As a grandparent, it can be expected that sometimes your grown children may ask you to watch over the grandkids while they have an evening (or even take a vacation) together with a spouse. If you are willing or able to babysit your young grandchildren, you may find that chaperoning today’s youth has changed since you were raising your own children. This generation of young people is one of gadgets, social media, and television. Depending on your age, you may be less familiar with how best to connect with children today. In this article we’ll provide some tips for babysitting 21st century grandkids.
Technology May Already Be Babysitting Them
You may find how tame the pastimes of today’s youth are to be a blessing and a curse. When grandparents are fairly along in years, they may not have the energy to bounce and run around with the energy of small playing children. So, a passive activity like television or computer usage may be more the pace of a grandparent and easier to manage. However, media consumption may also be impersonal, as you find yourself being tuned out by preoccupied grandchildren who won’t look away from any of the glowing screens in their lives. You may even wonder why you are needed at all since the technology seems to be doing the babysitting for you.
This can be an opportunity for you to slow down the pace if you find it necessary. If it looks like the young’uns are addicted a little too much to the televisions, it can be your chance to teach them your favorite card game, board game, or share some stories that you think they would like to hear. Maybe you’ll receive a little resistance to retracting a child’s TV time at first, but simply assert yourself as the babysitting authority, and let it be known that this means a lot to you and you should not have too much trouble redirecting the course of events.
How Much TV Is Ok?
Rules and opinions about television watching will vary by household. Talk to the parents about the allowed amount of TV time and when the grandkids typically can watch TV. That is not to say that you as the grandmother or grandfather are bound to let an evening with you play out like any other night, but you can at least ask to get a feel for the usual television usage of your grandkids.
Watching some of their favorite programs can be a nice way to bond and come into their world. But TV is not the only way to bond, if the silliness or violence of what’s on the tube doesn’t suite you, then you can leave them to it, or simply pull the plug and suggest another activity together. You can also use the television as a way to ration out rewards for completing chores or doing what is expected. If the grandchildren are naughty, that may be a reason to revoke some television privileges. Managing the media use (phone, television, computer, etc) can be a method for you to assert your authority when disciplinary measures are needed if the young kids get rowdy.
While technology certainly plays a large role in the 21st century youth, at the end of the day, it is up to you as the babysitting grandparent to be in charge of how and when the media is used. These babysitting visits may be the only time you have to bond with your grandchildren for extended periods of time and get to know them more personally, so it is up to you arrange the events of time spent together at your own pace.