How to Be an Unforgettable Grandparent
Creating memories for your grandchildren is good for you and your grandchildren. Here’s how to be an unforgettable grandparent.
The love between grandparents and grandchildren is built over time and through shared experiences and building bonds with your grandchildren.
October 2023 Update: This post is jam-packed with ideas. I originally wrote it about six years ago and have added to it over years. During that time, readers have added their comments with their own ways of being unforgettable. Read to the end to access those!
My grown children have unfortunately, had three of their four grandparents die. Yet, no matter where my kids were, doing, or state of finances, they came to the funerals.
It made me curious, what created this relationship that was unbreakable. And this has made me a better grandmother.
For my children, there was nothing that would keep them away from their grandparents’ funeral.
But it all began long before. And that’s the story I’m going to tell.
In the six years since I started writing about my experience, I have heard from so many other grandmothers. Over on the 19 Unforgettable Activities post, so many of you, have shared your own experiences.
I am in awe! At the end of the post are 50+ comments from other unforgettable grandparents!
Here is where this all started for me…
One evening I was saying goodbye to my then three-year old granddaughter, and as I was holding her close, she whispered in my ear,
“Gammy…you’re my best buddy.”
My heart could not have felt fuller.
Each little moment like this is a treasure that I hold near and dear.
Those sweet words whispered in her little voice come to me at odd times and bring a smile to my face. I certainly won’t forget them!
That little girl is now nine and has a younger sister who says something similar. She’ll say..
I’ll say “yes”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
The love I share with my granddaughters is one of the most surprising and wonderful relationships of my life. Who knew?
Pretty much anyone that’s ever been a grandmother—that’s who.
In the beginning though, I wasn’t as confident about this new and amazing relationship.
If you are looking for encouragement and a nudge in the right direction, then you’ll love this post. It’s full of inspiration and ideas for you to be an unforgettable grandparent.
My oldest granddaughter is now a teenager in high school. I wrote a post about how to grandparent a teenager. I’m so glad I did. Even I need reminders!
And if you’re reading this, then I know you know how the love between grandparents and grandchildren feels too!
June 2022 Update: I am adding one more thing–smell good! About a year ago, I decided to always wear my favorite perfume when I visited the grandkids.
I had no idea if this would register with them but I wanted to add one more layer to being unforgettable.
Last week, I left my old zip up sweat shirt at their house. When they returned it to me, they said they knew it was mine, “because it smelled like you.”
That was particularly funny because I’ve owned and worn it for years–but it was the smell that told them it was mine.
I also added some stories about my children’s grandparents. Their four grandparents were truly unforgettable and I learned so much about grand-parenting from their examples! My kids have so many great family memories!
I teach women over 50 how to live a life they love now. As much as I love my job–I also love being a grandmother. It is possible to make peace with food, your body, and all your relationships with life coaching. Link to a free consult at the end of the post.
Why are Grandparents Important to Grandchildren?
Grandparents are important to grandchildren! My children’s grandparents were so supportive of me and my husband.
They often babysat while I went to school or let me bring the kids over to play while we had a grown-up visit. In April of 2021, one of my children’s grandmother’s died.
My children, all busy professionals and/or parents, dropped everything to go to her funeral across the country. They did the same thing for my father several years ago.
To this day, they relish the family memories of time they spent with their grandparents while growing up.
My kids had these four amazing people in their lives that loved them unconditionally and showed me how to become unforgettable myself.
It wasn’t just what our parents did for our children, it was the example they set, the experiences they shared, and most of all the love they gave their grandchildren.
To this day, my children talk about their grandparents and all the time they had with them in the good old days of their childhood.
Together they created so many lasting memories!One of my best buddies!
Unforgettable Grandparents Do Unforgettable Things
For example, my dad introduced them to riding horses, exploring the woods, and archery. He had a talent for adding the most unique things to their lives.
My dad was also unforgettable for another reason. The name by which his first three grandchildren called him.
When my older sister had her first baby, my dad did not want to be called grand-anything. He for sure did not want any kind of SILLY name.
He decided he would be called Big Ron.
Grandchild #1 instead called him Gogron. That name stuck and he is the UNFORGETTABLE Gogron.The Unforgettable Gogron!
