The Parent Trap: how millions of UK parents feel ‘trapped’ into living near grandparents

With grandparents stepping in to help reduce the cost of childcare, millions of parents are finding themselves feeling trapped in locations close to granny and granddad.

UK parents are stuck in a ‘parent trap’ and feel forced to live near to their children’s grandparents in order to get help with childcare, according to our latest research. Our data of 2,000 UK parents with children under the age of 13, found that half (50%), live less than five miles from their child’s nearest grandparent and seven in 10 (68%) live within a 30 minute journey.  Yet this may not always be by choice. More than half (57%) rely on childcare support from at least one grandparent (rising to 72% of those living within 30 minutes of their nearest grandparent).

This support is particularly crucial for parents who have children under school age. Although 18% of parents in this category who receive more than 10 hours a week of grandparent support say that they prefer grandparents looking after their children, the financial stretch required to swap to professional childcare is clear for the remaining 82%.

These parents believe they would need to increase their personal incomes by an average of £8,055 a year in order to be able to forgo free childcare. Many are even having to put their own home owning aspirations on hold to get free childcare support.

Whilst some put their moving aspirations on hold, others make a conscious decision to move closer to grandparents after having children. Nearly two in five (19%) parents said that, since having children, they had moved closer to grandparents, whilst 11% are currently planning to move.

Over the summer holidays, grandparents increase their weekly support by 26% – from 9 hours a week on average to 11.3 hours weekly. Some parents even admit to asking their parents or parents-in-law if they will move closer to help with childcare support.

Of all the parents surveyed, 28% had discussed moving homes with their children’s grandparents to be closer for childcare reasons. Of those, a notable 31% have had a parent or parent-in-law move house to be closer to help with childcare.

Parents agreed that on average, around seven miles away was the ideal distance to live from a grandparent – close enough to be on hand for regular support, but far enough away that they would not drop in constantly and unannounced.

The research also showed that many parents make do with little to no familial support, with 32% receiving no childcare support from grandparents or any further relations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download document

Enter your email before downloading this document