If you’ve ever spent a day with your grandkids at the park, picking strawberries or even baking cookies, the thought may have crossed your mind:

"I wish they didn’t have to go home so soon!"

While it might not be realistic to keep your grandchildren all the time, consider planning an entire vacation with just you and them. You’ll get a chance to pass on some valuable lessons you have learned over the years. And you can help your adult children, who may be scrambling to find care and activities for their kids over the summer. Here are a few tips for planning a great vacation for you and your grands.

1. What your provincial health-care plan doesn’t cover

Communication is essential to planning a great vacation with your grandchildren. Talk to their parents about ground rules for important subjects such as bed times, treats and discipline. For example, can bedtime be a little later than usual? How long should time-outs be? Are there rules about snacks?

We know it’s difficult to avoid spoiling the kids – that’s part of the fun of being a grandparent. But it’s good to maintain some consistency with their life at home if you’re the primary caretaker for an extended period. You also don’t want to undo the hard work their parents put in throughout the year.

To get the grandkids excited about their vacation with you, involve them in the planning, too. Ask them what they are looking forward to most. Plan a few short overnight stays at your house before the vacation, to get used to spending time together if that will be a new experience.

2. Know your limits

While you’re planning activities for the kids, consider your own energy level (especially if it varies). Chasing the kids for a day or weekend is totally different from chasing them for a week or more, so keep your health and lifestyle in mind before making plans. Think of activities where the kids can run around as much as they want, but you can rest if needed.

If you can’t take all the grandkids at once, try a rotating schedule. Some grandparents take one grandchild per week. That way, they can help out their adult children, spend one-on-one time with each grandchild and not be overwhelmed.

3. Work out the financial details

Taking the kids for a vacation means spending money. Is this trip going to be completely your treat, or will your kids contribute to the costs? If your plans include somewhere like Disney World, those costs could be considerable. Be sure to talk with your kids in advance so everyone knows who’s paying for what, and how much.

If you’re planning to treat your grandchildren, be sure you’re in good enough financial shape to do it. Only offer treats that you can afford without risking your financial security. Your grandkids will value the time they spend with you more than the money you spend on them.

4. Be practical

Summer with the grandkids can be a magical time, but the magic works better if the details are firmly in place. Here are some of the logistics to take care of ahead of time:

  • Buy travel insurance if you’re leaving the country (or even the province).
  • Get permission letters from your adult kids to take the children across the border, or to allow medical treatment, particularly if you and the children have different last names.
  • Get a list of food allergies and a supply of any needed medications, such as an EpiPen. It’s also a good idea to have their health card numbers.
  • Make sure you have a good data plan so your grandchildren can keep in touch with their parents to tell them about their adventures.

Finally, plan for your adult children and in-laws to join you if possible for the last part of your vacation. That way, the kids can transition back to family life more easily, with memories of a fabulous summer that will last a lifetime.

More ideas for vacationing with your grandchildren: