Childcare: how much do grandparents help out?

A joint study by Mumsnet and Gransnet has found that grandparents are providing unpaid childcare for some families on a weekly basis. A fifth of parents who use grandparents for childcare said that help from their mum, dad or in-laws is the only way they could afford to go back to work.

We found that the majority of grandparents providing childcare are happy to do so. Parents appreciate the opportunity to save money - but also the fact that their children are spending time with people who love them.

See the full survey results below.

 

On how many days per week - in a normal week - does your mother/father/mother-in-law/father-in-law look after your child(ren)?

 Answer options Response percent
 Less than one  15%
 One  32%
 Two  27%
 Three  14%
 Four  6%
 Five  5%
 Six  0%
 Seven  0%

 

What are the best things about your childcare arrangement with the grandparents? (Pick up to three things.)

Answer options Response percent
Knowing that my children are with someone who loves them  74%
The closeness between my parents/in-laws and my children  69%
Flexibility, convenience and peace of mind  50%
The money saved  36%
It's the only way we could afford to go back to work  22%
My parents/in-laws can give my children attention in a way that I don't have time for  10%
The wisdom and experience that my parents/in-laws can pass to my children  9%
Don't know  1%
Other  3%

 

Do you pay your parents/in-laws to look after your children? Do you give them ad hoc gifts or treats (ie a bottle of wine or night out) to say thank you? Do you pay expenses incurred when looking after your children?

Answer options Response percent - yes
Give gifts 57%
Pay expenses 23%
Pay a set rate 6%

 

If you do pay a rate, do you....

Answer options Response percent
 Pay a weekly rate 52% 
 Pay a day rate 39%
 Pay an hourly rate 8%

 

If you pay a rate, how much is it per child?

Answer options Response percent
 Up to £10 per day  23%
 Between £10 and £20 per day  41%
 Between £20 and £50 per day  33%
 Over £50 per day  2%
 Not stated  2%

 

How much do you think your parents/in-laws spend on your children when they are looking after them? Please give an average per day.

In term time:

Answer options Response percent
Nothing  36%
Up to £10 per day  50%
Between £10 and £20 per day  4%
Between £20 and £50 per day  0%
Over £50 per day  0%
Don't know/not stated  10%

In school holiday time:

Answer options Response percent
Nothing  24%
Up to £10 per day  48%
Between £10 and £20 per day  14%
Between £20 and £50 per day  3%
Over £50 per day  0%
Don't know/not stated  10%

 

Are there any tensions that arise as a result of your childcare arrangements with your parents/in-laws?

Answer options Response percent
 No  68%
 Yes  28%
 Don't know 4%

 

To what extent - if at all - in the arrangement with your parents/in-laws for childcare are the following a source of tension for you or your partner?

Answer options Source of a lot of tension Source of some tension Not a source of tension Not applicable
Nutritional content of meals  4%  26%  61%  8%
Day-to-day costs  0%  3%  84%  13%
When your parents/in-laws take a holiday  1%  14%  75%  10%
Lack of or type of communication  2%  14%  75%  9%
Your timekeeping  1%  11%  78%  10%
Their timekeeping  2%  11%  76%  10%
Amount of TV/screen time  2%  17%  73%  9%
How childcare arrangements are made  1%  10%  80%  9%
How to discipline  3%  28%  62%  7%
Messiness of in-laws' house and garden  2%  6%  79%  13%
Messiness of your house and garden   2%  13%  71%  14%

 

And to what extent, if at all - do you think the following cause your parents/parents in-law tension?

Answer options Source of a lot of tension Source of some tension Not a source of tension Not applicable
Having to commit to year-round childcare  1%  23%  63%  12%
Having to take holidays in more expensive school breaks  1%  6%  66%  27%
Compromising their own careers/opportunities  1%  7%  78%  15%
Their social life  1%  17%  73%  9%
Their timekeeping  1%  9%  81%  9%
Your timekeeping  1%  13%  77%  9%
Worries about their health  1%  26%  66%  7%
Messiness of their house after grandchildren  1%  12%  76%  11%

 

Do your parents/in-laws also provide childcare for any other grandchildren? And if so, does this cause any tension with other members of the family?

Answer options Response percent
 No, they do not care for any other grandchildren  69%
 Yes they do, and it does not cause tension  24%
 Yes they do, and it causes tension  7%

 

Is reliability ever an issue for you when it comes to this childcare arrangement?

Answer options Response percent
No 82%
Yes 15%
Don't know 3%

 

If money and availability of quality childcare were no issue, would you still have your parents/in-laws providing childcare?

Answer options Response percent
Yes  45%
Yes, but I'd split it with other childcare providers   38%
No   11%
Don't know   6%

 

How many grandchildren do your parents/ in-laws look after?

Answer options Response percent
One 41%
Two 35%
Three 13%
Four 6%
Five or more 4%
Not stated 1%

 

Which of the following describes your normal working status?

Answer options Response percent
Full-time paid employment 28%
Full-time self-employed 2%
Part-time paid employment 52%
Part-time self-employed 7%
Stay at home parent/not seeking work 3%
Student 7%
Carer 0%
Retired 0%
Unemployed and looking for work 1%
On sick leave/unable to work 1%
Volunteer, eg for charity 2%
Other/not stated 1%

 

Which of the following describes your partner's working status?

Answer options Response percent
No partner 7%
Full-time paid employment 75%
Full-time self-employed 10%
Part-time paid employment 5%
Part-time self-employed 2%
Stay at home parent/not seeking work 0%
Student 1%
Carer 0%
Retired 1%
Unemployed and looking for work 1%
On sick leave/unable to work 0%
Volunteer, eg for charity 1%
Other/not stated 1%

 

How old are your children? (All that apply)

Answer options Response percentage
Under one 14%
One 20%
Two 20%
Three 19%
Four 18%
Five 14%
Six 12%
Seven 11%
Eight 8%
Nine 9%
Ten 4%
Eleven 6%
Twelve 4%
Thirteen 2%
Fourteen 2%
Fifteen 1%
Sixteen 1%
Seventeen or more 2%
Not stated  0%

 


Survey of 1099 Mumsnet users with children aged 0-11, who use grandparents for regular childcare. Survey conducted in Jan-Feb 2015.

 

Last updated: over 1 year ago