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Mum / MIL doing child care when I go back to work

(62 Posts)
Ahhhcantthinkofagoodname Sun 20-Jan-13 22:00:22

I'm due to return to work in a cople of months (part time mon-weds) DS will be just 3 and DD will be 11 months. DS goes to nursery 2 days a week and this will bump up to 3 days and DD will start at the same nursery 3 days a week too.

Well that was the plan but we are now considering a radical alternative! MIL is looking likely to be made redundant with no other viable job options. We had the thought that she could come down to stay with us (they are a 2.5 hour drive away) sun night to weds afternoon and look afterthe kids. We would pay her something like what we save in nursery fees which would be a help to DHs parents financially and the main benefit for us would be we wouldn't have to put Dd in nursery when I go back to work - despite the nursery nearby being outstanding ofsted and well regarded locally, we aren't over impressed with it and DS doesn't seem particularly happy there.  We'd prob try to get DS into a preschool but for less hours than he would otherwise do at nursery.

Is anyone else in such an arrangement and can comment on how it works for you?  Is it a real strain not having time to yourselves with DP in the evenings?  That's my main concern.  Also is it awkward or difficult to get your mums / MIL to look after your kids as you want her to?  Any other negatives I haven't thought of?  I have to say I'm cautiously keen as I can foresee lots of other advantages like being able to have the odd night out and not having to miss work if the kids are unwell! 

Thanks for any insights!

ZooAnimals Sun 20-Jan-13 22:13:03

I haven't done this myself, but the though of MIL living with us half the week is giving me cold sweats and palpatations. You must get on well with you MIL to be considering it though. I have seen people warning against this, maybe have a seach for old posts if no-one comes along.

Things to think about are; 1) if you're paying her I think you'll still need to pay tax/NI and employers NI, because she will be working for you and being family doesn't change your tax obligations (although I imagine it's much easier to pretend you're not paying her if tax evasion is your thing!); 2) You can go to work if the DC's are sick, but what if MIL is sick? Is she likely to be ill often?; 3) Have you considered a nanny? How much are you paying daily in nursery fees? It's possible you could get the benefits of MIL looking after them, but without the drawbacks of someone living with you half the week and of mixing family and business.

ReetPetit Sun 20-Jan-13 22:23:24

personally,i wouldn't think this is a good idea. particularly the fact your mil has to travel to you and live in - i can imagine that being quite hard going, no matter how good you think your relationship is. will she know when she's ;off duty' and back off the kids? when do they become your responsibility? confusing for the children i would think.
i would think it easier to get a nanny/nannyshare or even a childminder if you are not happy with nursery, especially as your dd is so young.

i think your mil may eventually get fed up with the arrangement, particularly the travelling and may become resentful and then you risk the fall out from that.

sunnyday123 Sun 20-Jan-13 22:23:30

My friend did this 2 years ago and has regretted it since for these main reasons!-

What she agreed to pay her mum ended up much more than nursery as you can do child care vouchers through your wages for nursery and not family

She felt the kids missed out tons with mixing with other kids. In nursery kids paint, cook and get messy pretty much all day which family may do snippits off but no comparison to nursery

Once kids in preschool age 3 child care costs drop loads but you may feel torn reducing your mils pay? My friend agreed to pay her mum £500/month for 3 days (using vouchers she could have got this for £200!) and even now her kid is in preschool she still pays mum it as she became reliant on the money and if she's doing preschool pick up its not like her mum can get work elsewhere

Then there's the fact nan becomes as important as mum and sometimes my friends child wants nan more than mum which my friend really hates.

Having had two kids in nursery I can't think of any significant benefits of taking a child out and having them looked after by family... long term. Ok as babies, but once they reach 2 or 3 they really do need to be mixing with kids.

For me the fact you can't save cash using child are vouchers would be enough to put me off.

thebody Sun 20-Jan-13 23:07:48

Sorry if missed this bit but have you actually asked your mil?

Have to say the fact that she would be living in and not as a professional nanny does but as a family member would be a definate no no for me.

You couldn't access child care vouchers and your children will miss out on interaction with other children as your mil is unlikely to go to mom and tots groups etc.

The delicate boundaries and tact needed as a professional childminder are endless but to have to do this with your mil sounds very very difficult.

Also she may absolutely hate living away from her own dh.

This could all end badly and it's not a nursery or a cm who you part company with but it's your own family.

Think very carefully.

ZooAnimals Sun 20-Jan-13 23:34:57

'your children will miss out on interaction with other children as your mil is unlikely to go to mom and tots groups etc.'

This is not necessarily true. There are grandparents who look after their DGC at every playgroup/singing group/story time/ soft play session I go to, but I do live in an area where it is very common for Grandparents to help out with childcare.

I go to one playgroup where it's 50% childminders/nannies/au pairs and 40% grandparents. There are usually a couple of SAHD's and maybe 5 or so mums.

Having to live with my mil/mother would be enought to put me off sorry.

