How much is your grandma worth?

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - ZOE SMITH DAVID AIDONE

GRAND­PAR­ENTS are do­ing 20 hours of child­care work a week — and most of them aren’t be­ing paid.

And 42 per cent of grand­par­ents say they are cov­er­ing the cost of the kids’ school fees.

A Sun­day Tele­graph sur­vey of 1250 peo­ple around the coun­try found more than eight out of 10 grand­par­ents pro­vide child­care to the kids, but only one in 100 are paid for their help.

Eighty per cent in­di­cated they had to forgo some­thing to sup­port their grand­chil­dren, such as so­cial plans, hol­i­days or time with friends.

But for many, it’s a labour of love that they per­form will­ingly.

Eighty-two per cent agree that “help­ing out with child­care for my grand­chil­dren is a great way to spend qual­ity time with them”. The av­er­age grand­par­ent spends 19.6 hours a week look­ing af­ter their grand­kids.

McCrindle so­cial re­searcher Ge­off Brai­ley told The Sun­day Tele­graph grand­par­ents’ con­tri­bu­tions were a “key force in our econ­omy and our com­mu­nity”.

Mr Brai­ley said Baby Boomers were the wealth­i­est gen­er­a­tion in terms of as­sets and, on av­er­age, they were gen­er­at­ing $133,640 in house­hold in­come each year.

“This means they can do a lot for their grand­kids. So not only would they be con­tribut­ing to their grand­chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion, but also help­ing in ex­tra ways like buy­ing clothes, toys, en­ter­tain­ment,” Mr Brai­ley said.

“That might be when they’re mind­ing the kids. They’re not just sit­ting in the home with them, they’re go­ing out and do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause they have that ex­tra buf­fer in their in­come so they can spoil their grand­chil­dren.”

He said be­cause they grew up in an era where “treats” were un­likely, they saw this as a pos­i­tive way they could give back as they didn’t want their grand­chil­dren to miss out on things that they did.

Grand­par­ents are also likely to spend more time look­ing af­ter their grand­chil­dren in the fu­ture, par­tic­u­larly if wages re­main stag­nant while child­care costs soar.

Mr Brai­ley pointed to re­cent ABS re­search show­ing moth­ers work­ing full-time had in­creased from 17 per cent in 2009 to 24 per cent in 2019.

“More moth­ers are head­ing into the full-time work­force, and the pro­por­tion of fam­i­lies with chil­dren younger than five where both parents work full-time has in­creased from 14 to 21 per cent in the last decade,” he said.

“It used to be double in­come with no kids, now it’s double in­come with kids, which is pro­vid­ing that op­por­tu­nity for grand­par­ents to help out. But it’s also parents prob­a­bly say­ing ‘it’s too ex­pen­sive to do day­care for the kids’,” he said.

The sur­vey also re­vealed 12 per cent of grand­par­ents vol­un­teer at their grand­child’s school, such as school events, read­ing and fundrais­ing.

Mer­cia Oliver with grand­son As­ton Oliver, 3, in Car­ing­bah South. Pic­ture: Adam Yip

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