The Babysitters Club

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So here’s an idea that will not only boost your cognitive health, it will also allow your harried neighbors with the young children to have a date night or a movie afternoon or even a stroll around the block for once without breaking the bank. That’s right, that cute little boy next door? He could be yours for the asking, and what’s more? He’ll get something out of it, too.

The word babysitter didn’t appear in the English language until 1914, and no wonder. Until the advent of modern travel (cars, airplanes, etc.), most of us just lived near our extended families, many of whom played a key role in childcare. Now, life is atomized. We often live far from our families.

This means that some children never have any experience hanging out with older people and vice versa. And this lack of intergenerational experience hurts everyone––the child who could benefit from an older caretaker’s calm and wisdom; the older person, who could benefit from the child’s company, light, humor, and joy; the parents, who never have any time to themselves when they’re not working or taking care of kids.

Science tells us that it is good for everyone when older people babysit for the younger ones. What’s more, leisure activities like babysitting are associated with slower rates of cognitive decline. So go ahead, call up your neighbor or find an online babysitting board seeking your help. Your neighbor will thank you. Your brain will thank you, too.

References

  • Dictionary, O. E. (2004, September 5). babysitter | Origin and meaning of babysitter by Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved November 18, 2019, from Online Etymology Dictionary website
  • Gallagher, C., & Fitzpatrick, A. (2018). “It’s a Win-Win Situation” – Intergenerational Learning in Preschool and Elder Care Settings: An Irish Perspective. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 16(1-2), 26–44. doi: 10.1080/15350770.2018.1404403
  • Maselko, J., Sebranek, M., Mun, M. H., Perera, B., Ahs, J., & Østbye, T. (2014). Contribution of generative leisure activities to cognitive function in elderly Sri Lankan adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62(9), 1707-1713.