Grandparents are busier than ever – reveals family jobs poll

The average mum calls in 254 favours from nan and granddad every year, a study revealed yesterday.

Researchers found that grandmothers get called upon for everything from taking the kids to dentist, baking cakes for the school fete and even waiting in for deliveries to arrive while the rest of the family is out.

Four in ten mums call on her or her partner’s parents for DIY tasks and more than half said they would be stuck for childcare if it wasn’t for nanny and grandpa.

And 44 per cent of the 2,000 parents polled often get cash-handouts from their parents to ‘see them through the month’.

Other jobs grandparents muck in with are walking their off-spring’s dog, weeding the garden, hanging out the washing and even doing a big supermarket shop.

The poll by McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading developer of retirement apartments, found more than a quarter of adults said they worry they put upon their ageing parents too much.

However, 38 per cent also said they fear their mum and dad are getting too old to run errands and help out with childcare arrangements.

Ali Crossley, Executive Director, McCarthy & Stone said: “This research shows what a huge part grandparents play in modern families.

“Many parents are juggling the responsibilities of bringing up their young children while holding down jobs and working long hours, so are relying heavily on their own parents to help out.

“Jobs like visiting the bank, keeping on top of the housework and DIY can be hard if you work full-time and if you have retired parents who are in good health it can be invaluable – especially if you are fortunate enough to have two sets on hand.

“But it’s important not to dump too much responsibility on parents; very few elderly people would like to say no to helping out their nearest and dearest so their help needs to be appreciated and their goodwill shouldn’t be overlooked.”

The survey also found that in a typical week grandparents are called on nearly five times.

And the parents polled estimate that if they had to cough up and pay someone for all the help their parents give them it would amount to £120.41 per week, or the equivalent of £6,261 every year.

But more than half of those polled said they never offer to pay their parents for their help, despite the fact that two thirds said they would be utterly lost if it without their input.

A staggering 88 per cent of parents that had kids aged 0-18 said grandparents played an instrumental role in the modern family set-up. Of those, 60 per cent said it was because mothers go back to work after having children so rely on their own mum and dad for help.

And 61 per cent also attributed it to elderly people being in better health and living longer.

When looking after their grandkids, more than four in ten grandparents take them on day trips to local attractions to keep them entertained and one in 20 regularly help with homework duties.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 58 per cent of parents would rather leave their kids in the hands on their own parents than a child-minder. But 25 per cent said they could never afford to pay a professional to look after their children.

One in ten of those polled admitted they probably take their parents for granted, although four in ten said their parents know how grateful they are.

But it’s not only families who are benefiting from the kindness of grandparents.  43 per cent of grandparents are also involved in community work while 34 per cent also help out with charity work such as fundraising or working as a voluntary driver.

Ali Crossley, Executive Director, McCarthy & Stone added: “This survey confirms what we see everyday amongst thousands of residents at McCarthy & Stone developments.  Grandparents today are more active than ever before and not only provide wonderful support to their time-pressed sons and daughters but are also very involved in both their local communities and charity work.”

Top 20 of the most requested grandparents jobs:
  1. Babysitting when we’re on nights out
  2. Childcare if one of the kids is ill
  3. Babysitting in the school holidays
  4. Painting and decorating
  5. Babysitting if we are away with work
  6. Cooking meals on busy days
  7. Attend kids’ school events
  8. Waiting in for a delivery
  9. Cutting the grass
  10. Collecting a parcel for you
  11. Small DIY jobs i.e. change light-bulbs, replace fuses
  12. Cleaning the house
  13. Putting up pictures, mirrors shelves
  14. Car maintenance
  15. Generally tidying-up
  16. Cooking cakes for school fetes
  17. Ironing
  18. Washing the families clothes
  19. Washing-up
  20. Tidy the garden