10 Things About Using Grandparents for Child Care

Good Communications and Clear Expectations Help Ensure Successful Arrangement

Caucasian couple looking at photographs with grandchildren
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If you're lucky enough to have your child's grandparents living nearby, chances are you've already used them for child care. But whether it is for occasional babysitting or for full-time care while you work, here are things you would like grandma or grandpa to know about watching your children.

  1. I am happy you can watch my kids.
    It gives me a great sense of comfort that you can watch my precious baby or toddler. I know you love and care for my kids and will take care of them to the very best of your ability.
  1. I am nervous about you watching my kids at the same time.
    Watching after a child is exhausting, and if I have more than one, I am more than a little concerned that you can keep pace. After all, I can't always keep up with them myself! I may also worry about your overall health, your hip or your knees, so don't take it personal if I try and keep you from going up the stairs or finding ways to try and make it easier on you. I know that if you want, you're going to do it anyway!
  2. I am anxious that you will let my kids do things that I don't let them do.
    Of course, grandparents are supposed to dote on and even spoil their grandkids. But bedtimes, no sweets before lunch (or dinner), and no bouncing on my living room couch are rules that I know my kids will test you on the minute I leave. I sure hope you'll respect my rules! That goes for what they can eat (or can't) as well. Remember that I may have my reasons, such as because my son broke out in hives the last time he ate it. And don't be afraid to tell my kids "no!"
  1. Please keep your medicines out of harm's way of my kids.
    My kids are very curious, and an open purse with lots of exciting contents inside just begs to be gotten into. I know you typically keep your medications in easy-to-remember days of the week containers and hate those childproof containers, but PLEASE be very careful. If you have a health concern that I should know about that could be a risk to you or my kids (such as seizures, falling asleep, falling, etc.), please talk to me. We need to decide whether babysitting is in your--and my children's best interest from a safety standpoint!
  1. I don't expect for you to give my kids a bath.
    In fact, unless they can bathe independently, please don't! Babies are wiggly and slippery, and toddlers will splash like crazy, pee in the water, and other things you really don't need to deal with. My kids can be a little dirty, and baths can wait until I get home.
  2. You don't need to spend any money on my kids. Really!
    I don't expect you to buy new toys or clothes for my kids, especially when you are being so kind as to provide child care. Serve whatever I have in the refrigerator, and know that reading a book, playing a simple game, and, yes, even watching an age-appropriate movie together is fine. All I really need to know is that my kids are safe, healthy and happy!
  3. I will have some activities you can play together.
    While my kids may suggest doing everything they can possibly think of, I don't expect you to play hide and seek or The Hungry Hippo unless you really want to. I don't need you to clean my house or do laundry while you are over here either. Just enjoy the kids...or at least pretend to!
  4. I may go overboard with a list of instructions or do's and don'ts.
    While I realize you raised me (or my partner) just fine, I may be overzealous in how I make a list or show you how to do things. Try and humor me. Some child care basics are the same as they've always been. However, some aren't. So, if I remind you of always laying the baby down on his back (and not stomach) or show you how to use the Diaper Genie, please understand that I'm just going over the same things with you as I would with any babysitter.
  1. I am not trying to take advantage of you.
    Child care is expensive and I may be looking for every way possible to reduce my family's budget. Having you provide babysitting lets me save money while providing a closer bond between grandparents and grandkids. If you do feel like I am taking advantage of you, however, I do hope you will speak up! I don't want our relationship to suffer because of it.
  2. If I don't bring up the subject of payment, I hope you will.
    While I hope you won't expect to be paid for occasional babysitting, it is reasonable for you to be paid if you providing ongoing or full-time care for my kids. After all, babysitting is like a job, and it requires you to have certain responsibilities and keep certain hours. You should expect to either be paid or have an agreeable in-kind exchange.

    You might want to check out some additional information about using family members for child care to make sure your arrangement is beneficial for everyone. Interested in knowing who other parents use for child care?

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