Category: Family

Tips for Grandparents Helping to Raise Children

As retirement age approaches, many older adults envision themselves downsizing and moving to a quaint community to enjoy their golden years in as relaxing a fashion as possible. However, for a growing number of seniors, their retirement years are being spent helping to raise grandchildren. United States Census data from 2010 indicates 4.9 million American children are being raised solely by their grandparents.

CanGrads, a National Kinship Support organization, says approximately 62,500 children are being raised by grandparents and other family in Canada. Many grandparents provide part-time care when their older children have to move back home with their families, as roughly 13 million children are now living in homes with their grandparents. Although being raised by grandparents may not be the ideal situation for all parties involved, such situations are a necessity for many families. Seniors who are once again thrown into the caregiver arena may need a crash course in childcare or a few pointers on parenting in the modern age.

Get the Right Equipment

Children certainly require a lot of gear, more than grandparents likely used when raising their own children. Certain safety requirements are in place to safeguard young children, and that often means investing in new cribs, car seats, high chairs, and other items. Grandparents should resist the temptation to use old items they may have kept in storage, as such items may no longer be safe and could put grandchildren at risk for injury.

Gather Important Documents

Grandparents should keep pertinent documents in one easily accessible place in their homes should an emergency arise. These include birth certificates, health immunization records, death certificates (if the child’s parents are deceased), dental records, school papers, citizenship papers, and proof of income and assets.

Speak With an Attorney

Lawyers can help grandparents wade through legal arrangements, such as filing for custody, guardianship or adoption. Options vary depending on where petitioners live, but lawyers can provide peace of mind to grandparents concerned about their grandkids’ futures. • Investigate financial assistance. Seniors may not earn the income they once did and may be on assistance programs or living off of retirement savings. Grandparents who find themselves caring for a child may be eligible for financial assistance. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a joint federal and state program that can provide need-based financial assistance. The AARP or the organization GrandFamilies may be able to put grandparents in touch with financial advisors in their areas.

Contact Schools and Daycare Centers

School-aged children will need to be enrolled in school. Grandparents should contact the department of education where they live to learn about local school systems, especially when grandkids are moving in with their grandparents. Some grandparents can qualify for free or low-cost daycare, and such programs can be discussed with local Social Services offices. Enrollment in school or daycare can provide grandparents with much-needed free time during the day.

Find Emotional Support

Taking care of grandchildren is a full-time job. At times, grandparents may feel stressed or out of sorts. Having a strong support system available can help grandparents work through the peaks and valleys of this new and unexpected stage in life. Church- or community center-based counseling services may be available. Grandparents also can check with their healthcare providers to determine if counseling or therapy sessions are covered under their plans. Caring for grandchildren is a life-changing event. Although it can be fulfilling, it also requires a lot of energy and commitment. But grandparents needn’t go it alone, as there are numerous resources available to seniors who suddenly find themselves caring for their grandchildren.

Simple Ways to Make More Time for Family

For the majority of working professionals, finding quality time to spend with loved ones can be a delicate balancing act. But working parents do not have to wait until retirement to enjoy being in the company of their families. With some fine tuning, anyone can find ways to spend more time with their children, spouse, extended families, and friends.

• Eat dinner together every night. Eating dinner as a family enables everyone to be a part of one another’s day and discuss important issues facing the family. According to The Family Dinner Project, eating as a family can boost kids’ academic performance, lower their risk of substance abuse and provide an opportunity for parents to gauge the emotional and physical well-being of their children. Avoid activities that cut into dinner time and rearrange work schedules to accommodate nightly meals with the family.

• Switch work hours. Many employers understand the benefits of flex time. If possible, leave the office at 4 p.m. to make it home for family time, and then log back on remotely at 7 p.m. to finish the day’s work. Working from home also reduces commute time, which can free up more time to spend with loved ones.

• Put it on the calendar. Many families have to abide by a calendar to stay organized. Family time may fall by the wayside unless it is scheduled. Treat it as any important event so it becomes a priority.

• Work together. Family time need not be limited to recreation or leisure. Get the entire family involved in a chore or project so you can work together toward a common goal. Landscaping, painting a room in the house or even grocery shopping are some examples of chores that can be turned into family time.

• Enjoy family media. Instead of retiring to separate corners of the house with tablets or mobile phones in tow, find a TV series everyone can enjoy together. Spend some binge-worthy hours seeing how stories unfold, taking time to discuss each episode when it ends.

Family time is something that takes work, but making it a priority can offer real benefits.