Geri-Antics: 70 IS THE NEW 50/Great-Grandparents are the New Grandparents

Published 11:39 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

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The average age of great-grandparents today is 75, but many of us don’t look (or act) our age. Yes, there may likely be snow on the mountain, but there’s still fire in the furnace.

Many of us married in our teens and early twenties and began having families shortly thereafter. We’re not that much older than our children, who are now in their forties and fifties and becoming grandparents.

The majority of forty-somethings and fifty-somethings are still in the workforce, so they’re not available to provide daily childcare for their grandchildren who have begun arriving en masse since the pandemic. A year of lock-down has created yet another baby boom.

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Daycares were shut down for months as well, so what were parents to do? They couldn’t stay home and care for their kids. Most needed the income of both parents. So many have skipped a generation and called upon their children’s great-grandparents to care for their infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers during the day.

The majority of Baby Boomers never knew our great-grand parents. Many don’t even know the names of their ancestors more than one or two generations back; but by the year 2030 most kids will have at least one living great-grandparent. Many more will have a closely bonded relationship with their great-grandparents, as they are being cared for by them on a daily basis.

If you are in reasonably good health, strong, and willing, I assure you — you’ll never regret stepping up and caring for your great-grands. Your grandchildren can rest assured that their children are being cared for by someone who loves them and whom they can trust. You’ll likely help them from a financial standpoint as well, as the cost of daycare can actually cost more than many parents bring home.

We great-grandparents are usually retired. Our schedules and availability are flexible. But certain factors must be evaluated/negotiated well in advance of beginning to provide childcare service.

Decisions must be made as to whether you be required to commute to their home or will they bring the children to your home?

If you will be caring for the child in their home, how long is the commute? When will you need to arrive in order to allow them to get to work on time?

Will there be times when the parents have to work late? If the child will come to your home is your home child-proofed? What supplies will you need to have on hand (i.e. crib, highchair, changing area, diapers, bath supplies, etc) ?

Do you have problems driving after dark? During winter months, it might be dark both coming and going.
And speaking of winter months, will you be able to drive and walk on snowy/icy roads and sidewalks? A back-up plan should be determined in advance for times when you are unable to be there for any reason, including illness.

There are considerations when caring for children of any age group. If you’ll be caring for a newborn, do you feel that your equilibrium (balance) is satisfactory for navigating while holding a tiny infant? Are there multiple levels in the home? This is important for both the safety of the infant and your own.

Once you’ve determined that you’re up to par physically, caring for a newborn is a beautiful time. They require only to be fed, diapered, and loved.They sleep the majority of the the early months. And then you’ll get a real bonus, as you’re likely to witness many firsts (turning over, beginning to babble and first words, crawling, first steps), but you may want to just keep the experience to yourself and let the parents think they saw it first.

If you will be caring for a toddler, you must consider that they’ll be mobile and exploring the world around them at a fast pace. You must be able to move along with them and anticipate what they might want to examine that could harm them.

Pre-schoolers will need your help to learn colors, shapes, numbers, alphabet, etc as most kindergartens now require children to have this knowledge at the time they are enrolled.

Or perhaps you will only be required to sit with school-age children after they get home in the afternoons. In that event, you’ll be over-seeing homework, after-school activities, snacks, and chores.

Guidelines to discuss with the parents before offering your services:

Compensation: Grandparents often offer to babysit without any pay, but parents should consider the financial status of the grandparents. Are they on a limited budget? If so, just a token financial remuneration of as little as $20 a week or an occasional gift card would likely be appreciated.

If the caregiver commutes, parents might offer to pay for gas.

You might provide access to food in your home, rather than have the great-grandparent bring their own.

A nanny is often expected to do light housekeeping, cooking, and laundry. If these are tasks that you’d love help with, discuss your needs and expectations with the grandparents/great-grandparents prior to beginning the arrangement.

Some of the most important decisions in childcare are the non-tangible guidelines. Do you agree on discipline, screen-time, bedtime, food choices, extra-curricular activities?

Grandparents and great-grandparents, it’s your responsibility to stay healthy. Eat well. Sleep well. Have regular check-ups. Don’t enter into a long-term arrangement unless you’re absolutely certain you can do it for the long-haul.

Have frequent and thorough conversations with the parents to ensure that you’re still on the same page.

Generations raising generations is one of the greatest blessings in life. You are a valuable resource. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren are an invaluable source of pure joy. They keep us young of mind and spirit.

Boomers are in the sweet spot. We’re still around and still vital enough to enjoy our great-grandchildren and participate in their lives in an impactful way.

Young adults are now waiting longer to start their families and many are choosing to co-habitate and not bring children into the world; therefore, the trend of great-grandparents being active in their great-grandchildren’s lives won’t last forever.

ACT NOW and enjoy the best that life has to offer.

Anne Carmichael is a columnist, author and freelance journalist from Kentucky.