Babysitting and Enriched Cognition

My dear son-in-law just sent me an article about the benefits of babysitting grandchildren and maintaining good cognitive health. According to a study with 186 Australian grandmothers with a variety of babysitting schedules showed that taking the extra responsibility of occasional babysitting is healthy. This brain health was reflected in cognitive tests issued before and during the study. Research did discover, however, that babysitting full-time may result in lower cognitive scores. As to the latter, I wonder if these were literally full-time grandmas raising their grandchildren and that would be quite a different experience or that the grandmas were just too exhausted at the end of the week to think let alone take a test. I bet by Monday the majority would have recovered and raring to go with brains ticking away.

I have two grandchildren, ages three and one. They are the sweetest, busiest, and most energy-requiring souls I have ever encountered. Living two hours away, they pop in on the weekend or we travel to their home to spend hours of exhilaration and delight. Sometimes Ma and Pa get the full-time job as Mom and Dad head out for some time as a couple. That is when we are exceptionally pleased to have a tag-team approach so one grandparent can fix lunch, for example, while the other plays and entertains and then later the other gets a bit of a break. I really shouldn’t say that we entertain the grandkids as in reality they entertain us. My ribs ache as we part after so much laughter and joy. My outlook is brighter, my life is finer, and my brain is full operative and engaged.

Our third grandchild is due at the end of August. This explains the article mentioned at the start. Our daughter and her husband live four hours from us and are hoping we will step in as babysitters when she returns to work. I can think of no role that could be more fulfilling and lovely and we look forward to this responsibility while also maintaining our busy schedules at home. While we are both retired, those of you who are actively retired know that this means you have shifted one set of tasks and concerns for another. I often wonder how I worked full-time and got everything else accomplished as well. Fortunately both parents have terrific jobs that they love and are well paid, allowing her to return to a thirty-hour week, Wednesday through Friday schedule. This leaves me four days for all of my other projects plus my other grandchildren.

Some say we are crazy for accepting this challenge, but I know that rewards will be reaped each second we spend with our little granddaughter. I also realize that I have a home, yard, volunteer work, and more to continue while also swinging through to spend time with our other dear ones, trying to keep everything as even as possible. Obviously there will be lots of thinking and planning time while driving so I can practice brain games and enjoy books on tape. I now know, too, that my brain will be more powerful and richer because I am babysitting. What an exciting and thrilling time lies ahead!