From a grandkid who was thoroughly exhausting.

By Abigail Wilt
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Wilt Family Grandparents
My grandparents taught us how to pose for a photo.
| Credit: The Wilt Family

One of my fondest memories as a child was spending time with my grandparents. Because they lived almost ten hours away from us, every trip was an exciting adventure. Our favorite summer tradition? My grandparents would pack me, my brother, and sister into their silver Buick, hand us each a mini water bottle and a packet of tissues, and take us to the nearby amusement park. My PopPop would sit on the bench outside the ride taking as many pictures of our blurry little faces as he could, and then we'd all laugh over park food and run around until our feet were sore. Grandparents are a special breed; they have a way of spoiling us with love and finding countless ways to make the grandkids laugh.

Although my grandparents are older now, we still love to get together whenever we can to spend time at the beach, eat breakfast at the same spot they've been going for 50 years, and walk around the mall (while PopPop sits on the bench complaining that he's always "waitin" on us women').

Spending time with your grandparents – and, conversely, your grandkids – is a joy that should never be taken for granted. If you're lucky enough to get a week with your favorite people, there are a few things that you won't want to forget about. Although I'm not yet a grandmother, my grandparents were always incredibly prepared for the occasion. Here are some of the details that made a huge difference.

First Aid Supplies In The Car

Once, when we were walking in a store parking lot, my younger brother – he was probably 6 or 7 at the time – walked straight into a tree. No one could have anticipated that accident, but my grandmother whipped out her sterile wipes and bandages. and it was over before it happened.

Plenty of Water

This goes both ways. One of you ­– either yourself or your grandchild – is going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It doesn't hurt to keep an extra few bottles ready to go in the fridge, or even in the car, in case of emergencies. If you know you're going out for the day, you may want to bring a little cooler and leave it in the trunk.

Car Activities

I didn't grow up in the days of 10-year-olds with smartphones on road trips, but us grandkids had a lot of fun writing down Mad Libs, drawing on Wooly Willy, and competing in license plate bingo. If you're planning a lengthy – and, two hours is certainly lengthy for a kid – trip, have a couple family geared games or books that cut down on the headphones-for-the-whole-ride situation.

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You could argue that this is a crucial part of any week with kids. My grandma still brings goldfish crackers on our trips to the mall in case I get hungry, and I love her even more for that. To make things simpler, portion out a few snacks into small, zip-top bags. Then, you can just toss a bag toward hungry eyes instead of having to worry about handfuls of pretzel sticks trailing their way through the science museum.

A Go-To Movie

Plans inevitably fall through, and, even though playing outside is an option, a rainy day can be just as fun indoors with some popcorn and a great movie. If you have grandkids of varying ages, try picking out a movie in advance that could span the age gap. Maybe there's a cartoon that you loved when you were younger that you want to share with them. It never hurts to have a great movie as a back-up plan.


Don't roll your eyes – having enough energy to keep up with grandkids is a big deal no matter what age you are. My grandparents were great about stopping into every single store in the outlet mall so my sister and I could try on lip glosses, although I'm sure they were tired of it after the first 10 shops. I think the key to having energy is being okay with setting some boundaries, especially when it comes to bedtime. If there's a big day ahead, don't feel badly about saying, "Oh look, it's 9 p.m.! Time to rest up for tomorrow!" Be mindful of self-care so that you can enjoy every waking minute with your grandkids to the fullest.