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Generation game is not about perfection, but precious time

As many grandparents look forward to Christmas and what is often the only chance to see their grandchildren, Gransnet has some ideas for intergenerational festive fun

By Lisa Salmon

Many of the 53% of grandmas and grandpas who see their grandchildren only once a year or at special events enjoy that rare meeting at Christmas and, not surprisingly, research suggests nearly two-thirds (61%) of them are unhappy with their level of input with their grandchildren.

"There are many grandparents who only get to see their grandchildren at Christmas, usually due to living many miles, even continents, apart," explains Cari Rosen, editor of the social networking website for grandparents, Gransnet.

"We hear from many grandparents who find it heartbreaking that distance keeps them apart from their families for so much of the year, so when you do get the opportunity to be together, don't let the what-ifs and regrets ruin it.

"This can pile on even more pressure for everything to be perfect on Christmas Day, so it's important to remember that enjoying your time together is all that matters."

Although many grandparents would happily spend Christmas time with their grandchildren watching festive TV, going for a walk to burn off Christmas dinner or simply playing cards or other traditional games, today's kids are more than likely to want to play on their computer, tablet or mobile phone, especially if they got it for Christmas.

But that doesn't necessarily mean grandparents have to be left out of the picture. "We have grans who have really got into things such as Minecraft by playing or learning with their grandchildren, and our users have also shared so many recommendations that we've put the best ones on one handy page," explains Rosen.

"The idea that older people can't handle smartphones and tablets is a bit of a generalisation and by no means always accurate. That said, they do really love a board game too."

Rosen warns those grandparents looking forward to seeing their grandchildren after a long time apart that they don't have to make Christmas a laugh-a-minute for the kids. Just spending time with them and helping them play with their new toys - if they let you - will be enough.

"We know from Gransnet discussions that Christmas can be fraught, especially if large families are confined to small spaces for long periods," she says.

"The intensity can be multiplied when there are grandchildren who you might not see often. After all, if it's the only time you get to spend together, it has to be perfect, doesn't it? Well, actually, no."

She points out that quality time with grandchildren, especially little ones, can be messy, noisy and chaotic and will still be wonderful.

"There are few parents who won't thank you for offering to try out the new toys and games while they get a bit of downtime," Rosen says.

"Then there are new books to read and kits to build. And deciding what to do with a mountain of uneaten turkey can involve everyone - an intergenerational Come Dine With Me turkey fest could be just what you're after."

For grandparents willing to give apps a try with their grandchildren, Gransnet suggests:

- Story Patch (iPhone)

Allows children to create their own themed tale, and is paired with a choice of over 800 illustrations. Great for boosting youngsters' creativity, with the help of grandma or grandad.

- Drawing with Carl (iPhone)

Perfect for an afternoon of creative interaction with your grandchild. All pictures created with the help of this app can be shared between devices, enabling you to treasure them long afterwards.

- Zero to Three - Let's Play (iPhone, Android)

This great app features boredom-busters and provides fun ideas categorised by age group. It's really great for grandparents to use to entertain babies and toddlers. Or you could try an app from Amazon Underground, a free app store with no in-app purchases.

- 2 Player Games Collection (Android)

Features seven traditional games including Tic Tac Toe, Battleship, chess and Connect 4, which can be played by one or two players on screen or between devices via Bluetooth.

- Simon Rising (Android)

A classic memory game with 3D graphics and four levels of difficulty and simple controls. Just remember the colour sequence and then repeat it by tapping the right button. Easy fun for all the family.

- Mister Maker: Let's Make It! - Design, Draw, Paint, Make and Play (iPhone, Android)

Allows kids, with the help of granny and granddad if they'd like, to imagine and create an unlimited number of pictures and designs using the hundreds of colours, materials and special effects available from the Doodle Drawers.

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