I remember as a little girl going to my grandmother’s house and the first thing my sister and I would do was run into the guest bedroom and pull out the bottom drawer of a dresser. Inside were blocks, books, and my very favorite, a pair of old, high heels that we would fight over to wear!
What my grandmother did that was so special was she set apart a place just for us grandchildren. Though she had downsized, she still kept a small area in her home just for us.
And to this day I still remember the feeling I had each time I went over to her house: that I was loved, and I was wanted.
The very last thing we ever want to convey to our grandchildren is that they are a nuisance, in the way, or a bother. I’m sure you would never want them to feel like that!
What Not to Do So Your Grandkids Feel Welcome
As much joy as grandkids bring us, it can be quite a culture shock when their loud, messy selves enter our usually-very-quiet spaces. A natural knee-jerk reaction is to demand control to keep the peace—but doing so without sensitivity to how it comes off to our grandkids can be alienating.
So, keep these tips in mind as you prepare your space to be inhabited by tinier, more energetic humans:
First, do not complain about the noise they make on their toy drum, etc., unless it’s somehow a detriment to their or your wellbeing. Do not tell them constantly ‘do not touch’. Don’t complain about them ‘making a mess’ everywhere.
These comments can make grandkids feel like they are in the way or are just a burden to you, rather than the joy they are.
If you have a living room that you’d rather them not be in, state it at the beginning of the visit, but show them a comfortable and clean place they can be in.
Remove all breakables from low tables so that the toddlers can walk around and enjoy your home without you worrying that something might break. This is called ‘child-proofing’ your home and we grandparents need to do it too!
However, it is fine to let them, and their parents know some of your rules from the beginning such as no jumping on beds, no fighting/hitting with each other, no disrespectful behavior.
Last, if we complain, they will not feel welcome. Too many rules and a place that isn’t welcoming is not what anyone wants!
Remember, keeping a special place in your home that’s just for your grandchildren reflects your relationship with them. You don’t want to feel or convey that you are a distant relative but instead, someone who wants to be a part of their life and vice versa.
So, what should we do for our grandchildren when they come to visit? Here are some ideas:
Tips for that Special Grandchildren’s Place
Let them know either by a phone call, a text/email to their mom, or a letter that you want them to visit you. Knowing we are requesting them is exciting and special! And let them know you have a special place set up just for them where they can play.
Don’t worry if it isn’t a large area! Many grandparents today either live with others or are in an independent facility or have downsized into a much smaller place. Remember, my grandmother only set apart a dresser drawer! So, a small area works as a trunk or part of a closet.
Walk through your home and find a corner or a wall of shelves somewhere where you can keep their toys and books. How about the kitchen? Especially if you and your grandchildren love to cook together, set aside one drawer or cabinet just for them!
I still live in the house my children grew up in, so I keep my granddaughter’s toys in the walk-in attic. But she knows where everything is! And before she visits from out of town, I pull out a few of her favorite items. Then, she has permission to go to the attic and play (I put some carpet pieces down on the flooring) or bring the items out.
You may want to have shelves with permanent toys and games on them. We have shelves by the girl’s bedrooms that we used for their board games and cards. After they moved away, we just kept their games there. It’s our ‘game’ section and we have added toys for our granddaughter too.
If you have room in the garage, keep a tricycle or bicycle for them. It’s great for them to be able to get outside and play.
Especially if you keep your grandchildren some during the week or weekend, let them know that your home is for them, too. A great idea is to set a place around the kitchen table where they can do their homework. Making their schoolwork a priority in your home helps to instill in them the same idea.
Also, you are helping their overworked parents if you help their children with this daily item.
Let your grandchildren bring their own special toys, dolls, stuffed animals and books when they come to visit. They like to show off the items they love in their life.
For those of you who have a basement, you have a goldmine! I’ve seen small trampolines, tents, kitchens and exercise equipment set up for the grandchildren. One family even had an art corner where there was a table with all types of crayons and colored pencils and an easel for drawing and painting.
If you literally have no space for some toys, perhaps you have a neighbor who would let you keep some items in their home. Or, if you have the money, rent out a storage unit that’s close by.
And if you can’t do that, then just have your grandchildren bring a toy or two when they visit.
The most important aspect of having your grandchildren come to visit is sharing your (and God’s) love with them! I believe our grandchildren would rather spend time with us than with a bunch of toys, which is why you and I can keep it simple.
So, when we give them a special area in our home, I also believe it makes them feel special! They know that you are thinking of them because you have planned a place in your home just for them.
And when they feel special and loved, they will believe you when you share your love for the Lord with them.