You're over 50. You've raised your children. You're retired. Now you've earned the right to travel, relax or just do what you want to do.
These days, however, that "whatever you want to do" usually includes grandchildren.
With these struggling economic times, it is becoming more common than not for both parents of young children to hold down full-time jobs in order to make ends meet. So the decision is whether one of the parents should quit or work part time or find someone to care for their child until their shift ends.
While day care is always an option for that second choice, the cost and the unknowns have parents scrambling to find someone to watch their child who allows them to have a little more peace of mind and money in their wallets.
Grandparents usually fit the bill nicely.
Carolyn Porter of Scottdale, Pa., said her daughter Holly McLaughlin, also of Scottdale, and her husband Tom are "thrilled to death" that she is able to watch her 3-year-old grandson, Blake, most days of the week because "she knows he's OK while she's at work."
"I first started watching another grandchild, who lives in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., when he was 6 months old until he was about 6 years old, and now I'm watching Blake during the week," Porter said. "I have two other grandchildren out in Easton (Pennsylvania) that I didn't get to see too often while they were growing up, so it's nice to be able to enjoy these grandchildren that live close."
From library visits to McDonald's for french fries, Porter said she is happy to be kept busy with Blake. "They grow up before you know it, so it's nice to be able to enjoy them while you can," she said. While Kristy Smith of Scottdale is a stay-at-home mom of three from infant to toddler age, she relies heavily on her mom Patricia Miller to keep things flowing smoothly, and Miller couldn't be more happy. "I have one or all of them almost every day," Miller said. "I take one to preschool and I help take them all to church or for whatever other reason so she can get some time to just breathe or get a shower in peace." Miller added that her family is a very "generational" close-knit family anyhow. "I moved my parents back here when they retired, and I lived across the street from my mother- and father-in-law when my children were little, so we've never used an outside baby-sitter," she said. "That's what grandparents and great-grandparents are for." While Miller has a full-time job herself as director of the Scottdale Public Library, she is happy to take her youngest grandson, 5-month-old Liam Smith, to work with her when necessary. "My mom and mother-in-law always encouraged me to stay home if you can while the children are really young and then pursue your career as they get older, and that's what I've done," Miller said, "but I'm glad to have such a big part in my grandchildren's lives."
She added that her experiences as a grandmother are totally different from her experiences as a mother. "Maybe it's because I have more insight now that I'm older, but I get joy out of everything I do with these grandchildren," Miller said. "I take more time to watch the emotions that cross their face, and I take time to roll down the hill with them, that I might have thought I didn't have the time to do with my kids. "Now I do three times more than I did when I was raising my kids and I still enjoy taking the time to play with my grandkids," she added.