Retiring for your grandchildren could be dangerous for your health 47



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There’s nothing more exciting than becoming a grandparent, especially for the first time. But researchers have found that grandparenting could influence more parts of our life than we realise – and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

A study from the American University’s Kogod School of Business has found that women of retirement age are more likely to retire earlier when they have new grandchildren than those who aren’t becoming grandparents. It’s so high that the likelihood of retirement for grandchildren is almost on par with the likelihood of retirement due to poor health. On face value, it makes a lot of sense. If you retire, you can spend more time with your family and your grandchildren, both supporting them and enjoying time with your new grandchild. Although this seems to bring an abundance of joy and happiness – even grandmas can get baby brain! – It can also pose a threat to financial security and health later down the track.

Consider the lifestyle of someone who has retired in order to enjoy grandparenting. From a young age, you’re there in the child’s life. This also means that you’re a constant support for their parents or your children. This is great, but the numbers prove it can take a turn for the worst.

In 2013, a study from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found that baby boomer grandparents were caring for 40 per cent of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers whose parents worked. This meant that they were almost becoming the primary caregiver. If you’re a grandparent then you’ve already gone through the young years and you’ll know that it isn’t easy work. The health implications of being such a prominent carer in a grandchild’s life can become quite serious. Stress and anxiety begin to build up and very little time is left to spend on your own interests and hobbies.

The constant involvement from a young age can often begin to become an expectation. This means that more grandparents are being pressured into child minding during their “golden years” – the time when health, money and free time is at an all time high. Because of this, fewer retirees are able to enjoy their own plans like travelling and trying new interests and hobbies.

The other side of this is that early retirement means you have more time to make your savings stretch. It’s reducing your income production significantly when you could be working part time or so for another decade or so.

While it might not seem like a burden immediately, financial security will become a bigger issue as time goes on and expenses like healthcare become more pressing.

Effectively, early retirement for grandchildren can pose a serious risk to your own health, happiness and financial security.

Right now, the average retirement age for women in Australia is 58, however trends suggest that over the next decade that could increase to 63. It makes sense to work for longer because that means a reduced financial burden on yourself later in life. That, paired with greater workplace flexibility means that working for longer is an attractive opportunity. But what do we care about more?

Somewhere in there is a very delicate balance between loving, supportive and present grandparent and active, youthful, fun-filled retiree. Perhaps we consider grandchildren the ultimate source of happiness in retirement forgetting that we need to take care of our own health and happiness first.

It’s an interesting discussion and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this today… So tell us, did grandparenting influence your retirement? How often do you see or care for your grandchildren? Do you feel like you have enough time to truly enjoy your own life? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I see an awful lot of retirees with grandchildren during school hols etc. When are they going to enjoy the freedom retirement offers, probably never.

    2 REPLY
    • I’m the one that offers to have my grandchildren on school holidays when I can because I love spending time with them, not because I’m expected to, I know lots of others that do the same.

      1 REPLY
      • I love having the kids in the school holidays. We have a lot of fun while at the same time build strong relationships.

  2. I think this us beneficial for grandparents. I don’t believe they look at what they have lost but what they have gained.

  3. I was 44, had my own nine year old, when I wished to support my daughter with having her family. I knew all about trying to get back into the workforce after a long gap,and wanted her to have a solid career path. So by the end of all the grandies,one from my son,added to the picture,I was 63. Now 68 and Hubby finally retired,I have only the joy of being very close and very loved by these beautiful young people,and I would not have wished it any other way.However, can’t do it again for the latest little addition from youngest son.Back has given in after nursing parents in between all the little ones. So now it’s definitely time for me, and I’m so loving this time for just enjoying hubby to myself,and we plan to just go,go,go!

  4. Interesting comments. When I retired in ’13 I was looking forward to being ‘free’. Sounds odd? No not really whilst working fulltime I looked after my mentally ill husband for 20+ years( prior to his death ) which was very stressful and damaging to my health so free is what I expected to feel.
    I didn’t expect to feel obliged to look after 3 of my grand kids from 7am every school day but as I said I felt obliged when my daughter’s marriage fell apart. I didn’t expect to feel frustrated at the confines of the arrangement; having to work around their school hours when making time to have coffee with friends or trips to the dentist etc. So free I’m not. However what can you do? You have your children for life and help them when you can. But having been there and done that with them you don’t, or at least I don’t want to do it again especially when one of the grandkids has shocking temper tantrums and bullies his siblings. With the new laws in place which don’t allow you to smack them when what they need is a good smack it’s difficult. The solution? Stay in the workforce !!

  5. My husband & I have our son & grandkids living with us because of marriage breakup, I am 72 & my husband is 77 yrs of age, we are lucky we have good health, but time poor, can’t go on long holiday in our caravan like we used to, but we have to help our son get on his feet again, it’s been 2year & 4 months now, their mother only wants to see them 2 days every 2 weeks, very sad, the girls are 8 & 11 yrs old now, they love their Father, his is a very good Dad.

    3 REPLY
    • God Bless you and your husband. What unselfish and fine parents/grandparents you are; how grateful your son must be, as how else would he have coped? Some mothers don’t deserve the privilege of the title! Good health and good luck for the future.

    • Thank you Sandra for your kind words, God willing the situation will get better and we will be able to continue with our lives as before. Thanks again, you made my day.

    • you are magnificent grandparents ! For now ,see the world through their eyes they need your love so much. I hope you get a holiday soon, take them with you!? You could teach them many things along the way.

  6. We are a blended family. Our daughter is a part time teacher. We all share child care. It’s a wonderful experience. Three sets of loving grandparents. When one of us wants to take an extended holiday, the others step in. During the three years since I gave up work I have published my first childrens book and the publisher plans another seven in the series. Life couldn’t be better. We all agree she keeps us young.

  7. Chose not to. Left the city when I realised my PhD daughter had in mind for me to become surrogate mum to her kids so she could focus totally on her career. Nope, not for me. Love ’em all, but not wanting to become a full time (or even part time) carer again – not unless there was a real emergency in which case I would of course do what I could. But where there’s a choice, it’s my choice to live my last couple of decades for me………

    8 REPLY
    • Thanks Janet Blackmore….My child rearing days were very stressful for reasons I won’t elaborate on here, but I think I did enough (more than according to many of my friends) and have no wish to burden myself again, when I deserve to be relaxing and finally having a life….<3

    • I am the same, I do not want the responsibility of children, been there done that, love my 4 adult kids to bits, very proud of them, but I am not interested in being on call or to raise their children, they are all adults and live by their choices just like I did, of course in an emergency I would do what I could.

    • And some drop you like a sack of potatoes when the babysitting days r over lol

      1 REPLY
      • Yes, indeed they do…. hardly ever hear from them now they are teens and twenties, ‘cept for Birthday ‘s and Christmas.. (gifts) nor our two
        off spring either…. Life has changed… Friendships now are treasured.

    • Yep, in fact I often get “dropped” (or it feels like that) when I’m not of “use”…..I really only hear from my daughter (with the grandies) when she wants something. Otherwise, not a “dicky bird”. It’s quite possibly the “way it’s meant to be” or common, but I have to say I get a little sad.

      1 REPLY
    • Can feel like we’re only useful for babysitting,maybe that’s life, probably did it ourselves …ring them if u need to let them know you’re alive … They do appreciate your efforts… My kids always say thanks… I’ve Got 6 grandchildren…

  8. Spending time with my grand children gives me new energy but do feel exhausted….I live to far away to have them regularly but like to make up for it when i am close by. I think to have them full-time would be too much but one or two days would work… what you want don’t do it if you resent the time. Parents choose to have them and there are sacrifices to be made …!!

  9. Looking after grandkids as well as your own needs has to have a balance. It’s important to set boundaries right from the first grandchild.

  10. I am one of these “Retirees” and love it to bits. When my first grandchild was born 6 1/2 yrs ago and have since had 6 more I knew neither of my daughters (3 of) would never experience what I was fortunate to do and that was be a full time mum until all were at school and then worked during school times only This is where I made (with my husbands understanding) a decision to be full time carer during the week whilst they either worked part time or full time university. The dynamics may change from year to year depending on their age, I do dance sessions with the girls and help out with the odd swimming lessons with the boys. I still manage to have a day to myself for myself and my husband and I manage a 3 week holiday away every year. I love what I do but I know it’s not for everyone and I am very lucky that my girls are respectful enough to know that I need my space also.

  11. I did retire at 58 and am loving every minute of it . Now my 3 grandsons have all started school I miss them terribly ,so love having them in school holidays for a day or two . My kids never expect or abuse it so it’s always a joy for us .

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