If your parents are keen to help out with your little one while you work, all you need to do is follow a few simple rules for a harmonious relationship.
Nearly 3.5 million grandparents provide childcare - helping out working parents, while forming a precious bond with their grandchildren. A successful arrangement usually involves military planning, regular communication, a few deep breaths and plenty of give and take. Here are 10 tips for making it work like a dream.
At a glance
- Make an agreement about the important things like, sleep, play, food and discipline
- They have a wealth of experience and might know better sometimes
- It's important to not take them for granted - treat them as you would any other child carer
Agree the ground rules
As parents, you do have the right to set ground rules on essentials like sleep, play, food, discipline and boundaries. But grandparents do have a wealth of experience, so it’s important everyone has a say in how things work.
You’re bound to disagree on some things and it can really cause friction if you don’t chat about it. So don’t bottle things up – talk everything through and plan things as a family.
Get the balance right
Best find out how much time your mum or dad have available to look after your little ones. They may need to keep working - or haven’t quite got the energy to deal with lively young children every day. If you want this arrangement to last, best agree a schedule that makes everyone feel happy.
In their own home
Grandparents are often happier looking after children in the comfort of their own home. Obviously, it can make things complicated, but it’s good for your child to experience different places. Just help make sure the house is baby or toddler-proof and you’re off!
Share the costs
Most grandparents wouldn’t dream of asking for payment, but costs can mount up and they could soon get out of pocket. Why not set a kitty to cover such essentials as snacks, meals, days out, nappies and new toys?
You can save a lot of headaches by sorting out in advance what you need – from car seats to high chairs. If you need to double up on equipment, you could offer to pay or share the cost.
Book holidays early!
Grab your diaries and work out your holiday dates early. With the prices off peak time holidays rocketing, grandparents often want to take advantage of cheaper, off-peak breaks in term time. As ever, it’s a matter of give and take, and planning well ahead can really help.
Think about the rest of the family!
Remember the others! If your brothers and sisters have children, chances are your parents will want to spend quality time with them and their children too. If your mum and dad devote most of their time to looking after your kids, siblings can grow to resent the situation. If you think that’s happening, it’s time for a good old honest discussion.
Sometimes looking after a small child can be a lonely time. Grandparents feel they shouldn’t impose a lively baby on their friends or they feel ill at ease at ‘mum and baby’ sessions. There are an increasing number of grandparent and toddler groups being opened around the country. To find out more, go to the Help and Support section at The Grandparents Association or phone 01279 428040 for further details.