Grandparent backlash: "We are nannas not nannies"

Robyn Barker, author of Baby Love, thinks that using grandparents for regular babysitting is a slippery slope to exploitation


Well, this is awkward.

Apparently grandparents around the country are in the midst of plotting a coup.  Thousands of them are fed up with being used as a ‘dumping ground’ (OUCH)  for their grandkids while their adult kids head out to work.

Not that I’d know. Just a week after I married Brad, my parents sold my childhood home (the house they’d lived in for thirty years) and retired to a house by the beach. IN ANOTHER STATE.   And so my dream of free babysitting at Gran and Grandpa’s house disappeared faster than you can say, “Why is your Foxtel IQ full of episodes of Bargain Hunt?”.

With no grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings or even third cousins in the same city as us, Brad and I have just had to suck it up and accept the fact that we have to fork out for babysitters. (Who charge $20 an hour. And expect dinner. And Foxtel.  And wifi. And snacks. Seriously, I think I’d rather try my chances surviving a Nanna coup than dealing with the rider most babysitters come with …)

As for my parents, these days they’re spending their time playing golf and tennis, taking art classes, gardening and (clearly) watching that annoying man in the panama hat on Bargain Hunt. Sure that sounds good. But it’s hard to believe they’d prefer to do that rather than deal with my four-year-old who looks like an angel but has the personality of Robert Mugabe.

But I digress.

Baby guru Robin Barker (author of the best-selling baby manual ‘Baby Love’) thinks that using grandparents as a regular childcare option is a slippery slope to blatant exploitation.  The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Robyn’s book, “Baby Love”

The baby guru Robin Barker has one firm rule when it comes to looking after her grandchildren: she won’t double as a nanny while their parents go off to work.

The best-selling author of Baby Love and The Mighty Toddler argues that a weekly child-minding commitment is a big ask of grandparents and suspects many feel secretly resentful about doing it.

”I’m prepared to do quite a bit but I’m not prepared to mind children while people go out to work,” said

”It’s a huge commitment when you’re doing even one day a week … we really don’t have the physical and emotional strength we had when we were raising our own children. A day with a toddler is a very long day.”

According to National Seniors Australia here are nearly 300,000 Australians aged between 50 and 74 caring for their grandchildren, and a third of these are also employed in paid work.

What happened to the whole ‘it takes a village to raise a child” philosophy?  Or has the village packed up and decided to do a driving holiday around Australia?

Do you (or do you expect to) rely on your parents to look after your kids? And is that fair?