My kids are blessed with awesome grandparents. There’s my husband’s parents, Grammy and Papa J, who live in town, and my parents, Grandma and Grandpa M, who live about 7 hours south. All four grandparents love my kids and want to spend as much time as they can with them. They love the giggles, the smiles, the creative ramblings… all of it.
However, both grandpas have Multiple Sclerosis, and my dad has had some other serious health issues. My mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor whose chemo did no favors for her joints. My mom has had her knees replaced a few times; a drunk driver plowed her over when she was in college. They aren’t old, but they’re no spring chickens either. With her bad knees, there’s no way my mom is getting down on the ground for a blanket picnic with my kids. And my dad can’t walk or stand for long periods of time. Running after a kid is out of the question for just about all of them.
When my parents came up over Memorial Day weekend — a GORGEOUS Memorial Day weekend, mind you — I knew I wanted to spend time outside. I didn’t want the whole weekend to consist of playing kitchen or doctor in the family room. I wanted my kids to get some fresh air and sun. I wanted their laughs to bounce off the trees and come back blended with bird songs. I wanted to sit outside with my coffee and watch them play. But what could we do with my parents who have limited mobility? We couldn’t play tag or have a classic blanket-on-the-grass tea party. We couldn’t go hiking or running through a park. I had to think of something that would get the kids outside so they could burn energy, but that wouldn’t be to exerting for my parents.
So I came up with this list. We didn’t do everything on this list over Memorial Day weekend, but it’s a list we can revisit as time goes on.
9 Summer Outdoor Activities for Grandparents with Limited Mobility
- The Playground. The park has benches! Find a park where the playground is close to the parking area, and watch your grandkid from the bench. Kids don’t need you to hover over them as they play; just watch and listen for the giggles!
- A Picnic or a Tea Party. Use the patio table, or bring out a folding card table. No need to get up and down off of a picnic blanket. You can have all of the fun of an outdoor meal (or a pretend outdoor meal) without the difficulties of getting up and down off the ground.
- Hide and Seek. This involves a little moving, and perhaps some standing for a while, but it’s low-impact and easy to do for a short while. The kid gets to chase around the yard looking for you, and you get to chill in one place. Not bad.
- The Drive-In. This retro style of entertainment is making a comeback. Find a drive-in, get an overpriced bucket of popcorn and enjoy the summer night. If you really want to be outside, bring some folding chairs and blankets and sit in front of your car. But don’t forget the bug spray. Those mosquitos can get pretty nasty after dark!
- The Farmer’s Market. This one requires a bit more walking, but it can be done. If you can walk for a bit, put the kid in a stroller and push them. That’ll give you something to lean on, provide extra balance, and has the added benefit of a basket underneath to hold your fresh goodies. Some Farmer’s Markets have places to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or fresh baked good, so if you need to rest, pull up a chair — and a muffin — and take a break. If you can’t walk far, consider bringing your power chair or scooter. The look on your grandkid’s face when they bite into a super fresh strawberry is worth it.
- I Spy. This game requires no running, standing, or exertion. Have everyone pull up a chair in the backyard, and just start spying. This is especially great for younger kids who are learning about adjectives. Encourage them to use as many “describing words” as they can to clue you in on what they’re spying.
- The Amusement Park. I’m blessed to be living in Northeast Wisconsin, where we have Bay Beach. It’s basically carnival rides, but permanently affixed and open all summer. My parents took my kids to Bay Beach and they could sit and watch while the kids went on rides. You probably don’t live where I do. So take a look around, and see if you can find somewhere that has go carts, pony rides, or a Tilt-a-Whirl. Or maybe you take them to the local mall and they ride a quarter-operated rocking car. You know, assuming they’re young enough to think that’s the best thing at the mall. Once they’re old enough to want to actually shop there, you may have to reconsider.
- Fly a Kite. If it’s a good, windy day, take the kiddos out to fly kites. A decent kite can be launched without running through the park (though, for a kid, that’s the best part!), so you can bring a chair for yourself and take a seat once the kite is launched.
- Garden. Teach kids about how plants grow, where vegetables and fruit come from, and get outside. If bending over or kneeling isn’t going to work for you, but you still love gardening, consider getting raised garden bed. You can buy kits that are easy to assemble, or consider calling a local fraternity or sorority; they have to do community service to keep their charter. And once you have your raised garden bed, you can enjoy it for years!
So get outside! Get those grandkids outside and enjoy a game of I Spy or Hide and Seek. Summers are all too short in my neck of the woods, so we’ve got to enjoy every minute of them that we can.
Are there other activities you’ve thought of that I didn’t include? Comment below to share your ideas with everyone!