Fun is the number one F word that should shape our relationships with the littles in our lives. Boomer grandparenting means we return to a place where simple pleasures are huge gifts and gain the health benefits of childlike play when we make time for fun.
The little person in my life is my 5-year-old granddaughter. Whenever life feels stuck in a state of stress and overwhelm, I call on her unique ability to yank me back into a place where the simplest things are once again delightful.
Playing hooky from life’s responsibilities and taking a day to simply play with a child can breathe new life and perspective into our busy days and force us to put fun first.
I recently took a “health” day and mindfully spent it with my granddaughter. I vowed to turn off the phone, go with the flow of her energy, and let her take the lead. We spent the day walking hand-in-hand, running, riding a carousel, jumping on board a train, laughing in the park and sucking on sticky lollipops. By late afternoon, we snuggled up for a nap. And I was awakened by the sound of full-on belly laughs as my dog licked furiously on her face. Life was good. I could breathe again.
If you are blessed with grandchildren – and even if you’re not – connecting in a fun and purposeful way with kids is one of the best self-grounding remedies.
Mind you, when I was actively raising my own children, it would have been a harder sell. Daily rituals and responsibilities of bathing, feeding, educating, supporting and nurturing two humans had me in a state of overwhelm a lot of the time. There are stretches of my children’s infant and toddlers years that were wiped clean from my memory just for the sake of sanity. Sorry kids.
Now that many of us Baby Boomers have grown children or are grandparents, our relationship with children has evolved from caregiver to confidante. As grandparents, there should be no agenda with these littles, except to love them with all our hearts (and return them to the arms of their parental units at the precise moment a tantrum arises). Our role is not to discipline, but rather to discover the fundamental wonders of life with these untainted souls. I can think of no greater gift.
I know there are exceptions, and for those 2.7 million grandparents in America who are raising their own grandchildren, I send nothing but blessings and prayers for continued strength and support.
Now that Baby Boomers comprise the vast majority of America’s 70 million grandparents, let’s vow to make childlike fun a priority.
Offer to babysit a friend’s child if there’s no grandchild in your life. Just make the time to allow the laughter and lightness of a child bring you back to reality. Just play! Focus on unstructured, creative fun and not on any goal. There’s no point, no agenda, no strategy when it comes to childlike play. And that is where we reap tons of health benefits.
Studies have shown that play relieves stress and increases an overall sense of well-being. The benefits are immeasurable: release of endorphins, better brain function, boosted creativity, improved social relationships and higher energy levels.
Baby Boomers have the opportunity to be the coolest generation of grandparents ever. The days of grandma and grandpa in rocking chairs are mostly over, as active Boomers redefine grandparenting. Jump in with both feet and get your fun fix as often as possible at the hands of a child.