To ask who uses Grandparents for 'Free Childcare'

(196 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Mon 16-Dec-13 17:10:24

Currently 25 weeks pregnant and over the last few weeks me and DH have been sitting down with a calculator, looking at our finances and making decisions about Maternity pay and returning to work etc.

He kept making comments about how he'd ask his mom to have baby one day a week to reduce our childcare costs - and I said absolutely not. He thinks that because she only works part time it isn't an issue hmm I told him that as his mom is 60 it isn't fair to ask her to look after a 1 year old all day long and make that commitment to us as a long-term thing. He has made the occasional jokey comment to his parents about their role in childcare and from her reaction it is quite clear it isn't something she wants to do, and I don't blame her. I wouldn't ever dream of asking my parents either.

I have always been a bit hmm about the issue - obviously there is no problem if the Grandparents offer and genuinely want to help out, but it certainly shouldn't be assumed. My sister really took advantage of our mom when it came to childcare and I swear I'd never do the same.

We have factored in our plan that I will return to work 3 days a week and we will pay for 3 days childcare. I said to my husband that we chose to have a baby and so it is our financial responsibility - not a case of just give the baby to Grandma so we can save some money.

I know some Grandparents offer to do it and absolutely love to do it, and that's great, but I also know of a lot of grandparents who do it because they feel obliged to but are actually quite resentful.

What are people's thoughts??
Are there negatives as well as positives to relying on grandparents this way?

Thants Mon 16-Dec-13 17:32:54

I think bringing up children as a family is a great thing. I don't see it as 'free childcare' more as every raising the child together. It is hard though what with modern working hours and childcare costs. My mum had said outright she would never take care of my child regularly, which I think is sad but up to her.

NatashaBee Mon 16-Dec-13 17:33:08

YANBU at all, OP. I would never ask my mother or inlaws to do it. If they offered, fair enough (I don't think they would though - fair enough, they have done their child rearing!)

Thants Mon 16-Dec-13 17:34:03

Gp's that refuse to even babysit occasionally are imo very selfish.

Writerwannabe83 Mon 16-Dec-13 17:34:55

We did look at that option Mortified but we can't both afford to drop hours. I'm only dropping my working week by 1 day and we can just about cope with that smile

The cost of a day's childcare is less than half of what my husband would make at work during a day - so it doesn't make sense for him to give up a days work (earning £100) just so we don't have to spend £45 on childcare. Those numbers were just given as an example, not as our actual figures smile

BackforGood Mon 16-Dec-13 17:36:30

I absolutely agree with you - unless the GPs actually want to have that time with their grandchildren, and ask if they can, then people shouldn't assume they are going to look after them while you work.
It's nice to hope that they will sit for you to go out occasionally, or maybe if you have a hospital or dentist appt or something, but not for a full day on a regular basis, unless they ask if they can.

PacificDingbat Mon 16-Dec-13 17:36:46

My brother and his wife used our parents and his in-laws for one day's childcare per week each.
It was an unmitigated disaster with all 3 sides ending up resentful.

Yes, childcare is ridiculous expensive, but the cost of having family involved can be high too.

That does not mean that I am not a bit envious of people who make it work with their parents.

Ladyglamalot Mon 16-Dec-13 17:37:56

I know a lot of people who really rip the piss with their parents and babysitting. I regularly see grandparents at thing like mother and toddlers,playgroups,baby gym etc who look bloody knackered!

My inlaws helped out bil and sil with their kids but that was a few years ago and they have never offered to help us with childcare. They are in their 70's so I understand really though I wish mil would stop making barbed remarks about how hard her son works to keep us allhmm

MonsterMunchMe Mon 16-Dec-13 17:39:32

hmmm I had DS at 18 and escaped an abusive relationship with his dad at 20.

I've always worked FT shift work, DS has a bedroom at DParents house and spends A LOT of time there, as XH can only have supervised access 2 days a week, so my parents supervise it there (this was at DMs Insistance, she's a bit of a control freak and does not like or trust XH)

They would prefer me to work and them look after DS for his and mines sakes.

The alternative would be for me to not work and claim benefits as I could not get a 9-5 to match my wages that I get on shift work so could not support myself or DS. I do not have space for an au pair, his school doesn't do after school clubs. I did put him in and pay for a private nursery from age 2-4 so they only had to do night times and weekends.

Tbh my DM is like a 3rd parent. Some people think I take the piss, but she is very happy to do it and wants me to be able to give DS a nice life and better myself.

