Grandparents feeling the pressure

Australian grandparents provide more childcare than any other care service.

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.


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    30th Sep 2015
    I am so glad my children chose not to have children. These days children are a choice not a necessity.
    30th Sep 2015
    I am very grateful that my children decided to have children. My grandchildren provide so much fun and joy in my life. I work full-time in a demanding career (university researcher and lecturer). While this provides me with some flexibility of working hours, it does not obviate the pressure to meet the requirements and responsibilities of my work. I often work early in the morning, or late at night, or across the weekend, to ensure that I meet deadlines. I am currently using my accrued annual leave to provide childcare one day per week for my baby granddaughter. My son is doing the same, so that his wife can return to her career part-time. We consider childcare as a shared family responsibility. My husband, who is self-employed and works part-time, provides before and after school care for our two older grandchildren. We also provide considerable support to our elderly parents, who need assistance with transport, shopping, managing finances, and home maintenance. But we see this as a normal part of being in a family - there are some times in your life when you give more than you receive, and other times when you are yourself in need of support and care.
    Nan Norma
    22nd Dec 2015
    What a fantastic husband, and family you have.

    30th Sep 2015
    Learn from your parents' mistakes - use birth control.
    Young Simmo
    30th Sep 2015
    What happened to the good old fashioned Headache ? ? ? ?
    30th Sep 2015
    They have a Bex and cup of tea, but no lie down.
    Young Simmo
    30th Sep 2015
    Yes Fast Eddie, the Ladies have a cushy life these days now there are Woodheaps to exercise on, and the Troughs and Copper and Wringers are history.
    Young Simmo
    30th Sep 2015
    Oop's that should be, NO Woodheaps.
    How far do I have to go to get a bite?
    30th Sep 2015
    My employer allows me to work my five days over four days to enable me to look after my grandson one day a week, an absolute pleasure and a delightful day off work and had added so much to my life.
    30th Sep 2015
    Hey Amelia perhaps you can give us a reference for your story about grandparents & how much child minding they do.

    That would give us the opportunity of avoiding it when we want any accurate information.
    30th Sep 2015
    I am about to retire and move cities (Sydney to Brisbane) so I can help care for my two grandchildren while their mother returns to university. Had I not made this offer, I would have continued to work in a job I love. It is a sacrifice I am prepared to make - I had no family nearby when my 3 children were young. I also studied at university and worked 30 hours a week as a teacher so I KNOW how hard it is.

    It is a 3-year commitment. One child will be starting school; one will be just 3 years old and will go to organised pre-school for 2 days a week.

    I will turn 67 at next birthday. Eight weeks until I end a 52-year long working life.
    30th Sep 2015
    I am 72 and still work one day a week. I raised 8 children, going back to work when the youngest was 2. Although I love to help out and on occasions have committed to child minding one day per week for short terms I really think that grandparents, having raised their own children should not feel pressured to do the same for their grandchildren. Surely it is up to the parents to look after their own.. I don't agree that parents today MUST work and can't provide or afford childcare. My experience says that if today's parents were prepared to do as we did, not have to have the best of everything, not to give their kids the best of everything and to use second hand clothes, furniture, be satisfied with smaller houses etc. they could probably manage quite well. They, generally want to start where their parents left off. Their children = their responsibility. Happy to help and in fact love to do so but not at the cost of my life and enjoying the freedom of having my kids grown up. Hope that doesn't sound selfish.
    Nan Norma
    22nd Dec 2015
    I'm 100% with you.
    toot2000 (Sydney)
    16th Jan 2016
    I've looked after one grandchild from birth up until she starts school next month and loved every minute.

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