Grandparents aren’t always time rich

Annie Joubert

grandparentsI’m sure we’ve all heard retired people say that their lives are so busy, they don’t know how they found the time to work!

It’s nice to imagine that they are indulging in favourite hobbies, enjoying quality leisure time pursuing their interests, whether it’s taking a watercolour painting course or visiting National Trust properties .

But often the reality is somewhat different. The other day, it was actually mid-morning, I was waiting patiently in our health centre (pun intended) to see a GP. I couldn’t help overhear the conversations between the receptionist and the queue of people who wanted further appointments.

When the receptionist enquired about a suitable time, at least three people (they were all retired) answered, ‘Yes, but it must be after 9.30am because I do the school run’.  One person elaborated saying that they also did the school pick-up and provided after-school care till the children’s parents collected them after work.

It seems that in the current economic climate, more and more grandparents are being asked, or are offering, to provide childcare because parents are finding it so expensive. Two such generous souls live in the same road as I do, and both have part-time jobs as well. They both told me that they spend their weekends doing the household and gardening chores, just as they did when they had full-time jobs and no grandchildren!

Of course, the help they provide to their offspring, they do so willingly and it’s very fortunate that they live in close proximity to their grandchildren, otherwise it would certainly be a different story.

Two of my husband’s golfing buddies and their wives even get invited on the foreign family holidays – the costs of which are subsidised by their children, so there is an upside to this story!  It seems a good arrangement, guaranteeing some babysitting for a couple of the holiday evenings, whilst enjoying foreign climes that they wouldn’t necessarily have had the courage to explore on their own.

So the next time you’re in a queue on a Saturday morning in the Post Office wondering why the wrinklies can’t tax their cars during the week, just remember they’re probably as time-poor as you are!