|Sorry, can't mind the "grandies", there are exotic places to explore.|
There was a news story this week that started some hot debate about "grumpy" grandparents wanting to be paid for looking after their grandchildren. It's not like hordes of older folks are asking their kids to stump up an hourly payment for babysitting for the odd night or weekend; the complaints are apparently coming from grandparents who take care of their offspring's offspring full time while they work.
Somebody at work broached the topic and people chimed in with their opinions. I was surprised to find that there was an expectation from a majority of those with small children that their parents should be available for full time free childcare. Someone turned to me and asked "You'll be looking after the grandkids when they come along, right?" I almost fell off my chair laughing.
Seriously. Entitled, much? When my lot were young, my mother was only in her fifties and working full time. And my in-laws lived almost a four-hour drive away. Even if they had been available, I would never have expected them to take on the demands of looking after my three cherubs five days a week. It wasn't easy, and we got zero government support, but we used council family day care and alternated taking our leave in school holidays to save a few dollars.
I've worked with numerous people whose kids are cared for, for free, by their parents. Some are grateful, but many just take it for granted. I've lost count of the number of times I've rolled my eyes at selfish remarks like "Well, what else would they be doing with their time?"
I know it's hard to manage a mortgage and childcare and every other bloody thing these days, but here's a newsflash: it was hard back in "those days" too. I have never not worked. Three lots of maternity leave is all the time off I've had in thirty-six years, and that doesn't count as a break.
Future grandchildren will be adored, but they're not my responsibility, and I have a life. I'll be available for babysitting duty for a few hours or overnight, or for the odd day or weekend, as long as I don't have other plans.
I've served my time shackled to babies, toddlers, primary school kids and teenagers. Can't go out, the baby's having a nap. Can't have a sit down and a cuppa, the toddler needs to be coaxed down off the TV unit. Can't go to bed, the teenager needs to be picked up from a party. Now that they all have their driver's licences, cars and their own incomes, I'm finally free to do what I want, when I want. Retirement is so close, I can taste it and I plan to be out enjoying myself or off travelling as often as possible.
I honestly don't have an opinion on whether or not grandparents ought to be paid for their childcare duties. I do wonder if there are people out there who would really love their free time back, but feel that they don't have a choice. Not me; my kids will be lucky to catch me at home.
What do you think? Do parents have some kind of obligation to help their kids out with free childcare?