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The lowdown on making grandparent childcare work for everyone

It can be a double edged sword, saves money and leaves children with someone you trust, but grandparents can become too involved, here’s how to make it work

How to make grandparent childcare work

It’s a great benefit to have grandparents looking after little ones while you work, but it can be tricky to manage, these tips may help

Grandmother holding baby

A perfect solution on one hand, but opening a can of worms on the other. Grandparents taking on the childcare for you when you return to work, can be such a blessing as your children are with someone you completely trust, plus the costs are so much lower. 

But if you’re not careful, this perfect scenario can start to resemble a nightmare in a battle of wills between you and your parents.

Follow these tips to help make grandparent childcare work for you.

1. The payment struggle

Even though it may feel natural for you to pay for grandparents to look after your little ones, often grandparents will feel uncomfortable about taking money to look after their grandchildren.

Do this:
Rather than a regular payment, take on regular chores to help them out, perhaps they struggle mowing the lawn or fixing that dodgy fence and regular ‘thank you gifts’ such as paying for them to have a meal out or a weekend away will help them feel appreciated and you feel that you are not taking advantage.

2. If they are unavailable on occasions

Unlike registered childcare providers, grandparents are likely to have other commitments on occasions that mean they can’t fulfil their commitment to looking after the children every week. This can potentially cause stress for you having to sort out alternative arrangements at times.

 Do this:
If you do go into a regular arrangement with grandparents, also work out a reliable back up plan, maybe with a friend or sister, who is willing to step in (with some notice!) should they be needed.

3. Differing views on raising children

This can become a huge issue between parents and grandparents when there’s regular childcare involved. Grandparents are known for spoiling their grandchildren and that’s great when they see them on a Sunday afternoon, but if your children are with them three days a week, constant spoiling could become challenging for you. 

Do this:
Be clear from the beginning with your parents about what are the non-negotiable boundaries. Whether it’s no TV after 5pm or no sugar at lunch, if you’re clear on the big concerns to you, everyone will know where they stand.

4. The guilt of putting too much on your parents

This is a common worry for parents, as their parents get older, is it fair they’re running round after your little ones so much? And is looking after the children taking away from their joy of enjoying their grandchildren?

Do this:
 If your parents are looking after the children during the week so you can work, don’t put on any extra pressure of asking them to have then children overnight at the weekend so you can have a night out. Look at other options to allow you to have date night or nights with friends. 

5. Make the effort

Also arrange some time when you ca all get to together to enjoy each other’s company outside of childcare days.

6. If grandparents feel under appreciated

It’s very easy to get complacent with the situation and forget what a huge favour your parents are doing for you. Make a conscious effort to regularly take that moment to say a heartfelt thank you for all they do and as in point one, the odd gesture to help them out or treat them will go a long way.


The lowdown on making grandparent childcare work for everyone