The Benefits of Spending Time with Children by Robin Trimingham
As our regular readers will know, Bill Storie and I conduct live presentations and workshops in Bermuda on the subject of ‘retirement transition’ and we are frequently asked for ideas regarding how to keep busy in retirement.
If you have enough money to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, the single greatest way that an older person can thrive in retirement is to embark on some sort of a mentoring relationship with a child.
For those of us with grandchildren running through the living room five days a week, this might seem obvious, but there are many older people who either don’t have any youngsters in their family or live such a great distance from their relatives, that only see small children on special occasions.
If you are not blessed to spend much time around young people you are missing a chance to do everything from reliving bits of your childhood, to sharing family history, to helping a child to learn an important skill, to rejuvenating your spirit as you share in the pure joy that only small children know.
To seek out an opportunity to help care for children you need only walk down the street to your neighbourhood primary school, children’s library, or church Sunday school. You will quickly discover that these organizations would be quite happy to add another mature, patient volunteer to their roster.
In some instances, there will be a list of volunteer positions to choose from (lunch monitor anyone?); but you may also be asked what skills you have, or how you think you can help.
Don’t be afraid to “be creative” if this happens. The skills that you gained in the work world will be highly valued here if you dust them off and give them a fresh coat of paint.
Some of my favorite examples include:
· The former university professor who signed up to give weekly arts and crafts lessons to third graders
· The barber who offered free haircuts to small boys if they agreed to work on spelling and math problems with him while he cut their hair
· The retired accountant who organizes the annual grade school book drive
· Anyone who braves the elements to serve as a school crossing guard
· The IT professional who helps kids learn computer skills
· Volunteering for a kindergarten reading programme
· Working a shift in the invertebrate house at the local aquarium
· Volunteering to watch neighbourhood children after school in exchange for rides to the grocery store and other appointments
· Conducting a bicycle rodeo to help children learn bicycle safety
Children are little sponges that crave attention and activity. If you are suffering the effects of boredom, loneliness, or isolation, becoming a mentor might just provide you with the relief you have been searching for.
By Robin Trimingham