With childcare costs sky high, many parents turn to the nursery of grandparents so they can carry on working. But looking after little ones full time is a demanding job, so should parents expect grandparents to do it for free?
And if you do pay them, how much?
Recent figures by Tombola revealed that grandparents save the UK’s parents an average of £161.1bn every year by providing informal childcare for their children.
65% of grandparents provide childcare to help to their children and by taking care of the kids for an average of 11.3 hours a week grandparents are saving parents £1,786 a year.
It can certainly be a contentious issue as illustrated by one forum post shared by a grandmother finding herself in a tricky childcare spot.
“I look after my daughter’s baby 5 days a week, from 7 am until sometimes gone 5 o’clock,” the grandmother wrote on parenting site, Netmums.
“Before she had the baby she agreed to pay me £40 a week, which I think is quite reasonable. However, I have somehow ended up doing it for nothing.”
The woman goes on to say that though she loves her grandson, she could really do with the money.
“They are not short of money and are always buying things and going out for meals etc,” she added.
She also pointed out that if she wasn’t looking after her grandson she could have a job that actually paid.
“How do I broach this subject with her? I don’t want to fall out with her, she can be quite touchy,” she ended her post.
And other users were quick to step in and offer their own take on the tricky topic.
Many agreed that the woman is being taken advantage of, she is saving her daughter hundreds of pounds in nursery fees, and even though she loves being with her grandson, she should not be expected to care for him 5-days a week for free!
“Wow they’re having their cake and eating it! I’m a childminder and the attitude of some parents when a grandparent can’t have their child is utter disgust like it’s there DUTY!” one woman wrote.
“If you didn’t need to work and you offered this that’s one thing. But if you need to work, they’re getting FREE childcare AND earning money but CHOSE TO HAVE THIS CHILD? wow I’m sorry Id have had to said something by now!” she added.
“Sounds like she’s totally taking you for granted,” another user commented. “You are doing her a huge favour and having a baby all week like that is extremely hard work and very much limits what you can do with your time.
“If you can’t tell her straight then I agree with others to say that you’re looking for a part time job as you need the money. I think the amount you’re asking for is extremely reasonable.”
Others thought that £40 a week would not be nearly enough even if her daughter was paying her – £40 a day would be more realistic!
“Tell her that a part time job opportunity has come up, which you are thinking about taking, but it would affect how much you can have the kids?” one user suggested.
“Any paid childcare would be significantly more expensive that £40 (that probably wouldn’t even cover one days care) so if she has any sense she’ll reoffer to pay.”
“It’s very unfair that she is able to go to work and at the minute she is keeping all of her earnings whilst your looking after the baby for 10 hours a day, a childminder would be £45 a day never mind a week,” another user agreed.
But some users could see things from the parents’ point of view, pointing out that it might not be intentional on the part of the woman’s daughter, particularly with childcare costs currently so high.
“Just mention it to your daughter I’m sure she’s not going to mind paying you, it’s probably just slipped her mind,” one user suggested.
“My mum looks after my son for 3 afternoons so I can work. I’ve offered her money but she won’t have it.”
Other users shared their own grandparent/childcare payment or non-payment arrangements.
“My mum works full time with 2 days off a week. One of these she has my baby all day. She does it for nothing and says how much she looks forward to their day. If my mum didn’t have her I’d be paying £50 a day for nursery (like I do the other days). My mum won’t have a penny for looking after her so I make sure birthday/Christmas she gets £100 cash plus presents.”
“My mum was having my 2 year old for 2 days a week and he was with the childminder 2 days a week at £4 an hour,” another woman explained. “I paid my mum £20 each week for petrol costs, she would come over on a Sunday night and stay until Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning and I made sure in that time that she paid for nothing, if she took my son to soft play etc I put the money in her bank for admission and for drinks/snacks bought.”
This isn’t the only childcare story that has the Internet worked up recently.
Last month a family’s search for an unusual nanny made headlines. The couple were willing to pay £40K for a nanny to look after their little ones, provided they were willing to dress like a Disney princess during working hours.
And last year a couple went online to look for a nanny to help raise their child like he is in the Victorian times.
Also last year, a mum and dad started a search to find an expert to help teach their children about the birds and the bees.
The controversial listing explained that the parents were looking for a childcare professional to teach the children “about the complexities of puberty, intimacy and consent” because they themselves are struggling to answer their questions.