Yikes! It's not even summer and we are already having some of those, "What can I do" blues. Last week in, How to Solve the “I’m Bored-itis” When Babysitting the Grandchildren – Part 1, I shared a great link from Jennifer with over 106 wonderful ideas to help all of us in the Sandwich Generation who have kids home for the summer or are babysitting grandchildren some or all of the summer. I also explained how it came to my rescue! Did you see my cute video?
Part of the problem last week was the weather. It was too cold for their big plastic pool and too warm to spark much energy. I wanted to get ahead of that so I put on my thinking cap and this week, I have a few of my own ideas to share that can, hopefully, forestall any more of those moments.
1. Waterplay at our homes – whether it's a giant plastic pool like my grandkids enjoy, or a kids wading pool that even the big grandchildren can splash around in, or maybe a sprinkler – fun or traditional, I like to keep something available to help us all cool down on those hot summer days. This year, I bought a regular twirly sprinkler that should help my senior mom with her gardening activities and give my grandkids something fun to run through. And at their house, weather permitting, it's in the pool they go.
2. Waterplay at a public pool. One of our favorite summer treats when my kids were growing up was to buy a family summer membership at our local YMCA. At that time, we could swim whenever we wanted AND take as many swimming lessons as we wanted – all for one very affordable price. Times have changed and I don't know if you can find THAT great of a deal, but many areas do still offer public pools at wonderful prices for a family. And most places are very good about counting grandparents in on that. We used to go to the pool almost every day and all my kids grew up to be excellent swimmers as a result. And the fun memories I have of those times together at the pool are priceless!
2. School work - yes, I know, school is out. BUT for homeschoolers, we have the luxury of getting to work on some of their schoolwork all year long. So when I am babysitting, I have them do their computer school work with Time 4 Learning, along with some exciting math practice on a computer game like Math Blaster. And since they have next year's curriculum already, we are working on some of the memory work slowly over the summer. Then, when their homeschool coop starts, they'll relearn it, helping it to sink in deeper in their minds.
3. Vacation Bible School. Some churches offer two or more camps through the summer. Or perhaps they could go to their church's VBS as well as with a friend. That gives them at least a couple of weeks of busy and productive activity to feed their minds as well as their hearts. I remember hearing a friend of mine share how he went to visit his grandmother every summer, but, even though she was a Christian, she never made him go to church or do anything church-related, even though he was only 10-11 when he started. As a result, he didn't really learn anything about the Lord for years and didn't become a Christian til he was in his 30s. I don't know about you, but I find that so sad! To me, one of the most important jobs we grandparents have is leaving a sweet spiritual legacy in the hearts and minds of our grandkids and VBS is an excellent way of supplementing our own hard work. Whether we are able to volunteer to help or not, we're still planting great seeds by helping them get there AND helping to chase away the boredom blues!
4. Park and Recreation Day Camps. Many cities still offer a variety of arts and crafts day camps for kids. I enjoyed those thoroughly when I was a kid while some of my grandkids have had fun with them in the last few years. While many are all day for working parents, there are still plenty that are just a couple of hours or so and provide plenty of fun and educational activities that aren't too expensive.
5. Museums and Zoos – This is especially nice if you live fairly close to a larger city with at least one museum and/or zoo, if not more. We learned a few years ago that many museums (and I think some zoos do this as well) are linked together. If you buy a membership at one museum, you can visit all the rest of the connected museums for little or no admission fee. It's educational fun for your own local location, and terrific for multigeneration vacations as well.
6. Computer Fun – Besides school work on the computer, there are some great websites for the grandkids to just plain have fun on. Our current favorites include Webkinz (you wouldn't believe how many of those cute stuffed animals we have ), Jumpstart & MathBlaster, and a new one from Nickolodeon – Monkey Quest. The only charge for a one year membership to Webkinz is the stuffed animals for each child, though they have added other fee-based goodies you CAN buy (we never do). Jumpstart and Monkey Quest both offer a free and a paid version. Jumpstart's paid version is quite reasonably priced I think – $7.95 per family per month OR $74.99 per year OR $149.99 for a lifetime membership – and that is for up to SIX children and for both Jumpstart and Mathblaster. All of my grandkids are currently enjoying a year of playing fun there. Talk about family-friendly! Monkey Quest's free site is a lot of fun. It's paid site is more expensive, however, as they don't appear to have a family rate. So we're sticking with the free there.
7. Dress Up Box – I need to go through and spiff this up a bit. We haven't used it in quite a while but I overheard my grandBOYS talking about the fun they had dressing up in uniform work clothes a friend had given them. Time to hit Goodwill for some fun and fancy dresses and some uniform type clothes for girls and boys.
8. Easy Crafts for Kids (and Us Seniors Who Help Them ) - Yes, this is always one of my favorites. I found a book giving the directions for macrame at Goodwill recently. I'm about ready to give this a try with my older grandkids. It was so popular when I was about 20 – and it's great for guys and gals. Crocheting, knitting, and potholders can also be good choices – for all the grandkids. One of my favorite caregiving websites, on the topic of Lewy Body Dementia Disease, actually points out that, "Grandpa was THE MAN to me and if he could knit so could I. He was from Germany. He had to learn to knit in grade school along with all the other boys and girls. Their curriculum was way ahead of their time! How did they know back then that knitting is for both sexes because it teaches fine motor skills and concentration? It provides pride in the act of creating." Isn't that great!
9. Handmade Greetings Cards - Any birthdays coming up this summer? We have a great-grandma's right around the corner PLUS Father's Day. If you didn't catch earlier, I shared some cute Father's Day clipart on Monday for us to help the grandkids make fun greeting cards for dads and granddads. And won't all those great-grandmas LOVE to open their mail and find cute cards from sweet great-grandkids. A double-plus idea, if you ask me! Click here to find some cute bookmarks to cut, color and gift. One is for Mother's Day but one is for ANY day.
10. BOX fun. Whether small ones to use as building blocks for a fort, or ginormous ones to be a fort, in and of themselves, they've been a HUGE blessing to me and GRAND fun for the grandkids for a few weeks now. And both boxes AND enjoyment is going strong. Hooray! So keep your eyes peeled for boxes out with the trash OR try calling some furniture or appliances stores and see if you can find any that will fit in the back of your vehicle.
11. I was just reminded, by my babysitting grandchild, of the great programs offered through Red Cross for first aid classes and babysitting classes for tweens and teens. And what better time to learn these important skills than SUMMER.
12. And other grandchildren reminded me about the fun sewing, knitting, and crocheting classes available at various sewing and knitting stores in each city. Very fun and such great skills to learn.
13. Keep an eye on my Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter pages, as I frequently share a variety of fun activities ideas I spot that would work well for all of us grandparents and grandchildren, along with other excellent resources for the wide variety of Sandwich Generation issues we deal with every day.
Well, that's a good batch of goodies to do for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, don't you think? But I bet there's plenty more fun ideas. If you've got some, we'd love to hear them. And…
P.S. Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate them very much and read each one. I also do my best to reply to them all but, as you can imagine, there are times (many times, lately :) ) when caregiving needs do not allow for that. Thank you for your patience and your sweet comments.