Childcare is a major expense for many families, so asking grandparents to babysit can ease the financial burden. Of course, there’s also the priceless benefits of giving
grandparents and grandchildren more time to spend together so they can develop
a closer relationship.
If you and your family are enjoying such an arrangement, you’re not alone. According to the American Grandparents Association, 72% of their members take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis and 13% say they are the primary caregivers.
While there are many advantages, there are also some potential pitfalls that you can avoid with proper planning. Learn how to create a safe and satisfying experience for you, your parents, and your children.
Dealing with Safety Concerns:
- Set limits. Babysitting is a great way for any senior to remain engaged as long as the work matches their abilities. Consider your parents’ mental and physical health before you ask for assistance.
- Childproof the premises. If your children will be staying at their grandparent’s house, inspect the surroundings. Take precautions like installing safety gates on stairs and placing knives out of reach.
- Safeguard medications. Many seniors take prescription drugs. Lock cabinets or use childproof containers.
- Explain technology. Your parents may be unfamiliar with some devices that you and your children use. Provide any necessary instructions for security systems and virtual voice assistants.
- Share updates. Many parenting practices are timeless, but others have changed. Educate your parents about the latest recommendations for car safety seats and cribs.
- Prepare for emergencies. Post emergency numbers and contacts on the refrigerator door or another visible spot. Discuss what to do in case of severe weather or medical issues.
Dealing with Financial Concerns:
- Define your scope. Most grandparents will be happy to volunteer for the occasional date night, but full-time care may require compensation. Discuss terms that would be fair for everyone involved.
- Express your gratitude. If your parents don’t want payment, you can still let them know how much you appreciate their contribution. Thank them frequently and sincerely. Offer services like yardwork or rides for doctor appointments.
- Help with housework. Your parents will probably have more messes to clean up if your children are staying at their house much of the week. Drop by on the weekend to mop floors and dust or offer to pay for a housecleaning service.
- Maximize your benefits. Depending on how you structure your childcare costs, you and your parents may qualify for some benefits from the government and your employer. Talk with your accountant or go online to research your options.
Dealing with Other Concerns:
- Review your relationship. Are you nervous about asking your parents to babysit? If you have frequent or serious conflicts, it may be preferable to hire someone outside of the family.
- Rehearse your roles. Providing full-time childcare can be demanding. Your parents may want to start out with one or two days a week to be sure they can handle the workload.
- Write it down. A written contract protects everyone’s interests and helps you to recognize the many details that need to be addressed. You can draft your own agreement or find free templates online to adapt to your situation.
- Have fun. Childcare can be a pleasure as well as a job for grandparents. Encourage your parents to suggest outings and activities that your children will love to share.
Whether your parents serve as full-time nannies or occasional babysitters, skillful planning and communication will help you to reach an agreement that enables you to work together to provide excellent care for your children.
Grandparents can give your children lots of love and a unique connection to their heritage. You can go to work or take a break, feeling secure about your family’s wellbeing.