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Creating a Play-and-Stay Space for Your Grandchild

No matter the size of your home, designating a special place in it for your grandchild can help you foster stronger relationships and closer communication. Whether that space is the bedroom in which the children sleep when they visit you, a nook in your living room, or a small table and chairs that you set up in your kitchen, it says that you love spending time with them and want to share their interests.

First, consider the age of your grandchild. What are their interests? How much supervision do they require when they play? Then use the following guidelines to help you assess your grandchild’s physical space:

  1. The Right Size: Consider the size of your living space relative to your grandchild’s living space. Would they prefer a cozy nook or room to spread out?
  1. A Safe Space: Is the space safe and free from objects that might break? If you’re constantly telling your grandchild “Be careful” or “Don’t touch,” maybe you need to choose a different location or reconfigure the area you’re designating for them.
  1. A Comfy Spot: Make sure there is comfortable furniture—a sofa, soft chairs, cuddly pillows, or a fluffy rug—on which you can sit together and talk or snuggle. Is there floor space where they can build or spread out without interrupting foot traffic through the room? Is there a table or a lap desk on which they can write, draw, or do projects? For sleepovers, make sure there’s a comfortable mattress or cozy sleeping bag, and fleecy towels.
  1. Room with a View: Nature can spark questions or be a source of calm. Is there a window with a view? Can you add indoor plants to the space?
  1. So Much to Do: Is there a choice of activities your grandchild can do? Age-appropriate toys, including blocks/Duplo/Lego, roads, trains; dress-up clothing; toy cookware or animals; a selection of books and magazines, even catalogs; board/card games; art supplies, including old newspapers to line the table or floor, old magazines to cut up for collages; paper, pencils and pens, crayons/markers/paint, scissors and glue, Play-Doh.
  1. Spark Questions: Are there interesting objects for your grandchild to investigate in the designated spot? These might include family photos and (unbreakable) heirlooms, maps, a periodic table, a clock, a magnifying glass, rocks (kids love semi-precious stones!), foreign currency, holiday-related items. Is your grandchild fascinated by a particular subject? Stock up on appropriate library books before they visit, or check out videos online. All of these may open up new areas of exploration for you and your grandchild.
  1. Share Your Hobbies: If you like to cook, the kitchen table may be your go-to spot with your grandchild. Study family recipes or cookbooks for foods and baked goods you can make together. If
     you’re into woodworking, carve out a spot on your workbench for your grandchild to help. That comfy nook you set up may be the perfect place to knit or crochet.
  1. Ownership of the Space: Designate a shelf, drawer, cabinet, or even storage baskets or bins for your grandchild to organize their favorite toys, books, or art supplies.
  1. Always with You: Frame or hang a piece of your grandchild’s artwork and regularly replace the old picture with a new one. Your grandchild will love knowing that you’re thinking about them even when you’re apart. If you work in an office, consider hanging a piece there too. Send photos or show them on FaceTime or video conference. Take pictures of a building they’ve constructed or a cake they’ve decorated so they can savor the memory or even recreate it on their next visit.
  1. Balance is Key: Create a space especially for your grandchild while preserving your own personal space. If you have the luxury of an extra room for your grandchild, take advantage of it. Otherwise, design a space in a small area that can easily be set up and dismantled. And while spending quality time together, remember that sometimes your grandchild may want to play alone, while you may have your own work to do.  

 

Click HERE for more tips for creating great play spaces.   

Ilene Vogelstein is Vice-President of the Jewish Grandparents Network

Banner photograph courtesy of Pexels
Sofa and nature scene photographs by Ilene Vogelstein
Knitting photograph by Stephanie Fink

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