WASHINGTON, February 20, 2016 – Millions of grandparents all over America spend countless hours having a wonderful time with their visiting grandchildren. But for the parents who love the opportunity to leave their children at grandma’s house for a dash to the store or an afternoon or evening entertaining or a night on the town, being aware of grandparent age and limits can impact a grandchild’s safety. This consideration should be at the top of the list.
Sure, grandkids are excited to visit and be spoiled and showered with grandparental attention. After all, what grandchild would not want that? But there is also a very serious downside to all of the love and attention that often goes unnoticed when parents drop their kids off at their own parents’ house to get a break for themselves.
Grandparents who are in the 50- and 60-year-old range are certainly going to be more physically and mentally adept at performing safe babysitting responsibilities than those who are in their 70s or 80s. Therefore, it is crucial that their children be aware what babysitting tasks each age range can reasonably be expected to perform.
Age and the mental and physical limitations grandparents have should be paramount when deciding how long a grandchild will be spending at their home and what type of activities they will do. For instance, indoor activities and outdoor activities have their own set of challenges that older grandparents are simply not physically equipped to engage in.
During the spring, summer and even in fall, outdoor activities are typically part of the babysitting day for the grandchildren and grandparents. Parents should establish and agree with their parents on the range of activities that they should reasonably be able to engage in safely. Running around and playing tag, riding a bike or even basketball or other physical activities may be more than a grandparent can safely perform with their grandchildren if they are in their late 60s, 70s or early 80s,
If a grandparent is going to spend time at a neighborhood park, visit a library or skate park or take the child to an after-school baseball, soccer or basketball activity, age of the child also matters. It is crucial that both grandparent and parent know exactly the itinerary and that it is provided in writing.
Age is especially important if the grandparents are in their 70s or 80s because awareness and attention span is often diminished. If a parent has two or more children to drop off at gramp’s home for the day, this may be a recipe for possible disaster if an emergency crops up.
Written notes in plain sight, such as on a refrigerator door, on a dining room table and even on the kitchen table regarding expectations would be immensely helpful.
If a parent’s child has special medical needs that have to be attended to or medications that must be taken at certain times, the elderly grandparent could very easily be confused in the type of medications that should be administered to the child and at one times it should be taken. Do not assume that an elderly parent’s assurance that everything is going to be fine is an absolute guarantee that nothing could go seriously wrong. Write it down!
In order to prevent anything from going seriously wrong consider some of the following tips that will insure that there is a safe and uneventful babysitting experience for everyone:
Grandparent babysitting safety tips
- Keep all personal medications out of your grandchildren’s reach.
- Have all emergency personal contact phone numbers for the parent as well as the contact number emergency numbers for work as well.
- Be aware of any food allergies or certain foods the child should avoid. It may be a good idea for the parent to provide the meals so that there are no unfortunate mix-ups.
- Make certain that the areas of the home that grandchildren who are toddlers or younger are going to be playing, resting or spending time in are child-proofed.
- Do not leave grandchildren unattended outdoors or indoors. If necessary, if a grandparent needs to take a bathroom break, keep the door ajar where the younger grandchild can still be easily seen.
- If you have a large pet dog that is unfamiliar with your grandchildren or could pose a danger, keep the pet in another room. Never leave the grandchildren unattended with the dog.
- Follow the rules that the parents set down for their children and be respectful. Remember their rules are intended to keep their children safe and to allow you peace of mind.
- Last, be honest with parents concerning your own physical limitations and time constraints and set your time babysitting ranges accordingly.
While not exhaustive, the safety tips should allow for good honest discussion for both parents and grandparents to be able to fully understand what a grandparent can and cannot perform and just how old is too old to safely babysit grandchildren.