Loving a grandchild comes naturally, but keeping them busy with something other than electronics and television isn't always easy. Let's face it; video games can be tough competition.
Luckily, folks who have lived for more than a few decades still remember what it was like to be a child and can now make new memories with a beloved grandchild.
Barb and Mark Tschacher are parents of six and grandparents of 12, so they know a thing or two about spending time with youngsters. Living in the West, they often head outdoors with their grandchildren to go fishing, boating and camping. In fact, one of Barb's favorite pastimes is "glamping" (glamourous camping) with her adult daughters and several grandkids.
"We set up a campsite and just spend time outdoors, which the kids really enjoy," Barb says. "The last time we went, we took three of the kids and parked the camper by a cabin so there was room for everyone. The 6-year-old loves it when we turn on the old-time music, cook hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire and then let her dance. It really turns into kind of a performance, but we all have fun." Even if you don't have a camper, it is still fun to pitch a tent in the yard and camp out for the night, she adds.
Remember, nothing attracts youngsters more than an interesting bug, worm or tree frog. Take you grandchild on a nature walk in the backyard or around your neighborhood. Depending on what you find, you might have to enforce a "no touch" rule, but you can still watch the insects and other small animals move, eat and make their way through grass and mud.
Gayle Johnson, who owns an orchard and bakery, has another suggestion for having fun outdoors. "If you are looking for something to do when the weather is warm, why not take advantage of 'you-pick' berries? You can pick as many or as few as you like and it is a great way to spend a day," she says. "It is fun and entertaining, not to mention a good activity for beautiful weather."
Older kids may enjoy helping you research your family history. Or you might just want to bring out your old family photo albums. Kids love seeing what their grandparents and parents looked like when they were young. While you are looking through the pages, share special memories that the photos bring back. You could even have your grandkids interview you about the "good old days."
While reminiscing about the past, you might also want to think about the present and the future. Try making a time capsule together and burying it in your yard to be opened in five or 10 years. Or you can make and illustrate a calendar complete with birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Once it is complete, you can save it for a lovely handmade gift for some upcoming special day.
Other indoor activities could include sharing a special family recipe and then cooking it together, making notecards to use as thank-you cards or birthday greetings or even pulling out a seldom-used board game or deck of cards.
Remember that kids need to be kids, so always keep your activities simple and fun. Knowing that you value them -- quirks and all -- will make your grandchildren feel special, unique, and, most of all, loved.