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How to Involve Kids in Taking Care of Grandparents

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Children make great caregivers when given the opportunity. Discover why it’s important to involve kids in caregiving and some ideas on how to do it.

One of our main concerns as sandwiched homemakers is balancing the seemingly opposing generations of our kids and our aging parents. As adults, we often view caregiving as burdensome or as another job we’re required to do. We want our kids “to be kids” and not stress under the weight caregiving often brings.

In my experience the more I encourage my children’s involvement in my MIL’s care, the more balanced our multigenerational home becomes. With everyone’s involvement we are building each other up, supporting one another, and strengthening our family. We are spending time together as a family instead of merely meeting individual needs.

Children make great caregivers when given the opportunity. Discover why it's important to involve kids in caregiving and some ideas on how to do it.

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Benefits to Your Kids

Encouraging your kids’ involvement in caregiving carries a multitude of benefits. Not only will they become a big help to you but they will also learn some very valuable life lessons.

  • It teaches them about unconditional love.
  • They learn about family and the responsibility that comes with it.
  • They become confident in their interaction with older adults rather than fearful.
  • You will teach them that caregiving doesn’t have to be burdensome.
  • It teaches them patience and how to respond in situations rather than react.

Like with everything else in parenting, your kids’ involvement in caregiving will take time and effort by you but the rewards will make it all worthwhile.

Related Post: Why Caring for Aging Parents is Easier with Kids

Benefits for Your Aging Parent

You and your kids will benefit greatly from getting the kids involved in caregiving. As an added bonus, it will also positively impact your aging parent.

  • They feel a sense of security by being included in family activities.
  • Their bond with your kids strengthens
  • Spending time with kids can be rejuvenating
  • It keeps them active
  • It is mentally stimulating

Tips to get started

  1. Put it on your schedule.
    Yes, we want interaction to occur naturally. Like with most things, it takes time and effort to build the habit of getting your kids involved in caregiving. Start by scheduling times for interaction. It will surprise you at how quickly it becomes natural.
  2. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
    You don’t have to prepare a speech or give some kind of elaborate introduction, just a simple, “Let’s read Nana a story,” or “Will you get Nana for dinner?,” will suffice. Your kids will pick it up and their involvement in caregiving will start to become routine.
  3. Be creative.
    Think outside the box and get these two generations interacting together while they move through their day. Let your parent help with homework or even with your kids’ chores. Invent a supervisory role for your parent while your kids play.

The point in getting your kids involved in caregiving is to bring these two co-habitiating generations to become one family unit.

Related Post: Being Confident in Your Authority as a Caregiver

Encourage activities

The easiest way to get your kids involved in caregiving is to encourage interaction in their daily activities. This interaction doesn’t have to be elaborate and can easily fit into your routines.

You may be asking, “What on earth do activities have to do with caregiving?”. Depression among aging adults is real especially when you have just uprooted your parent from independent living to assisted living. Staying active and involved goes a long way in preventing depression from occurring.

  1. Play board and card games
  2. Watch movies
  3. Go on a “nature” walk (we walk up and down our driveway)
  4. Read books together
  5. Bake a fun treat
  6. Do something crafty
  7. Work puzzles
  8. Make up stories
  9. Sing/dance-a-longs
  10. Legos

Let the kids be your helper

There are many chores that come with caregiving that the kids can get involved in. Sometimes it’s as simple as helping me gather laundry and trash and pick up their Nana’s room. I let them serve my MIL her meals or bring her drinks. Other times it’s as simple as me sending them with a message for my MIL. Letting your kids help you with your caregiving chores provides them with valuable life skills as well as teaching them to put others first.

I know adding another “chore” to your kids’ list seems like just another thing for them to complain about. Express to them how important their job is and the happiness it brings.

Related Post: My Sister, Nana

Make efforts to gather as a family

Gathering as a family is perhaps the best and most important ways to involve your kids in caregiving. Often when we bring an aging parent to live with and become a part of our intimate family unit, the parent will feel very much like an outsider. It’s important that we include our children in making our parent feel loved, wanted, and even needed.

Additionally, gathering as a family:

  • Emphasizes and keeps your aging parent an active part of your family unit.
  • Strengthens your familial bond.
  • Shows it’s members how highly you value them.

Again, these gatherings don’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as having a meal together around the dinner table.

  • Make Your Own Pizza Night

    Gather a bunch of ingredients and let the family go to town making their own pizza. If your parent isn’t able or willing to make their own, let the kids help them. The kids will enjoy serving your parent the pizza they made.

  • Outdoor Cookouts

    Roast a few hotdogs and marshmallows over an open flame while enjoying the fresh evening air. Let your kids cook a hotdog and marshmallow for your parent or refill their drink. Allow your kids to set up a comfortable spot for your parent to sit.

  • Movie Nights

    Watch a favorite movie together. A fun twist is to let your parent pick the movie and enjoy watching their grandchildren experience it. Ask your parent (if they’re able) to share their memories of the movie.

  • Story Telling Nights

    Gather everyone in the living room and go around the room making up stories. If your kids are too young to make up their own story (and you be able to follow it) try reading a chapter book. You could ask your parent to recount their favorite stories or memories from their youth.

  • Music Nights

    Pull up YouTube and start taking requests. It’s such fun to hear the variety of music tastes and is a great way to spend time together. You could even include a little dancing.

  • Scrapbooking Nights

    Print off pictures and start creating memory books. Find pictures from your childhood and your parent’s childhood and make a compilation album. Adding fun papers, stickers, and captions make the time spent it’s own memory to look back on.

As a mom, my first instinct is to shield my children from the harsh realities of life and growing older. I want them to have a happy, care-free, normal childhood even in our unusual home. When you involve kids in caregiving, you are teaching them valuable lessons, strengthening your family unit, and creating memories. You are removing the notion that caregiving is burdensome. Your parent’s quality of life will improve. Most importantly, involving the kids in caregiving brings balance to your multigenerational home.

Did you like this post? How do you involve your kids in caregiving? Let me know in the comments below!

Empowering women to THRIVE in their multi-generational homes.

Children make great caregivers when given the opportunity. Discover why it's important to involve kids in caregiving and some ideas on how to do it.

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