12 April 2018

  • Over half of grandparents provide childcare for their grandchildren
  • One in ten provide the equivalent of £4,320 childcare for free a year
  • Two thirds say they spend more time with their grandchildren than their own grandparents did with them
  • A quarter of all grandparents are looking ahead and saving for their grandchildren’s future

Over half (52 per cent) of Scottish grandparents provide their grandchildren with childcare.  Almost all (96 per cent) do so willingly, and without any payment, according to the latest research from Bank of Scotland.

What’s more, two in five (39 per cent) grandparents say they instigated the childcare arrangement by offering to help. While a miniscule one per cent confessed to being reluctant to look after their grandkids.

Big hearts and deep pockets

The most recent How Scotland Lives research reveals how generous grandparents are with both their time and money. One in ten grandparents manages to provide their grandchildren with more than 20 hours of childcare per week, which is the equivalent of £90 or £4,320 a year.

One fifth (19%) look after their grandkids for 10-19 hours per week and over one quarter (26 per cent) provide childcare for 5-9 hours. Two in five (41 per cent) provide up to five hours of childcare per week, saving parents £22.50 per week or £1,080 per year in childcare costs.

As well as spending so much time looking after their grandchildren, one quarter of grandparents regularly cover the costs of activities or specific items such as school uniforms and sports kit. With the average annual cost of a school uniform being £212.88 and PE kit amounting to £87.67, grandparents could be spending over £300 per year on these items alone.

It seems grandparents can’t help but indulge their grandkids. More than three quarters (76%) say they regularly buy their grandkids treats or presents and two in five (41 per cent) regularly spend money to take grandchildren on outings. Almost one quarter (24 per cent) are saving for their grandchildren’s future.

“Many of us know what a key role grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren but it’s perhaps easy to overlook the breadth of their generosity, not just in terms of time but also financially,” says Ricky Diggins, Director for Bank of Scotland. “It seems grandparents are well aware of the demands on today’s families and are happy to help, not only taking care of their grandkids’ day-to-day needs but also by saving for their future.”

Holidaying with the grandkids

The research also highlighted the role grandparents play in their grandchildren’s recreational lives, particularly during the school holidays.

One in four grandparents said they regularly looked after their grandchildren during school holidays, with over half (51 per cent) doing so on an occasional basis.

But this childcare isn’t restricted to time spent in the home, garden or local park, as many are keen to enjoy time together on days out to the beach or even taking part in sightseeing or cultural adventures. Over a third (34%) take their grandkids away on the occasional holiday, either with or without their parents, and one in ten say they regularly holiday with their grandchildren.

Giving Mum and Dad the night off

Scottish grandparents are happy to get involved in the bedtime routine too, as almost two thirds (64 per cent) say they have their grandchildren to sleep over.

Many grandparents also help out with transport. More than one quarter (27 per cent) regularly drop off and pick up their grandchildren from nursery or school, with 42 percent saying they occasionally help out on the school run.

Whether it’s taking them to football practice or ballet lessons, almost half (46 per cent) will take the grandkids to extra-curricular activities, with one in ten (11 per cent) committing to regular travel support.

How times have changed

With the demands of modern life on today’s families, it’s not surprising to find grandparents playing a bigger role than ever. Indeed, the majority of grandparents (69 per cent) who provide their grandchildren with childcare say they spend more time with their grandchildren than their own grandparents spent with them.

One fifth (21 per cent) said they spend about the same amount of time, and just 5 per cent said they spend less.

Read the full press release here