Parents, it’s time for a date night. The destination may be TBD, but we have found a babysitter for you: your parents! There’s no need to feel guilty for asking grandma and grandpa to watch the kids because a new study found that it’s good for their health.
The Berlin Aging Study looked at 500 people over the age of 70 who came in for interviews and medical tests every two years from 1990 to 2009. Researchers found that seniors who helped others (such as by babysitting their grandkids) had a 37 percent lower risk of death over a 20 year period than those who didn’t provide care for someone.
Researchers think that helping others is a great stress reliever and that taking care of kids helps seniors stay physically active. After all, nothing keeps you active quite like chasing a toddler up and down the slide at the playground or doing that special bouncing walk that magically puts a baby to sleep.
And there’s more good news for parents: The study found that it’s not just watching the grandkids that helps grandparents live longer—it’s helping adult kids too. So if you’re a sleep-deprived new parent and you just need someone to come over and fold the laundry or make dinner while you nap, then call your mom—you’re just helping her live longer. Also, she truly wants to help.
The study noted that there is a point when grandparents helping out can cross the line and become stressful instead of stress-relieving, so make sure you are checking in with your parents to ensure that watching the grandkids is still fun, and don’t make them do the hard parts of parenting, like disciplining, sleep training or spending an hour at the kitchen table trying to convince your picky eater to eat the damn kale.