Gransnet forums


Grandparents and childcare

(59 Posts)
Carigransnet (GNHQ) Thu 31-Jan-13 07:35:03

Not a new subject on our forums! But one that's very much in the news this week. Gaby Hinsliff asks whether it's right that grandparents are so often left to pick up the pieces because of exorbitant childcare costs (whether they are happy to do so or not)

As ever, we would love to know your thoughts and experiences.

Ylil Thu 31-Jan-13 08:12:39

We take care of our g/daughter two afternoons a week, it's enough as we both find it tiring, in the holidays we have her all day.....she is at nursery 3 mornings, and we share the care with her other g/parents. Despite it being tiring, we love having her, and likemthenfact we're helping our son and dil at the same time. I think g/parents can give a lot to their g/children and vice versa.

gillybob Thu 31-Jan-13 08:42:53

I care for my 3 grandchildren 2 days a week ( including an overnight) and have done since the eldest was merely 6 weeks old. They are now 6, 5 and 3 . The older children are now at school but when they were smaller they went to private nursery on the other days. Spending the 2 days with me every week is second nature to them and they know which days are grandmas days and they treat my house as their second home. I really wouldn't have it any other way. smile

Gorki Thu 31-Jan-13 09:57:00

I totally agree with gillybob.We have twin grandchildren of 5 who we have helped care for since birth. We pick them up from school on Monday and they stay with us until we take them to school on Wednesday.They also come en famille on one of the week-end days.They call both our houses home and differentiate by calling one Mummy's house and ours Gorki's house. Their Infants school also recognises the important role of grandparents by having a grandparents' afternoon once a year which includes a presentation in which all the children take part and then we go to the classrooms and talk about our schooldays.A large number of grandparents attend but we are all sensitive and inclusive of those children whose grandparents can't be there for whatever reason.I would add that I would find our role much more difficult if I was on my own.My husband provides most of the "fun" element.I never think of it as childcare.To me it is the most natural thing to do.We are expecting a new granddaughter in May but I don't anticipate the need for the same level of involvement.

Gally Thu 31-Jan-13 10:21:57

I feel guilty at not being on hand to help. One daughter has given up work completely because the fees for child care had become untenable. Another has a day's help from her MIL but, still after 2 days in nursery for 2 children, she lands up with the paltry sum of £100. She needs to keep working to keep on the ladder and for her CV and for the money. I live 400 miles away and am loathe to move nearer, thus losing my 'lifestyle', my friends and my home, in order to help the situation. I'm not a natural Granny - small doses suit me! Short of actually paying the fees, which would be a bit of a strain, what else should I do? I would then feel I would have to pay for DD1's children and do the same for DD2 in Oz and where will it all end? All in all, I think it's for them to deal with, and they do,very well in my opinion, and they would be the last to expect me to up sticks. But it still gives me grief to see how they have to live sad

whenim64 Thu 31-Jan-13 10:26:58

I care for my twin grandsons every other Saturday for the day, and we make it a fun day doing baking, playing games, visiting the pet shop to admire the rabbits and guinea pigs, and then the park, and generally doing the sorts of things I enjoyed with my grandparents. I also pick them up from school every Monday, give them tea and get them ready for bed. They have a Friday night sleepover with me every few weeks.

My daughter's MIL cares for her twin 15 month old girls 3 days a week, and I call round to help with them once or twice, then mind them for a couple of hours when my daughter is at home with them, and do a bit of baby-sitting. MIL went part-time in order to be able to care for them, so is compensated for her drop in earnings as a dinner lady and after-school club assistant. It works out much less than paying a registered childminder and everyone is happy.

My newborn grandson is further away from home, but I'll see him as often. My son runs his business from home and DIL is a stay-at-home mum, so childcare won't be needed, just babysitting.

When my eldest grandson was younger, he stayed overnight every weekend, and I used to pick him up from school quite often. I see him every week when he is staying over with his dad.

