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Caring for Grandchildren


I am a 78-year-old retired school teacher.  In fact, I taught first grade for 30 years and loved every moment of my career.  I am nowa grandmother of five beautiful grandchildren, all under the age of five.  "Five times blessed," I call it.  My challenge is child care.  I have been watching the grandchildren during the work day since they have been born. Don't get me wrong, I love helping raise my grandchildren.  It just means that I have a 45-hour work week. The older I get, the harder it is to chase after toddlers. My knees and hips ache, and by the time their parents pick them up at the end of the day, I am hurting all over. My work day is actually longer than that of my own working children. I love helping them get established by eliminating the cost of daycare, but it is just getting harder and harder.  What do I do?


You have described a scenario that many grandmothers fall into, providing free childcare in retirement years and discovering how hard it can be day after day. Advancing age makes it even more taxing for you, as you have discovered. Our body parts wear down, and expecting to work like you are with no repercussions is unrealistic.

So how do you manage the situation? It is likely your children have either not noticed your distress or do not wish to see you distressed. I am sure you realize how difficult and scary it is for parents to locate perfect, loving day care.  It does not get better than grandma in most situations. So, try to understand their blindness to your suffering. They may see it but are afraid to acknowledge it is true.

I recommend telling your children of your struggle as a full-time caregiver for their children. I suggest that you pose the option of having one paid caregiver assist you for at least half the day. Five toddlers are quite a bit to handle. If your children split the cost, you could have assistance, and the financial burden on your children would not be that significant. There are numerous other solutions to your situation, such as paid care every other day, children adjusting their work schedules to shorten your days, or tapping another grandparent, to mention a few.

It is important that you care for yourself because if you have a health crisis, they will be without a sitter. So, it is best that you resolve and plan now rather than wait until something happens that takes you completely out of commission.

If you have raised children as kind and giving as yourself, they will be open to exploring a situation that works for all of you.

I wish you the best.