Family values survey: Grandparenting: ‘It gives them a sense of family and stability’

Even though it can be non-stop keeping them occupied, Bridget says she and her husband are well able for it

Bridget McMahon with her grandchildren Lara Rose (6) and Aoife May (4) , at Lucan Co. Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Bridget McMahon with her grandchildren Lara Rose (6) and Aoife May (4) , at Lucan Co. Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Bridget McMahon (68) is one of a growing army of grandparents rediscovering a role many thought they had put behind them: childminding.

The mother of three – along with her husband, who turns 70 later this year – minds her two granddaughters for two days a week.

“It’s something we’re delighted to do,” she says. “There’s no way they could afford the cost of full-time creche fees. We had no hesitation at all in helping them out.”

Grandparents are playing a bigger role in their grandchildren’s lives these days, she says, as working couples are doing so to pay off hefty mortgages or high rents.

“It’s a way of life for families,” says Bridget. “It’s different to when I was rearing my three kids. There’s more pressure on lifestyles now. There are mortgages to pay.

“There are also higher expectations around going on holidays and things like that.”

Every Tuesday and Wednesday, the children’s parents drop Lara Rose (six) and Aoife May (four) off at Bridget’s home on their way to work. The grandparents prepare them breakfast, get them ready for school and then collect them in the afternoons.

Even though it can be non- stop keeping them occupied, Bridget says she and her husband are well able for it.

“My health is good and so is my husband’s. We find it very rewarding. I’ve minded children over the past 30 years, so I love having children around.

“Maybe I’d feel a bit different if it was five days a week, but the children’s other granny takes them on the other weekdays. It means we can swap days around between us, so it’s flexible.”

On the whole, Bridget feels the fact that more women continue working after having children is a good thing.

“Women should be able to have a career and be mothers. You don’t spend all your time at school and college to just give it all up,” says Bridget, who worked as a childminder in her own home for 30 years.

Raising the family

Bridget says many grandparents may not live close enough to their grandchildren nor be well enough to help out, but she would recommend it to anyone.

“We’ll look back on this and be very happy we were around to help. I remember my own mother played a big role in my children’s lives. She adored them and they felt the same about her.

Overall,” she adds, “I think it gives them a sense of family and stability.”

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