3 things to consider before minding the grandchildren

3 min read

Grandparent day-care is becoming common and chances are, many of your friends and family members are already doing this.

You love your children and grandchildren so want to help them as much as possible – but is becoming the day-care alternative really the best idea? Here are 3 things to consider before you set up a regular care arrangement for your grandchildren.

1) Can you afford it?

Some grandparents might still be working and choose to reduce their own working hours to help out. In this instance, it can be valuable to think through what this might mean for you financially. Can you afford to work less at this point and still cover your normal expenses plus emergencies? Will reducing your hours now affect your ability to retire comfortably later?

Alternatively, if you are already retired, can your budget stretch to cover food and activities on a regular basis for your grandchildren? It can be helpful to speak to an expert about your finances and budgeting to work out what you can afford to do and where there might be gaps.

A financial gap doesn’t need to be a deal breaker but it is something you’ll need to talk through with your children before agreeing to care for your grandchildren. They might be able to cover the gap by paying for the food and activities for the grandchildren while in your care, or where there might be a bigger financial challenge, some with the financial means might consider offering a portion of what they might otherwise have paid for formalised care.

2) Your physical and mental wellbeing

A strong connection to family can be a boon in older age for mental and physical health. For many, the opportunity for regular bonding with grandchildren and active participation in their upbringing can be a source of great joy.

On the reverse though, older age can bring physical and mental challenges. Someone with heart problems or arthritis might have trouble keeping up with the energy levels of their young grandchildren, or even find their efforts to participate worsen their physical health. There may also be regular medical appointments to manage health conditions where taking children along may prove difficult or inappropriate.

Mental health is an oft-ignored but highly important factor too. If you already suffer from mental illness, you might need to tailor the care arrangement to give yourself enough time to manage your own health needs. Similarly, your ability to continue to participate in social networks and other activities you enjoy plays an important role in your mental health. Placing yourself in a situation where you never see your friends can make you feel isolated and lonely – not ideal for you and certainly won’t help you be the best you can be while you care for your grandchildren.

Remember taking care of your health is an act of love to you and your family so it’s fine to adjust arrangements to make sure you are in peak health to enjoy your children and grandchildren when you see them.

3) Clear plans and boundaries

Setting clear arrangements and guidelines with your family is the easiest way to avoid resentment when expectations don’t match up. Some things you may want to cover include frequency of care and hours involved, emergency care options and contacts, food and activities, rules for how the grandchildren should behave and discipline.

Discipline can be a big one – standards and ideas change over time after all so what may have been acceptable when you raised your children may be different from how your grandchildren are being raised. Ensuring you are equipped with the appropriate tools to deal with any misbehaviour will help to avoid conflict down the track.

It’s also worth discussing whether there are any situations where you are not comfortable providing care or block-out dates for holidays or activities. If something about the arrangement isn’t working, speak up and work through alternatives with your family – you might not know at the start that a certain situation could be a problem.

At the end of the day, you’ll know whether taking on regular childcare for your grandchildren is going to be right for you and your family. Helping out is a gift – but not a requirement – so knowing what you can afford financially, physically and mentally to do is important.

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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.