I'm not as mobile as I used to be, can I still play with my grandkids?
Yes! There are plenty of ways to spend quality time with your grandchildren that don’t require any physical exertion. Below are 3 fun, low-impact activities to do with your grandkids that will help you make lasting memories without sacrificing your body:
- Sharing photos & stories
- Cooking together
- Creating improvised stories from images
If we’re lucky, aging can afford us some beautiful things:
- wisdom gained from life-experience;
- milestones to celebrate with family and friends;
- retirement which means free time to pursue hobbies, learn new skills, travel, and;
Aging can also come with some challenges. One that we all experience is declining mobility, which can feel jarring—especially when it limits the ways you can spend time or interact with your grandkids.
Making memories with grandkids
Photo by Pasha Vorotilin via Pexels
We all want our grandkids to remember us at our best, and many people worry that once they can no longer engage in physical play with their grandchildren, their relationships will suffer.
This feeling is normal, but not true. Quality time—especially as grandkids get older (and heavier)—doesn’t need to involve picking them up, spinning them around, or bouncing them on your lap.
You can foster amazing relationships and make memories with your grandkids without sacrificing your body or your physical health!
Whether you’re spending an afternoon, an overnight, or the whole holiday season with your grandchildren—these 3 activities will provide hours of fun, and great opportunities to deepen your connection with your young family members.
They can also be modified to meet your specific mobility needs, so you won’t have to worry about your safety when you spend time with your grandkids.
1. Sharing photos & stories
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels
Looking through old photographs with your grandkids might not sound like the most exciting activity at first, but it is a great way to connect with them and share stories.
Kids are naturally curious, so seeing photos of unfamiliar objects—old cars, rotary phones, furniture, or clothing—will likely have them asking you, “what’s that?” Answering their questions can lead you into all sorts of interesting conversations.
Another fun approach is to ask your grandkids if they recognize anyone in the photos. You may be surprised by their answers. Even if they identify people incorrectly, they’ll start to see patterns in the family resemblance, which can be a great jumping-off point to share anecdotes, memories, and a taste of what life was like when the photos were taken.
The photos are mostly an excuse to spend time reminiscing.
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Before your grandkids come over, choose some photo albums or collections you’d like to flip through with them. If you’re unable to lift the photo box or book, or it’s stored somewhere out of reach, have a family member or friend help you get them beforehand (or when they drop the kids off).
Elevate the activity
If you know your grandchildren enjoy arts and crafts, you can get simple wooden picture frames and craft supplies from your local dollar store or online, and decorate the frames together.
Let them pick out their favourite photo, and put it in the decorated frame. This can be a keepsake for them, or for you to keep for yourself to remember the activity.
If you run out of photographs, but everyone is still enjoying your blast from the past, old magazines can also be a great conduit for reminiscing. The same goes for old music on vinyl records or cd’s, or even the opening themes from old TV shows (you can find them by searching on YouTube)
2. Cooking together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
For most families, food is a central part of how we come together. Across cultures, sharing and preparing food is steeped in ritual and tradition. Cooking with your grandkids can be a fun way to pass on your family traditions to them, or start new ones.
Don’t worry if you’re not an experienced cook—the food you prepare with your grandkids doesn’t have to be complicated! There are a wide variety of ‘no-cook’ snack recipes that are safe, fun, and easy to prepare with tasty results.
Again, this activity is less about the culinary outcome and more about the time you spend getting your hands dirty together.
Photo by Lisa Fotios via Pexels
Before your grandchildren come over, choose the recipe you’ll prepare and make sure you have the necessary equipment and ingredients on hand. If you’re not sure where to start, Taste has many recipes that require minimal equipment (which reduces potential hazards from hot or sharp objects).
Most grocery stores stock pre-cut meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables that can make these recipes even easier to prepare. Again, If you’re concerned about using the stove or oven, there are plenty of fun recipes that don’t require any cooking!
Finally, make sure the kitchen is clean before you start. Cleaning up afterward can also be part of the activity.
Elevate the activity
If you want to spice things up a bit more, find out if your grandkids are learning about a particular culture or country in school, and choose a recipe from there! It will create an additional learning opportunity—plus, it’s a way for them to try new foods!
If your grandkids are a little older, and you’re comfortable in the kitchen, you could have a friendly cooking contest where they make their favourite snack, and you make yours (this is how I learned about Monkey bread).
3. Creating improvised stories from images
Kids are creative, and engaging with their creativity can be a lot of fun for them and you.
This game that I learned from my mom (a certified educational assistant) is a great way to engage any kids’ creativity. Also, it kept my sister and me busy for hours on end. We loved it so much that it also became a cherished tradition at our grandparents’ house.
The concept is simple—make up a story based on 3 random images. Start by picking out 3 images and looking at them. If your grandkids can write, you can take a few minutes separately to write down your stories, and come together after to exchange them.
If you’re looking for a quick-start version of this game, you can use these 3 images; a horse, a colourful alleyway at night, and an orange cut in half. (From left-to-right, photos via Pexels by: Jose Aragones, Sunyu Kim, Delphine Hourlay)
If they are too young to write themselves, you can help them to write, or take turns making up stories out loud. Either way, it’s loads of fun to see the different ways everyone interprets the images.
Before your grandkids come over, select a bunch of images to choose from—this will make it easy to play multiple rounds of the game. They can be photos, cutouts from magazines or newspapers, or images that you print from the internet.
If you’ll be writing, having some pencils and paper ready is important.
Elevate the activity
Putting a time-limit on the writing can be a fun addition to this game. In round one, start by giving them 10 minutes. Next round, try 5 minutes. Keep reducing the time and see what you’re able to come up with.
Another fun way to play the game if you’re not writing the stories down is to take turns acting them out. While one person tells their version of a story, the other participants can silently improvise the roles of each character.
If you love the stories you come up with together, you can take notes and save them for another time. The stories can be saved through either hand-written notes, typed, or recorded on a mobile phone app. If your grandkids are crafty, they may even enjoy “self-publishing” the stories into homemade picture-books.
However you play this game, it’s sure to keep you busy and give you some good laughs!
The fun doesn’t stop
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Having physical limitations doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the time you spend with your grandchildren. These activities are proof that you can still have fun with your grandkids even if you can’t run around with them.
The truth is, quality time is about being present, listening, sharing stories, and laughing together. If you keep this in mind—no matter what activities you choose—you’ll make lasting memories with your grandkids that you’ll all cherish.
Did you try any of these activities out with your grandkids? What did you think? Do you have any fun activities you enjoy with your grandchildren? Share your thoughts on social media!