How much time do you spend with your grandchildren?
Are you childminder in the week and during the school holidays?
Are you the school-run taxi? Babysitter at weekends?
If so, then you are reaping some wonderful and unexpected rewards…
1 They help you live longer
Grandparents over the age of 70 who regularly look after their grandchildren are 37% more likely to enjoy a longer life than those of the same age who don’t.
They say that looking after your grandkids can give you real purpose in your retirement, whether it be planned day trips or just the unconditional love.
2 They will learn a lot from you
Who better to learn amazing worldly facts, history and other great skills from than those who have been around a while?
Helen says, ‘We like to think we will be some sort of inspiration to our grandchildren, with two thirds of young people admitting to being more inspired by their very 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.’
According to the Society For Research In Child Development, stereotypes that lead to prejudice and discrimination against older people occurs frequently in young adults, and can be seen in children as young as three.
So keep ploughing all that wonderful knowledge into their brains.
3 You’ll learn something new too!
As the young ones’ minds rapidly develop and their curiosity grows, questions, questions and more questions will get fired in your direction.
Sometimes, finding the answers may require a little work – like doing some research – which may help you remember stuff you learnt at school, or even learn new things.
As you research the answers, you’ll find out about technology too.
‘Because the younger generation are great with technology, you can rely on them to show you everything you need to know, whether it be a simple hack on your mobile phone or iPad to making silly videos, all great excuses to spend more time together,’ says Helen.
4 They will keep you on your toes
One study found that when older women spent just one day a week looking after their 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 improve wellbeing and mental health.
Even when it’s not easy to be physically around your grandchildren, socially engaging on Skype can be just as beneficial.
5 You will be as fit as a fiddle
Grandchildren are bundles of energy and will most definitely keep you busy.
We all know that looking after kids can be exhausting, but it also keeps you fit. From chasing them around, playing games and picking up after them, they’ll have you active all day long.
These prolonged bursts of energy are no doubt giving you all the exercise you need for the day.
Grandparents to the rescue…
• 93% of parents say they receive help with childcare from grandparents.
• 1 in 4 mums would have to give up work if they didn’t have grandparents around to help.
• 1 in 6 grandparents have taken early retirement or quit paid employment to help out with their grandchildren. 80% of them say their sacrifice is worth it, and more than 51% say they are happier now they spend time with their grandkids.
• 58% of grandparents are 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.
How grandparents can get £250 to look after the kids
● Grandparents who have taken early retirement to help look after a child under 12 years can claim National Insurance (NI) credits, qualifying them for a state pension, or boosting what they get. Visit HERE and fill out form CA9176. This is known as Grandparents Credit.
● Why do you need NI credits? You need 35 qualifying working years to get the full state pension. This scheme acknowledges the fact you’re still working.
● For every year you look after grandchildren and don’t claim NI credits, you could lose £250 a year from your state pension – that’s around £4,600 over a 20-year retirement.
● NI credits are accrued by the working parent giving up the child benefit credits they receive and donating them to the grandparent looking after their child.
● Around 10,000 people a year are claiming these credits, but this is just a drop in the ocean. There is no minimum hours requirement for claiming the credit, and they could be backdated to 2011 when the Specified Adult Childcare scheme was set up. But you must be under state pension age.
● Grandparents Plus and Age UK have estimated that the childcare grandparents provide is worth £7.3 billion a year.
– Helen Stirrup is an occupational health advisor at Stannah.