PootlePosyPerkin Mon 21-Jan-13 00:01:57

I don't want to be the voice of doom, but, what if you give up your DCs' places at nursery & then either MIL or FIL (if there is still a FIL about) falls ill and cannot continue with the arrangement?

What you are asking is fairly huge TBH. Does your MIL have any social groups/clubs/friends in her home town? Would living with you half of every week mean that she had to miss out on things she would like to do for herself at home? I don't know how old your MIL is, but a 5 hour round trip & 3 days babysitting every week would require a fair bit of energy!

Both of my parents have died, both fell ill unexpectedly (if you ever expect terminal illness). I suppose that is why I have to ask whether you have thought it through properly from every angle.

PootlePosyPerkin Mon 21-Jan-13 00:04:41

I also meant to say, that your OP is very "me, me, me". You only seem to be thinking about possible negatives for you, where I can see far more negatives for MIL!

redwineattheweekend Mon 21-Jan-13 00:16:45

I wouldn't like the living in part in afraid. My parents and pil do all our childcare for us, but we only live 20 mins apart.

Ditto the boundaries mentioned, when they drop off DD doesn't really want me for a while, which is hard, so I like it when they leave and don't hang around too long so i can spend some time with her.

I would say it is important to research groups and things for DC to go to. Pil weren't too keen initially but my DD really needed something more, she's now in preschool so they do less. She has a good balance of mixing with others and developing a lovely relationship with her grandparents.

Sometimes they will do something that I wouldn't do, or don't like but I generally leave it as it's rarely major, i can imagine that would be harder if they are living with you and think it would put quite a strain on the relationship.

Mimishimi Mon 21-Jan-13 01:01:49

Have you even asked her yet? Despite your gloomy prognosis about her employment prospects, childcare may not be something she wishes to do. Having seen lots of grandparents complaining together at the supermarket etc that they have even corralled into looking after their grand kids because they are thought to have nothing better to do with their time ( and discussing this openly in front of said children), it would be an option of last resort for me.

That said, BIL and SIL have had huge amounts of live in help from MIL which seems to have worked out well. However, they also employed a full time nanny and house cleaner ( working overseas). The kids loved it.

I definitely wouldn't. My own DM said she wanted to do was go part time watch the kids on her days off ...so I gave in DS' s nursery during DD's mat leave, and thought "great!" But she often cancelled on us last minute, found that she couldn't afford PT and did not want to come over as early as we needed her (think she envisioned us dropping them at her house at a much later hour...not possible as we both start early in our jobs).

PS I would look around for better childcare though if you are not happy.

pippop1 Mon 21-Jan-13 01:24:13

What about when she wants to take a holiday? You might feel obliged to holiday with them or at least at exactly the same time.

Do you even have a spare room for her to stay in overnight? If you do, what about having a lodger (Government's rent a room scheme allows tax free income up to a certain limit) so you can pay for nursery more easily?

Ahhhcantthinkofagoodname Mon 21-Jan-13 07:28:52

Thanks for all the posts, interesting the consensus is don't do it!

There are some very useful things mentioned we hadn't thought of which is what I was hoping for when I did this post as part of our research / thinking - of course we would first ask PIL and only go ahead if they were both happy. We suspect they would be keen but obviously this is not guaranteed and if they or us felt it wasn't worth doing we would likely stick with plan a, ie both kids in nursery.

We do have a good relationship with MIL but I note the comments about mixing business and family, boundaries etc.

Holidays would be covered by me or DH taking leave or alternatively my parents

Anymore for anymore?

ReetPetit Mon 21-Jan-13 07:41:20

so you havent actually asked them?!
although you suspect they will be keen - i would think the enormity of what you are asking - will be eniugh to make them want to say no - you are effectively asking them to live seperate lives for half the week to save you some money? hmm unfair imo and be careful how you suggest it, they need to be able to say no without feeling they are letting you down

Mrscupcake23 Mon 21-Jan-13 07:43:33

I think it's a great idea. At least your motherinlaw will love your children and show an interest in them in a way that a nursery could not.

The living in might be a pain but its only three days not all week.

Think it depends really if your mil would take them out. I see lots of grans with their grandchildren at toddler groups and parks etc. think you would have to have a really good chat and show her this thread so you can discuss the negatives.

HappyAsASandboy Mon 21-Jan-13 08:24:06

My DM has my children two days a week.

You asked whether it is hard to ask them to look after the DC in the way you would like - the answer is yes! You have no real control over how they are cared for whoever they're with, but at least at nursery there are procedures and standards that you can ensure you're happy with. I am lucky in that my DM raises the children in a very similar way to me, and we spent a lot of time together during my maternity leave, so the kids have always known DM and I work as a team. I still don't know precisely what she does/says to them all day though!

