Grandparents are so important in the lives of little ones. Whether they live right down the road or they reside farther away, spending time with grandparents is great for both the grandkids and the adults.
The real question is: how can they NOT have a blast? After all, going to visit the grandparents is an exercise in being spoiled! More importantly though, forging a relationship between the grandkids and grandparents benefits everyone. The kids develop a stronger sense of family and belonging and the grandparents see the future within those beautiful little faces!
For small children, however, it’s important to create an environment at the grandparents’ house that feels warm, welcoming, safe, and somewhat familiar, so as to not make the kids fearful. Going to see Gran and Gramps needs to become, over time, a very positive experience and there are lots of ways you can ensure that it does. Below are just a few steps to take to do this:
Take it in stages
It’s not realistic to drop your nine-month-old off with the grandparents that the child has never met before and take off for a romantic weekend. It’s better if you can introduce everyone more slowly, with several visits that are ever-increasing in length, beginning with only an hour or two and progressing towards an overnight visit. Even if you live far away, it’s possible to acclimate your child to your parents / in laws. How? Skype is a great way! The kids can see faces and hear voices long before they meet their grandparents in real life.
Pack a favorite book
If your child has a favorite book, make sure that the grandparents have a copy too! Nap time will be so much easier and calming if the grandparents can share this familiar and favored story with their grandchild. Reading a cherished story is also a great bonding experience for both sides!
Keep the toys familiar
Make sure that the grandparents have safe, interactive, and colorful toys that your child is familiar with. Either bring your own set or, if the child will be spending time at their grandparents house on a regular basis, it might be worth investing in a second set of the most favored or larger items.
Don’t plan a marathon of activities
If you’re visiting the grandparents from a distance, don’t overschedule the days with a lot of sightseeing and running about. Instead, plan lots of time for snuggles and relaxing to enjoy your time together. The bonding experience from that will be far more impactful than if your child is overtired and cranky!
Comfort and safety above all!
You can ensure that your little one is comfortable and feels safe if they have a favorite lovie with them. Whenever children feel any stress, such as can happen when suddenly plunged into a different environment surrounded by new faces, a comfort object can make all the difference. Even older children can benefit from that kind of comfort!
Create a safe sleep space
Whether it’s for naps during a shorter trip or for an overnight visit, recreating the sleep environment from home as best as you can will ensure that your child has an easier time going to bed when staying with the grandparents. Obviously, you can’t overdo and build a second version of the nursery at your parents’ house. However, if you’re using a portable crib, for example, make sure your child has napped in it at home, so that it, too, is a familiar space when it is set up and used at their grandparents’ house!
A second baby monitor, familiar pajamas, and the all-important lovie will make all the difference!
Remind your parents to take pictures!
These moments as grandparents, taking care of the latest generation, are precious and sometimes fleeting. Make sure that you or your parents / in-laws take pictures to capture the antics, the adorable, and the everyday events. You’ll cherish them in the future!