Lauren* knows how lucky she is. Three mornings a week, at 6.45am, as the Sunshine Coast mum-of-three and her husband Matt* are preparing to leave for work, her parents turn up to her house.
They get the two oldest children, Grace* and Ruby*, ready for school and drop them off. Then they spend the day looking after two-year-old Violet*, taking her on walks and “adventures”, till it’s time to pick up Grace and Ruby.
“They do so much,” Lauren tells Mamamia. “And Mum does all my laundry and cleans up all my kitchen dishes from the breakfast in the morning. She doesn’t leave till five o’clock when I get home.”
She says having her parents look after the kids three days a week – and Matt’s parents looking after them one day a week – saves the family “huge amounts of money”. It also takes away a lot of stress.
“I don’t have to worry about trying to get them dressed and ready to go to before-school care, or rush to finish work early to be back to pick them up. Or if there’s something at school, I know Mum can be there.
“All of my friends tell me all of the time how lucky I am to have Mum and Dad to help out. I know how hard it is for people that don’t have that support around trying to juggle work and kids. I appreciate that I have it easier than a lot of people in that regard.”
Lauren isn’t the only lucky one. A new report by finder.com.au has revealed that almost a quarter of kids under the age of five are looked after by their grandparents instead of going to formal childcare. It’s estimated this saves $2.29 billion in childcare costs.
A finder.com.au survey found that 45 per cent of Australians felt grandparents should be paid for babysitting.
But Lauren’s mum, Fiona*, doesn’t think that’s necessary.
“I certainly don’t expect my children to pay me to look after their children,” she says. “It fills in the days for us and hopefully our children appreciate what we do for them but no, we don’t expect to get paid. We enjoy it.”