We’ve talked a lot about how important social connectedness can be in maintaining physical and mental wellness as a senior, and even suggested a few ways to get out and get connecting in your community.
But some of the most important relationships in senior life are with family, and today, we’re talking about ways you can build stronger relationships with your grandchildren.
The mental wellness experts at the HelpGuide have plenty of advice on how to make being a better grandparent a healthy part of senior life.
We have the facts on how it can help build brain fitness.
Keep your time happy and safe.
Before your grandkids visit, have a frank conversation with your children to establish guidelines that can help ensure that the time you spend with your grandchildren is free from worry about health and safety.
- Be clear about what role you want to have in your grandchild's life. Grandchildren can be the delight of your golden years, but they can take a lot of time and energy. Make sure your children know, up front, that you can’t babysit if you don’t have the time or energy for long visits or overnight stays.
- Talk about rules. Kids need consistency. They need to have the same set of rules at home and when they’re visiting you. Make sure that you know the behavior limits that have been set for your grandchild, and then enforce them. This means keeping up the consequences for bad behavior, too.
Now that you’ve established some ground rules, make sure that you’re taking advantage of the time you have with your grandchildren.
1. Kick back and enjoy life.
Even though it seems like your grandkids have more energy than you know what to do with, as a grandparent, you have a unique opportunity to just enjoy spending time together. Taking time out to relax is good for building relationships and mental wellness.
You don’t have the same pressures and responsibilities as you did as a parent, so take advantage of the opportunities this freedom offers. Enjoy slower-paced activities that both you and your grandchildren can become absorbed in without feeling rushed. Take the time to finish that whole game of Monopoly or learn a new hobby together.
2. Get outdoors.
Most children love to explore the great outdoors where they can find endless opportunities for excitement and new discoveries. You can use this fascination with nature as a starting point for amazing adventures that can create lasting memories.
A mundane experience like a trip to the park or the beach can become a meaningful experience when you go with your grandchildren. Your regular hike or nature walk becomes an adventure when seen through new eyes; everyday life can hold plenty of unnoticed discoveries that offer many interesting things to talk about.
Children can find pleasure in the smallest things—from skipping stones to collecting shells or beach glass, and you can enjoy outdoor activities with grandkids of any age.
The simple pleasure of honest curiosity isn’t just for kids. Keeping your sense of wonder and curiosity alive can help keep your brain fit no matter you’re age.
3. Share your passions and your history.
Sharing hobbies or interests is a great way to build connections. Hobbies provide an opportunity to spend time together and learn more about each other.
You just might be surprised at the interest your grandchildren may take in your favorite hobbies.
Knitting, gardening, or other handicrafts can open a whole new dimension in your relationship. And try taking an interest in their favorite activities. You may just find that you enjoy the game or book series that’s taken up so much of your grandchild’s free time.
Is there anything that kids like more than asking questions or hearing stories?
Keep your mind sharp and indulge their curiosity at the same time by sharing stories about your family history or things you’ve learned. The recall and concentration required to tell a story engages the brain on all levels which helps to keep your brain fit.
Spend time with your grandchildren this summer; strengthening your connections to family could be the step you need to take for mental wellness and a better quality of senior living.
Image Credit: Dakota Kingfisher