The cost of living crisis means many parents are taking on more hours or jobs and grandparents are helping out with childcare, according to a new survey.
Christine Holdsworth is a retired hospital administrator. Christine unexpectedly lost her husband in 2020 and found herself feeling quite isolated living on her own and struggling with the maintenance of a large house. She decided it was the right time to move closer to her two daughters and grandchildren in Peterborough.
Downsizing has removed so many of the demands on Christine’s time and allowed her to look after her 14-year-old grandson, Thomas, during school holidays and most weekends when her daughter Alison works.
Alison says: “I think I would probably have to give up my job as a carer and get a job in school hours, but these are few and far…so in the current climate I’m not sure how we’d cope.”
Christine says the arrangement also helps her: “It gives me huge happiness knowing I’m making a difference and never tire of it,” she says.
Christine is just one of many grandparents helping their children out with childcare as a new survey shows as many as 53 percent of working parents have had to take on extra hours or additional work during the current cost of living crisis.
The study of 2,000 retirees by retirement developer McCarthy Stone found over half (52 percent) of grandparents claim there is more pressure on parents now than when they were young. And four in 10 say they are taking a more active role in their grandchildren’s lives to help.
Overall, 42 percent of grandparents are helping regularly with the school run, on average five times a month, while 46 percent are hosting their grandchildren for sleepovers at least three times a month.
As many as 39 percent are undertaking weekly trips to the playground, while cooking evening meals for the family (35 percent) and doing the bath and bedtime routine (28 percent) are also falling under grandparents’ remits.
A third (28 percent) are doing the laundry, while the same number are even helping by walking the family dog.
Meanwhile, one in five (21 percent) regularly delve into their toolbox to do DIY jobs around their children’s houses. And many help out financially – 16 percent have helped with their children’s weekly shop, while 12 percent pay for their children’s household bills and mortgage. One in four (26 percent) of grandparents have moved to be nearer to their family.
One in three (33 percent) say they have put their children’s and their family’s needs ahead of their own. Two thirds (69 percent) say they are more than happy to help, while four in ten (41 percent) believe it is their role as a parent to help in any way they can. One in three (34 percent) say helping out has brought them closer together as a family, with a further 32 percent enjoying being needed by the family, something that gives them a sense of pride (24 percent). A fifth (18 percent) admit that needs must in these difficult times, with one in six (16 percent) worrying that if they don’t help, no one else will.
Four in ten (44 percent) wish they could help out more, with money (39 percent), time (32 percent). health worries (31 percent) and living too far away (26 percent) stopping them.
Despite being happy to help, assisting with building work and decorating (20 percent) are the tasks that grandparents and great-grandparents find the most tiring, along with laundry (17 percent), paying bills (16 percent) and doing DIY (15 percent).