February 24, 2009
Calling in grandma or grandpa to mind the baby while you work
While we're on the subject of balance for new parents, I wanted to address another trend I've been hearing and reading a lot about lately: calling in a grandparent to mind your kids so you can continue bringing home as much bacon as possible.
Per the AARP Web site: "The U.S. Census Bureau says that grandparents provide childcare for almost a quarter (23 percent) of children under the age of five. That number is even higher for youngsters who live only with their dads. Grandparents watch more than a third (34 percent) of these children."
It's no secret that childcare costs will sap your paycheck almost as quickly as your employer can issue it. Enter grandma or grandpa, who may have been looking forward to some peace and quiet after a life filled with their own careers and childrearing but have agreed to put that aside to play nanny to their own grandkids.
A few weeks back, I spoke to a 60-year-old neighbor who's one of these granny nannies. In 2008, she went from retired, refreshed, and relaxed to caring for her preschool granddaughter 12 hours a day, five days a week, almost overnight. While her son and daughter-in-law both work full time, they could no longer afford daycare. Dutifully, even happily, grandma stepped in.
Awestruck, I asked this granny nanny if she was exhausted.
Indeed, she said she was. But she was also elated, as she had never raised a girl, only her two sons. As I watched her stroke the hair of her vivacious granddaughter, I realized she was grinning as widely as the four-year-old she'd been chasing after all week.
If you're a parent who's been relying on your elders for childcare since the economy took a nosedive, I'd love to hear about it. What was your motivation for calling in the granny cavalry? Shortage of funds? Fear of losing your job if you requested flexible hours or extra time off?
Likewise, if you're a grandparent who's recently stepped into the role of nanny, how has your life changed? Do you feel enriched? Drained? Closer to your family? Counting the days till you can really retire? Do tell.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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