I haven't looked after any of the children as a way to help mums and dads go to work, but if I had been needed, I wouldn't have expected payment, just the occasional 'thank you' and treat.

annodomini Thu 31-Jan-13 10:31:11

My younger GC are too far away for me or their other GPs to be of use as carers, so they have all been to private nurseries though they are now at state primaries and doing well. But my eldest GD lived - and still lives - close by and although I was still working and had other time-consuming commitments, I saw her frequently after school and most weekends she would come and play in my house, go out to parks and the cinema and learn to bake in my kitchen. This has created a great bond between us and now that she is 21, she feels that she can speak freely to me about quite sensitive topics and knows that I am there for her in times of crisis when her 'mad' mother is no more use than a chocolate teapot. The younger ones are loving and pleased to see me when I visit - or they do - and I am longing for the time when they can come on their own and do all the things I did with GD1. But I won't be quite the fixture in their lives that I was for her.

Ariadne Thu 31-Jan-13 10:36:09

I have until very recently, lived quite a way from all my children, but now live very near to DD and her children, who are 14 and 16. We are thorough enjoying helping out, for example when DD (a teacher) has after school meetings, or when lifts are needed etc. (That's mainly Theseus' role)

We do look after the middle ones for weekends when both parents are involved in their athletic activities / careers, (DDiL was in Valencia this weekend and as she returned, DS2 took off to play rugby in South Africa!) but it's sometimes complicated to organise.

It does, as many of you say, seem totally natural, and lovely.

gillybob Thu 31-Jan-13 10:55:13

Gorki what similarities we share! We do exactly the same days as you.

Our grandchildren treat our house as their (other) house, where they have their own room, clothes and toys. Its easier to keep them overnight and much less fuss for them too. I can't imagine them not being there. smile

Gally My grandchildren have all gone to private nursery on the days I don't have them. My son and DIL both work full time but neither of them have well paid jobs and between them they just about scrape by. My DH and I moved house in 2011 to be closer to them as the travelling was becoming a problem for me. For us it was the best thing all around, as I have the responsibility of elderly parents and my 96 year old grandma too. I think we can all only do what we can. We are not in much of a position to help them financially I only wish we could.

glassortwo Thu 31-Jan-13 11:40:32

I live with my DD and SIL and so the full time carer for two of my grandchildren 4 & 7.
I have done this since the youngest was 6 months when my DD went back after maternity leave so I have done all the baby toddler groups etc.
MY DD & SIL leave at 7am each morning sometimes the children are still in bed and dont get back some days until 8pm so the children are back in bed.
I feed, clothe, do their laundry and everything else for them, even on a weekend when Mum and Dad are at home its at my bedside where the little one appears "Grandma I'm hungry".
I can get very tired and sometimes feel a bit put on (my own worse enemy)but I have had the opportunity to be such a big part of their childhood and really I love it ...................but dont tell DD.

tanith Thu 31-Jan-13 11:47:19

When my grandchildren were small enough to need care I was working full time so didn't do the caring role, now the youngest is 8 and I am retired they are beyond the age of needing us to care for them on a daily basis. My son who is expecting his first child in June (a late starter lol) lives abroad so apart from visiting I don't think I will be involved in caring for any of his children . I have always had the children over for sleepovers since they were small at weekends and we've shared many holidays but as for daily care duties I've never been in the position to offer and I actually don't think I would of anyway.. I enjoy the freedom to have them as when I choose and my daughters have managed their own childcare whenever its been necessary of course we've stepped in when there has been an emergency or for the odd day here and their but I've been happy not to be called on for regular child care .

Gorki Thu 31-Jan-13 12:17:03

gillybob ,how interesting. I shall think of you next time I am doing the school run on a Monday afternoon.As you say, it is much easier to keep them overnight and ours have their own rooms,toys and clothes with us as well.

