Should you be financially compensated for helping your children work to have a better life?

With your children having flown the nest and had a family of their own, you might’ve thought the most hectic days were behind you. But perhaps you hadn’t factored in the scenario of being asked to care for your grandchildren. It’s a tricky dilemma.

It seems important to ensure that grandparents aren’t out of pocket during the childcare sessions. Often parents provide the food, nappies and drinks that their children will need, as well as money for any activities and days out. Others might agree on an hourly rate that allows grandparents some compensation for the level of commitment given. The commitment is huge but saying no could result in a family fall out no one wants. If you’ve agreed to help out, it’s important to set some early ground rules.

Between the hours put in and the economic value, grandparents are estimated to be saving the UK around £17 billion in childcare.

Back in 2011, the Government launched Specified Adult Childcare credits, a national insurance scheme that could net some grandparents £5k over their 20-year retirement. But for those who don’t meet the (rather detailed) criteria, there’s still the issue of whether grandparents should charge their offspring to look after the kids.

Discussing money issues can be tricky, that’s why setting some rules at the earliest stage is crucial.

And never being afraid to say it’s just too much further down the line. Financially planning for your retirement is tough enough without factoring in such a major, unforeseen commitment.

Set expectations — remind your child that while you love your grandchildren, your retirement needs to leave time for yourself and that perhaps you don’t have the energy levels you once had. Agree to the number of days or hours you can manage straight from the off. Leave no room for confusion and ask for as much notice as possible for any changes in circumstances. You don’t want to feel like the (unpaid) hired help!

Do you have financial worries or budgeting questions? We have all the information you need here at Platinum. See our Finance section for more details.