the grandest of jobs picture



Move over super mums – here comes Super Gran (and I’m not talking about the children’s series).

I’ll let you in on a secret. Grandmothering isn’t all about cookies and hugs.

Today’s grandmothers are juggling work, home and babysitting commitments with the flair of the best superheroes. This is a far different picture than the many cartoons littering the internet depicting grandmothers as little old ladies wearing aprons and baking cookies.

Grandparenting has become a much more serious business.




Today’s grandmothers make up part of the Australian grandparent team that regularly look after nearly one million children. That’s about a quarter of all kids under 12.

They spend an average of 12 hours a week on childcare duties and save families around $90 million a year in childcare fees in New South Wales alone.

In short, we grandparents are spending more time with our grandkids than past generations have. And most of us consider it the grandest of jobs.

Grandparents are the most popular form of childcare in Australia today. Around 837,000 Australian children were cared for by their grandparents in a typical week during 2014, according to statistics. This number was much larger than for other forms of child care.

Grandparents provide care for an average eight hours per week, which is worth $1.5 billion, according to Michael O’Neill, former chief executive of National Seniors Australia (NSA).

Around 300,000 Australians aged between 50 and 74 care for their grandchildren. A third of them also juggle jobs.

One of the main attractions to leaving the kids with grandparents, aside from the safe environment, (and the cookies and hugs), is the flexibility it provides.

Grandparents tend to fit in with the needs and desires of their children when it comes to caring for the grandkids.

They fill in the gaps left by the formal child care options and are more likely to be available during nights and weekends.

Many grandmothers actually adjust their working lives to accommodate the employment requirements of their daughters and daughters-in-law.

Some even give up their careers early or put retirement plans on hold.



the grandest of jobs picture


Most grandmothers happily make these sacrifices to help their adult kids and enjoy bonding with their grandchildren. However, they acknowledge the impact it has on their work and retirement decisions.

While they enjoy providing care and do not want to give it up, they also feel a deep obligation, due to the high costs of living faced by their children.

They take their commitment to care seriously, which means they have limited their choices regarding how to spend their time.

Some research suggests there is a tipping point beyond which caring can become less enjoyable.

According to the research, grandparents who provide 13 or more hours of care per week are less likely to enjoy caring for their grandchildren and more likely to feel effects on their work and retirement decisions.

Regardless of this, and a sense of deja vu,  (haven’t we already been here, caring for our own young children?),  these Super Grans continue to give their time and energy freely.

They add a special element into the lives of their grandchildren by providing a link to the past and to family history. They eagerly share whatever skills they have, hoping to leave a lasting legacy.

The big payoff with the grandest of jobs is, of course,  the love and enjoyment they get from their grandkids.

And it’s a good thing that love and fun are so strong too, as many have expressed feelings of being unappreciated by the adult children they are trying to help.




Some grandmothers say their adult children have unreal and unfair expectations of what the grandparenting role should entail.

They feel there is little gratitude for the extra commitment and responsibility they take on. There is even a sense the adult children have convinced themselves they are doing the grandparents a favour by allowing them to spend extra time with their grandchildren.

Some grandmothers express concern at the lack of appreciation and understanding regarding the physical toll of chasing after young children in their care when at grandparenting age.



the grandest of jobs picture


Adding to the pressure is the need to respect the parents’ wishes regarding the grandchildren’s diet, routine and discipline while caring for them.

Grandmothers are taking on the grandest of jobs, but following someone else’s set of rules.




They are doing it with (mostly) joy, while putting off lunch dates with friends to accommodate their babysitting commitments, delaying travel plans to fit in with their family needs, changing their work schedules and ambitions and dipping into their retirement fund to help their adult children.

They are rearranging their homes to facilitate their grandkids (read Grand Designs  – How to Prepare Your Home for Grandkids). These Super Grans are discovering within themselves reserves of tolerance and patience they never knew they had.

Today’s Super Grans are tapping into diplomatic superpowers to avoid family breakdowns. They are using their superpowers of juggling to meet all the demands of their time.

These Super Grans are sharing the knowledge of their superpowers to help their grandchildren become happy and healthy adults.

Today’s Super Grans are using their superpowers to understand and embrace our ever-advancing technology.


the grandest of jobs picture


And then there’s those other superpowers – the cookies and the hugs.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, lets hear it for the Super Grans; the nannies, grandmas, grannies, grams, grammas, nans, nannas, nonnies, grandies, onas – to all of the Super Grans, thank you.

Have a gleeful week, Tamuria.




  • Blessings to grandmothers everywhere! Sometimes they are the stability needed for healthy development. Thanks for sharing this and honoring the grandmothers who give up their time to support their children in this way.

    • I was maybe a little self-indulgent in giving myself a pat on the back as one of the many grandmothers who try to be their best for their families, Candess. However, I have met so many incredible grandmothers who cannot do enough for their children and grandchildren, that I couldn’t resist honouring us all.