I think I enjoy being a grandparent so much as I did not have that experience myself as a child. My maternal grandparents died in their fifties before I was born and my other grandfather was killed in WW1. My remaining grandmother lived hundreds of miles away and I only saw her 3 times before she died when I was 10.I didn't realise as a child what I had missed and so I am determined to be as involved as I can.

ninathenana Thu 31-Jan-13 12:28:37

DD and family had to relocate and could have gone anywhere in the UK but they chose to move 5 mins from DH and I specifically for child care. Children are now nearly 4 and 10mths. The youngest has SN. DD is looking for F/T so I will be child minding 5 days a week.
I would be happier if she worked P/T or other grandparents could help but that's not possible.
My mum had mine when they were preschool but I only worked 4 hrs a day term time only.
Fortunately DH is very hands on. I don't think I could cope F/T alone.

AnneMaria Thu 31-Jan-13 12:29:16

At one point there were a lot of discussions around the break up of families and lack of extended family contact. Isolation and distance have often been cited as reasons for petty crime, disorder, aggressive behaviour and many other things. It's interesting that now there is a marked return to involving other family members in the care of children it's back in the spotlight.

So, I'm confused. Does society want childcare to stay within the family or does it expect it to be paid for and carried out in a professional setting?

gillybob Thu 31-Jan-13 12:41:20

Gorki I was very lucky to have fantastic hands on grandparents when I was a child. My grandma was my absolute best friend and probably still is. (she is 97 this year).

AnneMarie In my family things have gone around full circle. My grandparents looked after my sister and I when we were small. My mum and dad did very little to help me with childcare and I can count on one hand the amount of times they babysat. I care for my grandchildren as much as I can (I still work too) and I have a lot to live up to with my own grandma.

In answer to your question I think many families have a bit of both. Family childcare for a couple of days complimented by a few days of professional (paid for) care.

AnneMaria Thu 31-Jan-13 14:18:08

I only had one grandparent and although we saw her regularly she didn't live close so didn't have that option. Neitehr my own parents or in-laws didn't do the looking after my children while I worked thing either. I work full time so don't do it either but I like my two gs to stay when I am available such as holidays and weekends. It's such a shame that people are given so many messages as in children need grandparents, children need education and nursery gives the right structure, grandparents should help out more, grandparents should be having it easy now and enjoying themselves, grandparents shouldn't be burdened, grandparents should want to help out. Which is it? It's very confusing and I totally agree that everyone should do what is comfortable and works for them without either side feeling that they have to compete against the rest of the world.

GillieB Thu 31-Jan-13 16:08:07

I have two GC and a third on the way. We look after GS on Tuesdays (my DD works four days a week, he comes to us for one day and nursery for the remaining three days). We have had him since he was nine months' old and, to be honest, it is one of the highlights of our week. We try to do things with him that his parents can't do - so, as he loves buses, this week we took him into town on the bus, had a coffee and then came home again (thank you for my bus pass). In the summer we took him to the beach, I bake with him - oh, all sorts. He stays over occasionally, especially now that he is going to have a brother or a sister in May - practice for when DD goes into hospital.

My GD will be coming to us for one day a week when my DIL returns back to work after maternity leave - she is hoping to cut back to two days a week, and we will have GD for one day and her own mother will have her the other.

Childcare is very expensive and it pleases me that we are saving my daughter £50 a week, but, really, we do it because it gives us so much pleasure.

I only ever had one grandparent, although my DH was blessed with a full set - but my Grandad was very special to me, even though he lived at the other end of the country. My DH is very hand-on with the GC, more than he was when our own children were toddlers - he was away such a lot at that time.

I count myself very fortunate that both my children live within fifteen minutes of us.

gillybob Thu 31-Jan-13 16:15:49

It's all so very confusing AnneMaria isn't it? To be honest I don't think there is a "one size fits all" answer. We all do things differently. I love doing things the way I do and it fits in well with my other (many) commitments too. The day I see having my grandchildren as a burden will be the day I throw the towel in ! smile

nannymoocow Thu 31-Jan-13 17:10:05

I have looked after my oldest grandson from 6 months to starting school and now look after his brother. I gave up one of my days at work to help out my daughter and have enjoyed having them. Like many others, my daughter and SIL cannot afford the childcare costs for full time care. I now work part-time 4 days a week and have my grandson for one day. Recently with the bad weather I have stepped in to look after the boys to save my daughter taking days off work which she would not have been paid for.

