Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Grandma and Grandpa's Toy Box

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Grandma and Grandpa's Toy Box

Article excerpt

Grandma doesn't want to trip over little cars and Legos, have her guests maneuver around the giant play kitchen or try to find a spot for their glass around a bunch of Transformers on her coffee table.

"When your grandchildren aren't there, you usually don't want your house to look like it's that kid-friendly," said Marion Conway, a North Jersey grandma blogger. "When you have young children of your own, your house looks kid-friendly 24 hours a day. Your friends' [houses] do and that's just the way it is. But once you don't have little ones all the time, you like to have things you keep at your house that you can easily put away and take out and aren't things that take up a lot of space."

Purchasing the right toys to keep at the house for grandkid visits can be tricky. There are other issues beyond easy storage, said Conway, who writes about varied grandparenting topics on her blog, The Grandma Chronicles, where she'll also post toy reviews.

When it comes to toy purchases for the grandparents' home, consider not only the age of the child but the age and mobility of the grandparent, the amount of time they spend together, the grandparents' income and both generations' interests.

Trudy Heerema of Wyckoff has nine grandchildren ages 4 to 15. Most of them live within 10 minutes of her -- "I like my chicks close," she said. They go to her house every Sunday for dinner and visit frequently during the week so she needs to be well-stocked with things to do.

"I always try to have toys at my house that my kids don't have at their house, so it's something unique when they come over," said Heerema, a licensed social worker who teaches a grandparenting class for Valley Hospital.

Nothing too big, though, and no Play-Doh at her house. She has markers, crayons, paper and a dry erase board.

"My grandkids do a lot of drawing at my house," she said. "I doubt they do it at their house. They make cards and do self- portraits and they hang stuff on my refrigerator."

Roberta Nagelhout of Ringwood has two grandsons, age 7 and 9. The older one loves sports and plays baseball, basketball and football with his grandfather. He also likes to play chess and Yahtzee at their house. But, most of all, he and his brother love a tent their grandparents set up for them inside.

"It's easy to disassemble," said Nagelhout, who sends the boys in with a lantern and some toys and games.

Heerema can go to the park, playground and beach with her grandchildren and get on the floor to play games. Conway, on the other hand, doesn't want to play on the floor anymore because getting up is too difficult. She and her grandson do a lot at the table -- currently spending time with Trash Pack, a small collectible item.

"That's a very easy thing for him and I to do together," Conway said. "We can play with that and be interactive and it's not consuming a lot of energy and it doesn't require getting on the floor. …

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