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The Grandparent Economy.  The money not accounted, not changing hands, not requested… is a subject I become aware of regularly. 

Today I’m putting pen to paper (or at least fingers to keyboard).

Grandparents with pre-schoolers

I was shopping this morning.  As the required dog food was umpteen departments from the entrance, I passed many other shoppers.  Over half of them were grandparents with pre-schoolers.

I notice this same demographic when my grandson is off school and I take him somewhere fun.

I walk him to school several mornings each week and now have a bit of a chuckle with a couple of other Grammas about being G.O.D. – Gramma On Duty.  When I pick him up after school, I am one of a bevy of grandparents hanging about waiting for the bell.

The cost of daycare

A big reason I moved back to my current city was because the cost of daycare for my infant grandson was so high that to add before- and after-school care fees to the mix made the cost of child care more than the family’s rent.  My decision has never been a hardship – I adore my grandkids and I consider it a privilege to have one-on-one time with them, and I have the freedom to make these choices.

My grandson has been spending school breaks with me since he started Kindergarten.  Again, it has been my pleasure, but there has been another reason too – practical as well as financial.  During the two-month Summer break there are many “camps” available for children: soccer, science, day… a gamut of choices.  As well as being costly, they usually run from 10 AM – 4 PM.  That’s not a full-time day for any employee I know, so the back-to-back “camps” would have to be enhanced by before and after camp care… more logistics as well as costs.

Quite common

This situation is really quite common.  The cost of living in this west coast city is higher than the national average… but both my daughter and her partner have good jobs here as well as friends and family.  The volume of grandparents I see confirms that the reality of my daughter is the reality of many other young families.

We’re managing quite well with the arrangements we have organized… but I know many others struggle.  Whether it’s lower paying jobs, or the unavailability of extended family to help out, many young parents and their children have to compromise somehow.

What’s the answer?

What’s the answer? 

I’m not sure.

In this city, there are a number of daycares ready to open to offer more spots for pre-schoolers – but the disparity between expected staff wages and what is reasonable (or competitive) to charge parents leaves them with doors closed.

It’s easy to suggest government gets involved, but I’m not sure which intercession makes the most logic.  Do they subsidize at the family level? the agency level? perhaps the grandparent economy level?  What would be the qualifying income level that makes it equitable both here in the city and in the smaller, less expensive communities.

A conundrum, and an issue

It’s a modern-day conundrum, perhaps a developed nation conundrum… but it’s an issue for many, many people.

I’d love to hear your reality around the care requirements of the youngest of your family.  Are you able to help out?

I’ll be interested to read your comments as soon as I get back from walking my grandson to school in the morning!