Going to Grandma’s house is like taking a mini vacation. You get a break, your parents get some quality time with their grandbabies and your little ones get to do whatever they want, for the most part. As well as an abundance of attention and cuddles, there’s a rumor going around that Grandmas spoil their grandchildren with cake, cookies, ice cream, and more cake… but that sounds completely absurd. Nonetheless, and although grandmas and grandpas are usually willing and able to let the spoiling commence from the second the kids walk in the door, fun can die out quickly if you don’t pack and bring strategic toys or adequate entertainment. Whatever the setting might be like at your parents or in-laws’ house, it’s always best to bring entertainment sources that will enrich the experience once all the pleasantries are done and it’s adult time. Not sure what to put in the backpack? Here are the 5 most important things to consider when picking toys to take to grandma’s house:
1. Ditch the electronics
Time spent at their grandparents’ house should be memorable in some way (and for some families, it’s a very rare opportunity), so do yourself a favor and put electronics away during the visit (and if possible, leave at home). There are very few things that will dampen the socialization process or hinder the quality of that time spent with grandma, like having your kids zombified with an iPad the entire visit.
2. A bookworm is always a bookworm
Books are always a great choice for kids in upper elementary levels that love to read. Why? Because there’s a progression, a sequence in their entertainment once it’s time for play or leisure at grandpa’s. Kids who get bored easily with a toy can spend a good chunk of time flipping pages, especially if it’s a new book or a book that they have been really immersed in lately. Even better, encouraging your kids to use the opportunity to read to their grandparents can become a day that everyone will cherish forever.
3. Don’t bring toys that come apart easily or with lots of pieces
Maybe a doll with her dress and accessories won’t be an issue, but at my home, bringing LEGOs is a definite no-no when we visit grandma. Even if my son is extremely careful with them and doesn’t lose them, I’m not so sure his cousins will have the same level of care. A better idea is to bring the soccer ball, a deck of cards, or anything that a second player can participate in, but that can be easily put away without casualties (or major tantrum meltdowns on the way home).
4. Art to the rescue
After all the tricks are spent, I always resort to good, old-fashioned paper and colored pencils. Bring fun (and mess-free) art supplies and ask your kid (of any age) to get creative. They can draw their favorite thing about coming to visit, paint a family portrait or simply unleash their creativity while grown-ups are conversing. It’s always a good idea to nurture his or her artistic tendencies during the visit.
5. Always bring backup
If your kid gets bored easily or is too young to hold long attention spans playing with the same toy, bring a couple of different options and pull out one at a time.
Meanwhile, if your child is in the throes of separation anxiety, a solo stint at Grandma’s house will be more of a trauma than a treat. That’s where grandma’s trusty box of tricks will triumph, as it will bring some of the familiarity and comforts of home.
Yes, home. Visits to Grandma’s house have to end eventually. Now you’ve just got to convince your little ones to leave… Good luck.