Working parents scramble to find childcare once school is out. Maybe you are babysitting your grandchildren during summer vacation. Maybe they’ve come for an extended visit? Or maybe it’s business as usual if your grandkids are part of the 25% whose grandparents provide childcare all year long?
Studies show caring for grandkids provides many healthy aging benefits. Intergenerational contact is a real self-esteem boost, and helps seniors feel connected to the community at large. “My grandkids keep me young,” say many grandmas and grandpas. And studies show that grandparents and grandchildren have a beneficial effect on each other’s emotional health, as well.
On the other hand, entertaining the little ones for hours can wear us out—yet, ironically, we might not be getting as much exercise as we should, or the right kind. So, instead of sitting on the couch with the kids binge watching Paw Patrol, add a little more activity to your life and help build the activity habit in the younger family members.
It’s important to limit exercise to activities that are safe for your own health and mobility, but if you’re able, check out these suggestions from the National Institute on Aging for age-appropriate activities for grandparents and kids of every age.
Infants and Toddlers
- Take them for walks in the stroller and rides on your bike. Don’t forget your helmets.
- Play games that get your bodies moving—Wheels on the Bus, Pretend We’re Animals, or Hide and Seek.
- Sign up for baby yoga or exercise classes.
- Try baby-friendly swimming classes.
- Walk to the park and push their swing.
- Jump rope together.
- Build a fort—indoors or out.
- Play catch, kickball, basketball, or soccer.
- Go swimming or biking together.
- Play a video fitness game together and see who wins!
Teens and Young Adults
- Participate in activities that interest them. Try hiking, skating or tennis.
- Go golfing or swimming. Invite them to join you in physical activities that require two people, such as tennis or ping pong.
- Ask them to help you in the garden or with heavy-duty household chores.
And one more thing: be sure to practice good body mechanics when lifting those bundles of joy. Improper lifting can leave you with lower back pain that will bench you from some of those fun activities.
Note: This article is focused on grandparents who provide part-time care for their grandchildren. Today, more grandparents are caring for grandchildren full-time, when parents are deployed with the military, dealing with substance abuse, or otherwise unable to care for their children. If this describes you or someone you know, it’s important to know that resources are available for these custodial grandparents. The AARP offers information and resources for grandfamilies.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on a tip sheet from the National Institute on Aging. Find lots more great senior exercise info in the NIA’s Go4Life website!