There has never been a better time to be Granny or Grandad
It’s time to celebrate grandparents, as David Wakefield, former journalist with the Eastern Daily Press and now Age UK Norfolk volunteer (and a grandparent) suggests.
Sunday, October 7, is Grandparents’ Day in the UK this year, and it’s a highly important date so far as Age UK Norfolk is concerned. The charity plays a vital role in helping older people; offering advice on a wide range of issues including benefits and care, combatting loneliness with a befriending service, operating three dementia cafes across the county and support to enable older people to remain independent for longer in their own home.
Above all Age UK Norfolk values the role that grandparents can play, and many men and women in this age bracket have also become volunteers, giving years of experience and compassion into vital areas where help is needed. A few years ago I joined this army of volunteers, and was able to gain a valuable insight in to what they do; my role as a media volunteer led me to speak to many who have benefited from the work these helpers provide.
I became a grandparent for the first time 14 years ago, when I was nearing retirement from a busy and often stressful job. When I did finish full-time work I was able (and willing) to step in to offer care for our new baby on some of the days when our daughter-in-law was not working, with my (still working) wife using her days off and free time to help. Although I had been very much a “handson” father, the return to changing nappies, sorting out afternoon sleeps and food and drink was quite a change from my normal routine, but it was something I was delighted to do. And it was all repeated a few years later when Luke’s sister, Ava, came along.
Not that I am any different to any other grandparent in this respect; but if nothing else, Grandparents’ Day can provide a reminder of what we can contribute in terms of wellbeing and education of children within our families. Recent research reveals that twofifths (45%) of grandparents look after their grandchildren once a week or more, with four per cent looking after them every day – thus it is clear that childcare is one way in which grandparents make a very large contribution.
But, so too do grandchildren enrich our lives. They give us memorable experiences in return for what we do. Yes, we’re seen as a “soft touch” in certain areas, such as bedtimes (“Mum says I can stay up until 10pm ... ”) but that’s what being a grandparent is all about.
So, let’s celebrate!