Being a Grandma can be hard. It used to be all we had to do was bake cookies and we were great. But now, we are always competing with devices. It can be difficult to find things to do with your grandchildren that you both enjoy and that will hold their attention. And, when you throw in a pandemic, it compounds the problem.
For the last couple of years, I have held a "camp" at my home for my grandkids. Once a week, we got together and did crafts, made food, talked and played. I got to know them and they got to know me. Then came the Covid. Suddenly, to stay safe, we had to stay apart. It was devastating and depressing. I decided to take "Camp Nanabanana" online.
Each week, we schedule time to do something together over Zoom. I keep it at an hour or less because all of us are "zoomed out" by the end of the week. The kids are doing remote learning and I am working from home with lots of time spent online.
Last week, we made a simple bird feeder.
I try to keep my online projects easy, simple and inexpensive. I deliver packages of the needed ingredients to each grandkid. They are close enough for me to door drop but if they lived out of my local area it would take extra planning to mail or coordinate with parents to provide.
First, find pinecones. I like to walk and I found plenty of pinecones in a local cemetery. I scooped up plenty because I have several more projects planned that involve pinecones.
Next, tie a string at the top of the pinecone. Spread peanut butter all over the pinecone. Then, roll the pinecone in a bowl of birdseed. It's that simple.
I attached a couple of finished bird feeders to existing bird feeders. They were not stable and the birds spun around much like squirrels flung off a "Yankee Flipper". So, I next attached the feeders to trees and bushes and they loved them.
I also made a laminated bird cheat sheet to give to each grandchild. If we had been able to get together in person, I would have loved working together to make the sheet. It's designed to keep near a window to help the kids identify the birds that land on the pinecone feeder. It would have been fun to talk about the characteristics of each bird and take a bird watching hike around our little acreage.
I simply put together a few pictures of birds common to our area and laminated it. As I put the sheets through the laminator, my husband said, "What is that strange smell?"
I responded, "It's the smell of a middle aged woman having fun".
"It kind of reminds me of the smell of the mimeograph machine in grade school," he said.
It's a memory and a smell that only those of our generation can pull to mind.
Once you start spending time with someone of any age, you can quickly learn the details of their life. You can go from "How's school" with the obligatory and boring answer of "Fine", to "How did your project with Sarah go?"
Just like any relationship, it takes asking a lot of questions and learning the names of all the important players. I try to listen more than I talk. If conversation slows down, have a silly question in mind to help prompt the kids to open up.
One thing I have found they love is funny stories about their own parents at their same age. It's fun to relive those years with an appreciative audience. And, I think it helps them relate to their parents as people who experienced the same type of problems they encounter. Many conversations have started with "I remember when your Mom was about your age she used to really like to..."
While the projects are fun, the real point is to talk and enjoy each others company. It's like a "book club" without the book or "Girls Night Out" without the wine. The projects are an excuse to get together and keep our hands busy while we socialize.
If you are looking for more tips and projects, consider buying my ebook "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Survival Guide" filled with easy, inexpensive projects to do with your grandchildren found at: www.campnanabanana.com/
Below are some products which you may find helpful in making this project. If you make a purchase using this link, I may make a small commission. If you don't want to make your own bird cheat sheet, I think this National Geographic kids bird guide would make a wonderful gift. And, I highly recommend the Scotch brand no jam thermal laminator.