Now the long school holidays are upon us many grandparents find themselves caring for children and it is important to ensure your home is safe and happy for the little ones.
It may be that they have to stay overnight, or even for a longer period if you do not live very close to the family. It is often a special treat for them to come and stay with you, but they may suffer from homesickness initially.
Small touches of home in their bedroom may make them feel more comfortable such as their bedlinen from home and favourite toys. Of course, if they stay regularly you can let them help in choosing the decoration.
Somewhere to play
Your home is set up for you but little ones need a play space, so consider giving over one room or area of a room where they can set up their toys and have room to build their bricks, or have a tea party for their dolls. Make sure there are no ornaments or antiques that may get damaged and keep valuables tidied away.
A good idea is to lay down a mat or some old newspaper just in case you do any arts and crafts. Identify the area where they can be messy and let them know that outside this area it must be kept clean and tidy.
We forget what can be a potential danger as we are used to them being in our home. Ponds, kitchen equipment and medicine cabinets are just some of the obvious areas. But there will be lots of other places that might never have occurred to you. Take time to walk around your home and make a list of important things to be aware of before a visit. For example:
- Lay netting over any ponds.
- Make sure all cabinets containing potentially harmful items are securely locked.
- Put kitchen equipment like knives and blenders out of harm’s way.
- Check that all wide opening windows and external doors are locked.
- Move breakable or unsecured objects and furniture with sharp corners to a safe place.
- Remember they are usually smaller than you and dangers can be at different heights.
A toy box
Buying special toys to keep at your house is a good idea, but think about what you already have. It could be something as simple as your jewellery box that needs sorting out, or starting a dressing up box with some of your clothes and scarves.
Empty kitchen cupboards to find tins and cartons that can make a shop. Take turns in being the shopkeeper or customer. Gardening and baking are also fun and helpful ways to keep you all entertained, as well as teaching children practical skills.
Other useful games are to pretend to be cleaners or cooks on a television show.
For older children on a longer visit, you could help them keep a daily diary that can be illustrated. This can be sent across to their parents by email or even post.
If you have Skype, you can help them send a daily vlog (video blog – they will be able to tell you how to do this).
A regular message each day will be really entertaining for both the parents and grandchild.
Food can be a very useful weapon in a child’s armoury, but you can avoid confrontations by laying down simple rules. Never ask if they are hungry, have regular meal times, explain any different foods that you may wish them to try and tell them what was the favourite food of their Mummy or Daddy when they were little.
Above all make your home welcoming and fun and spend as much time as you can playing with them. You don’t need to spend money or buy treats every day. Your time and attention are their own reward.