Would you believe me if I told you there is a field of science about the importance of surprise for making moments more memorable?

In the past, I’ve shared ideas to emphasize the importance of surprising and delighting your grandchildren. It is one of the keys to building bonds from a distance.

As I was writing this blog post, I realized I have a lifetime of training on this very topic by the absolute King of Surprises: my own grandfather.

Whether it was a funny, unexpected postcard or a surprise visit – he loved creating experiences and special moments for his family. While in my 20s, my Irish cousin and her boyfriend came to visit us in Canada. My Grandpa showed up at our family cottage with a cooler and cooked everyone bacon and eggs – on the BBQ – NO ONE does this in Ireland!

I’ll never forget it.

And this week, we received a wonderful surprise from Oma, my children’s 83 year old grandmother in England. She video messaged us – with bright pink hair!

And by bright, I do mean BRIGHT.

Oma has been threatening to do this for several years but couldn’t convince her hair stylist to do it for her. Also, Gramps was never on board with the idea.

But with the help of a savvy granddaughter, who found pink dye on Amazon and had it delivered, Oma’s dream came true.

One of the best parts was my 5-year old’s reaction:

‘Oma, you look lovely & awesome. Mummy, can I dye my hair blue?

Her grandchildren will talk about it for generations to come

Now, am I suggesting you dye your hair pink? Well no, unless you want to of course!

But I am suggesting you go off script a little and do something unexpected to create a meaningful moment.

There are endless ways to add an element of surprise into the moments you share with your grandchildren from a distance.

The core piece of advice here is to do something unexpected – the reverse of what you would normally do. Go ‘off script’. A few ideas to get you started:

  • If you always send a store-bought birthday card, try creating a homemade one. Make it extra-large so it stands out, decorate it with stickers, lipstick kisses or use labels to write all the things you love about them to stick to the envelope as a decoration.
  • For older grandchildren, surprise them by learning a little-known fact about something they are really interested in – and then surprise them with a random question about it. Maybe it’s about their favourite band, sport, hobby or a famous person they admire.
  • This next one might be hard for some, but if you are not typically an emotional person, write a letter with a bit of emotion in it. They won’t expect it, but they will appreciate every last word – no matter the age! Tell them about the day you found out you were going to be a grandparent, how you felt – or share the moment you felt most proud of them.

Adding something unusual to your interactions with your grandchildren, something that you haven’t done before, increases the chance that the moments will turn into memories.

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared ideas based in surprise and it won’t be the last.

Back in February I shared an idea that grandparents loved – and it was all based on ‘surprise’. Here it is in case you missed it:

Before you send a book to your grandchild, add in some sticky notes to different pages asking them questions about the book or just writing little love notes to your grandchild. They won’t expect to turn the page and see your writing. But they will be surprised, and it will make the book extra special for them.

Have you surprised your grandchildren lately? I’d love to hear your ideas so I can share them with other grandparents.

Happy Connecting!


Photo credit: @jbird2706 via Twenty20