They tailored their homes and our holidays to welcome children and make children feel loved!
Today, you are lucky, I am going to give you some of their secrets. Oh these aren't the typical "love kids well" suggestions. These are ideas that are funny, quirky, and totally kid-appealing. They are ideas that will make kids feel included, make kids laugh, and ultimately, make kids feel cared for.
These are not just suggestions for grandparents, but for anyone who has children within their sphere of influence. If you are a parent, an aunt or uncle, a friend of someone with a kid, a neighbor, a church member, or of course, a grandparent, these are suggestions for you.
Without further ado:
THE SECRETS OF BEING AWESOME WITH KIDS
(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
1. Dollar Bill Holiday Cards: Every holiday, each of us received a themed card with a crisp dollar bill. Receiving mail makes a child feel important.
2. Eggos and Ice Cream: The breakfast of champions at my grandmothers house. In fact, so memorable was this delicacy, that I chose it as a dessert option at my wedding. She was unable to attend, but the waffles and ice cream reminded me of her playful spirit.
3. Saving Up Snowballs: My grandmother took the older cousins outside on a snowy day, formed snow balls and stored them in a newspaper wrapping in the freezer. This made winter last through summer. (Note: The snow turns to ice, so it's not actually a good idea to have a fight with these.)
4. Fools Gold Hunt: Before we arrived, my grandmother would scatter fools gold on her pebbly driveway. Hours were spent on expeditions to find it! (Alternative: As my brother goes about his yard work, he gathers up cool rocks, shells, and other items that he finds and puts them along a specific bank. When kids come over, he directs them to explore that area.)
5. Special Sleepovers: Two-inch think, stripped floor mattresses were rolled out in the family room every time we came to stay. There were enough for all the cousins. We'd snuggle in, watch the same three movies over and over again, and eat freeze pops. Which leads me too ...
6. Super Snack Stash: My grandmother kept a freezer stocked with freeze pops and soft pretzels. She also always had Club Crackers for making peanut and marshmellow fluff sandwiches. These treats were reserved for grandmother's house! We never had them at home.
7. Christmas in July: As everyone grows and moves on, it's become harder for our family to all be together at major holidays. My grandpa instituted Christmas in July as a family tradition. It's hosted at an aunt's pool, but there is Christmas music, Santa's hats, and presents, presents, presents. 10 a piece to be exact. If you bring a friend last minute, don't worry, they get 10 presents too!
8. Mamie: Mamie was my grandmothers donkey. Mamie seemed to live forever and ever. We'd feed Mamie, pet her, and occasionally ride her. (Mamie did not in fact live forever. Rather, when one Mamie died, they would purchase another donkey and christen her with the same name.)
9. The Spaghetti Grinder: Yes, my grandmother taught me to turn an imaginary crank (located next to my ear) and to systematically spit out my mouthfull of spaghetti back onto the plate. Gross, yes. Hilarious, yes.
10. Beautiful Books as Gifts: My mom has handed over my collection of children's books as I've had my own children. Every time I open the cover, I see that the book was a gift from an aunt, a great-aunt, a grandparent, an uncle. It seems as if everyone always gave us books!
11. Curiosity collectors: Both sides of grandparents collected interesting items. Buckets of beautiful seashells, donkey figurines from all over the world, keys, hats, canes, pipes, artwork, Coca-cola products, and so many other things. Items were put out on display for us to marvel at, pick up, play pretend, providing endless amounts of fun and intrigue.
12. A Winter Wonderland: Every year at Christmas, my grandma would set up a full town of winter magic. She had hotels, houses, shops, ice skating ponds, carriages, and so much more. Everything about the scene made us feel like we were in another world.
13. Trips: Whether to an amish shop, a railroad station, Colonial Williamsburg, or London, my grandparents took us on adventures. On such trips, we literally had to read every single historical plaque. We were encouraged to ask questions and learn history. Our grandparents were intent on opening the world up for us.
14.VBS at the Beach: My grandmother and aunts would bring leftover Vacation Bible School supplies on beach trips. During down time (when we weren't searching for shells, feeding the seagulls, or playing board games), we would learn Bible stories and do crafts.
I could go on and on.
A Comm Professor from seminary talks about the importance of "getting your mind in their mind." He's speaking of an audience when preparing a talk, but I think the principle is transferable. If you have children in your life (in any capacity), try for a second to think like they do.
What pleases them?
What makes them giggle?
What makes them giggle?
What would be interesting or engaging for them?
What stimulates their creativity or imagination?
What did you enjoy when you were their age?
What makes them feel special or loved or cared for?
The results are wonderful. Their eyes light up, the gears in their brain start turning, and a sweet connection is made.
I wonder, what simple, engaging ideas have your gleaned from your elders? I'm all ears!
Lesson Learned: Who knew that eggos and ice cream could be a legacy?