Grandparents: The New Childminders

The rising cost of childcare means that many working parents are seeking new childcare options for their kids. Quite often, this means grandparents stepping in to care for young children while their parents are at work.

A poll conducted by Grandparents Plus, Save the Children and the Family and Childcare Trust found that nearly 2 million grandparents in Britain give up work, reduce their hours or take time off to care for their grandchildren.

Of course, most grandparents are very happy to help out with childcare as it gives them precious time with their grandchildren. But as with any childcare arrangements, tensions can arise and when you are dealing with family, any stresses or worries can become magnified.

The mistake that many families make is to take an informal approach and this means that many important questions are not addressed. It’s advisable to sit down when first putting childcare arrangements into place and talk about what you all expect. Grandparents are often so thrilled to be asked to help with childcare in the early days that they forget to ask questions about the practicalities and logistics of your arrangement. But after a few tiring weeks of looking after your children, they may feel quite differently.

Questions you may wish to address include:

  • Routine – will there be set days and times when your parents will look after the children?
  • Money – will you pay your parents anything for their time? What about expenses such as food and day trips?
  • Discipline – do you want your parents to enforce the same rules that your children follow at home?
  • Holidays – if your parents decide to book a last-minute break, how will this affect your childcare arrangements?

Grandparents looking for advice may find the Gransnet website useful:

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