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Visiting and Hosting Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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No matter how many miles separate them the love that exists between grandparents and their grandchildren remains strong. While letter writing, emailing, and phone calls are helpful in keeping abreast of the events in each other's lives, there is nothing quite like face-to-face visits to build memories and strengthen bonds.

Taking trips to visit grandchildren and hosting grandchildren during their school breaks can be wonderfully rewarding experiences, especially when the visits are well planned.

Clearing Your Calendar

In today’s busy world, many people have date books that are overflowing with entries, often making it imperative to plan ahead, even for short trips. When arranging a get-together with the grandchildren, grandparents should first contact the kids' parents to check about available dates.

Today's kids are often as busy as or even busier than adults with school, lessons, clubs, and social obligations. Setting aside a block of time in advance can help to assure that once you are together, other commitments won't interfere with your visit.

Things to Do

After deciding on the dates of the visit, the fun begins. Planning the trip can be almost as pleasurable as the visit itself. Calling, emailing, and sending links to websites back and forth so that grandparents and grandchildren can decide on activities that appeal to both generations are terrific ways to make the visit both fun and memorable. The person who lives in the host city can gather brochures from local tourist attractions and read up on things to do.

Money Matters

While the goal of the visit is to have fun, most people still have to operate within a set budget, so taking steps to save money is usually necessary. Working with a travel agent to secure the most affordable flights can save a great deal of money and the savings can be even greater if there is flexibility in departure and return dates. Frequent flier miles can really come in handy if grandparents and their grandchildren live far from each other, but even without them, low cost flights are often available. It is often much less expensive to travel midweek, rather than on weekends, so planning the trip accordingly can leave extra funds available to spend on activities.

Similarly, some restaurants, museums, and other popular attractions offer discounts for patrons who are willing to visit at "off" times. Not only are these times more affordable, but since they are traditionally the less desired days and times, things are usually less crowded and hectic, too.

Things to Remember

Spending time together can be a great deal of fun, but everyone needs a little time to spend independently, too. Make sure that there is some time built into the visit for everyone to have a bit of time to themselves. Additionally, while it is fun to be busy and active, try not to over-schedule. It is important that you allow time to simply sit and chat, getting to know your grandchildren and letting them get to know you, too. Also, a schedule of non-stop activity often becomes tiresome, making everyone cranky. Plan a bit, but be sure that you allow time for rest and relaxation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that rules tend to vary from household to household, so kids and their grandparents need to be a bit understanding of the other's expectations. Even if things seem to be a bit crazy and out of control, it is only a visit and not a new lifestyle, so flexibility is a must.

Finally, be sure to take lots of photos. The visit is to become a part of your family's history -- so document the time together with both posed and candid shots. After everyone is back at home, the pictures can be mailed or emailed back and forth, extending the fun. An album containing a collection of the photos would make a great gift for the children's parents, too.

Getting to Know Each Other

The very best part of face to face family visits is that they provide ample opportunity for everyone to learn about each other. By sharing time with their grandparents, kids can get to know them in ways that aren't possible simply by hearing their parents tell stories about their childhoods. Children often find their grandparents to be patient and relaxed, descriptions that their grown children may or may not agree with.

When the pressures of parenting are lifted, grandparents can often enjoy the pleasures of spending time with kids without the worries and responsibilities that they may have carried while raising their own children. This ability is one of the main reasons that grandparents and grandchildren are often such great buddies -- both generations can focus on fun while mum and dad are in charge of rules, bedtimes, and the necessity of balanced nutrition.

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