My father-in-law built one of a kind doll houses for each grandchild! My daughter received hers over 30 years ago and now she watches her own children play with it. Grandpa Garska lives on in her memory daily!
Each dollhouse is an irreplaceable keepsake that keeps Grandpa unforgettable even for his great grandchildren that never had the opportunity to meet him.
Grandpa Garska built his house for Stacey who now runs the thesoccermomblog.com and her children play with this very same doll house 30+ years later!
My mom, who went by Granny introduced them to gardening, cooking, playing games, and good grammar. Last night on Zoom, we had the theme, What Would Granny Do?
Several of her adult grandchildren made sure to be there so they could ask her questions. The questions ranged from deep religious questions to badly behaved pets.
Granny is also unforgettable for all the wise things she says and that she has so generously shared over the years.
Finally, my children had their unforgettable Grandma who provided so many sweet moments to their lives. Grandma loved all her grandchildren unconditionally and without reserve.
The grandchildren knew from the second they got to her house that they were the most important people to her in that moment.
I’ll never forget when she met the woman one of her sons was going to marry. She had a child from her first marriage.
Grandma embraced him as a grandchild immediately and she never showed any difference to him as to the other grandchildren.
Another one of her unforgettable qualities that my children loved then and love to talk about, was how she would always have their favorite foods on hand and would at any time, make or fix their favorite thing.
That love between grandparents and grandchildren has stayed with my children through their entire lives and it has been an example to me of how to be a great grandparent to my grandchildren.
How Can I Have a Great Relationship with My Grandchildren?
I was always a little different as a parent. My grown kids still have a lot of laughs at some of the things they experienced growing up.
My kitchen was always a laboratory for experiments with food. Lentil loaf and tofu-anything are things they just can’t seem to forget and provide lots of laughter when they reminisce together.
But they have other memories!
We took hikes and explored the woods. We adopted dogs and cats. As much as money and time allowed, they got to try different kinds of things.
Not because it would get them into a good college or turn them into a super-kid but because it was fun. In a nutshell, I gave them a safe place to be kids and explore their world.
As a grandmother, I am still myself.I’m the tall one! We all love themes and dress up!
And my little granddaughters know they can always be themselves. They have plenty of clothes and toys and I don’t feel any need to add to all that.
However, I do give them my undivided attention on a regular basis and let them play however they want when we are together.
We have serious and silly conversations. My thing is accepting them exactly how they are without trying to change them and thoroughly enjoying every minute with them.
If you are wondering what you can do with my grandchildren, you don’t have to do anything spectacular or expensive to have the love of your grandchildren.I put together a box of kid-friend office supplies for my middle granddaughter to play with.
By being fully present to them, they will love being with you.
What can I do with my grandchildren? Play, hangout, and talk!
I love to hang out with the girls in their room, sitting on the bed or floor, playing games or reading books.
We dance to music. I’ve gone roller skating and bowling with them. We’ve explored my neighborhood parks or we go out for breakfast.
It seems like it’s not the what that is important, it’s that you do some things with them occasionally.Fun together!
I lived in apartments for a few years and my granddaughters thought that was the most amazing thing ever. They love exploring everything!
As they get older, we can play games, do puzzles, make crafts, go to playgrounds, or just explore around the yard.
I kid you not, one day we spent a couple of hours looking for interesting rocks in their gravel driveway.
With kids, everything can be a fun adventure! Creativity can take many forms.
Create memories for your grandchildren
For this next one, I can thank my middle child, the girls’ aunt since she came up with this brilliant idea.
My younger daughter and I have started giving the girls experiences for their birthdays and Christmas instead of gifts.
After sitting through watching the girls open so many gifts that soon get discarded and forgotten, we knew we wanted to do something else.
My daughter, their Aunt, came up with the idea of taking them out and doing something special.
We started with taking the older girl to a traveling Broadway show and then to dinner.
HUGE HIT. She got to dress up and have a special night out at the theater. In fact, my daughter and I loved the evening as well.
So, we decided to make it our thing with the girls. For Christmas, we gave them tickets to another visiting Broadway show.
Both girls dressed up and got to experience the magic of watching musical theater. It truly was unforgettable.
