The average hands-on grandparent can save busy families as much as £4,300-a-year in childcare fees, a report revealed today.
A detailed study found long working hours and other commitments means mums and dads typically call on their parents to look after their kids for around 1,122 hours-a-year.
And with average nursery and childcare fees in the region of around £3.86-an-hour, that means nans and granddads create a saving of £4,330.92.
The detailed study of 1,298 parents also revealed as many as one in four wouldn’t be able to hold down their current job without the help of their elder relatives.
Around half said it wouldn’t be worth them going to work if the kids’ nan and granddad weren’t around to help out.
Stacey Stothard, of Skipton Building Society which carried out the research, said: ”As this study clearly indicates, modern day grandparents are an absolute god-send for working mums and dads.
”Despite reaching an age where they should be winding down and enjoying their retirement years, grandparents end up almost ‘working’ for their own children, making it possible for them to earn a living, safe in the knowledge that the little ones are well cared for.
”And as we can see, a grandparent’s help is invaluable. Not only do they provide a safe and caring environment for the grandchildren to grow up in, but they save thousands of pounds in childcare fees every single year.
”They also provide that flexibility which parents would be hard-pushed to find with any nursery or child-carer.”
The study revealed during term time, and for 39 weeks of the year, grandparents will help out on three days of the week for at least 5.5 hours a time.
This means they are acting child-carers for 16.5 hours-a-week or 643.5 hours over the course of 39 weeks.
For the remaining 13 weeks of the year – the school holidays – the grandchildren will be looked after by their doting grandparents for a further 32 days, for an average of seven hours a time.
In addition, mum and dad will request a further four babysitting occasions every month, for just over five hours – equating to 255 hours and 12 minutes over the course of one year.
This means that by the time a child reaches school age, they will have been babysat by their grandparents for 5,610 hours.
And parents would have been saved an incredible £21,654.60.
Stacey Stothard added: ”Families, more than ever, are feeling the squeeze. And it can be a really tough balancing act trying to maintain a manageable income while arranging childcare.
”Willing grandparents will not only look after poorly children – when nurseries will often turn anything away that might be contagious.
”But they’ll also often provide food and snacks, take kids for days out, and not worry if you’re running late collecting them at the end of the day.
”Grandparents who look after their grandchildren in the family home are even on hand to help with the running of the home – helping to do household chores, as well as being in to sign for parcel deliveries and pay the window cleaner or milkman.
”But with this flexibility and financial benefit for parents sometimes comes a feeling of obligation for grandparents.
”At a time when young families are feeling the squeeze so too are their parents who are facing the prospect of reduced retirement income and financial uncertainty.
”Many may feel that although they want to help out, they could actually do with having some time for paid work themselves.
”It’s clear there’s a social shift change occurring, and something the two generations need to meet in the middle to discuss solutions that work well for both of them.”
The poll also revealed six in ten parents prefer asking the grandparents to help out with childcare rather than paying a nursery or child-minder.
And 46 per cent of these claim that as well as the cost benefits, they simply don’t trust anyone else to look after their child.
But four in ten mums and dads do feel guilty about how much they rely on their own parents for help, and a third worry that they are getting too old to deal with energetic grandchildren.
Indeed, while six in ten parents are choosing to bury their heads in the sand and refuse to think about what might happen when their own parents get to the point where they can’t look after the children anymore, a further 33 per cent are resigned to the fact they will eventually have to give up work to look after their own children.