Young boy strumming a guitar while sitting next to his grandfather.

Pros of Grandparents Being on Babysitting Duty This Summer

Healthy Aging, Children's Health
School is out for the summer. For lots of kids, it means spending summer days with their grandparents while their parents are at work. Bayhealth Family Medicine Physician Resident Kendall Barton, MD, shares how grandparents and grandkids can benefit from spending time together this summer.

Although the benefits are vast, Dr. Barton warns that families should set boundaries and expectations. You should consider things like payment, the cost of groceries, giving authority to make decisions about discipline, time limits, and more. Having respectful conversations whenever an issue surfaces is key to a healthy relationship for all generations.

Here are five ways grandparents and grandchildren benefit from time spent together:

1. Grandchildren keep grandparents active – physically and mentally. This activity can increase a grandparent’s lifespan and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. From outdoor play time to making snacks, the activities of children keep grandparents busy.

2. Grandchildren give sense of purpose. “Having the responsibility of being a caretaker for a grandchild can give a sense of purpose, especially for those who may be retired and have a void in their life,” said Dr. Barton. He sees many patients who lose motivation from day to day following retirement. “Being motivated to get up and tackle a day with grandkids and wanting to be present for all the big milestones is a huge benefit.”

3. Grandparents can share life lessons. “Maintaining a strong family bond is important,” said Dr. Barton. Building strong connections between generations allows children to learn. When children spend time with their grandparents, they begin to see new perspectives and are more well-rounded individuals. “While these life lessons and values may not be clear to a young child, they’ll cherish them as they grow older.”

4. Grandchildren can teach grandparents new things and vice versa. “It gives children a sense of pride to share what they know with others,” said Dr. Barton. Grandchildren can help teach new technology or share current events. Grandparents can teach their grandkids about a hobby they enjoy like gardening, playing a musical instrument, fishing, drawing, baking, or volunteering.

5. More smiles are shared. Most grandparents truly enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. They find a lot of joy and fulfillment from the relationship. Grandchildren also have positive mental and emotional benefits from being in the care of someone who loves them so deeply.

While the benefits are vast, it’s important to know when a grandparent needs a break from babysitting. Whether they don’t feel well, need to run errands, or simply need a day without children, parents should be understanding. The relationship must benefit all three generations.

Dr. Barton is a family medicine physician at Bayhealth Family Medicine, Dover. He is accepting new patients and sees all members of the family from newborns through all ages. Visit Bayhealth.org/Family-Medicine or call 302-725-3200 to schedule an appointment.