When you live a long distance from your grandkids, you probably don’t get to see them very often. Today, most grandparents still work, so they’re lucky to get to see the grandchildren during vacations and holidays. Having such a short time together can make it hard to know what to do to make each visit special.

1. Let Mom and Dad Lead the Way

It doesn’t matter if you did it “that way” and all turned out fine. Your child has made a choice with their spouse to do things a certain way: their way, not yours. It’s not a critique of your parenting skills when children do things their own way. Try to remember what it was like when your parents or in-laws didn’t comply with your wishes with your kids, and don’t do the same thing.

You don’t have control over this situation and no amount of fighting it will give you any control. If your child is not abusing your grandchild, just let mom and dad lead the way and follow their rules for the kids. If you do this, you’re going to enjoy the visit a lot more than if you fought them about how they do things.

2. Save Gifts for the Last Night

This is especially important when you don’t see the grandkids as much as you want. Don’t show up and shower gifts on the grandchildren right away. You don’t want the grandkids to think of you as some kind of rich Santa Clause. You want them to know who you are outside of gifts.

Save gifts for the last night or the day you leave to help them cope with the change instead. This will ensure they’re thinking of you long after you leave. Also, only give parent-approved gifts. Double check the appropriate ages for the gifts too. The packages say the ages for safety reasons. You’ll be glad that you did that.

3. Get Some Alone Time

Nothing is better than giving the parents some time to themselves so that you can get time with the grandkids alone. That one-on-one time is something they’ll remember forever. If you have multiple grandkids, try to get some time alone with each one when possible. That will also increase your bond with them. Plus, by letting the parents get out alone, you’re helping your grandkids by encouraging a healthy marriage.

4. Experiences Over Things

You know how fast time goes when kids are little. They grow so fast that the best toy today will be too childish for them in six months. That’s why giving experiences is a better gift. Give lessons like dance, gymnastics, swimming or karate to grandkids – with parents’ permission. Another idea for older kids is sending them to Space Camp or taking them to Disney. These are the types of gifts that will be remembered when they’re adults.

5. Get Creative

If you have the craft gene, go ahead and plan some sort of crafty activity together during your alone time – such as baking or making mom and dad gifts. Or if you’re not crafty by yourself, try taking them to a painting or other type of class. This will give them something to take away from the experience and remember it by.

These ways to make your visit with your grandchildren special will pay off in a big way over time. After 18 years of building your relationship, your grandkids will be very happy that you did and so will you.

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