I think it is sad that todays parents do not seem to have a choice like we did. They have to work to pay their mortgage and this puts pressure on them which can affect the family.

I did not have my parents nearby when my girls were growing up and would have loved to have support with childcare. I know my daughter appreciates my help and does not take me for granted. Good old grandparents!!

Deedaa Fri 01-Feb-13 21:54:13

I looked after my grandson 5 days a week from the age of 6months when my daughter had to go back to work. It meant giving up work, but as I had just had knee replacements I was only working part time anyway and the nursery fees would have been crippling. Since he's been at school I've only had him for a couple of hours after school and at the moment my daughter is at home with the new baby so I am just taking him to school in the mornings for her. I hope I shall be looking after the new baby for her, although it may become difficult if my husband relapses and needs more chemo. It has been easier because my Mother in Law is in a home as I don't think I could have looked after her as well. This must be a problem for a lot of people - trying to cope with grandchildren and elderly parents, and as everyone is saying, how is working till 70 going to fit in? I was able to retire at 60 - in future this will not be possible.

Granoveve Sat 02-Feb-13 23:05:32

We have looked after our grandchildren full time, 7.30 - 5.40 or later, then part time as they started pre school and school. The before school care, the school run morning and evening and the preschool run 3 days a week then the after school care uses up all the time I envisioned as 'us' time.
Granddad always wanted to do the child care and he really enjoys it, but though I love my grandchildren and like to take them out or have them for sleepovers, caring for them full time was never in my retirement plans.
To get round this I went back to work part time. My share of the daily care, which I love, is the homework routine, the chance to teach them reading, writing and maths skills and practise tables, spellings or follow their latest interests like dinosaurs, space, science experiments etc. That means that when they go home they can have talk time or play time with Mum and Dad.
Like Nannymoocow, I think it's sad that my children and their partners have to work full time to pay the mortgage. Childcare on top of that would be crippling.

Kali Sat 02-Feb-13 23:49:37

I look after 4 grandchildren four days a week, dropping the eldest at school and picking him up most days. It is tiring, but rewarding. There is no alternative as good Childcare is very expensive.
I only wish that society in general would acknowledge the part we play in keeping parents in work and stop castigating us as an 'ageing population' and a drain on society angry

wallers5 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:27:24

I have friends whose grandchildren live abroad & they feel they really miss out. I look after mine 3 days a week & I do find it rewarding but tiring. Unfortunately my youngest daughter had them just before she was forty, so as I am 70 I find the physical side rather tough. It is very hard to find a balance. As my parnter has never had children, he finds it particularly difficult to have the house turned up-side down & the noise level. In his day it was children to be seen & not heard! So there are pressures.

gillybob Thu 14-Feb-13 16:34:28

It is very rewarding wallers5 and very tiring too in equal measures.

Your partner will find it extremely hard if he has never experienced the upheaval that comes with small children. I don't know about you but when ours go home it's like the house is breathing a huge sigh of relief and then the mass clear up begins! There is rarely a room untouched. Wouldn't change it for the world though. smile

pinkprincess Thu 14-Feb-13 19:35:19

I have been involved in caring for all five of my grandchildren since they were small babies.The oldest is now 21 and the youngest is 10.
The two youngest live with me, DH and their parents (DS and his wife).We also have one of DS's daughters from his previous marriage living with us.She is 16.
They dont need so much supervision now but I still collect the 10 year old from school when necessary and look after her and her 12 year old brother in school holidays.
DIL's parents only live a short distance away, they are both retired and active, but have never offered to have any part in the children's care.I just leave it at that,no need to cause trouble.