  • Love this article! I enjoyed reading this entirely. I think grandparents rub off on their grandchildren on a more conscientious level than our own kids. It’s our second chance at parenting ! Also, we’ve developed the patience( hopefully) at this stage of life 😉 Thank you, Tamuria!

    • I agree, Cathy, that grandparents can have an enormous impact on the children in a family. We can do a little better, having learned from the mistakes we all make as parents.

  • That is so true here in the States as well, Tami. And I know a lot of folks who are now raising, or helping raise, their grandkids. And I can vouch for this: grandparents who provide 13 or more hours of care per week are less likely to enjoy caring for their grandchildren and more likely to feel effects on their work and retirement decisions.
    I didn’t know the exact number of hours, but I see this all the time!
    And I can’t even imagine the energy needed!
    Here’s to the Super Grans!

    • The grandparents who take on full responsibility for the children are true heroes, Susan. It’s easy to give it your best shot when you are able to hand the responsibility back to the parents, but I can’t imagine how exhausting full-time care would be.

  • Good on you for giving the super grans the credit and recognition they so richly deserve!

  • This is a nice tribute to grandparents … who are pretty special. Here in the United States we celebrate Grandparents Day each September. I really mine were still us.

    • We celebrate Grandparents’ Day in October in Australia, Rachel. I still sometimes miss my Granny, though she was way less hands on as a grandmother than most of today’s grandparents are.

  • Oh, I totally love this article! As a soon to be first time grandma, I love the idea of cookies and hugs! Can’t wait to welcome Esther Helen into our world!

  • Tamuria,
    Excellent and I can see the humor in your article as well as the pictures used. How exciting and congratulations. Great article.

    Lori English

  • That is such a great tribute to grandmas/ grandparents. Someday I aspire to be a valuable asset such as this to my family. My daughter did not get this type of attention and I often feel she missed out of something “grand.” Bless you for all you do, Tamuria.

    • You will be an amazing grandmother, Teresa when the time comes. As grandparenting has changed so much, I didn’t really get this type of attention when I was young either. So glad I’m able to give it though.

  • I know how important my mother has been in my daughter’s life and she was the only grandparent who was in my daughter’s life for her early years. Although she didn’t disrupt her own life schedule to look after my daughter, she was a wonderful influence of what living well is all about. Now that my daughter is an adult, her bond with my mother is beautiful to see. My daughter is an only child and an only grandchild, so she was spoiled, especially by my mother. I know she would see her ‘hubby’ as a supergran and thank her for all the care and love she gave her.

    The info you share about how many grandparents are now primary caregivers for their grandchildren is quite staggering. I know that for so many, it is an economic necessity. Happy Mother and Grandmother’s Day to you, Tami! I know how much you love spending time and caring for your Goddesses, and how much they love you!

    • I think setting a good example on how to live life well is a key element to good grandparenting, Beverley. It’s wonderful your daughter has had this influence. There’s a balance between helping out and ‘being there’ for your family and also forging ahead with your own life. Unfortunately, for many, the role calls for them to give up dreams and goals, sometimes out of economic necessity and sometimes for sadder reasons. I do adore spending time with the Goddesses and am grateful I also have time for my own pursuits.

  • Such a wonderful testimonial to today’s Grandma and the huge part she plays in the care of her grandchildren. And I don’t know one Grandma that fits aproned, grey haired image . I bet she still bakes cookies though.

    • Haha, where would we be without the cookies? I agree with you though Alene. I don’t know one grandmother who actually fits the aproned, grey-haired image.

  • I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a child and adolescent. I think it made a huge difference in me. I learned how to interact with people from other generations, they taught me so many different life skills, and I loved them dearly.

    • Wonderful that you have those beautiful memories and also the great skills they taught you, Jennifer. I really believe grandparents can add a special touch of magic and love to children’s lives.

  • I remember visits to grandma being magical. She would make rice pudding and keep it on the back steps to cool. It’s hard to imagine how grandparents keep up today with all the technical things grandchildren seem to inherently know how to operate. But, whether they realize it or not they are forming wonderful childhood memories, their adult grandchildren will remember fondly. Thanks for celebrating everyone who has ever had a grandma.

    • I can just see that rice pudding cooling on the back steps, Joyce. It will be interesting when the Goddesses get a little older and start really getting into all the technical things. I suspect their visits to me will still be focused on what we can make with our hands.

  • True, grandparents are putting in a big workload to care for their grandchildren…also in Scandinavia, even if most people might not think so. I remember some grandparent friend complaining that their children were miffed about not getting more help from them with the grandchildren. But that was when this grandparent was working full-time and did not have time to do so…while one of the other grandparents ran home from work to be able to be there and dedicated all her free time. I can see that it is important…but at the same time, I think grandparents have a right to their own interests too…etc. 🙂

    • Excellent point, Katarina. Grandparents absolutely have a right to spend time on their own interests and hobbies. Some adult children can be really insensitive about this and make unreasonable demands.

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