Should grandparents be paid for looking after their grandchildren?

A mum has sparked a debate after wondering if she should pay her mum for looking after her child when she returns to work [Photo: Getty]
A mum has sparked a debate after wondering if she should pay her mum for looking after her child when she returns to work [Photo: Getty]

A mum has divided parents by asking if it is right to pay grandparents for looking after their grandchildren.

On parenting site Mumsnet the user explained that she has been on maternity leave, but is about to return to work part-time.

She has turned to her mum and dad to help look after her baby daughter, but while they’ve agreed they have asked for a monetary contribution for the childcare.

“Will be going back to work soon 3 days a week after mat leave,” the mum wrote.

“Parents have said they will be happy to but for £50 a week.”

The user finished her post by asking if she was being unreasonable to think this isn’t the the norm.

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And the forum was very much divided on the topic. Many thought it was totally fair to pay grandparents for looking after youngsters while their parents are at work.

“I'll be offering my PIL (parents in law) money for any regular child care they do,” one user wrote.

“I personally wouldn't expect anyone but me and his dad to do it for free, but I don't know if that's unusual or not.”

“£50 is a bargain! How generous of them to save you so much money,” another agreed.

“I think that's reasonable, still saving a fair bit of money and it's probably to cover costs,” yet another user commented.

But other posters shared their own experiences of their parents taking up the childcare responsibility without expecting or taking payment.

“Mine don't charge anything,” one user shared. “Mum used to have my son 2 full days and now they collect him from school 4 days.”

“I don't pay mine,” another commented. “The food, soft play, days out etc all adds up though. Is it possibly just a case of wanting to cover some costs?”

“I didn't pay anything,” another wrote before explaining that her parents looked after her son for 24 hours per week for the first two years.

“When he was a baby I provided the nappies, cream, formula etc but once he was on solids they provided meals,” she continued.

“I think I'm very fortunate but I've never come across anyone who pays that I've been aware of. My friend's parents do 5 days a week for nothing (so about 50 hours) which I think is a big ask!”

Should grandparents be paid for the childcare they provide? [Photo: Getty]
Should grandparents be paid for the childcare they provide? [Photo: Getty]

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The debate comes as recent figures by Tombola have revealed that grandparents save the UK’s parents an average of £161.1bn every year by providing informal childcare for their children.

The survey found that two thirds (65%) of grandparents provide childcare to help to their children.

By offering an average of 11.3 hours informal childcare a week grandparents are saving parents £1,786 a year. That’s a saving of £161.1bn every year for parents across the UK.

Whether or not to pay grandparents for childcare can certainly be a contentious issue as illustrated by another forum post shared by a grandmother.

“I look after my daughter’s baby 5 days a week, from 7 am until sometimes gone 5 o’clock,” the grandmother wrote on parenting site, Netmums.

“Before she had the baby she agreed to pay me £40 a week, which I think is quite reasonable. However, I have somehow ended up doing it for nothing.”

The woman goes on to say that though she loves her grandson, she could really do with the money.

She also pointed out that if she wasn’t looking after her grandson she could have a job that actually paid.

“How do I broach this subject with her? I don’t want to fall out with her, she can be quite touchy,” she ended her post.

Once again though the response was divided with some believing she was right to expect payment and others seeing things from the mum’s point of view with childcare costs so high.