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Finding a babysitter is difficult. Finding a good babysitter is even harder.
Grandparents offer an excellent alternative to a traditional babysitter as long as you understand there is a chance it won’t work out the way you want.
Grandparents as babysitters can be a true gift or a giant pain.
Pros and Cons of Grandparents Babysitting
I haven’t had great personal experience with grandparents as babysitters.
My mother has her own ideas on what constitutes being a good caregiver and my mother-in-law has other issues (more on both of them later).
That said, most of the moms I know who have grandparents as babysitters wouldn’t change a thing.
Is it a good idea for you? Only you (and your child’s grandparent) can decide.
1. Pro: They Offer Unconditional Love
A babysitter might grow to love your child. A grandparent already feels that innate love.
They will give your child all of the love and care they need every time they serve as a sitter.
You don’t have to worry about your babysitter not caring enough when grandma or grandpa is watching your little one.
2. Con: They Might Disagree With Your Parenting
Here’s a newsflash: We don’t always agree with our parents. Double the amount of disagreements when you’re talking about in-laws.
For instance, my mother-in-law disagreed with the religious upbringing my husband and I chose for our children.
We found that, when she was babysitting, she was teaching them about her religion and even having them practice it alongside her.
3. Pro: Grandparents are Low Cost
Grandparents rarely charge for watching their grandkids.
You should still offer to pay or return the favor in some way. Don’t take your parents or in-laws for granted.
However, they will usually simply appreciate the offer and will rarely take much payment, if any.
4. Con: They May Not Follow Your Rules
My mother lets her grandkids eat whatever they want for breakfast.
They can stay up as late as they want and movies rated R are fine for young children in her home.
I was raised by my mom so none of this surprises me. She didn’t regulate what her kids ate, watched or read and she’s not about to do that for her grandchildren either.
This is true even when I say we don’t allow R-rated language, children must eat healthy foods and they have strict bedtimes. She laughs at the idea of enforcing rules, which is why she doesn’t babysit my kids.
5. Pro: The Relationship is Established
It’s a struggle every time your child has to meet a new babysitter. Your child has to get used to this stranger who is suddenly placed in charge of their care.
You also have to become accustomed to this new person’s quirks.
None of this is true with a grandparent. With an already established relationship, you can feel confident your child is in good hands.
6. Con: Grandparents Might Feel Taken Advantage Of
You can become so reliant on your parents to watch your children that you simply assume they will always be there.
Your kids might stay longer and longer with no consideration of what the grandparents need. Soon enough, they feel as though you think they live to serve you and your kids.
They may get burned out on babysitting, which leaves you needing to find a new solution on short notice.
7. Pro: You Know You Can Trust Them
Do you feel completely confident about your babysitter’s ability to watch your children? If you answered yes, your babysitter is probably your parent.
It is virtually impossible to know for certain if the babysitter is fully trustworthy. You know your parents.
You know they can be trusted. There isn’t even a question. This is a great feeling.
8. Con: You May Feel Reluctant to Ask for Changes
It depends on your relationship, but you could have some difficulty asking your parents or in-laws to change what they are doing when babysitting your children.
My mother-in-law used baby talk with my kids. Baby talk has been shown to impede speech development in children. Therefore, my husband and I talked to her about ceasing the baby talk.
Her response was not good. She felt belittled by us, said she would never babysit again and suggested she just stop talking to my kids all together.
I just wanted my kids to have good pronunciation. She took it as an offense.
9. Pro: Grandparents Offer More Flexibility
If your parents or inlaws are retired, they have an open schedule that allows you to take advantage of their flexibility.
Even if they’re not retired, most grandparents will allow children to arrive early, stay late or even spend the night. What other babysitter would offer so much flexibility?
10. Con: Your Relationship May Become Strained
Remember what I said about my mother-in-law? Our relationship was already strained before she babysat for us.
Babysitting didn’t help. I know that I am not the only one who has suffered from having had a grandparent babysit the kids.
Conversely, I know plenty of families who rely heavily on grandparents as babysitters. They have only gotten closer.
Grandparents make great babysitters. They are convenient and low cost. There are also some struggles that you’ll need to face and try to overcome.
Are you considering using your child’s grandparents as babysitters? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments!