Steven Selvathurai thinks he has the best gig in the world. When his wife is at work, the 65-year-old retiree spends weekday mornings catching up on the latest world news in print and online before meeting friends for kopi-O. At 1pm, Steven picks up his 3-year-old grandson, Nicholas, at a nearby preschool.
“I’m happy to do it and look forward to it,” says Steven who has another two grandkids. “Nicholas reminds me a lot of me when I was a child, so we get along very well. In fact, I miss him during the weekends when he doesn’t come over.”
It’s a boon when working parents can rely on the grandparents for babysitting support. They not only have peace of mind knowing their children are in reliable and capable hands, junior also love being doted on by their grandparents, especially since grandpa and grandma always have chocolates!
On their part, grandparents who have play a role in their grandchildren’s lives also enjoy pretty good perks!
When people are exposed to more touches, their inflammatory cells decreases and white blood cells ― also known as fighter cells ― increases, which boosts good health.
BENEFIT #1 You live longer
These grandparents live five years longer than those who never babysit. A study of 500 people aged 70 and over, by Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, found that grandparents who occasionally cared for their grandkids had a 37 per cent reduced risk of dying in the next 10 years. For those who didn’t babysit, half died within five years. Experts say helping others acts as a stress buffer, releases the love hormone oxytocin and also strengthens bonds between people. Unsure of where their golden years are taking them, these retirees also rediscover a sense of purpose when they babysit little ones. This boosts their self-esteem, keeping them happy and healthy.
BENEFIT #2 You’re more mentally and physically fit
A 2014 study by the Women’s Health Aging Project in Australia found that post-menopausal women who cared for their grandkids at least once a week displayed better cognitive abilities than their peers and also lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Experts attribute this to the social engagement that takes place between grandparents and grandkids. Coddling and cuddling can also boost your immune system. When people are exposed to more touches, their inflammatory cells decreases and white blood cells ― also known as fighter cells ― increases, which boosts good health. Active young ones also encourage the older generation to stay fit. Steven notes, “My grandson loves being outside, so we spend a lot of time talking walks or playing with his water table. Now, I’m teaching him how to ride a bike. All these things keep me active.”
BENEFIT #3 You feel young again
Nothing makes you feel young and curious again like experiencing the world through a kid’s eyes. Everything is new to them and the excitement they project is very contagious, especially when grandpa and grandma get to join in the fun of playing with their grandkids. Tossing a ball in the playground, swimming, even making trips to theme parks or the zoo – it’s like reliving their childhood once again. The little ones have brains like sponges and learn something new every day, and are eager to share these lessons with everyone around them. This means that the gramps learn something new through their grandchildren, which sharpens their brains and keeps them updated as well.
BENEFIT #4 You get to relive being a parent
Being around grandkids help the older generation return to the “good old days” when their own children were small, innocent and cute! “I miss the days when my children were young and very close to us. Having grandkids around reminds me of those days,” says Steven.
“I miss the days when my children were young and very close to us. Having grandkids around reminds me of those days.”
BENEFIT #5 You develop a special friendship with the grandkids
Something is very special about a grandparent-grandchild relationship. The older generation may have been all business with their own children when they were younger. But with the grandkids, it’s mostly fun and games. Having grandpa or grandma around to “protect” them from their own parents (and that rigid 8pm bedtime routine), makes kids love their grandparents even more. The close bond forged builds a bridge of trust between grandparent and grandchild that lasts a lifetime.
BENEFIT #6 It will bring you closer to your own children
Witnessing your own children become parents is one of life’s greatest achievements. Being there when your daughter gives birth, imparting sage parenting advice like “it’s just a phase” can bring grandparents and their own children closer. In fact, many young mums and dads agree that after having kids, they not only understand their own parents better, they now share things in common. Jacintha Cheng, 32, mum to Allison, 5 months, and Andrew, 4, concurs. “I’ve definitely grown closer to my parents after the kiddos came along because now I know what it’s like being a parent. I also share all the antics my children get up to with my parents, so we always have something to talk about.”
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