Renae Diggles

June 12, 2024

Grandparents Are The Most Desirable Child Minders

Renae Diggles

June 12, 2024

Child care fees in Australia are high and there appears to be no end to the rising costs. With this in mind, many Australian families ask grandparents to assist in caring for their grandchildren. The 2017 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that approximately ¼ of children requiring child care were most frequently cared for by their grandparents.

The benefits of grandparents providing care are endless. Firstly, it significantly reduces the costs of child care. It also gives the grandparents and grandchildren time to form close relationships. Furthermore, it gives the parents peace of mind that their children get cared for in a familiar and safe environment.

For the grandparents that actively participate in their grandchildren’s lives, there are potential health benefits for them also. Not only do young people keep you physically active and mentally stimulated, but they also keep you social. Socialising with family is equally as important as socialising with others your age, and when your young grandchildren get older, the bond that you’ve formed with them as younger people will hopefully carry through.

Nevertheless, everyone needs to be in agreeance before grandparents become the main child minders of their grandchildren. There are several factors to consider from different angles.

Making the Right Choice: Choosing a Grandparent to be The Main Child Minder

Many grandparents still work. Some are in part-time roles, some are in full-time employment and others actively volunteer within their community. Other retired grandparents might have a demanding hobby, or have great plans to travel abroad. It’s really important that new parents consider the circumstances of their older parents, and don’t expect that they’re going to be available to provide child care on a regular basis.

Another factor to consider is whether the grandparents are physically and mentally able to care for their grandchildren.  If a grandparent has one or more chronic health conditions, looking after young children could prove too challenging. It could be that they have some level of cognitive impairment, or that they’re unable to get out of a chair quick enough to act if a young person is about to hurt themselves. It could be that they’re past the point of looking after young people and need to consider accessing aged care support services.

It’s important that all parties are honest about whether there are barriers to grandparents becoming the main choice for child care.

Furthermore, many older people have worked really hard all of their lives and raised children of their own. There’s a lot of emotional stress as well as physical stress when looking after young children. This could be too difficult for the ageing grandparent to manage on a frequent basis.

Child care to Alleviate The Pressure

Nobody wants to put their parents under unnecessary pressure to care for their children if they’re not capable of doing so. This would be negative for the children, parents and the grandparents and could adversely impact on the relationship in the future. If there’s concerns regarding the physical and mental abilities of the grandparents, the parents should consider using other forms of child care such as a live in nanny, family day care or centre based care.

Some grandparents are comfortable to look after grandchildren for part of the week but not the entire week. Grandparents might be able to provide some of the care while the remainder is provided by an organisation. Negotiating a plan at the onset is a great idea.

How Often Will the Grandparents Look After the Grandchildren?

Agreeing on the frequency of childcare to be provided by the grandparents is important. Some grandparents are happy to do one day per week, while also providing child minding at random times so that the parents can go to a show or have dinner with friends every now and then. Other grandparents are happy and able to provide all of the child care for their grandchildren. Parents themselves might prefer for their children to attend day care or have a nanny, as well as be looked after by grandparents. Whatever the family decides, it should be a mutual decision that’s reached. The decision will come down to the costs involved in day care. It will also be based on the ability and time of the grandparents.

Taking Payment for Looking After Grandchildren

Asking grandparents to look after grandchildren usually occurs because the parent can’t afford the day care fees. Or they feel more comfortable having the grandparent look after their children. If the parent can’t afford day care fees, they might still be able to remunerate the grandparent for their efforts. This is on a case by case basis and depends on what both parties agree upon. If a grandparent won’t accept payment there are other ways to remunerate them. For example, they might enjoy going to a show, taking an all-expenses paid weekend away, or a massage and pedicure.

Different Rules For Different Generations

Although grandparents are very experienced at raising and looking after children, their views are often dated and out of line with their children’s views on parenting. It’s important to iron out any differences as they arise, or before the child care arrangements even come into play. This is especially important if the young children will be spending lengthy amounts of time with their grandparents.

Government Assistance for Grandparents

Last but not least, there’s a variety of government support services that are available to assist grandparents who regularly provide care. Accessing such support early on will aid in the arrangements running smoothly.

There are also government payments available to help non-parent care givers. This includes grandparents to manage the costs involved in caring for children. Many grandparents say that their child care commitments have negatively impacted on their income before and after retirement.

If you’re finding it financially difficult to care for your grandchildren, get in contact with the Department of Human Services to discuss your circumstances.

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