I am eternally grateful to her and will do the same for my kids/grand kids in the future. Maybe because I had him young and have been alone for 4 years it's slightly different.

I actually find it a bit strange and sad if grandparents do not want to help out in this way. I come from a big family and the mentality is 'it takes a village' etc.

Procrastreation Mon 16-Dec-13 17:40:38

My mum has been very involved with my DC - but I have never actually taken the plunge to use her to replace paid for childcare.

So when I am contractually expected to be at work, I have contractual childcare in place. Issues etc come up - & it can be tricky to negotiate things with family without hurting feelings.

But when DH & I want to go off to a party, my mum has them. When DD was quarantined from nursery with chickenpox, my mum stepped in. When I had to go abroad, my mum stepped in to bridge between childcare & earliest DH could get home. When DD & DS are getting on each others nerves, my Mum will take one out 1:1 & I'll do the other. You get the picture!

drspouse Mon 16-Dec-13 17:42:44

My parents live some distance away, although I know a few families whose parents come to stay for a few days on a regular basis for preschool childcare. But they are both a bit older and would find caring for a preschooler tiring.

My mother has had at least one of my DNs to stay for a block of a week and a good time was had by all. They are primary school age so I can see that working as holiday care at that age.

I do tend to think that this grandparents as free care is a bit of a time bomb. Those with younger grandparents are relying on granny not working full time but more of the current parent generation does that. There won't be as many of the current generation not working full time in 30 years. But those that are not will be retired (rather than younger working part time) so not as likely to want or be able to do childcare.

Spottybra Mon 16-Dec-13 17:42:46

Absolutely would never do it again. Tried it and went horribly wrong even though they offered. If you can keep their grandchild as that, not a responsibility.

Kitttty Mon 16-Dec-13 17:45:35

My mother has looked after GC - but was paid well for it.

Procrastreation Mon 16-Dec-13 17:45:41

(The other side of the coin - FWIW - is that my mum runs a royal social life through the kids. She's normally fairly reserved - but she's always out & about with the kids, & ends up with people popping in for tea & a chat etc - that she would never really arrange on her own.

She got a 'granny of the year' trophy at DDs ballet class, because she was always helping out with people's hair, & bringing snacks etc.! I do think she gets a lot out of the arrangement as well. It's just better to try to keep in all light-touch & voluntary. )

Jollyb Mon 16-Dec-13 17:46:15

My parents are fantastic at providing emergency childcare but I wouldn't want them to do it regularly, as I wouldn't want to impose on them and make them feel guilty about taking holidays etc.

We're reasonably comfortably off though, and not too stretched by our childcare costs, I might feel differently if this wasn't the case.

DP s family live the other side of the world and his mother looks after our niece 3 days per week. This is in addition to running a busy home tutoring business (she doesn't stop). I'm sure she'd do it for us if we moved over too.

wigglesrock Mon 16-Dec-13 17:46:17

My in-laws looked after my dd1 two mornings a week from when she was 4 months until she went to school. My mum looked after her one morning. I have always relied on my in-laws & mum for 1 or 2 mornings a week. I don't work now but I have 3 children, although due to age gaps, only one has been under school age when I've been working.

My in-laws volunteered to help out when I had dd1 (she's now 8).

It worked out so well for us, she did whatever they did - the shopping, endless trips to the post office, the Drs, the bank & she spent 30 mins every morning in the bookies with her Granda - she could buy & sell you smile .

I had several contingency plans for if they were on holiday/ ill.

It worked for us, I think because I really didn't stress re naps, outings, feeding. They had so much time for her & got so much enjoyment from doing things with her that I just didn't have the time for - jigsaws.

I'll be honest, where I live a lot of grandparents provide childcare. My in-laws wouldn't let us pay them, but I used to pick up bits & pieces for them every month - flowers, naice biccies, & money when they went on holiday. I will be eternally grateful for their help & support with the kids. Due to my husband's work (shift work/nights/weekends) I really needed to have flexible, reliable arrangements.

It depends on so many things - primarily how willing the GPs are to do it, and how old they are and if they can physically do it.

My DM looked after DS one day per fortnight when DS was younger and went to a CM who had every other Friday off. It was a nice arrangement as it wasn't too often to become a real dampner on DM's other social events, also I had a back up CM so that if she was on holiday or unable to come, then I had alternate arrangements.

In your case OP I would be wary unless the GM actually expresses any interest in doing this. I would point out though that at 60 she is actually 10 years younger than the majority of us will be expected to continue in f/t employment due to changes in pensions ( sorry a bit off topic I know).

