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And herein lies the problem – today’s new mums can, and in many cases must, return to work after maternity leave, but childcare costs are so astronomical (they rose by 19 per cent last year alone) that half of them are calling on their own parents to pick up the slack (according to a study by Age UK).
We’re not just talking pin-money positions either, but hard-won careers.‘I didn’t work while my own four children were small – women didn’t so much then.‘I cannot think of anything positive about becoming a grandmother. 'I’ve done a long stretch of child-bearing and rearing with my own – Ollie, 24, Sylvia, 21, and Charles, 15. I’m not prepared to start all over again with any offspring they might have.’ Which brings us to the crux of the matter – the fear that the role of granny will actually morph into unpaid nanny.I love them to bits, but I’ve almost done my duty – just a couple more years with the youngest. ‘Women see their friends lumbered with the daily care of grandchildren and fear that happening to them, too,’ says Lynn Chesterman.But that’s the direction I’d like to take when he’s at uni.’ Like Francine, Sarah has let her children know her feelings.‘It felt important to tell them, so one day while out in a café I said, “I won’t be your unpaid nanny if you have children.” The older two said they didn’t want kids anyway.