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For some, grandparents are a vital form of childcare, but do they provide the right kind of environment for our babies and toddlers, and,should they be paid?
There are many advantages to using grandparents:
- They love your child as much as you do so want to do a good job
- Your baby or child will get to know the grandparent even better and develop a strong bond because they will be spending time alone with them... something both the grandparent and child will cherish
- A grandparent has already had children so knows from experience
- They may live close by so its will be an easy drop off
- They may be more flexible about hours and whether to have the child if a bit poorly
- The child will settle more quickly because they know the carer
- They may be more easygoing if you are delayed or be prepared to drop off/collect from nursery/school
- They may be happy to have your child's friends round to play
- It may be cheap or even free childcare!
However, there are some disadvantages too:-
- The grandparent did their child care many years ago so may do things differently to you or may have forgotten a lot!
- They may be too old and find it physically too demanding but may not admit it
- They may have appointments or commitments already
- Their attitudes may need updating about what's allowed in terms of potty training and naps
- You may need to transport equipment and toys each time or buy two sets: high chairs, travel cot and buggy etc.
- Their home may be unsafe and have lots of potential dangers., and will not be OFSTED registered and checked
- They may not take the child out as much as a professional organisation and therefore your child may not meet children and socialise
You may wish to formalise an agreement for the care provided to your child and make clear details such as time off and holidays etc. You may even agree to pay a fee for the care. There are organisations dedicated to advising on this area such as The Grandparents' Association or Grandparents Plus.
Are grandparents being overlooked in what is perhaps a vital form of childcare fore babies, toddlers and young children? Responding to a report published by Grandparents Plus calling for direct payments for Grandparents providing childcare for their grandchildren, Daycare Trust joint Chief Executive Alison Garnham said: "Grandparents should be recognised for the role they play providing invaluable childcare, but introducing direct payments would require a process involving registration, auditing and inspection, and I don't think anyone wants to see Government inspectors in their living room scrutinising their family life. "If there is money available for childcare then it should be spent on meeting the Government's pledge to increase the free childcare entitlement to 15 hours per week for 3 and 4 year olds and extend the entitlement to all 2 year olds".
If you think its right for you you should consider:
- Is the grandparents fit enough and in good health to run around after children?
- Do they have first-aid knowledge or qualification
- Is the house safe?
- Does it fit in with existing commitments?
If the answer is yes, to all these questions, lucky you!