If you have to leave your tot with someone else, who better than a grandparent? The arrangement sounds ideal, but having a grandparent watch your little one comes with some potential drawbacks. Before you dive right in with Grandma's Sitter Service, consider the ups and downs of letting your parents or in-laws care for your kiddo.
Spending all day together gives your child and her grandparents a chance to develop a bond. Even if she sees her grandparents often, the longer periods of time together allow for lots of memories to be made. Playing with their grandchild might spark memories about their childhood or parenting years. A grandparent can also bond with her grandchild by sharing family traditions, such as baking cookies during the holidays.
As a mom, you probably feel that no one can care for your tot as well as you. But a grandparent may come in close. Since you already know your parents or in-laws, a sense of familiarity and trust is -- hopefully -- already there. Being related to your kiddo means her grandparent will likely be more concerned about her well-being than an unrelated day care provider. A grandparent wants her grandchild to be safe and happy, so you're more likely to feel comfortable leaving your tot in her care.
Flexibility and Cost
In-home care providers and day care centers are typically only open during regular business hours. If your schedule doesn't jive with the nine to five grind, your day care options are limited. A grandparent is sometimes an alternative when you need a flexible day care situation. Grandparents also might be more willing to watch your kiddo when she's sick or they may be able to do extra tasks, like take your kiddo to the doctor. Grandparents are also often willing to watch the grandkids for free, or for a much smaller amount than you'd have to pay an unrelated day care provider.
As the parent, you want your values, rules and safety precautions followed by whoever cares for your tot. Grandparents tend to have their own opinions about how to raise kids. Your mom or mother-in-law does have proven experience in the parenting world, but things have changed a lot since she was a new mom. For example, you probably weren't rear facing in a five-point harness until age two. Differing opinions on how to care for your tot can make the situation challenging. Hurt feelings and arguments sometimes result.
As your parents or in-laws get older, medical issues become more of a concern. If your potential grandparent babysitter is in perfect health, you're in luck. Before hiring Grandma as the sitter, consider her condition. Can she keep up with your little ball of energy? Does she have a health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, that could leave her unable to care for your tot? Is her condition under control? With her as the sole care provider, your child's safety could be a concern if she has a medical episode, such as fainting due to low blood sugar.
Letting a grandparent take such a large role in your child's life can lead to tension in the family. If you expect her to watch your child at a moment's notice, she may feel as if you are taking advantage of the relationship. Handling all aspects of your child's care may take some of the joy out of spending time together. Burnout is a possibility, especially if the grandparent didn't know what she was getting into. Setting boundaries and communicating honestly helps reduce the tension.