “just in case” moments will set parents at ease. Keep age-appropriate Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl on hand, as well as a thermometer — hopefully you won’t have to use them.
Once all the necessities are squared away, let play time commence! Providing age- and interest-appropriate toys and books are part of the fun of being a grandparent! Keep it simple — a trip to your house is already stimulating, and it won’t take much to keep your grandchild entertained. Be sure to provide a safe and baby/child-proofed space for play. The pack-n-play works well for babies, and if your grandbaby is still little, a jumper is a great option for a safe play space. For older grandchildren, especially those who visit for longer stretches of time, consider providing larger items that won’t travel easily, like fishing gear, scooters and bikes (with a helmet!). And if your grands are arriving via airplane, square away what their car seat needs will be. Borrow an up-todate car seat or offer to purchase one if your grandchild’s parents are unable to bring his. Providing baby gates for stairs and other off-limits areas will ease everyone’s minds, and making sure pools are gated, locked and secure will ensure playtime is safe and fun.
With a little forethought and conversation, you can lighten the load that will accompany your grandchild and make for a fun, safe and enjoyable visit!