We all know it can be hard to leave your little angels with a babysitter -- especially someone you've only met a few times. If your toddler or preschooler's grandparents are available for child care, you probably won't worry nearly as much. But what about pay? Isn't watching the kids a grandparent's family duty? Deciding whether to pay grandparents for babysitting is a personal decision that depends on many factors.
One of the most important factors in deciding whether to pay a grandparent for babysitting is how often they're going to be spending time with your kids. If you're only asking for an occasional night out, paying probably isn't a big deal. However, if your mom is going to watch the little ones full-time while you work, she is making a much larger time commitment and you should consider paying for her time.
Consider everyone's financial situation when coming to an agreement. If your parents are on a fixed budget and are struggling to make ends meet, then paying for babysitting could be a great way to give them some much-needed money without it feeling like a hand-out. On the other hand, if your own family is drowning in debt, the grandparents might want to step in with free babysitting to help you save on child care, at least for a little while.
Never make assumptions when it comes to people's feelings. You might think that grandma doesn't mind watching your tots for free, but secretly, she'd stop answering your phone calls if she knew how to use the caller ID. In many families, a grandparent wouldn't dream of asking for money for watching the grandchildren. In others, paying might be the norm. Try to work out a plan and discuss expectations before anyone starts feeling put out.
If you do decide to pay for babysitting, you don't necessarily have to pay the full going rate. In some areas, a babysitter might cost $10 an hour, and daycare can cost $1,000 a month -- or more. Your parents might not want or need this much money, though they may still want a token amount. For example, they might ask for half of the going rate. Remember to factor in compensation that doesn't involve money, too. A grandparent might offer babysitting services in exchange for living with you rent-free, for example.