Virginia Beach Grandparents as Daycare Providers
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Grandparents: Kay and Richard Hofler; Kathleen and Bobby Walker (not present); one-day per week babysitter
Parents: Jenny and Derek Hofler
Grandchildren: Charlotte, 18 months; Owen, 3 ½ years
“Keeping Charlotte and Owen is the best part of my life,” asserts Kay, an artist and retired art teacher. Like the Dolls and Tests, the Hoflers and Walkers have shared childcare duties since the beginning, though the latter also include a babysitter in the mix for much-needed flexibility. Plus, Derek, who works nights for UPS, provides daytime care one afternoon per week. This best-of-both-worlds arrangement prevents anyone from being “totally tied down,” according to Kay, who shoulders most of the responsibility when it’s the Hofler’s turn, admitting, however, that she doesn’t think she could manage it by herself. Richard, a retired VDOT inspector and big help with Owen—a very active boy who loves being outdoors—notes that, “It’s a little tough when (it rains and) you can’t get Owen outside.”
Derek, surmising that there aren’t many cons to this arrangement—unless perhaps that the grandparents aren’t as strict with discipline—appreciates the freedom from commercial daycare time constraints. Jenny, a teacher, also noting that their set-up is nice financially and that grandparents will still take the kids even when they are sick, mostly treasures the intangible: that the grandparents and grandkids are part of each other’s everyday lives, and that her kids get “exposed to the things that the grandparents like to do.” Adds Kay, “They have special things to do at each grandparents’ house.”
Though these parents of young children may feel guilty that they are getting a steal of a deal when the grandparents don their childcare hats—or sparkly placemats—the grandparents will be the first to acknowledge that it is they who are making out like bandits.