In my last column I shared about grandparenting with Parkinson’s disease. Today I will give you concrete ways to have a blast with your grandkids (or young kids) without losing your mind or your strength because of Parkinson’s.
Children love to bake and cook. Make or find an apron they can get messy and make cookies. This is one activity all my grandchildren have loved doing with me and their grandpa. It will be messy, but what’s more important – a clean kitchen or fresh baked cookies made with your grandchild?
Children love to garden. Have some child-size garden tools available for your little helper. You may as well get the normal size because they’re going to want to use yours anyhow! A hand shovel, a small watering can, and a short rake (the small, plastic leaf rakes for hard to reach places are good child-size rakes) are good for starters. My grandson uses every tool I use, so be ready to teach and supervise.
Kids love art projects. I have a child-size art easel I purchased at IKEA for $15 a few years ago. It is the perfect size and has lasted outside on the deck for over eight years. Use fingerprint paint and then you don’t have to worry about staining clothes. Use the kitchen apron for added protection.
I have gotten small pom-poms and small square foam pieces at the Dollar Store (DS) and they have lasted two years for make-do snowball type wars inside the house8. They’ve become the rocks for the dump truck and more. Total cost: $2.
My grandson loves to play with balls. A bag of balloons are great make-do volleyballs for inside the house. He also loves silly string and surprisingly it’s not a pain to clean up. That, however, is for outside.
Every kid loves sandboxes but so do cats. I put a small, round (about 36” diameter) black plastic pond form I bought at the neighborhood garden shop on the back deck (where the sand stays dry) for a sandbox. Before my grandson goes home, we pile all the outside toys in it and then there’s no room for cats.
I bought a roll of brown grocery type paper at the DS and unrolled it flat onto deck. I took an old cookie tray (you could use throw away foil ones), put different colors of finger paint in it and placed it at one end of the paper and let him put his bare feet in it and decorate the paper. Part of it we framed as a gift for mom and dad and the rest we let mom use for wrapping paper.
Look for other grandmas who watch their grandchildren and meet them at the park one day. The mall playgrounds, indoor play areas, parks and more are good places to meet new friends for the both of you. Malls are also good places to take the little one to walk early in the morning before the crowds begin.
If you’ve got cleaning to do, why not let the kids help? While I cleaned the toilet one day, I gave my grandson a plastic spray bottle with water in it and a sponge and sitting inside of it, he ‘cleaned’ the tub.
There’s so many other things you could do that are easier on you than others, but these are a few suggestions you might try. Also, some things to keep in mind if you know you’re going to have a child over for the day:
– don’t use up your energy today if you know you’ll be watching them tomorrow. They are most important so learn to leave the housework. It will still be there. They may not be, and for sure they won’t stay little very long.
– carry your phone everywhere when they are with you (and when they aren’t) in case you need help. I called my husband last summer to come get us from the park down the street because I knew I wasn’t going to make it home.
Do you have any suggestions on grandparenting with Parkinson’s disease you might share?