Does it put a strain on your marriage? Absolutely. My DM normally stays over the night before she has the children, but she arrives late at night, often when we've gone to bed. So we have an 'evening in' with DM maybe once a week. I think it's fine, but for my DH it is his MIL not his DM, which I know is more difficult. I hope our marriage will survive it, because the DCs really benefit from the days with their GM.

Does it work long term without causing resentment? Sort of! We've been doing this for about 18 months, and my DM says she's happy to continue. But we use a very flexible nursery for the other days of the week, so my DM is able to pick the days she comes with a few weeks notice. That means she rarely has to miss a social event, can do two spaces days or two days together depending on what she'd prefer, and can normally change days at fairly short notice if she wants to.

Does it work financially? It does for us as my DM doesn't want any money. I don't know how it would work if you paid your DM - as someone else said, you'd probably have to pay her as if she were a nanny, which would cost you and her NI, tax etc. it would also mean she is employed - would that affect pensions?

In conclusion, it works for us smile But we have a very flexible system, my DM is less than an hour away not 2.5 hours, my DM can pick her days, we only spend one evening a week with DM, DH and I together (not half a week) and we're all willing to put the children first when we get shirty with each other (which does happen). In your case, it sound like each of the things that I think make my system work will be a little bit tougher (less flexible, more travel time, etc).

For what it's worth, my DM was hoping to do a similar thing for my DSis. I don't think it is going to happen now, because DSis is 2.5 hours away an will have fixed days. My DM doesn't think she'd cope with the extra travel and organisation in her life (e.g. Leaving my DF a dinner on the night she travels, because whereas she can eat with him then drive 50 mins to us, she'd have to travel earlier to go 2.5 hours). I think it is a pressured system, and the extra travelling time and rigidity of days would make it too hard.

Good luck, whatever you decide smile

Ahhhcantthinkofagoodname Mon 21-Jan-13 08:28:04

Reset - no we haven't asked them as we want to ensure we have thought about it carefully first. It could be damaging to ask them and for them to be keen only for us to then decide we don't think it's such a good idea. This thread is to help us work out the pros and cons from everyone's perspective.

Mrscupcake - exactly what we were thinkmg! MIL would def take them out and do lots of fun things with them. Also a lot of the time it would just be DD she was looking after assuming we can find a pre school for DS. Good idea to show them this thread or at least cover the content when we talk about it !

Ahhhcantthinkofagoodname Mon 21-Jan-13 08:30:48

Happy - thanks a lot, that's very insightful.

HappyAsASandboy Mon 21-Jan-13 08:31:41

Oh, you also asked about boundaries smile

We don't really have any. My DM is at my house, essentially being my 'housewife', for nearly half of the working week. She washes up, sticks clothes through the washer, hangs the resulting clean pants on the line, signs for parcels, takes phone calls from banks/utility companies/doctors etc, feeds the cat .... all the things that I would do if I were there. I don't think it would be easy to keep the same barriers you could with a Nanny, because she will want to do things a Nanny wouldn't do in order to help you. Again, I find this extraordinarily helpful and would struggle without it, but to DH it feels odd that his MIL is so involved in his life.

DoodlesNoodles Mon 21-Jan-13 08:58:49

Would there be a way of trying it out for a month? Then your DMIL and you and your DH can see how it goes. It is the type of thing that could be a huge disaster or a huge success. It could bemore relaxing or you and the DC's and I am sure you DMIL could take them to playgroups or whatever to meet up with other DC's
Do you have a spare reception room that you could set up or your DMIL so that you could escape each other if need be? She might be happy to retreat to her bedroom in the evenings.
You need to be honest about how fussy you are about how the DC's are looked after. (there are zillions of threads on MN about this grin ). If it were me, I would love my DC's to be looked after by a loving DMIL or a DM.

AThingInYourLife Mon 21-Jan-13 09:22:32

"My friend agreed to pay her mum £500/month for 3 days (using vouchers she could have got this for £200!)"

No, she couldn't.

Childcare vouchers are paid for from your wages before tax, so you save whatever tax you would have paid on £243 (or whatever the amount is per person).

You don't save anywhere near £300 per month.

CandyPop Mon 21-Jan-13 11:00:08

i think it depends on your relationship with your mil/dm.

yes, you cannot use childcare vouchers with family but as well as allowing your lo to build up a strong relationship with her grandma rather than a childminder/nursery teacher , you're also helping her out with a bit of money. surely giving money to family is better than giving money to outsiders? I also find it quite alien the fact that some people will become resentful if LO bonds more with gran than mum. Its sad that someone should feel that way.

longjane Mon 21-Jan-13 11:50:01

she could be come a ofsted refg nanny so you can used childcare vouchers but of course you will have to pay her tax an ni

i know some one who mum came and stay with them for 3 days a week

she did 3 week on one week off
on the week off the locally living mother in law did it

they did for a few years
the dad also only did a 4 day week and mum a 3 day

but i think the 3 weeks on one week off was the key to keeping it working

and having both mother in law and parents all working together to do the best for kids and everyone got time with kids on there own.

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