Arranging childcare is a familiar, and sometimes fraught, battle for working parents.
Help from the grandparents can be a welcome option for many already concerned about adding the costs of paid care options to mortgage repayments and other bills, especially when you factor costs per child could range from $120-$180 a day depending on where you live and the service you access.
So how do you approach your parents for ongoing help with your children?
Here are our 3 steps to grandparent day-care.
1) Planning and practicalities
Asking for help might sound good until you realise that a grandparent with a heart condition might have difficulty keeping up with children, or another suffering from bouts of depression might find the extra responsibility too much to cope with on a regular basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t ask for any help but your expectations and requests may need to factor your parents’ health and wellbeing.
From there, have in mind what type of help you are looking for, be it a temporary solution or a more permanent weekly arrangement. Think about how often you might need help and what time and costs might be involved for your parents. Will you want your children cared for in your parents’ home or in your own? Being clear up front with your request can help with forming a better arrangement, where everyone understands what is being agreed to and will assist your parents in better deciding the extent of the help they might be able to offer. You may need to be prepared to give your parents some time to think about your request before they give you an answer.
2) Managing costs
Taking care of children can be a labour of love – but certainly isn’t free. While some grandparents might be financially comfortable and happy to bear costs, a care arrangement could put strain on others, including those who may reduce their own working hours to help. You might want to consider a financial arrangement with your parents as part of caring for your children. This might not be about an exchange of money (some may be insulted by an offer of financial compensation) – perhaps you could supply all the food and activities for your children while their grandparents care for them. Alternatively, you might consider a trade – in return for childcare, perhaps you assist with their household jobs like gardening or cleaning. If it is about exchange of money, perhaps consider what the costs of paid childcare would have been and offer a certain portion of this.
3) Setting the boundaries
In any relationship, there may need to be some compromise and grandparent day-care is no exception. Be clear together on what the rules are for your children – both in terms of your expectations but also that of helping grandparents so that you can present a united front to your children. While some expectations might be simpler, such as views on acceptable foods or general behaviour, others might be a source of tension like methods of discipline. What your parents consider acceptable forms of discipline might not match with your views so you should set options ahead of time to avoid conflict down the track.
Boundaries also apply to the relationship you have with your parents and emergencies. Helping grandparents still have their own lives and concerns so being conscious of this can go a long way towards a harmonious care relationship and allows you to be considerate of situations ranging from medical appointments to holidays. It also allows you to be ready with back-up care arrangements if needed. Checking in with your parents regularly on whether the existing arrangement is working for them and whether it needs to be changed will also keep things running smoothly and allow your parents the opportunity to adjust care if they need to over time.
While planning, cost discussions and setting boundaries may feel like a business-like approach to a family arrangement, it can save a lot of angst and resentment down the track from mismatched expectations. A clear arrangement, which all parties are happy with, will not only be best for your children, but also ensure many happy family BBQs to come.
Information current as at 4 July 2018. This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs having regard to these factors before acting on it.