Old Or Young, Caregiving Goes Both Ways

Caregiving goes both ways. As a parent and grandparent, the possibilities are endless for spending more time with family. Here are some ideas for how to make it work.

As we get older and reflect on our lives, one of the regrets that many seniors report is not having spent enough time with their extended family. When we hit retirement and start to slow down from the pace of life, it’s a perfect time to strengthen connections with our children and their children. As a parent and grandparent, the possibilities are endless for spending more time with family. Here are some ideas for how to make it work.

Pitch In

The odds are good that your children and your grandkids are all leading pretty busy lives, so the best way to fit ourselves into their hectic schedules is to pitch in and help with their lives. You may not think they have time for you, but take the initiative and offer help. We can help our children parent their children, and strengthen the family bonds while bringing more relaxation – and fun – into everyone’s lives. Bring something to the party, and you’ll be welcome.

Helping others is one of the most rewarding things that humans can do, and we gain in fulfillment as we help our family. And not to sound cynical, but as an extra benefit for us, as we help the younger ones cope with their lives we increase the likelihood that they will be there for us as we enter our declining years.

No More Latchkey

Whether your grandchildren attend daycare or preschool, you can volunteer to drop them off and pick them up. Even if you can’t make this a daily task, you can still do it a day or two each week.

And if your grandchildren ride the school bus, nothing is better for kids than to have their family waiting for them when they come home from school, so arrange to be at the house or bus stop in the afternoons. Take them for an ice cream or bake some cookies together. And if you can, consider making dinner on some days so that everyone – including your working adult children – can sit down together for a hot family meal.

You can also help with taking the grandchildren to soccer games, dance practice, or other activities they’re involved in. Don’t over-exert yourself if you’re getting on the frail side – have fun but keep an eye on the medical alert smartwatch for any warning signs. If you can help here, hang around during practice and games to cheer them on. Taking an interest in your grandchildren’s activities and helping build their confidence can bring you even closer.

Help With Education

Help with homework as much as possible. Grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share, from bringing history to life through relevance and storytelling to home economic skills that have been abandoned over time. Though you don’t always want to be in teaching mode, throwing some education in can greatly benefit your grandchildren.

Your knowledge and wisdom can go a step further if you choose. People have been homeschooling for some time, but it has become even more popular in recent years. However, it can be challenging for parents to do on their own. You can relieve some of the burden from your children who already homeschool or help them transition their kids from public school to homeschooling. Your involvement can be anything from managing one class to managing the teaching completely.

For those who love to volunteer, you can take this to an entirely new level by setting up a learning pod in your community. Learning pods are homeschool groups in which teaching, supplies, field trips, and various other things are shared between other parents with the same idea. They provide students with the opportunity to socialize and broaden their horizons. They also give parents a break. Grandparents can share their knowledge and wisdom with the whole group of students that they might not receive elsewhere.

Remote Connections

If you and the rest of the family live far away from each other, this communication age has the solution. Get involved with Zoom or other video conferencing, and embrace the same social media platforms that your grandchildren gravitate towards and communicate there. Keeping the grandkids engaged for an hour or two helps out their parents with some welcome free time.

And if you don’t already live close to your children and grandchildren, consider a move. The closer you are in proximity, the more opportunities you have to grow close. You might also consider multi-generational housing – sell a house and combine households in one home, or sell both homes and move into a bigger one for everyone. If you’re thinking of remodeling to age in place in your current home, this may be even easier.

Multi-generational, households are on the rise in America, and on balance the reports are good – oldsters and youngsters live well together, with the middle group pleased to have the burdens lightened. If you choose to go with multi-generational housing, it’s wise to look into living wills and trusts, joint ownership, tax implications of multi-income housing, and splitting the costs.

Have an attorney draw up a clear agreement to prevent unnecessary arguments with your loved ones and ensure everyone is protected. An attorney or tax specialist can also help the people who may become your future caregivers understand the benefits available to them for providing that care. Being present for your family now is an emotional investment in your own future. Giving selflessly and building strong bonds with your loved ones will significantly increase the possibility that they’ll be there to care for you when the time comes.

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