The true price of expat life: no grandparents

I’ve been rather poorly these last couple of of weeks. My husband has been away in Chile and it turns out that looking after two preschoolers with a strong dislike of sleep doesn’t agree well with my body.

It’s times like these that I appreciate my parents more than ever.

My grandparents are truly grand

My mother and father have been coming over a lot and every day during the witching hours (5-7pm, in case you were wondering). They’ve helped me to get some food down my little beasts, change their clothes into something resembling nightwear (Halloween costumes count, right?) and get them into bed. While my husband was working in Nigeria they did the same. That’s nearly two years now.

Not just a British thing

Perhaps I take it a little further, but it seems I’m not alone. In fact, 93% of British families rely on help from their folks.

I reckon the thing British expats miss most is not brown sauce, Yorkshire Tea or up to date Sunday newspapers, but their parents.

Across Europe it’s much the same. Families are relying on grandparents more and more. I was one of the few under 60 year olds dropping my kids off at our nursery Antwerp. Belgium survived 19 months without a government, but I doubt it could last 19 days without its grandparents.

Worth their weight in gold

By the time the average child in the UK reaches school age, they will have been babysat by their grandparents for more than 5,610 hours, and their parents will have saved £21,654.60 in childcare costs. Help from grandparents would be worth £7.3 billion a year if they were paid a salary.

I shudder to think how much I’d have to pay my parents if they drew up a backdated ‘grandparenting wage slip’. But it’s not about the money, is it?

It’s having someone you truly trust who loves your child as much as you. A good nanny is priceless, but could never take the role of a grandparent.

So Mum, so Papa… I’d like to say thank you…

for the support…

grandparents are sorely missed by expats

grandparents are sorely missed by expats

for the little things like always choosing dairy free when your allergic grandson is on the prowl…

grandparents are sorely missed by expats

and blowing up pool floats…

grandparents are sorely missed by expats

for the walks in the country…grandparents are sorely missed by expats… and in the city…grandparents are sorely missed by expats

for the style tips…grandparents are sorely missed by expats

grandparents are sorely missed by expats

and the cuddles.grandparents are sorely missed by expats

Not to mention all the emergency help when Rafa was sick and Sebastian had that awful accident. Taking time off from work for frantic trips to hospitals near and far, the 5.30am call outs when they wouldn’t stop crying, the practical help too – Sunday newspapers on my bed, fresh flowers in the living room and a freezer stocked with homemade ready meals.

This Christmas you asked me what I wanted as a gift and I said, ‘please just buy for the kids’. But in truth you’ve already given me my present. Two years worth of childcare (and mummycare).

I’m really going to miss you both when we move to Santiago. Now I’m wondering if you fancy a long holiday in Latin America? I wonder if I can get next year’s present delivered to Chile in advance?

celebration expat grandparents

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