Of course—that might not be your thing! And that’s okay. Every town has fun things that come to town or are seasonal.
I’ve also taken the girls out for interesting meals, to the museum, and for a train ride.
There are shows specifically for younger children and those are fun for adults too. We’ve also watched magic shows and cartoons come to life.
These things create memories that we can look back on with them and say, “Remember when we…”A night out with Grammy. Even the local pizza joint can be an adventure!
Another way I create memories with grandchildren, is that I have them over to spend the night once in a while or for an afternoon visit.
They really enjoy doing this. I keep a couple of bins full of craft supplies. My middle granddaughter is an avid crafter and always is cooking up new ideas for us to create.
I also have all the Barbie dolls my own girls played with when they were little. I just keep a few toys on hand. Since they don’t get to play with them every day, they always are excited to get them out.Grandpa made this dollhouse for me and I’ve kept it and now the girls can play with it in my house.
Create traditions with grandchildren
Children love traditions, structure, and routine. While novel things are fun once in a while, it seems to me that they love repeated things even more.
When my grandchildren visit, they love knowing where everything is and getting things out and putting them away.
They like knowing favorite people, activities, and places. They like doing the same thing for celebrations.
Having routines and traditions help children create memories that will last.
As far as I can tell, especially when they are young, children love repeating the things they love to do.
It’s helpful to have some kind of routine visits with them, whether it’s by Facetime or in person.
I try to spend one afternoon a week with them and they look forward to it.
A few weeks ago, I was sick and couldn’t make it. My little granddaughter cried for ten minutes because she was so disappointed.
I truly hadn’t realized how much she counted on these visits! You can bet that I won’t miss them without a really good reason.
We also have developed some yearly traditions. Before Christmas, I host a cookie making party that adults and children enjoy. In fact, my adult children look forward to it as much as the little ones.We all love to make cookies!
I’ve collected cookie cutters for years. We do it for the fun–not to make beautiful cookies, though we try!
We also get together for holiday dinners and for birthdays. Celebrating together once in a while is a unforgettable event for grandkids!
How to Be an Unforgettable Grandparent
The love between grandparents and grandchildren is an amazing thing.
After writing this I really do know that I share a very special bond with my granddaughters.
I don’t have to be exciting or act like someone else to have a great relationship with them or to create memories.Fun at the park!
The most important thing, I believe, is having your own unforgettable life. The thing all of the above ideas have in common is YOU. You bring the fun and memories with you!
Putting thought and effort into these relationships has helped create this bond and I like to think this will make me a memorable grandparent.These days we get together on Zoom instead of in person.
I’d love to hear how you create memories with your grandchildren! Feel free to share in the comments below.
Stay In Touch Long Distance
During the first year of covid, I missed seeing my grandchildren in-person weekly! So, I’ve been doing a couple of things that have been really cool.
The first was weekly Zoom get togethers. I set them up and invite the whole family–four generations!
We played games, had theme nights, caught up with each other, and shared stories.. The grandkids loved spending time with their extended families!
This has been a commitment on my part. I pay for Zoom and I set up the meetings and I do the invites. But my family has loved it and we’ve connected four generations and 35 family members for 10 months.
When I started it, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to do it. But it turned out that our family enjoyed it very much. There were some family that was there every single time they could and others that popped on every now and then.
But was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it!
Another thing I did long-distance was putting together packages for the grandkids. I included a couple of treats and some kind of activity they kids can do and a note telling them how much I miss them.
The last one I sent, I included envelopes (6 X 9–perfect for homemade cards), card stock, markers/pens, postage stamps, and the addresses of all the family members.
My daughter said when they got the package, they sat down on the floor and immediately started making cards. I was the happy recipient of the first two!
The Best You is the Best and Most Unforgettable Grandparent
The thing that I hope you take from this post is that no matter who you are, you can be unforgettable.
Honestly this is all about creating an unforgettable relationship with your grandchildren in the way only YOU can.
I also realize that many of you struggle with some of these relationships as well. The first step to having great relationships is tending to yourself.
If you aren’t feeling amazing and unforgettable I can help!
I offer one-on-one coaching for women over fifty to help you make the most of this part of your life.
Keep showing up my friends,
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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.