About two and half years ago, an atom bomb exploded at the heart of my life.
My son, Kailash, was born. For the first few months my wife Siva was on maternity leave, family came to visit and everything seemed right with the world. But as ga-ga became go-go, Kailash started to walk and talk and Siva went back to work, life became really difficult.
Childcare is a bit of a lottery. We have tried nurseries, nannies, nanny-shares, child minders, working(or rather, struggling to work) from home and nothing has really clicked in way that leaves us feeling comfortable.
What does work, extremely well, are grandparents.
The trouble is that Siva's parents are in India and mine are in Scotland. So we experience feast and famine. At the moment Kailash's 'ammama' (Siva's mum) is at home, and the result is extraordinary. Kailash is bountifully happy and playful, mostly because he gets what most toddlers want- continual love and attention from somebody who is there because they want to be, not because they are being paid to be. And for the last few days he has probably noticed that his parents are happier, and more productive. I have even found time to exercise, we saw a movie on Saturday without paying about £35 for babysitting, and we are getting some time together to talk about things other than how to deal with Kailash.
The point is that if both parents have to work, which is increasingly the case, one of the biggest predictors of your wellbeing must be access to friends and family who have the time and willingness to help, but especially Grandparents- because they tend to have the proclivity to do what needs doing, which is mostly just 'being there'.
So here is my pitch to the Office of National Statistics, who have been thinking about how to measure wellbeing for so long. Where you ask: Do you have children below school age, you should also ask, as a supplementary question: Do you get on with your parents, and do they live close enough to you to help at short notice?
Based on my own experience, and from friends in similar predicaments, I would guess that that supplementary question would explain a huge amount of variance in the the wellbeing of young parents.
So let's hear it for the Grandparent index- a new tool to measure the likely wellbeing of mums and dads across the country.