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Grandparents do an amazing job, wouldn't you agree?

There aren't many people who will love your child like you do. When you want to leave them in the best possible hands, grandparents can be a godsend

01/09/2017

 

A Survey by Mumnset and Gransnet in 2015 found that of those parents surveyed, almost half relied on grandparents to look after their children between 2 and 4 times per week. My wife and I are in that bracket. 

So what do these experienced childcarers bring to the table and do we need them more than previous generations? 

Five months after our daughter's birth, my wife and I were both back working full time, but prior to going back to the office we were concerned about how we were going to provide her with regular, reliable childcare arrangements. Finances would mean that the option for one of us to stay at home was never viable. We were also worried about extortionate full-time nursery costs and the logistics of this working around our own jobs. However, at the back of our minds we had our get-out-of-jail-free card - the grandparents. To be perfectly honest though, we didn't want to burden them - after all, they had done their bit with bringing up their own children, right? 

Lucky to have them

Not only are we extremely fortunate enough to have both sets of grandparents alive and living within 20 minutes of us, we are even luckier to have them all willing to help us out. My parents are retired and are also veteran grandparents to five other grandchildren. My wife's parents are first-timers. So everything was perfect for us, which isn't always the case.

With open arms, they joyfully accepted to assist us with our childcare needs.

We are now over three years in to relying on them. Amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I occasionally stop to think about the amazing job they and millions of grandparents around the UK do. I should do this more, I know.

Love

It is clear in their eyes that from the moment I drop my daughter off, to the second I pick her up, there is love and devotion from all four grandparents. They look after her because they want to, not because they have to. "It keeps us young", dad often tells me. "Because when you get old, you spend a lot of time surrounded by old people, care homes and death. So watching our granddaughter run around a park with all the life in the world keeps our minds and body young."

Getting stuck in

Being 'frontline grandparents' means they have a very different relationship with their grandkids to what I did with my own grandparents. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times my nan looked after me and my brother as kids. More often than not, it was during an evening and we were in bed whilst my parents headed out. My mum was a stay-at-home-mum for the best part of 15 years and I suppose she was my mum, nan and grandad all in one. This is not downplaying the role of my grandparents - as I loved them dearly, it was simply a different type of relationship.

All four grandparents are very hands-on with our little one. They make the effort to go out, to run around or to bake. My dad is the eldest of the four; and something caught my attention during a recent summer day out to the beach. I watched him sitting with his grandchildren on the sand. He was showing them how to make sandcastles - guiding them, making them laugh, and making it fun. It just summed up what being a grandparent means. They provide that natural love and attention which goes with the territory.

Peace-of-mind

From our parental point of view it also gives us peace of mind knowing that when they are called upon to look after our daughter, we can rest safe in the knowledge that she will be happy in their care. Even if she has now learnt the ability to boss them around. "Sit on floor"! She will demand.

Grandparents also provide safety and familiarity. A familiar face breeds safety. Having that friendly, loving face of grandparents makes little humans feel safe. Feeling safe inside means they can take risks which in turn will build their confidence and enhance their overall development - even if it means my dad struggling to keep up with her if she decides to go on a little run or diversion.

Being a little human is mostly about having fun; our daughter is always out and about on some little adventure when she is being looked after (parental guilt sets in when we can't always provide the same level of adventures) - but she is a regular at our local National Trust Site and they always report her incredible appetite for running...and hunting out the café. A place to run, smile and eat a doughnut, I guess. Yes, she has probably been to more garden centres than Alan Titchmarsh but she is always having fun somewhere.

To pay or not to pay?

An obvious benefit to having available and willing grandparents is the financial savings on childcare. Alongside our arrangement with them we currently pay £200 a month nursery fees for our daughter to go one day a week. I don't know what we would do without the help we receive. I regularly think about offering to pay our parents for their priceless time, but I know that they would refuse it. They see it as a modern-day role of grandparents helping out their own children with something, which was not so prevalent when they were raising kids.

What I will say to parents who do rely on grandparents, is always find a way to say thank you when you pick your kids up. "Thanks mum, thanks dad". "No problem. We enjoyed it".

Andy Robinson, Working Dad and Tinies Manny

Find more child and parenting related articles on Andy's Huffington Post page.

 
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