I’ve had some real missteps along the way as a grandma, stepped on a few toes, gone against some of the rules my daughter and son-in-law have put forth for their children, my grandchildren. One thing I have done right, though, is the creation of my Grandma Bag (which could also be called a Grandpa Bag, depending on who’s carrying it). My grandsons look forward to what I’ve got inside the mysterious bag o’ fun each and every time I visit them. It is a fun way to get the kids excited for my visit.
What’s a Grandma Bag? Well, soon after my daughter—a teacher—had my first grandson, a little girl in her class regaled my daughter with tales of her visiting grandma. A primary reason for the girl’s excitement was the special bag Grandma brought with her each time she visited. The bag was filled with all kinds of goodies for the grandchildren to use and share and enjoy during the visit, but the fun was always packed up with Grandma to take back home with her, keeping it fresh and exciting for the kids each time. It sounded like a wonderful idea back when my daughter told me. So I, of course, copied that smart grandma! It’s such a fun way to get the kids excited.
I now pack into my luggage for every visit a Grandma Bag of my own. Inside the bag are old movies I want to share, such as Mary Poppins and other Disney classics that kids nowadays aren’t likely to have seen. I also bring a CD or two of silly songs to sing and dance to with my grandsons. Then there’s the Bubble Wrap—a few feet or so of the big bubble Bubble Wrap so my grandsons can stomp and pop and giggle with delight. It never fails to elicit smiles (and super photos). For quieter times, there are coloring books that I alternate between and a big box of crayons in my grandma bag. A couple of other standbys are construction paper, pipe cleaners, and stickers. These are a fun way to get the kids involved!
Picture books are the most used—and heaviest, for those considering the weight added to the grandma bag—as reading bedtime stories together is one of the highlights of our time together. I have a fairly large collection at home, so I swap out a batch of five or six for each visit, maybe more depending on the length of my stay. Then there are the goodies specific to each visit. I plan crafts to do while with my grandsons and ensure that I have all the necessary supplies packed into my bag.
On top of those things, I swap out this and that. Sometimes I have special sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balloons or easy-to-tote games in my grandma bag. No matter what I have, though, the rules are always the same: No peeking in Grandma’s Bag without her permission, and everything in it returns home with Grandma so it always stays special and new for the boys.
As with most rules, though, there is an exception. Every time there’s at least one thing each of my grandsons gets to keep, such as a toy car or a small book. What I get to keep, on top of the goodies I pack away to bring back home with me, is the knowledge that I’ve created a special memory and special moments for my grandsons.
I once heard the best ideas are stolen ideas. I must say that has certainly been true with the Grandma Bag idea. Go ahead: Steal the very same from me. Your grandkids will surely appreciate your thievery.
Lisa Carpenter is a writer and blogger specializing in topics related to grandparenting and parenting adult children. She publishes the Grandma’s Briefs website and can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.