Hello KKilpatr: Thank you for your post. This sounds like a tremendous re-charting of your course; two-year-olds bring so much joy but also require so much energy. Your grandchildren are fortunate to have you.
Not sure of your location, but I would suggest looking into your local senior center for a group that supports grandparents raising granchildren. It's invaluable to connect with others who are in similar circumstances and can save you oodles of time in seeking out referrals, legal guidance, and resources. Programs vary dramatically by state and region, so they can hopefully help you from reinventing the wheel.
And yes, for Pete's sake, daycare is prohibitively expensive! Our community has many day cares that offer reduced rates and scale their fees for certain families. It cannot hurt to ask when you are considering your local daycare providers. Bartering childcare with other families may be an option while the children are little (a co-op of sorts....this was a lifesaver for us when our daughter was little and our bank account was littler). At a minimum, that could buy you some time for zero cost.
My lawyer hat is always on, so I know this wasn't part of your post, but wanted to mention the following: as you undertake guardianship for the grandkids, consider putting a plan in place for their care if you should become incapacitated or pass away. Although incredibly difficult to think about, doing so can help the heartache, stress, uncertainty and expense for your loved ones in the face of a crisis. Declaring preneed guardians/appointing them in a will, preparing health care surrogate forms for minors, creating trusts, naming beneficiaries on your assets, are just some examples of ways you can plan.
I'm wishing you the best of luck and please check back in to let us know how you're doing!
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