Despite getting wiser with age, isn’t there always going to be a piece of us that misses the blissful naivete of childhood? Running around in firelit lawns with sparklers, searching for seashells at a cousin’s shore house, creating Picassos at summer camp arts and crafts… these moments are ones illuminated in the depths of our hippocampus. And often these memories of youth that bring back simpler times, can get lost as we embark in the turbulent waters of adult life. Yet, there is a way to reclaim those moments, and it comes in the form of grandchildren.
One of the best summer grandparent/grandkid outings available, going to the beach or a lakeshore is a great excuse to get away from the heat and traffic for a day and give the grandkids a fun experience. There’s always joy to be found in building sand castles, playing beach paddle ball and dipping your toes in the refreshingly cool shore waters. Additionally, if you are a member of a beach club, often grandkids are welcomed for free, making for an affordable and seamless trip.
Plant a Garden
Gardening is one activity that is sure to boost serotonin levels for both seniors and their grandkids. I mean after all, does playing in the dirt ever really get old? Gardening is a great activity to do with the little ones because it’s something you invest in and watch grow together. It also provides an ample learning opportunity for the young ones, where they can begin to appreciate the importance of sustainability and natural processes, as well as nature’s capacity for beauty. The health benefits that seniors receive from gardening are an added pro. Mycobacterium vaccae, the bacteria found in garden soil, can actually improve your immune system. This “friendly” bacteria has been known to alleviate symptoms of allergies, asthma and psoriasis. Additionally, gardening requires critical functions such as dexterity and sensory awareness, leading experts to believe it reduces the risk of dementia. Improvement of motor skills, endurance and strength is to be expected as well. Lastly, gardening can lower cortisol (“the stress hormone”) levels in your brain and increase serotonin levels, making for a happy garden and senior.
Arts & Crafts
Ty-dyeing a shirt will forever remain one of the best summer activities. The possible outcomes are endless and the process itself is a fun-filled mess. Requiring nothing more than a white t-shirt, a plastic tarp or table cover to contain the mess, gloves, dye, rubber bands and a gallon sized zip-lock bag, this arts and crafts staple will light up the eyes of kids and seniors alike. You can find a full list of other crafts ideas here: https://www.greatseniorliving.com/articles/crafts-for-seniors.
Rainy Day Audibles
Who doesn’t like the occasional rainy day during the hot months of summer? Take the day as an excuse to spend quality indoor time with your grandkids. Put on a classic Western or a timeless masterpiece that the grandkids will appreciate as much as you did growing up. Even with all that new tech, there’s just something about old school movies that can never be recreated. Not in the mood for a movie? See the blustery afternoon as an opportunity to teach your grandkids a new card game. Queens and Bridge, among others, are games that might become lost upon the new generations unless passed on. Sometimes the ample sunshine and blooming plants, for all they offer, can create a sense of guilt in us when we aren’t in the mood to go outside or be active for a day. Use those rainy days, that break from the sweating pavement, as a way to relax while still making the most of your time.
Bikes and Hikes
There’s no point in having one of those family-tree stickers on your back windshield if you aren’t going to recreate it. Go march in the woods with the youngins and sing campfire songs! Biking and hiking are great activities to do with grandkids, especially since you might pace at similar rates. No, you don’t have to go hike Denali, but maybe a walk in the park is enough to get the blood flowing and to tire out the grandkids. Biking and hiking obviously both have a wide range of physical and mental benefits, the difference with biking being the added benefit of strengthening muscles specifically designed to help maintain balance.
These activities are a sure way to bond with your grandkids and enjoy the summer. “Taking them off the hands” of their parents and having your own dream filled day of nostalgia is one that benefits all parties involved. Your grandkids will appreciate the time spent with you, and you can revisit simpler times with the best company around.