HedgehogsRevenge Mon 16-Dec-13 17:49:40

My parents do more than most. They're retired and looked after ds 3 days per week until he started school this year. I'm a LP and would struggle to pay for childcare. They still look after him a lot as i'm now at uni but they absolutely love having him, he's a very easy going, well behaved little boy. I never ask them to babysit so I can go out, it's only ever so I can work/study. My dad is very much a father figure to ds who has no contact with his father and takes him all sorts of wonderful places. They are the best childcare anyone could wish for and I know I'm incredibly lucky.
They know how grateful I am and I often show it with token gifts like flowers or treating them to lunch and such like.
I love that ds is so close to his GP's as I was mine. My parents waited a long time to become grandparents and really dote on all their gc.
I think its lovely if they want to do it, obviously it's not for everyone. Personally I just hope I get the same opportunity if I ever have gc.

My in laws had ds for 2 days a week from him being six months. They offered and were upset we put him into nursery when my hours got extended so they only had him for one day a week.

they are mid sixties. We check regularly that they still want him and they are always surprised we ask.

financially it's been better, but not emotionally, fil is constantly undermining my parenting which is irritating. I now say to him that I've got it under control and to back off. He's someone who always thinks he's right.

i don't interfere about what they do with him when they have him, except i want to know if they are taking a trip several hours away, which they find baffling but tell me. It's actually helped me relax, he's a happy content child and is really close with his grandparents which is lovely.

KateSpade Mon 16-Dec-13 17:50:34

I asked my auntie to have DD from 4 weeks till she was about 1yo whilst I was doing my work placement.

She loved doing it so much, but I still felt unbelievably guilty about the whole thing.

I will be asking her to look after DD one morning a week whilst I haven't got Fridays at nursery in the new year, but she asks to have her often which eases the guilt slightly.

DoItTooBabyJesus Mon 16-Dec-13 17:56:39

My mum does all of my childcare.

She has ds2 (13 months) 4 days a week, term time and picks up ds1 (8) from school 3 of those days. She does 9-5. She is also the only person that babysits if me and DH want to go out.

I pay for any expenses she incurs and try to look after her in other ways too.

It's a huge ask, but luckily she adores having them. The nice bit is that I have changed my hours to term time, so we have 7 weeks to get through before there is a break for everyone.

I am eternally grateful to her. She does things my way, she is really attentive and affectionate with boys and they love her to pieces. Someone up thread said their mum was like a 3rd parent....I'd echo that! She will take them t the doctors, to baby classes, to soft play. What's not to love?

Mum, if you're reading this, you rock!

ChablisLover Mon 16-Dec-13 17:56:53

My dp had my ds since I went back from maternity bar a period when mum was ill and I used a childminder who was a friend.

Mum and dad offered to look after ds as they didn't feel comfortable for a nursery to do it.

Now he's 7 and they pick him up from school 3 days a week.

If I had to spy childcare our lifestyle would be hugely different and for that I'm truly grateful.

The fact my parents couldn't look after a young child is why my ds is an only child.

But each to their own if your mil doesn't want to look after your dc then it's her choice. If she doesn't want to then don't Force it - it will end in tears

maddening Mon 16-Dec-13 18:00:45

If the GPs are up for it - some do actually want to look after their own gc - then I don't see the harm - but it has to be something the gp wants and they shouldn't be pressured in to it.

My mum is part time but enjoys having her days free - she wants to have my ds occasionally so she does some days in the school hols when she wants to - it saves us on hc as we pre-plan with my dm which days she wants and we always say def only he ones she fancies and I go to pains to ensure that she doesn't feel pressured.

If you mil actually expresses a want to do it and you areccomfortable with her and your dc then why not?

My parents and PIL are all retired. They do occasional evenings, days when nursery is shut or when DD is ill and overnight twice so that we could go to weddings.

I wouldn't want them to do more as I think it could lead to tensions, I wouldn't want to impose and the can let DD have treats when they see her at the moment, but couldn't if they looked after her more.

Ladyglamalot Mon 16-Dec-13 18:04:38

Perhaps I should have said in my post further up that my views on this are rather coloured by the fact I was pretty much brought up by my gp's. My mum was a lone parent who worked and then moved in with a man we hated so we stayed with gp's.

I feel my mum abdicated a lot of her parental responsibility for selfish reasons and it effects my relationship with her to this day.

If you get the feeling she doesn't want to then stick to your guns op. I wouldn't expect my parents to watch my kids unless they really wanted to but mine work ft so not an issue.

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