Recent research by the Telegraph states that the over 65's are saving families in the UK around £11bn on childcare. We're seeing a rise in the number of families that are turning to grandparents for some or all of their childcare needs.
When it comes to making it work, we asked our very own Amanda Coxen - who has experienced the help of a Granny Nanny first hand - for her advice on how to set things up so that they run smoothly, and no one is offended.
"You must have been hiding under a stone if you haven't heard of the term 'Granny Nanny'. With the costs of childcare in the UK on the continual rise, it is not surprising that mums and dads are looking to their own parents to help care for their children. I know at my own school, at least 60% of the people waiting to collect children are grandparents, and at various times of my working life my mother in law has stepped in to help out with our boys," says Amanda.
"There are many positives for having your parents care for your children - the most obvious one being the complete trust you have in that individual. Finding the right childcarer can be a minefield of reference checking, interviewing, DBS checks, employment contracts etc. All of that can be bypassed by asking your parents to help out (or getting some expert help)...
But it isn't always plain sailing. There are, of course, the pitfalls. For those of you with strong willed parents or in-laws, you may find yourself clashing over the best way to raise your own children. I know I've had some 'interesting' conversations with my mother-in-law about giving in to TV and electronic demands so easily!"
How to make it work with a Granny or 'Grampy' nanny
Here are Amanda's helpful hints on how to make the relationship with your Granny or Grampy work; if it doesn't, Tinies can help you find a different solution!
Don't take them for granted - If they are anything like my mother-in-law, they will have their own life to lead and are not supposed to be at your beck and call. Be conscious about not being too demanding on their time.
Be firm but flexible about how the children will be cared for - Grandparents can't help but lavish love on their grandchildren, which can often enter the realms of spoiling them. My husband can't believe how much his mum feeds my kids chocolate and sweets, given that these were very rarely dolled out when he was a child. Try and set some ground rules, but don't be over critical if they are sometimes broken.
Agree on the thorny issue of money - Most arrangements between grandparents and families probably don't involve money changing hands, but if the role is more full time than ad hoc, perhaps you should consider compensating them in some way. After all, you are saving money by not having to pay for qualified childcare. At the very least they should be paid any expenses - playgroups, food, travel, nappies. Any car seats, cots, buggies etc must be provided by you as well.
Are you expecting them to cook and clean as well? Again, don't let them feel put upon, and consider their health and their physical ability to carry out all of these duties. Their real role is caring for their grandchildren as opposed to being a general dogsbody.
Be aware that your parents are not qualified nursery nurses or teachers (unless of course they are, in which case lucky you!) - If you are looking for your children to get ahead in reading, writing, and maths, then maybe a nursery would be better, or a combination of granny and nursery. This works best if your child is entitled to free nursery places.
If you want your child to have social interaction with children of their own age, then be prepared to research into any playgroups that your mum or dad can take them to, but be conscious of what they can do. Maybe swimming and baby yoga isn't as appealing to grandparents as it is to you.
Be grateful for the help grandparents provide
The overriding advice Amanda gives is to always show how grateful you are for their help, and learn to bite your tongue:
"Do not underestimate how wonderful it is for grandchildren to spend time with their grandparents. I certainly wish my dad lived closer and could see my boys more often. Having a parent live nearby who is willing to help is truly a godsend but should not be taken for granted."