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Grandma’s Brain Benefits From Spending Time With Kids, Study Finds

Grandma’s Brain Benefits From Spending Time With Kids, Study Finds

Planning on hiring a babysitter to look after your children while you are away with work? On top of the financial costs, how can you be sure they are getting the love they deserve? Thankfully, all your worries can be calmed by simply looking to the wonderful women who raised you. Having grandma look after your kids is the most natural and rewarding experience for all.

You may imagine that this will place undue stress or uncomfortable situations on poor old granny. However, most grandmas would be delighted to spend more time with their grandchildren. Grandchildren can help to keep old people happy, joyful and energetic. Bonding with the newest and the youngest generation of the family brings a great sense of pride and happiness.

Grandchildren Bring Mental Health Benefits

It’s also believed that playing or whiling away time with children can increase grandma’s golden years. Dropping the kids at Grandma’s place can play an essential positive role in dealing with age related brain illnesses. So long as she’s happy to spare the time, you may actually be helping her fight against a number of mental health problems!

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An interesting study published in ‘Menopause’, a journal of North American Menopause Society, revealed that grandmothers who spend time taking care of their grandchildren exhibit lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive turmoil. An Alzheimer’s test  conducted on women between the ages of 57-68 further supports these notions. Those who scored the highest scores were the ones watching and playing with their grandchildren, at least once in a week.

It’s also been seen that frequent or regular social interaction can help older people to stay mentally fit and calm. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found  senior people who spend too much living alone without family interactions suffer from a 26% higher death risk during a period of seven years.

Closing the Generation Gap While Squashing Depression

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    Today, in many societies across the globe, senior people tend to live alone or with their better halves rather than staying together in one big family home. While they do not depend on their kids economically or socially, it has created a huge gap between generations – grandparents, parents, and offspring.

    Depression is less likely to happen if grandparents create a strong bond with an adult grandkid. Researchers belonging to the Institute on Ageing at Boston College analyzed data from 700 grandparents and grandkids over a period of 19 years. They found that deeper the relationship between the two, the less the depression.

    Factors that help create a stronger bond

    • When a child becomes more emotionally attached with the grandparents
    • When a child has a regular contact with his or her grandparent
    • When a child considers their grandparent to be a strong pillar of support

    Along with grandchildren, grandparents need support too. If grandparents receive tangible support, they are even more likely to escape from depression. Lead researcher Sara Moorman believes the greater emotional attachment and support exchanged between grandparents and grandchildren, the better their mental and physiological health.

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    Caring for grandchildren helps seniors avoid isolation, and thus, indirectly mitigates depression and early death. A strong, healthy bond between the grandparents and grandchildren has anti-depression benefits for both parties.

    Remember – She’s a Grandma, not a Nanny!

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      More time is also not always better, In fact, too much time can be a bad thing. Grandmothers spending five days a week or more time in babysitting actually scored lower on the Alzheimer’s test. Mood was considered to be a factor in this instance. Kids can drive their grandma’s crazy if they are particularly unruly and left together for extended periods of time. Grandmothers certainly don’t want to be treated as if they are just a ‘nanny’.

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      The time your children spend with grandma should be a great experience for both, not a chore! Here are some ideas for fun activities grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy together.

      1. Going for a walk in a park or nature
      2. Starting a book reading club together
      3. Creating a family tree
      4. Having a tea party
      5. Visiting a local zoological park
      6. Practicing or passing down a hobby
      7. Going on a day trip to a new place or city

      Whichever activity you choose, make it a special grandma and grandchild experience. Do not be tempted to bring a third person into the experience. If the distance between child and grandparent is an issue, utilize phone calls, social media, skype or anything you can to maintain a strong connection between them.

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      Published on December 14, 2018

      14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

      14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

      According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

      One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

      But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

      1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

      Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

      Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

      Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

      2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

      At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

      Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

      Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

      Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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      3. Build a Community

      In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

      Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

      4. Accept Help

      Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

      There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

      5. Get Creative with Childcare

      Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

      If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

      When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

      6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

      As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

      Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

      7. Create a Routine

      Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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      If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

      Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

      8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

      If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

      When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

      This article may help you to discipline your child better:

      How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

      9. Stay Positive

      Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

      Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

      Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

      10. Move Past the Guilt

      In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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      Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

      Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

      11. Answer Questions Honestly

      Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

      Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

      Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

      12. Treat Kids Like Kids

      In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

      There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

      Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

      13. Find Role Models

      Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

      Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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      Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

      14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

      Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

      Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

      Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

      Final Thoughts

      Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

      However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

      Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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      Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

      Reference

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