Making Grandchildren Feel Welcome

Posted on: January 12th, 2012 by Kay Swatkowski

There is no place like home, except Grandmas.

- unknown

The speaker told of noisy, fun-filled weekends at grandma’s house.  Her large Italian family – with countless aunts and uncles and cousins – would gather at grandma’s house every Saturday evening.  She loves the memory of being greeted at the door by her smiling grandmother who handed her a fork with a meatball on it.  As each family member crossed the threshold, they were greeted with a juicy meatball from grandma’s kitchen.

We all have ways we welcome our grandchildren and let them know how happy we are to have them in our homes.  Some of us greet with hugs and others with meatballs.

What do you do to make your grandchildren feel welcome once they are in your home?

We would like to make our home  a place where the grandkids can come and relax and play and feel totally at home. I confess this has been a little harder the last couple years since we moved into a townhouse.

Just before Christmas, my husband mentioned that we needed more toys.  I’m working on that. (smile) I also want to get a good supply of dress up clothes for the little girls who love to pretend princess.  We have set aside a space in the extra closet for just their toys and they can always have access to those toys.

We have a rustic coffee table in the living room.  My husband has found a roll of packing paper that is the exact width of the coffee table.  He has covered the table with that paper and let the kids go at it with crayons that are kept in a drawer on the same table.  We always have play doh and bubbles and coloring books.

As our first granddaughter got older, we tried to always have some craft and art supplies in the house.

My collection of children’s literature was lost in a basement flood a few years ago, but we are working on creating a new library of good books for children and adolescents.

We have put a daybed with a trundle in the extra room so that they can feel that they have their own room when they come.  Our oldest granddaugther (15) has free rein in the guest room when she visits.  We all consider that Nikki’s room. She has a drawer in the dresser and has put up pictures to give it her own personal touch.  The picture on this page is of our 3 1/2 year old jumping on the bed in Nikki’s room.

The kids are outgrowing the bikes we found to keep at our house.  But, we will hang on to those for those little ones who will grow into them faster than we can imagine.

We have some traditional summer games that we like to play when all the family gets together for the fourth of July or Father’s Day.  Croquet has always been a favorite.  But, ladder ball is now a close second.  My husband found instructions for making one with pvc pipe and we had a great time with that last year. Our son and  sons-in-law get pretty competitive over either game.This is the one game that grandma is good at playing.

In Cheri Fuller’s book, Connect With Your Grandkids: Fun Ways to Bridge the Miles, she has a wonderful list of things you can do to make your child feel at home.(page 85)   You might want to check out this delightful book from Focus On The Family.

Here are Cheri’s wise suggestions:

    • A toothbrush for each child with their name on it
    • A stepstool in the bathroom so they can reach the sink.  You may want to give them each their own towel.
    • A bookshelf with good, solid children’s literature that is known to delight children.
    • A toy box or good sized drawer.  Every grandma should have some puzzles, stuffed animals, games, dolls and blocks of various sizes.  Don’t forget the Legos for older boys.
    • Highchair, portable crib, sippy cups, carseats
    • Nightlights are important.  So are baby gates to prevent falls down stairs.  Be sure to baby proof the house.  That will make life easier for everyone.
    • A place for teen grandkids to charge their cell phones and IPods and connect to the internet.

The last one is very important.  As the kids get older, check with them about things that would make their visits more enjoyable.

Make sure you have some board games for various ages.  I have no idea of how many Candy Land games we have had over the years.  But, it is such a good first game.  So is Chutes and Ladders.  As the kids get older they enjoy Trouble, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Monopoly, Life.  The old standards are wonderful and there are junior versions of some of them.

What do you do to make your home inviting to your grandchildren? Please share your ideas with us. This grandma needs them!

Book suggestion: Connect With Your Grandkids: Fun Ways to Bridge the Miles by Cheri Fuller, published by Tyndale House.  This is a Focus on the Family resource.

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12 Responses

  1. Jenn says:

    A wonderful post Kay!! You have listed some great things to keep around for when the Grands come over.

    When I think back to visiting my Grandma–I always remember she had a bike for me and of course the Gulf of Mexico was right off of her seawall so we swam each and every day. And we did a lot of baking together. I am sure I complained of boredom (we stayed with her for extended periods of time) but I remember all the fun things we did– especially with the church and charities. It was always so fun and made for great memories!!

    Cheers, Jenn.

  2. Sondra Crane says:

    I used to have a candy dish filled with chocolate covered mints. They loved them and never had them at home.

  3. Sondra Crane says:

    Great post. it brought back a lot of memories for me.

  4. Jo says:

    Our house has a play room right off the family room, but when the grands come to play, well, let’s just say that wall tends to disappear! lol The toys spill out in the fam room and that’s just fine. They seem (girls) to love to play with dolls, strollers and the little kitchen. Even the 12 year old will play with the little ones with these and she will be the Grama. We have only one boy and he’s almost 3, he is all about the trucks and the stroller. Trucks can get rides in strollers! Love my babies.

  5. k~ says:

    Sounds like you are right on track with the wonders of making gramma’s house the BEST place to be!

    I’m not a gramma (yet) but as the oldest of 13, I have MANY grand nieces and nephews (does that count?). Most of the kids (before they are about 10 any who) love to spend time baking in the kitchen with me. Sometimes we will make things out of unleavened bread dough, bake it, shape it, and decorate it. That has always been a favorite of most of the kids.

    I think it depends on what they are interested in though, I have not met one yet that did not enjoy making pinatas. All you need is some newspaper (rip them into strips), some good old fashion starch (powdered, or from the bottle), balloons and whatever you want to fill them with. If you want to paint them when they are dry, you can… if you want to use pretty tissue paper on top of the newspaper, you can… it’s fun and not too messy:-)

    • Yes, nieces and nephews are really wonderful, aren’t they? They are fortunate to have an auntie who loves to cook. Thanks for the pinata idea. I hadn’t thought of that! God Bless your time with these children.

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  7. Laddy says:

    You know what won’t make your grandkids welcome… having a bedroom for your favorites to the point everyone says their room like it’s in zac and Penelope’s room… nevermind you have three other grandkids who sleep in a non descript room with zero toys when they come over. Shout out to the real grandmas who don’t play favorites!

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