Love to rock your grandbabies? Why not rock some little ones whose parents or grandparents are unavailable?
Two of my sons were born with birth defects. We spent over twenty years in children’s hospitals obtaining the procedures they needed. Often, I noticed that many little ones were left alone.
I’m sure most of their parents were working and I wanted to scoop up their whimpering children and rock them in the old, vinyl-covered rocker.
The greatest gift we can give our own families is time. Time is what other families need as well. When we have extra time, we can give some to someone who needs it desperately.
Hospitals around the nation welcome grandparents to their cuddler programs. They spend time cuddling premature babies in the NICU. The warmth of human touch helps these tiny ones grow faster and develop a sense of security.
Some hospitals refer to such programs as foster or surrogate grandparenting and they provide training. However, it’s not just the newborns who could use an extra grandma or grandpa.
Toddlers and preschoolers are often in need of someone to read to them, build puzzles and stack blocks. These activities help to pass the time while the process of healing continues. And we can give hugs.
The science of hugs says just a 20-second squeeze releases the “love hormone” oxytocin into a child’s brain, which in turn strengthens the immune system. A healthy immune system helps to fight disease and infection and aids in healing after a surgical procedure.
Rockin it for the older kids
If you prefer to work with older children, they’re just as ready. Boredom can be their worst enemy and your bedside smile can be just what the doctor ordered. If you can get them to laugh, all those healing hormones will race through leaving a path for healing.
A volunteer grandparent can rock, sing, read, play and hug. And they can enjoy the same health benefits as the children they reach.
Ready to rock?
Call a nearby hospital and ask about their volunteer programs. Every kid needs a grandma or grandpa and extras are always welcome.