Why looking after the grandchildren is good for you (and them)

Gran holds baby chick in her hand, granddaughter watches, arms round her neck

Helen Stirrup, occupational health advisor at Stannah, lists the ways younger family members can do you good…

Grandparents are devoting more time to their grandchildren than ever due to the demands of modern life. Nine million grandparents are spending on average more than eight hours a week as child carers.

Running around after the little ones may feel like a big ask at times. Even so, Gransnet research found that 80% of the one in six grandparents who took early retirement or finished paid employment to help look after the grandchildren said that the sacrifice was worth it. Here are five reasons why:

They help you live longer

Grandparents over 70 who regularly look after their grandchildren are 37% more likely to enjoy a longer life than those the same age who don’t. Looking after your grandchildren can give you real purpose in retirement, whether it be planned day trips or just the unconditional love.

From this you can reap the reward of longer vitality, meaning more time to enjoy yourself once the kids have grown up!

Elderly couple and two children aged 8-10 pose smiling in a rural play park

They will learn a lot from you…

We like to think that we will be some sort of inspiration to our grandchildren, and Stannah’s research proves this to be true, with two thirds of young people admitting to being more inspired by their own grandparents than celebrities.

So not only do grandchildren view their grandparents as role models, but they will also grow up with healthier, and less ageist attitudes towards the elderly.

…and vice versa (you’re never too old to learn something new!)

On the flipside, you can learn equally as much from your grandchildren as they learn from you.

For example, the younger generation are great with technology, so getting them to teach you a simple hack on your iPad or making a silly video is a great excuse to spend more time together.

They will keep you on your toes

A study found that when older women spent one day a week looking after grandchildren, their mental ability was higher, and their cognitive scores improved. In which case, looking after children in old age can have brain boosting effects, as well as improving wellbeing and mental health.

Even when it is not easy to physically be around your grandchildren, socially engaging on Skype can be just as beneficial.

Charming, pretty, stylish, modern grandmother sitting on sofa in living room at home, doing online shopping through 3G internet, having smart phone in hands

If you can’t meet, Facetime or Skype! Pic: Shutterstock

You will be fit as a fiddle

We all know that looking after kids is exhausting, but it also keeps you fit! Children are bundles of energy, with 58% of grandparents said to engage in sports, exercise and gardening with their grandchildren. This can provide fantastic benefits for your physical health, to keep you strong and supple for longer.

As the anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote, “Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being.” This mutually beneficial relationship carries immense value.