The census just reported that 30% of preschoolers whose parents work outside the home are cared for by their grandparents. How will you know if using your parents as babysitters will work for you? What do you need to know before you offer Grandma the job? Jessica Hartshorn, Senior Lifestyle Editor for American Baby Magazine, tells how to effectively use grandparents as babysitters.
First, don't assume your mother wants to spend her retirement taking care of her grandchildren. Even if she isn't working, she might be busy with other things like charities and other activities. Some grandparents don't feel physically up for caring for babies and others might not be in a financial place where they can afford to stop working to babysit.
Make rules. At day care you're expected to bring wipes and pick up your child on time and if you hired a sitter you'd hash out the requirements of her job. So, you don't want to take advantage of grandparents by not doing these things. No need to treat your mom like an employee, but you do have to be forthright. Talk together about how the baby is doing and what your plans are for the upcoming week. That way grandma can bring up anything she needs or wants to discuss. Some things have changed since your parents had little kids, so discuss different parenting approaches. Give your parents some leeway to make decisions and plan the day and approach the care of your child as a collaboration.
Do talk about money. Paying your parents for their time might not be such an outlandish idea. Most grandparents would probably reject payment but some parents find that token remuneration makes them feel better. Although your parents might not accept money, you should acknowledge the work they're doing and the sacrifices they may be making. Consider other ways to compensate them for their generosity.
Don't forget the fun. When grandparents become authority figures, it can be hard for them to remain regular grandparents. Allow your parents to find their own way to find a happy medium between being the good guy and the bad guy.
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