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Entertaining the Grandchildren
Written By : Tim Hall 
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A familiar fear amongst grandparents is that the grandchildren will be bored when they visit, and then stop visiting. And with the growth of computer games and pay tv channels, many grandparents feel excluded from the things they think the grandchildren will want. So what is the solution? Go on a computer course, or get Sky TV? No, the solution is easy. Remember back to when you were young. Your grandchildren are still children they love to play. they love to have fun. Make your home a place where they can have fun in abundance, and they will be badgering their parents to visit Grandad again.

So, the kids are coming at the weekend, what is the action plan that will keep them happy and engaged? Remember this well known management training phrase, which applies just as well to your situation. "To fail to plan, is to plan to fail".

Always start with a small treat. It's a bit like dog training really, you are engaging with them and letting them know that it is now you that will look after their needs and they are unlikely to "bite the hand that feeds them".

Next up, try a little exercise. Familiarise the children with their surroundings and gauge their energy levels. This can be during a walk around the house and garden, to set your ground rules about any no go areas. Make sure that the older one gets the message. They will usually be happy to boss the younger one around. If you don't tell them firmly at the beginning, it will be more difficult to enforce later.

Then you can extend the walk, around your immediate locality, pointing out hazards and other local points of interest. Take a short walk to the corner shop to buy a little something, just for them, which you forgot to buy earlier. Save it for later, perhaps when you get to the Park or the Playground (remember the dog training theme?)This is your chance to find out what they like to do first and what they return to time after time.

Somewhere near you, there is probably a Garden Centre where they may sell garden games, climbing frames, swings and slides, trampolines and above ground swimming pools (links). You can search on the internet using those key words, to find your local suppliers. Garden centres are not all plants and terra cotta pots these days, as I am sure you are aware. Kids love them and there are often children's play areas and other activities connected to them.

You can often see a selection of equipment on display and even ask for permission to "TRY BEFORE YOU BUY" This is always sound advice and important to see what suits your grandchildren and what they would like for Christmas/Birthdays and perhaps more importantly, will fit in your garden, if their garden at home is too small. The sales person will have a lot of experience and will be able to offer sound advice and help with delivery dates and installation. Given a suitable area to work with, they may be able to create a bespoke activity centre for your garden and provide you with a computer generated drawing with everything in its place. You won't get that level of service at your local supermarket, or retail park chain store, that's for sure. Neither would you have the ability to ring the changes in a year or two to freshen up the equipment and provide the children with new inspirational activities.

Remember that a little bit more thought and time spent at this stage will pay huge dividends in the longer term, and also that the more they enjoy playing at the grandparents, the more they will keep on visiting. You have some of the most valuable commodities they need, Time. Make sure you invest lots of it.

With today's lifestyle of both parents in full time work, or single parents trying to make a good life for their family, Grandparents are playing an increasingly important role. By taking their turn looking after their Grandchildren, during the working week, or at weekends they can give Parents some respite, time to do their own thing, or even just to do the household jobs, without constant interruption. Making it fun for both simply makes it far more enjoyable for everyone. With a little forward planning, visiting the grandparents can become one of the most looked forward to parts of the week.

  More from Tim Hall
This is Tim Hall's first article.

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