Australian grandparents provide more childcare than any other formal care service, including day care and before- and after-school care. This dependency places pressure on grandparents to work longer and harder.
As a result of increased numbers of working women and limited affordable childcare services, grandparents are bearing the brunt of the childcare responsibility. In 2014, around 837,000 children received childcare from their grandparents, with grandmothers providing most of the care.
The 2015 Intergenerational Report declared that Australia’s future prosperity is reliant on increased workforce participation of older people and women. However, boosting employment and delaying retirement among older Australians will guarantee more pressure on grandparents – stretching their time and resources more thinly.
The pressure on grandparents to undertake more work while caring for grandchildren means they often must reorganise their own lives. A survey for the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre found that 70 per cent of grandparents who regularly care for their grandchildren changed the days or shifts they work, 55 per cent cut back their working hours and 18 per cent changed their job to accommodate for caring.
Additionally, the survey found that grandparents regularly have to accommodate for short-notice care, including when a child is unwell or a parent is called in to work at the last minute.
Since women are still the primary care-givers, grandparents – particularly grandmothers – are sacrificing their own workforce participation to help their daughters and daughters-in law to increase their own.
Caring commitments also have a run-on effect on workplace entitlements, with more than 40 per cent of grandparents struggling to juggle both work and care. Many grandparents find themselves negotiating time off and requesting leave to look after grandchildren. In one-third of cases, their childcare arrangement is influenced on the timing of their retirement.
Do you struggle to find the balance between work and childcare? How are you managing this issue?
Read more at The Conversation.