The report by Turn2us which finds that 70% of parents worry about the cost of childcare in the summer school holidays comes as no surprise to us. Grandparents know all too well how parents today are struggling to make ends meet. That's why both parents have to work and why grandparents are increasingly called on to help out. The report reckons that grandparents will save the parents a staggering £620 this summer.
I've been discussing the issue all over the nation's airwaves recently – from BBC Radio London to BBC Merseyside and Newcastle, from BBC Norfolk, to Radio Berkshire, Bristol and Three Counties and have come across some devoted grannies along the way, many of whom mind their grandchildren for a day or two a week, sometimes more, to help lower the costs of childcare for the parents. We all do it willingly and keenly but sometimes feel our contribution to the nation's economy is overlooked, as we mostly do it for nothing. So the true costs of childcare in this country must surely be being grossly underestimated.
But the whole point of this report is to draw attention to the fact that some families may be able to claim tax credits which include support for childcare. "Government figures show that a staggering £6.4 billion of Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit goes unclaimed each year.” So it'll be great if Turn2Us – which is supported by the they can get this message out there.
Unbelievable – and so very sad – that so many young children start school without knowing their own names, or even knowing they have names. What bleak and blank childhoods they must have had, without anyone trying to engage them. And how tragic, when those early months are such an exciting time for children, parents and grandparents alike as speech develops and we can observe the little idiosyncracies they pick up – or invent for themselves. I never forget my eldest grandson at18 months experimenting with speech; everything that came out of his mouth was interesting and worth developing. I particularly remember once, on the way to a mini-farm he said: 'my tummy's not quite ready'……which I firmly believe was his way of saying he was a little bit nervous. And what a delightful way of saying it…so what a disaster for this nation that so many children are living in silent bubbles.
Just a reminder that for anyone thinking about booking a last-minute holiday, we have tips under Travel about how to chooe a holiday home for three generations, so that you and your adult childen and grandchildren can all co-exist happily. Seems appropriate for this time of year, particularly if you're hoping to escape these grey summer days and book a villa abroad. But we also have advice for stay-cationers on choosing a house in this country too.
Glad to see Grandparents getting so much coverage across the press today for being 'vital to the rise of man' (Observer) and 'why the evolution of grandparents was key to success of the human race' as the Daily Mail puts it.
This is all down to a report by Professor Rachel Caspari of Central Michigan Universtiy. It seems that 30,000 years ago the the numbers of humans reaching 30 or over began to rise dramatically, and that soon after that there was a rise in artistic expression, food production and the creation of tools and weapons.
It seems that the arrival of grandmothers to help forage for food, and grandfathers to pass on advice and knowledge about poisonous plants, location of water and skills such as tool-making all helped human beings to live longer.
All of us grandparents know that we are a wonderfully useful source of advice, experience and wisdom which we're happy to pass on to the younger generation – if they ask! Indeed today I was a guest on BBC Radio Newcastle and so impressed by the wisdom of the grannies and grandpas who phoned in. But it feels good to have a more public and scientifically approved recognition!
Enjoyed chatting to Robert Elms on BBC Radio London this morning about grandparents stepping in to help out during the school holidays. It's a subject that's arousing a lot of interest with more radio interviews to come next week.
Busy day for GrandparentsNow as we appeared on local radio across the country: BBC Radio Newcastle first, followed by BBC Radio Bristol, (1 hour and 50 mins in) BBC Radio Berkshire (40 mins in) and Three Counties Radio (90 mins in) in Bucks, Beds and Herts.
All the interviews were on or around the subject of grandparents stepping in to help their families out with child care during the school summer holidays. We also discussed how important it is that we grandparents take care of ourselves and don’t take on too much, and how it is OK to say ‘No’ from time to time so we don’t get totally worn out! But it’s obviously a big issue nowadays with working parents – and many of them rely on us to get by.
I also asked for tips on ideas from listeners on things to do in the local area – so will be posting those tips up any moment now.
I see the Daily Mail is having another go at working Mums, although this time they've managed to turn around the results of a survey of children whose parents work which had largely positive results and make it seem a problem. I was talking to the owner of a chain of local nurseries recently who remarked that in her experience, the children who'd been at nursery 5 days a week from a very young age are the most confident, and go most happily on to big school. I'm not coming down on either side, for I fully understand how much pressure young parents are under today, and how most of them desperately need to work to survive. But I wish the Daily Mail would try supporting mothers rather than continually bashing them.
photo by woodleywonderworks
I've had a concern for a while now about my three and half-year-old grandson playing imaginary games which involve 'killing' and people ending up 'dead'. I've tried explaining to him that he doesn't really understand about killing and dying, and that it's not a nice thing to play – but he looks at me quite bewildered! He then, very quickly, suggests we do 'pretend killing' instead – displaying his total ignorance of what he's really talking about! He obviously plays these games a lot with other children and can't see what I'm on about!
I don't remember my own children learning this kind of game so early, but that's probably because my eldest was three before he went to playgroup and mixed with lots of children, whereas my grandson has been attending nursery twice a week since he was around 18 months.
Then there's the fact that children today are exposed to so much more violence on television and in video games. ..and all too often creatures/robots/superheroes do end up getting smashed, or bashed, or dropping to the floor as if dead.
So I fear I'm fighting a losing battle but I still decline to play 'killing' and try to encourage play with his transformers in a more light-hearted, less threatening way! He probably thinks I'm mad.
But I was interested to learn from Ingrid, the Director of Childcare at Countryside Nurseries that in her experience boys of my grandson's age, given innocuous toys like lego, or bricks inevitably end up making guns. The trick, she says, is then to try to subtly cajole them into turning those guns into something else.
All the more important then, that we continue to try to educate even very young children about what guns and weapons are and what they really do; so that eventually they learn there really is no such thing as 'pretend killing'.
The Stroke Association has produced a really useful video for Grandparents of all ages which is designed to help us recognise the first signs of a stroke by using the FAST test – checking Face, Arms and Speech, in order to work out if we need to call an ambulance.
Dialling 999 quickly is vital as stroke victims benefit from treatment within the first 3 hours; this can not only save a life but prevent ongoing disability.
A stroke can occur at any age, so the more of us who can recognise it the better. Well worth watching and re-tweeting.
Swan Upping is currently taking place along the Thames: it's like a swan census, when the numbers are counted and the young sygnets are tagged. It's a fascinating spectacle – which children will love - and it's free, so another free attraction to add to our list of things to do with grandchildren.
The best places to watch the colourful liveried boatmen as they gently 'up' the swans – in other words herd them ashore gently from their traditional rowing skiffs are likely to be the locks. So today, for example, you may be able to see them at Boveney Lock (1015), Boulters Lock (1pm) or Marlow Lock at 5.30. All times are approximate as it depends, obviously, on the amount of time spent conducting the census along the way.
Sadly, it seems the swan population is way down this year thanks to a nasty virus; so their progress may be quicker.
Children would thoroughly enjoy this spectacle – so if you can't make it today, you have until Friday, by which time the Swan Uppers will have reached Abingdon Bridge at 5.30 and this years census will be over. The programme of timings is here.