The stalled economy has pushed many families into the position of doing whatever is needed to make ends meet. In many cases, this means both parents working whatever jobs they can find and finding the best childcare option while they are at work. Many people are turning to their parents to help care for their kids.
More than 60 percent of families with children under age 18 had both parents employed outside the home in 2005 to 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares to less than a third of mothers in 1975. The numbers today are around 42 percent, a decrease that likely has a lot to do with unemployment figures remaining high.
With so many men and women heading to work each day, and money a factor for doing so, the topic of childcare becomes one of necessity as well as affordability. Grandparents are regularly stepping up to help family members who are under a financial crunch.
Grandparents considering caring for their grandkids should keep in mind some things even if the childcare scenario on the surface seems like it is the best option.
• It's a big commitment. Once the decision has been made, it is expected that you will be providing care for a certain period of time -- perhaps even without a future end date. Remember, other arrangements will have to be made if you back out because it's simply not working.
• Know your limits. Childcare is not something to take lightly. While you may have had enough energy to provide care years ago, maybe now you are simply not up to the task or have not identified factors that could hinder your ability to care for a grandchild -- no matter how much you love him or her.
• Be prepared for changes to your life. You will no longer be able to operate on your own schedule. Now your days will largely revolve around caring for your grandkids. If many of your friends are living active lives without grandchildren in tow, this could put a hamper on your relationships and ability to socialize.
• It could be just what you need. On the flip side, if you have been seeking something to do with your time, being in the presence of your grandchildren could be just what you need to find a purpose to your days.
• The relationship may cause animosity. If you are offering care to one set of grandchildren and are not doing so to another, it could strain the relationships among your children. Think about the larger factor before agreeing to being the caregiver.
• Talk to your spouse. If you are married or are in a relationship, this is a decision that will have to be discussed with your partner, whose life will be impacted as well. If both of you aren't seeing eye-to-eye on the situation, it may cause a rift that can damage your relationship.
• Avoid guilt. If you choose to say no to the situation, it may generate hurt feelings at the onset, but if you explain your reasons clearly, chances are the loved one will understand how you are feeling.
Although grandparents stepping in to become childcare providers for their grandchildren while parents are at work has become a popular situation in recent years, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of the situation before delving headfirst into the arrangement.