More Than Just Free Child Care

These days a lot of people rely on grandparents for help with childcare. Nursery fees are high, salaries are frozen and inflation is creeping up. If both parents have to work, sometimes the only way to make it cost effective is if someone can look after the kids for free.

With my parents living 152 miles away this was never going to be an option for our family. And I have often envied the people I know whose parents live nearby and regularly help with babysitting or pop in to catch up and help tidy up the daily fallout.

But when I started to imagine what life would be like if my parents lived just around the corner, I realised there would be other benefits I could take advantage of…

Man and woman holding baby in front of house.
Home is where the heart is (Nursery Whines)

Washer Woman
Most of the gorgeous, vintage baby clothes that my mother kept all these years from my childhood, for me to pass on to my daughter, are now flecked with bright poster paints or tarnished with avocado and banana stains. I try to soak them overnight, treat them with stain remover and wash them on the right cycle, I really do. But I know my mother could work her magic in an instant if I just popped a bag round to her house every week or so.

DIY Darlings
All those plans I had to paint chalkboards on my kitchen cupboards, customise second-hand bargains into shabby chic furniture, even put photographs into frames and hang them on my walls, are still stuck inside a notebook. I can’t help thinking, if I had my very own Handy Andy and Kirstie Allsopp on my doorstep – together we might have brought some of those To Do Lists to life.

Gardener’s Question Time
My father taught me to garden when I was just a toddler raking up leaves. Although, now I have my own toddler, I can see I must have been much more of a hindrance than the helper I felt at the time. He is still my sage when it comes to how to plant, when to prune and what are actually weeds. But our digital communication is limited. I need his green fingers here in the flesh.

Ladies Who Lunch
In our family, shopping, sightseeing, day-tripping, any excursion from the house pretty much, is really just an excuse to go for a spot of lunch. My daughter and I sometimes go for meatballs at IKEA, but it’s not quite the same. If only I had my top dining companions close by – there are plenty of places I’d like to try. But I suppose lunch wouldn’t always be on them if it became a weekly event…

Problem Solver
Oh to be able to cross over the road to do the (quick) crossword with my mother over a nice cup of coffee whenever we felt like it.

Sunday Rituals
Sunday is never the same anywhere other than home. And even though I’m starting to make my own home somewhere new now, it would be good to invite my parents to Sunday lunch once in a while. Then they can have a turn relaxing and reading the papers, while I fret about not over-cooking the meat and spend all afternoon clearing up, as they slump in a food-induced coma, before asking, just as I’m finished, what is for supper. Hmmmm, perhaps I’m not quite ready to inherit the Sunday Lunch throne just yet. But I could help peel the potatoes and do the dishes as my parents’ house every week.

Woman standing beside graffiti art on wall reading 'Mother, mother, mother, you are loved''
(Nursery Whines)

There are a lot of reasons I would like to live closer to my family. But they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I wonder, if my mother did live two doors down, whether I would still appreciate her quite as much as I do.

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