Do you want to provide childcare for your grandkids?
Most grandparents look for opportunities to spend plenty of time with their grandchildren, so if your son or daughter needs some help with long-term childcare for their children, you may be eager to help out. If you end up caring for your grandkids in this way, you will join over 5 million other grandparents in the United States performing this exact same service each business day.
Positives and Negatives
If you’ve been asked about watching your grandchildren daily, you may be excited about to building memories and enjoying their company. You may envision yourself pushing toddlers on swings at the park, enjoying the gap toothed grins of infants, and eating fresh-baked cookies with school-aged kids. Make no mistake; there will be many amazing moments. You may have dreams about teaching them how to cook, garden, fish, or enjoy another one of your hobbies. Your kids will be able to take comfort in the fact that their children are safely cared for by a person who genuinely loves them and will teach them right from wrong.
However, before making this arrangement permanent, you may want to consider some of the possible negatives to providing childcare for your grandkids. First, your flexibility may be reduced when you have a child around every day. Things like meeting a friend for lunch or going shopping on the spur of the moment likely won’t be possible. Secondly, your role will have to shift slightly if you are providing frequent childcare for your grandkids, because you will now be responsible for making sure that they take naps, eat their lunch, and pick up their toys. The whole “spoil them and send them home” tendency of many grandparents will need to change a little for your own sanity. Third, if there are any awkward relationship dynamics at play with your kids or the in-laws, you may have to proceed carefully since you will become a part of your grandkids’ day-to-day lives. Last, if you have any health issues or if you struggle with your energy level, having a child around each day could be extra challenging.
Be sure you’ve considered both the positives and the negatives before you make this big life change.
Before you get started being the “Granny Nanny,” it’s probably a good idea to have a formal discussion with the child’s parents about your arrangement. You will probably want to address most of the following points to avoid misunderstandings.
- Handling discipline problems. How do they want you to handle disciplinary situations?
- Payment. If babysitting will involve some sort of financial sacrifice, your kids need to know this.
- Diet and nutrition. Do the parents have certain nutritional guidelines they’d like you to stick to?
- Transportation. As a grandparent, you need to be aware of current child restraint systems and how to use them properly in your vehicle.
- Scheduling. Is this a daily arrangement or will it be a couple days per week? What are the hours you will be needed?
- Trial period. You may want to consider providing childcare for two weeks or a month to see how it goes. At the end of the trial period, meet with the parents and discuss how things went.
Making It Work
When you finally begin sitting for your grandkids, you probably will run into issues that you had never considered. It’s okay. That is part of the process. The important thing is to keep the communication lines open and be honest with your kids about how things are going.
After the first few weeks, you may find that sitting for grandkids different from what you anticipated and you’d like to scale back to providing care for half the day or for two or three days per week. Perhaps the arrangements need to be tweaked a bit. Above all, be honest and direct, while still being kind and gentle.
You may want to suggest quarterly evaluations where you can meet for coffee without the grandkids present. At these meetings, just talk about how things are going and be open to any changes that need to be made. Be flexible and open-minded at these meetings. Think before you speak, and keep your tone upbeat and friendly.
Remember that children grow and change astonishingly quickly, and families’ needs are different at different stages of growth. If the parents ask for a different arrangement, don’t take it personally. It may be what is best for their family at that particular moment in time.
Being a grandparent who provides childcare for grandchildren will pay you back in hundreds of little ways. From daily hugs and kisses, to long afternoons reading books on the porch swing, each memory will be a priceless treasure for both you and your grandchildren.