Should Grandparents Babysit?

Searching for a sitter can be a harrowing experience.  While there are several baby sitting websites available, the pictures of nannies all look like mug shots and the thought of a stranger watching your baby is enough to make any new mum shiver.

According to research, a third of Latina mums enlist Abuella as babysitters.

They provide child care and no one is better equipped to teach your children about your family traditions as your grandparents. Add the savings and grandparents seem like the perfect sitter right? Not necessarily.

It’s still child care and as the parent you need to be clear about the expectations you have. This may be hard considering its your mother or mother in law you are talking to. Before you take on grandma or grandpa as babysitter, ask your self these questions…

Can they handle it?

It can be overwhelming dealing with someone who depends on you for everything. Your parents may not be able to maintain their lives and chase down a toddler. Are they fit enough to go to the park or does time with abuella involve painting and watching TV?

Do they respect your rules?

Mom knows best, and in this case, grandma knows all and you may not be able to tell her different. There are bound to be clashes.

Grandparents have lots of wisdom to impart. Ask yourself what can you let slide, what is non negotiable and what decisions need to be made together. Pick your battles carefully.

Are you an adult according to grandma?

You will always be mom’s baby but if she treats you like a baby she may find it hard to listen to your wishes with regard to raising your children. Power struggles between you and grandma will confuse the kids about who’s in charge and may cause them not to listen to you.

What kind of dynamic do you have with your mother? This should be the first question you ask yourself before enlisting her for help. A mother who doesn’t respect your wishes will make life tough.

Is your mum discreet?

Don’t be surprised when mum shares more than just milestones with your aunts, uncles, cousins or even the next door neighbor who you aren’t too friendly with. Its only natural that if your mother is spending all her time in your home, your home will be the most often talked about topic.

A complete block is impossible, but you can ask her to keep specific things private and hope she respects your wishes.

Can they afford it?


Grandmothers still need to earn a living but some would be offended if you offered them money. In the absence of pay, you could use other methods to show gratitude. Take her to the salon and fuel the car. If you can, whisk her off for a weekend vacation as you take care of the kids.

Provide all the food, diapers and clothes your children need so your parents don’t have to chip in. They have a life of their own too and you shouldn’t take advantage of them.

In the end, as with all arrangements, communication is vital. Expectations change with time and being upfront about your needs and what is and what isn’t acceptable is important. It is also important to talk about issues as they arise to avoid resentment down the line.


What’s your take on grandparents babysitting?


First published

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