The 15 Things You Absolutely Must Do With Your Grandchild Before They Turn 18

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As a grandma, you know how fast time goes and how accurate the cliche “the days are long, but the years are short” saying is. As a mom, I often underestimated just how quickly the time would go, so you better believe that now that I am grandma, I am taking mental notes of everything I want to see and do with my grandkids before they turn 18. Here are a few things off of this bucket list (of sorts):

1. Have a sleepover 

Playing with Nana on "The Big Bed"
Flickr/Megan Hemphill (Prairie & Co)

Sleepovers at grandma’s house are a given, but I am talking about intentional one-on-one time with just grandma and grandchild, complete with special snacks, games, movies, and surprises. This is a fun tradition in our family that builds our bond and creates special memories for both of us!

2. Plant a garden 

Fenced-in, backyard garden
Flickr/Jason Pettis

Whether they live nearby and can help with its maintenance or are only around to plant or harvest, sharing a garden is a fun hobby that not only gives you outdoor time but teaches the importance of hard work, patience, and appreciation of where we get our food.

3. Take a trip 

Family posing on vacation
Flickr/Gayle Esterly

Whether mom and dad are included is optional (we always invite them along – their presence makes the outing a little more manageable for me!), but vacations with the grand’ are the best! So far, we have traveled to the mountains, beach, and Disney, but a trip can be as easy as dinner and a hotel stay in the closest city. (We have also been on several multi-state road trips for weddings – yes, these things count!)

4. Take a class together 

Grandma knitting with the grandchildren

Whether it’s a one-time pottery class or ongoing yoga classes, learning something new together is a simple thing you can each carry with you for the rest of your lives.

5. Ice cream for dinner 

Grandma and grandson eating icecream

You know you would have LOVED this as a kid, so why not surprise your grandchild with that? Trust me: it is a dinner and memory that they will never forget. 

6. A “yes” day 

Child picking out candy from Grandma's stash
Flickr/Chiot’s Run

I see your ice cream for dinner and challenge you to expand upon it for the entire day, meaning if they ask for cookies for breakfast, you go along with it. Does your grandchild want to run around the McDonald’s play place while wearing a tutu and an eye patch? Why not? Pizza in the living room while binge-watching Disney Jr.? Well, you get the idea! A yes day is going along with whatever your grandchild requests (as long as it is safe and within your means).

7. Share a hobby 

Crafts with Grandma

I sound like a broken record with this one, but sharing a hobby with your grandchild is so fun and special and gives your grandchild something they can do for the rest of their lives! (It’s different with each of my grandkids, but a few we share are birdwatching, rock collecting/arrowhead hunting, and baking.)

8. Play a sport 

Playing sports with Grandma
Flickr/Chris Gladis

Get active with your grandkids! It doesn’t have to be something intense like football or basketball (unless you want to, of course), but something a little slower-paced like golfing or bowling.

9. Attend an event 

Grandchild in the Nutcracker
Flickr/jandclindenbaum photos

If you have a grandchild who loves musicals, get tickets to see a live play. Does your grandchild eat, sleep, and breathe sports? Watch a high school, college, or professional sports team in person. Is your little buckaroo obsessed with cowboys? A rodeo may be just the thing! The possibilities with this one are truly endless!

10. Go apple picking 

Apple picking

Are there no orchards nearby? No problem, as this can easily be swapped for pumpkins, strawberries, raspberries, flowers, etc.

11. Take a hike 

Hiking in Yellowstone

There is nothing quite like bonding over nature, no matter your age! Find a nearby trail that boasts your preferred length, and then spend the day exploring, meandering, and collecting any cool rocks, leaves, or sticks you find along the way. Oh, and don’t forget your camera!

12. Create a time capsule 

Assorted items going into a time capsule
Flickr/jessica wilson {jek in the box}

How fun would it be to create a time capsule that you can open in 5 or 10 years? To do this, collect newspaper clippings, take pictures, write down thoughts or questions about the future, and add trinkets to a box that will remain sealed until an agreed-upon date. When that date arrives, open the package together and get ready to laugh and smile.

13. Sit back and watch them 

Up-close photo of Grandma
Flickr/Mazda Hewitt

This one is more for you than for them, but grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and take them all in. Admire how adorable they look, how sweet their little voice is, and how darn smart they are when they build Legos/play Barbies/read/draw/insert activity here. You know how quickly time goes, so soak in every little thing while they’re still young. 

14. Volunteer

Workers at a soup kitchen
Flickr/Sam Beebe

Serving together is a powerful thing and is so crucial for our grandchildren to see and experience. That said, sign up to run a booth together at the church carnival, work side by side at a soup kitchen, or play with the dogs/clean out cages at your local animal shelter. 

15. Spend as much time together as you possibly can 

Grandparents with all the grandchildren
Flickr/David B. Gleason

Like your kids, the older your grandkids get, the busier they are, so be sure to soak up as much time together as you possibly can (especially when they are younger)!

What am I missing? Let me know! I hope this gives you some ideas of things to do before your grandchild turns 18. Now, what are you waiting for? Go make memories! 

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