The cost of childcare is high, and for many empty-nesters offering a hand caring for grandchildren while mum or dad (or more typically both) are out at work can seem like a no-brainer.
Studies show that grandparents are now the most popular source of child care in Australia. However, as Gen Y and X spend more extended hours at work, this can put a strain on grandparents, some of whom can spend up to 50 hours a week minding their grandkids.
Can this impact your plans to downsize?
Caring for grandkids certainly shouldn’t impact your plans to downsize – barring moves to an altogether different area. Many of the apartment developments we now see being pitched at downsizers have a range of in-house leisure facilities including outdoor play areas, gardens, and barbecues. Moreover, community facilities such as parks with swings and climbing equipment will be nearby, enabling your grandkids to run and climb around with other like-minded youngsters.
Also, far from being a freebie “granny nanny,” some empty nesters believe that looking after preschoolers doesn’t just foster closer family ties, it also helps them feel younger.
Like for like home needs
Nonetheless, the prospect of having grandkids over to stay – even if it’s just for a few weekend sleepovers, makes it worth thinking about how your new downsizer property can cater for the needs of different generations.
We know for example that downsizers are keen for a home without steps. Coincidentally this is also ideal for small children.
Downsizers regularly say that they don’t want small homes. They prefer two bedrooms, ideally three. That’s another tick for the toddlers because young children love the idea of having their “own room,” and it can help them settle more easily when they make the transition from the occasional visit to more frequent child care-based visits.
Plenty of storage space is always high on a downsizer’s wish list, and this makes sense for downsizers who’ll be taking care of grandkids. As any parent knows, the small fry can come with lots of equipment from the fold up cots to high chairs and armies of furry bears.
Talk it through to make it work
There’s nothing new about grandparents lending a hand to raise their children’s offspring. However, there is also an excellent argument to discuss the issue carefully with your adult children. It can be stressful, and frankly, exhausting looking after small children, and you need time to enjoy your retirement and your new downsizer home at your own pace.
However, if a happy balance is found, it can be an excellent way for families to draw closer together. After all, those first five years of a child’s life will pass in the blink of an eye – and you can never get them back.
Amanda Graham is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Downsizing.com.au and Seniors Housing Online.