Do you feel you are under pressure to sacrifice your plans? 33

Let's Talk


View Profile

Grandparents will do anything for their grandkids, right? They have endless time for them and will happily drop everything to help out. At least, that’s what most people think. But a survey of actual Australian grandparents has found the reality is not so rosy.

The report, by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, says grandparents are the most popular form of childcare in Australia today – last year, around 837,000 children were looked after by their grandparents, a significantly higher number than those in day care or before- and after school-care.

What is most striking about the findings is that grandparents reported making “considerable sacrifices” in order to care for their grandkids, most notably in relation to work and retirement.

Among those surveyed, 70 per cent altered the days or shifts they worked, 55 per cent reduced their working hours, and 18 per cent had even changed job so they could care for their grandkids. Many said they often stepped to cover unexpected care, such as when a child was sick or the parents had to go to work. They also reported arranging their holidays and leave around school holidays to “cover” parents who had to work.

Meanwhile, a third of grandparents said their desire or the expectation they would care for grandchildren led them to retire earlier than planned.

Caring commitments also had a considerable effect on what the grandparents planned for their retirement. In contrast to the common media perception that the baby boomer generation will “redefine retirement”, engaging in seachanges, grey nomading, and international travel, many grandparents in this study said their retirement plans were heavily shaped by their caring commitment. While many were attracted to the ideas of moving and travelling, most said that their planning around where they lived, where and when they travelled, and even the recreational activities they could participate in were contingent on their caring commitments.

Over half of the grandparents said that the main reason their children asked them to provide childcare was the barriers in the formal childcare system, including lack of affordability, availability, flexibility, and appropriateness for very young babies. One third said they did it to spend time with their grandchildren.

Let’s talk: Do you provide regular childcare for your grandchildren? Why or why not? Has it affected your work or retirement plans? 

Starts at 60 Writers

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

  1. Have done more than our share…..happily…..would do it all again…YEP….in a heartbeat….however we have been used n spat out……fir the third time…..taken the grandies to another state….leaving behind many sets of grandparents wondering ‘why’

  2. Love my grandkids to bits and help out when I can but both sets of parents know my own plans come first and respect that. Have great relationships all round.

  3. Yes, I’ve done a lot of baby-sitting, picked them up from kindergarten and school, cared for them during the holidays etc. Loved it!

  4. It’s something that most grandparents are happy to do, (even volunteer to do).. None of us HAVE to babysit, it’s up to us to say no if we don’t want to do it.

  5. I love spending time with my grandchildren ! I missed out on many moments when they where younger as I was working full time. I just wish they would live closer. But at least I get to see them most weekends 🙂

  6. I certainly have never felt I sacrificed myself. I have looked after 6 of the 7 grand children full time while the parents worked,and found it a privilege. I did it because firstly,I did not want my daughter to lose ground in the work place,with maternity leave, and of course the exorbitant rates for childcare! I had three years off and then my daughter in law changed career paths and needed to study,so looked after their little fellow who had special needs.The reward was,I adored every minute,and it brought me close to every grandchild. Our life is on a bit of a holding pattern at the minute,while we have one of the grandies just trying to sort her life out,but again that’s not a trial,and we know,and they know,that we are a unit,all bound by the love and good outcome for each other.

  7. I help with the grandchildren now that I am retired and look after them when I am called upon to do so, and I love having them. Neither my daughter nor my daughter-in-law have ever worked full time since having their children. In fact, my daughter-in-law only started doing some work last year.

  8. Yes Have 2 grandkids to get ready for school and be here in the afternoon for them and then run them to there sport. So really hands on. Also school holidays go to Sydney to mind my other 2 for how long they need me. Love my grandkids.

  9. No not at all. My daughter only asks me to take care of the children when she knows I am free. And if for any reason I dont feel like it, I just tell her.

  10. I babysat my two youngest grandsons twice a week for 8 yrs untill they both were at school. I drove 100km there and back again . Adjusting my life around that was easy. The other Nanna did two days as well and mum had Fridays off and worked Saturday mornings while daddy was home. It worked well. I am still trying to fill the gaps now that I’m not needed anymore. I still go down there once a fortnight to see them tho

  11. I only wished I lived closer to my grandchildren to be able to help with them . We have had no pressure put on us to mind them at times but will do it if we can and the parents usually work around our schedule . We enjoy the time with them , even though it can be a little stressful at times , they are generally pretty good . There will come a time when spending time with their grand parents is not a high priority to them , so you have to make hay while the sun shines .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *