Guilt-ridden grandparents close down ‘tiring’ free childcare

Apr 19, 2021
The pandemic has given older people a chance to reevaluate the way they want to spend their senior years, with some making the decision that running a daycare service is not on the list.

While granny/grandpa daycare may seem like a lovely way to help take the burden off your kids, a recent survey has found that many grandparents find it too tiring, with some choosing to opt out entirely.

A recent Gransnet survey reported that prior to the pandemic about 5 million grandparents in the UK provided childcare for their grandchildren, saving working parents £22 billion (AU $39.4 billion) on childcare — averaging £4,027 per family per year. The survey found that now Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, and most over-50s have been partly or fully vaccinated, a fifth of British grandparents who provided childcare before Covid are now reluctant to carry on — or say they’ll definitely stop soon.

While in lockdown, many of the grandparents had been unable to provide their usual childcare, and now that the restrictions have lifted the survey found that while 72 per cent were looking forward to seeing their grandchildren again, only 27 per cent are looking forward to providing childcare again. The survey also found that grandparents were looking forward to seeing friends (69 per cent of), going on holiday (56 per cent) and going to the hairdresser (67 per cent).

Justine Roberts, founder of Gransnet, said the pandemic had given older people a chance to reevaluate the way they wanted to spend their senior years, with some making the decision that running a daycare service was too taxing on their health.

“Many grandparents have been forced to keep their distance from their grandchildren over the past year,” she said. “It’s undoubtedly been a lonely and difficult time but, for some, the time apart has given them a chance to reassess what they want from their senior years. Unfortunately for many parents, the alternatives to granny daycare are ruinously expensive.”

Trying to keep up with little ones is definitely physically taxing and daycare can also mean long days, which can take a toll. “Being brutally honest, I’m not sure I want to go back to 6am starts and 11-hour days looking after an almost-three-year-old,” one Gransnet user wrote.

“We had our three-year-old grandson two days a week, seven hours a day and he was on the go all day. Lockdown made me realise how tiring it was (we are over 70). I feel very guilty about not being able to do it all, but I need to be sensible,” another user commented.

While another said, “I helped most days with grandchildren for over two years. I was eager and glad to do it initially but it became long hours and a chore. It aged me 10 years.”

The grandparents who had decided to close down their grandma/grandpa daycares did so for numerous reasons, with 10 per cent saying their child’s circumstances have changed, and 2 per cent saying their health won’t allow them to take care of their grandchildren anymore.

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How do you handle the stress and long days that come with granny/grandpa daycare duties?

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