Building the Bond Between Grandparents and Grandkids

Two ways to keep kids and grandparents connected no matter if they are near or far.

The generation gap may seem wide between grandparents and grandchildren, but there is one thing that all humans have in common: a desire to feel useful. From an eager toddler insisting, “I help you!” to an avid octogenarian gardener identifying issues in the backyard, everyone wants to be of use or help to another.

It just so happens to be a wonderful way to connect with family as well.


Family Skill Swap Day

One way to make everyone in the family feel useful and forge a lasting bond is to organize a family Skill Swap Day. This multi-generational exchange of knowledge and skills allows each participant to share what they have honed over the years of their life, whether it is 2 or 72.

Create a Skill Swap Day Invitation

After selecting a time and date, create an invitation for the family that details what they need to do to prepare for the day. Each participant comes up with a skill that they can share with family members and will need to bring the appropriate supplies for everyone to participate in a hands-on way. You can just include immediate family members, or corral the entire bunch with aunts, cousins, great uncles and more. Or create a hybrid in-person/virtual day for ease of far-flung members.

Sample Skills

You could supply a list of ideas to create a jumping off point, but keep the playing field wide open to interpretation. Here are a few sample skills:

  • How to crochet a simple potholder
  • How to set up a three-way FaceTime call
  • How to set up a monthly budget
  • How to finger paint
  • How to use a map
  • How to change a flat tire
  • How to braid hair
  • How to cook scrambled eggs
  • How to do five basic yoga poses

Family Food

Since food brings people together, and many families have recipes or food-based traditions, incorporate this into your Skill Swap Day. Have guests bring their favorites, whether they are homemade or store bought. Does your teen like Takis? Grandma Joan might find a new favorite crunchy snack! Does Uncle Ted adore the muffuletta sandwiches he used to grab at the deli around the corner? Have him share this savory sandwich.

Document the Day

Make sure to take photos and video of each participant while they share their skill. This is a great moment to take candids of family members! If anyone is skilled at video editing, they can create an edited video to share with the family and keep memories fresh. At the end, take a group photo of everyone, which you can print and frame as a holiday gift.


Bonding Activities

  • Take a family baking class at Bake!
  • Volunteer together at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen
  • Attend a public cleanup to Keep Belle Isle Beautiful on the third Saturday of each month
  • Take a walk along the Dequindre Cut Art Walk and have a discussion about your favorite
  • Visit a fall farmers market and plan a picnic with your finds
  • Book a kayak tour with Detroit River Sports, which accommodates families with kids ages 2 and up

Cheryl Leahy is a savvy millennial mom of two who knows how to show her kids a good time — with a lot of style. Follow her on Instagram @cjalldressedup.

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