Dear Dr. Linda,
I haven’t been with my grandchildren for a month now. That may not be that long a time for others, but I usually see them once or twice a week. In addition to not being able to hug and kiss them, they don’t seem to have time to talk to me. Either they’re doing school work, watching a movie, playing video games or what have you. I realize that when I’m with them, they’re doing the same things, but I’m with them. What are other grandparents doing so that they can keep that closeness?
If you were close before we all had to isolate, you’re still close. You’re thinking about them because you’re the grandma and have more time on your hands. They’re not necessarily thinking of you because they’re busy with other things. But you’re still their grandma.
To connect with them during this difficult time, here’s a few ideas that not only will bring you together, even though it’s on Facetime or Zoom, but foster higher order thinking skills in your grandchildren and you.
Write a story together online. The story keeps changing directions if you write your part alone, or you write it together. To begin, decide on a topic and who will start the story. Let’s say your granddaughter begins. She writes three sentences to start the story. Then you write three sentences. This continues until one of you writes the end of the story. If you write it together, you’ll both decide on an ending.
For little ones, make up a story together. They begin, saying only five words. You then say the next five words. Continue until you have a whole story. At some point you’ll think the story makes no sense, but your grandchild will think it’s hilarious.
Read a book together online. This way you can talk about it as you go along. Take turns reading. Even better, if the book is also in movie form, watch the movie together before or after reading the book and compare the two versions. For little ones, read them a story and show the pictures to them via Zoom or another program.
Another variation on the story theme: Tell a story beginning with one sentence. For example: You say, “I went to the store and bought an apple.” Your grandchild says, “I went to the store and bought an apple and a baseball.” You say, “I went to the store and bought an apple and a baseball and candy.” .” Your grandchild says, “I went to the store and bought an apple and a baseball and candy and a dinosaur.” This continues up to the letter “z”. Of course, it breaks down at some point, but kids love it.
For little ones, show them two items, then tell them to cover their eyes (or remove the items out of sight from the camera). Remove one item and ask them what is missing. Then show them three items. Tell them to cover their eyes. Remove one item. Tell them to look at the items tell you what’s missing. Continue by adding more and taking away more.
Cook things together online. Ahead of time decide what you’ll be making and each gets the ingredients. Once done, while online, eat together.
Plant flowers together online. Ahead of time, decide what you’re going to grow and then each buys the same items. There are kits you can buy online.
Tell “knock, knock” jokes and do riddles and children’s jokes online with your grandchildren.
Use your old Mad Libs and have your grandchildren fill in the parts of speech and then you read it back to them. Kids love Mad Libs today as much as they did years ago.
Do a crossword puzzle together.
Sing a song together.
Play Simon Says together. Take turns being the leader.
For little ones, play Animal Charades. Take turns acting out different animals.
Use your creativity to adapt traditional in-person games to action online. Many cards games, from Go Fish to contract bridge are available for multiple players in different places.
And, as you said, remember that there are many grandparents who don’t see their grandchildren more than once or twice a year. In the end, you may find that you actually spend more quality time with your grandchildren!