June 11, 2014
Is there such thing as a stress-free summer? If you are a family caregiver who is also a parent of school-age children, you probably answered that question with a definitive “NO.” You know better than anyone that the summer school break can feel less like a vacation and more like a matter of survival.
What if combining your roles as caregiver and parent actually helped reduce your summer stress? Planning activities your aging parents and your children can do together will provide an enriching experience for everyone—educationally, emotionally, physically and mentally. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Women’s Healthy Aging Project in Australia indicates that time spent with grandkids is not just enjoyable to grandparents, but also may benefit them mentally as well, and, in some cases, may even lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
To help reduce your summer stress as a caregiver and parent, consult the following Summer List of Intergenerational Fun! Adapted from Grandparents.com. These eight summertime activities are fun for the whole family, from grandkids to grandparents (and maybe even you, too!).
Fun Idea #1: Set up a lemonade stand.
Nothing says summer like fresh lemonade. A lemonade stand requires just a little bit of prep for a whole lot of payoff, including fun in the kitchen, fun in the sun, and the chance to say “hi” to the neighbors! You may even make a little money while you’re at it.
Fun Idea #2: Do watercolor paintings.
For rainy days, watercolor painting is a great way for grandkids and grandparents to enjoy time together and witness each other’s creative juices in action. Have them paint portraits of one another for some added silliness.
Fun Idea #3: Hobby school is in session!
Ask Grandpa or Grandma to teach your kids his or her favorite hobby. Whether it’s knitting, woodworking, playing guitar or working crossword puzzles, children will enjoy learning a new skill while learning something new about their loved one too.
Fun Idea #4: Play a board game.
Time to break out Monopoly, Candy Land, Yahtzee, or Chutes & Ladders! Playing board games is a lost art in this digital age of video games and on-demand movies. Take entertainment old school with some classic, unplugged fun. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, make up a new game together!
Fun Idea #5: Tell stories by flashlight.
Get those imaginations flowing with a nighttime storytelling session for the whole family. Take it up a notch by grabbing an armful of blankets and enlisting some helpers to build a storytelling fort.
Fun Idea #6: Have a family yard sale.
Schedule a yard sale and encourage the whole family to participate. From putting out signs to pricing the goods, make sure everyone has a job to do. Use some of the earnings to take your workers out for ice cream.
Fun Idea #7: Take a field trip.
Need a change of scenery? Load the family up for a trip to the zoo or the neighborhood fire station (be sure to call ahead!). Getting out of the house is a tried and true antidote for summer boredom.
Fun Idea #8: Make believe.
It’s raining outside, all the craft supplies are gone, and every favorite movie has been watched. Now what? Take the vacation of a lifetime… in your imagination! Imaginative play is an excellent way to entertain younger children, and it can also provide a low-pressure backdrop for some meaningful interactions between generations. Try it and see!
With a little planning and creativity, summer can go from being a matter of survival to a season the whole family can enjoy together!
Come fall, when the kids head back to school, consider hiring a helping hand to assist your aging parents and continue facilitating meaningful activities that promote social interaction and mental stimulation. Companionship home care services for just a few hours a week could make a world of difference for your loved ones.
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