The Blog

How Grandparents Are the Unlikely Lifeline for Working Parents - But at What Cost to Them in Their Golden Years?

Grandparents are supposed to have the pleasure of playing with their grandkids, then handing them back. But these days, with the rising cost of childcare, it's like they are being parents all over again.

With Mother's Day approaching, it's only right to salute the golden generation who have provided a much-needed lifeline for working parents struggling to do the juggle.

Grandparents are supposed to have the pleasure of playing with their grandkids, then handing them back. But these days, with the rising cost of childcare, it's like they are being parents all over again.

I mean we've all been there. How many times has the nursery called saying your child has to go home for three days because they've got a chest infection or a stomach bug, and you're totally stuck in a rut?

If you're lucky enough to have grandparents around to swoop in and take-over then it's a Godsend.

But at what cost is this to the Grandparents?

Retired people are putting family needs before their own, as one in 20 of them sacrifice holidays to look after the grandkids, and are more likely to take short breaks after a grueling school summer holiday looking after grandkids than long luxurious trips away.

'Grandparents should get a wage,' I've often heard my mum say as she's busy burping one grandchild while preparing to whip up a stew.

I caught up with a few grandparents at the epic Warner Leisure Cricket St Thomas grounds, to see just how they let their hair down after we are seeing the emergence of the 'grey break'.

Never underestimate the over 50s when it comes to drinking and dancing you under the table.

Just ask Madonna, who has been constantly critisized for flashing too much flesh over 50 on stage, but gives the likes of One Direction a run for their money in the dance stakes hands down. I can honestly say that I'm surprised each time how people twice our age are often the last ones standing.

I was proved right when I asked the couple next to me how they had met.

'Valentine's day is our anniversary,' she leaned in and told me. 'Ahh, that's nice,' I said.

'Yes, it's the day ran off into the sunset together.

We've been together ever since, and make sure we celebrate every year. It's 35 years now.'

Oo-er! So there's no dampening their sense of adventure then. They then ran off onto the dancefloor to put us young ones to shame during a fab Fleetwood Bac tribute show which left them popping their bubbly into the early hours.

Our chance meeting at the idyllic estate in Somerset, where BBC drama To The Manor Born was filmed, was not to be our last.

It's not every day you get to learn to shoot a riffle, and it's not every day a Grandmother upstages you doing it.

Standing in a line of both novices and seasoned riffle shooters, I clutched the 177 air riffle on my knee ready for action.

After popping in my ball bearings, channeling Charlie's Angels rather than John Wayne, I shot my first target. And missed. To make matters worse my bullet ricocheted into the tent where the innocent grandparents were standing, thankfully missing them.

'My three-year-old grandchild could do better than that,' one chortled.

Taxi for me, then!

They continued: 'We're so busy with the grandkids, we have a daughter in America and two over here, so we are always traveling around to help them out when they go to work. It's nice to get away for a bit and have a short break. We come once a year if we can.'


Copyright Sarah Tetteh

Copyright Sarah Tetteh

Back in London Kensington, I caught up with Inspirational woman Valeria Zilkha, whose preparing for Mother's Day royal cream teas at the lush Kensington Quarter.

She set up her business while juggling being a mum with a toddler running around her ankles.

'As a working mother, you face many challenges, and juggling family life with managing a business seems impossible, but actually being my own boss really helps.

I made a conscious decision that work would never come before my child, and I find the key to this is balance. The Quarter Group is a family business and as such, my son is a part of it. If I can't be at home for his homework in the week, he will be with me in the office; while he studies I will be holding a meeting for example, but I know he is there, and most importantly he knows I am there if he needs me.

'One of the greatest assets I have is my mother in law, she has been an amazing help since my son was born. I really believe that having grandparents around and involved in your child's upbringing is super important. The wisdom of grandparents can't be bought.'

Making life easier for working mums has always been something that I'm passionate about.

I was intrigued to see a new global maternity initiative for larger businesses to allow all their female employees, no matter where she lives, to get paid fully paid maternity leave from her employer for 16 weeks.

It also allows all working mothers to work a 30 hour week with full time pay for the first six months that they return to work after having their baby, and vodaphone has implemented it already.

Check out the #maternomics #makeithappen : video link here

And it's not just the mums making the differences, but fathers too.

In preparation for the arrival of his second tot, Prince William has teamed up with mothercare to back the Tusk charity to help preserve endangered wildlife. He used his recent state visit to China to press for an end to the country's massive illegal trade in wildlife. Now the charity has asked British kids their opinion on animal conservation - check out this cutesy video - if this doesn't get you in the mood for Mother's Day, I don't know what will...

Click here for a short film exploring what children think of endangered animals: