Sometimes at the end of a long day in the office, my PA and I review some of the interesting cases we saw that day and often find ourselves saying, “I hope that doesn’t happen to me.” Often we can agree on a few things that will for sure keep us out of trouble; we won’t be riding motorcycles and we won’t be riding bicycles down certain roads and highways…three abreast. We won’t drink and drive. And we won’t do squats. Okay. If we just do that, we’ll significantly diminish our chances of ending up with orthopedic problems.
But neither of us would say that we would never go take care of our grandchildren, because we know that if we had grandchildren, we’d be all over that. But I can tell you that I have a fairly consistent influx of grandparents with post-babysitting pain syndrome. (I made that up). It’s gotten to the point that if a patient happens to tell me they’re getting ready to go see grandkids for a “visit”, I give them a list of Do’s and Don’ts.
First of all, often a trip to “visit” grandkids is an opportunity for mom and dad to skeedadle, leaving those little cherubs behind, in the hands of their in-good-shape-for-their-age parents. So…
1) Don’t be fooled by the pretense of a “visit” to see grandkids. It’s often a front for free day care…or free week care. Not that you wouldn’t jump at the opportunity under any circumstance. But just be aware, and…
2) Bring a bottle of Aleve, Tylenol or your favorite martini mixers for later.
3) Avoid stairs as much as possible. You’ve made an effort to downsize into a one story house or apartment. Or you’ve moved all your important stuff to one floor and avoid running up and down stairs in your two story house. You take elevators and escalators when possible. But now your kids have stuck you in the basement or up in the attic room and you’re running up and down stairs getting diapers and trying to find passies. If remote guest rooms can’t be avoided, make sure your kids put toothbrushes, extra diapers, an extra change of clothes for each kid, pacifiers, etc., on the main floor so you’re at least minimizing the number of climbs. Make sure you have juice cartons, non-perishable snacks and the phone upstairs so you minimize the numbers of trips the other way!
4) Kids…put a nice mattress in your guest room. Your parents are spoiled by their sleep number mattress and now you’re putting them on a plank! Come on. The least you can do is go to Target and pick up a nice memory foam mattress topper.
5) Kids…don’t expect mom and dad to squat down on the ground all day to take care of the grandkids. Clear off tables for games. Have a couch with high arms available. Have lots of big bolsters to put around the beds so that they can do some playing there. Go ahead and get a changing table so that they don’t have to change diapers on the ground. I didn’t do this. Sorry Nana and Popop. But you were in great-shape-for-your-age so I guess it was okay…
6) And if you really want to do something over-the-top for Granny and Granddad…change out the guest bathroom toilet to a comfort height toilet. You will improve the quality of their stay and keep them always willing to come back for more. It says “We care.” Pssst…you should do this anyway…and on all of your toilets for that matter.
7) Grandparents…avoid repetitive overhead lifting. Avoid throwing kiddos up in the air. I promise you’ll tear your rotator cuff and some of you will drop the kids.
8) Pay attention to your aches and pains. Don’t do more than you habitually do around your own home. Little kids love a granddaddy story just as much as they love having you throw a baseball to them 67 times. You might drop your teeth on the story, but I promise you won’t tear your rotator cuff.
Now I know that’s more don’ts than do’s. I want you to have a good time but I also want you to be able to go “visit” grandkids whenever you want and not have to worry about whether or not you’ve paid your deductible. I have some grandparents who say they just can’t do it anymore. That’s sad because you can really set things up for success.
And one more thing! Let’s be clear. Is it a visit…or is it babysitting? There’s a difference. And trust me; grandparents know it…mentally and physically. They probably won’t ever tell their kids that, but they tell me. I’m their doctor!