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MIL

(18 Posts)
craftycottontail Thu 07-Mar-13 20:31:41

Hello

Bit of a 'what would you do' type of thing... I'm contemplating what to do about childcare when I go back to work (and how many days to go back for - minimum 3). I'm 29 wks pregnant and planning 9 months mat leave so perhaps a bit early, but have heard it can take a while to find a childminder!

MIL has said she wants to look after the baby for free perhaps 2 days a week. But I have reservations... she's been saying this for YEARS, way before we were even contemplating children and has always been overly needy/nagging about having grandchildren (this will be her second, but first living nearby). She suggested she would stay the night between the 2 days on our sofa to save her travelling (we live in a tiny 2 bedroom flat with open plan living room/kitchen) - already told her this is not going to happen as that's just too much invasion of privacy for me. She's already been quizzing me about which days we'd want her to do as she wants to plan temp work around it etc - haven't even decided if I'm going back full/part time yet and if my work don't need a decision yet I don't see why she should! She lives about 40 minutes drive away and I can see the cogs turning in her mind that to cover me working a 7 hour day starting around 9am she'd have to be up much earlier than her current routine and wouldn't be home til late. She's in her 50s and health/energy-wise could easily cope if she put her mind to it, but she hasn't had a proper job for ages (only occassional part time temp work) and as far as I can tell doesn't do much else with her time, so this would be a big change for her. I have this niggly feeling that I don't really trust her to look after my baby and that she won't respect the way I want to do things, based on her bitchy comments for the past year about the way my SIL does things with my 1yr old neice (I think she's a fab mum). Is this a feeling all new mums get though?

We'd get a childminder/nursery for the rest of the week, so at least 1 day. Part of me thinks it would be better for the baby just to have one other person/environment to get used to.... any thoughts on this?

I've told DH I'm not entirely comfortable with the prospect and would like us to explore other options first. He's been really supportive and respected my feelings but I think a big consideration in his mind is affording to move to a bigger house in the next few years, and having MIL do 2 free days a week would mean we can save towards that.

Would you just suck it up and accept her offer for the prospect of not being so financially tight? If anyone else has experiences of grandparents doing regular childcare I'd love to hear how it works. (especially if you don't get on all that well with them!)

Sorry that's a bit long!! thanks smile

One thought. If you put a young baby into nursery, I can't imagine that it works to do that one day a week. It's not enough nursery time for the baby to get used to it and settle there. I'm used to three days, that suited my baby fine. Not sure about 2 days. Anyway, depending what hours you choose you could adapt this line of thinking to keep mil down to one day and therefore off your sofa.

craftycottontail Thu 07-Mar-13 20:55:40

Good point, thank you. It's possible I'd go back to work full time so could be 1/2 days MIL and 3/4 days nursery/childminder.

doughnut44 Thu 07-Mar-13 21:19:17

I mind a child 3 days a week who also goes to his grandma 2 days. He is absolutely spoiled rotten by her and it makes life very hard for me.
I also think it is best for a child to stick with one carer than be juggled about. Only my personal opinion though

lechatnoir Thu 07-Mar-13 21:40:20

My mum looked after DS1 for 1 day a week and he was at a CM for usually 2 sometimes 3 days a week from 11 mths until I went on maternity leave again 2 years later. I too had some reservations but it ended up being a brilliant arrangement and such fab bonding time for her & DS. I say go for it & hopefully these few tips will help:

1. Remember she is giving up her time to care for your child FOR FREE. If she's under the weather (not even necessarily really sick just feeling a bit bleurgh that would normally still see you in work) don't be surprised or too annoyed if she calls last minute saying she can't come over or announces a holiday without 6 months notice. My mum do it very often but was definitely not as reliable as the CM!
2. There will undoubtedly be things she does that you don't like or aren't how you want. Unless they are biggies like allergies or something totally ridiculous such as feeding chocolate buttons to a 5 month old to 'fatten her up a bit' (not my mum but a friend!!) then try not to sweat about it. A few treats or slight change in routine 1 day a week honestly won't hurt. This alone is probably why 1 day is enough if you're stressing already.
3. If you're MIL is caring on a regular basis for your child then you might not feel you can ask for any other babysitting favours or she might not want to! I certainly never called on mine for evening or weekend babysitting or if formal childcare arrangements fell through as I felt guilty enough for the time she already gave up but with little other local family/close friends to help this was sometimes a pain.
4. Leave her some money for activities some decent food in for lunch etc so she feels appreciated.
5. Give her a list of local child friendly places to visit or book them into swimming classes or some other activity. After about 3 months of having DS my mum got stuck in a rut of being at home all day as she thought that's what I wanted on his day at home - she was over the moon to get out & about!
6. If you have another child chances are she won't want to look after both of them!!

HTH
LCN

lechatnoir Thu 07-Mar-13 22:07:51

Eta my mum *didn't do it very often' not did!!!

calmlychaotic Thu 07-Mar-13 22:08:17

my mil had my ds 1.5 days and he went to nursery first which didn't work out then childminder which did for 1.5 days.

I was a bit precious about it and really tried to manage both cm and mil to do things my way and it was stressful at first because of that. but when I chilled out it worked fine, ds has a brilliant bond with mil now and he developed really well. I would suggest cm rather than nursery as its another home based so less disruptive with you having different care and through experience worked better for me.

as for how to make it work everything lechatnoir said!

lechatnoir Thu 07-Mar-13 22:17:32

I would agree with doughnut if it was 2 professional carers (so 2 cm or nursery & cm) but not if one is a loving & close relative.

Stoney666 Thu 07-Mar-13 22:44:49

My parents and in laws shared care for my two (long ago lol) I had ways I did things, they didn't always do them but hey, so what. The bond my now almost adult dcs have with their now quite elderly gps is priceless. I would do it all over again.

ZuleikaD Fri 08-Mar-13 08:03:39

Sorry, but I don't think the financial considerations should determine who cares for your child. Unless you really can't afford professional childcare to go back to work, whether you have to pay for it or not shouldn't be the decider.

You have major reservations about your MIL (the fact that you like the way your SIL does things but your MIL clearly doesn't) and the arrangement (her sleeping on the sofa one night a week would put me off!), and you're feeling pressured. Given that you haven't even had the baby yet and have made no decisions about how soon you will want to go back to work or how many days (you may decide to take the full year) I would resist the pressure from your MIL to decide everything right now. If you're 29 weeks you've got almost a year before you need childcare, and even in busy areas it doesn't take a year to find a childminder! If it's only temp work that she wants to plan around it then it's not like she needs to know yet anyway.

I think at this point you should just say firmly that you don't know yet how things are going to work out but that you're grateful for her generous offer. See what her attitude is to your own approach and way of doing things after the baby arrives. Then you can decide if she's the person you want to look after your child. Otherwise you have the option of finding a lovely CM who has a good 'fit' with your way of doing things. Leave your options open for the next few months.

oscarwilde Fri 08-Mar-13 10:41:18

I don't know where you are based childcare is dire here but the only one of my NCT group who got a nursery place at the location of her choosing, had visited and researched all the options while pregnant and filed the applications as soon as her DS was born. She was offered 3 days of their choice on a take it or leave it basis, and had to take up the place almost two months before she went back to work.
I say this not to stress you out but you may find that if there is a minimum days requirement that gets you off the hook.
If the offered days, don't suit your employer or are inadequate you may be very grateful for your MIL's offer
You may decide to go back to work 4/5 days a week by the end of your mat leave in which case a nursery/MIL arrangement may work very well and still allow you to save. Depends how the finances work.
Your MIL may find some lovely temp work that she enjoys, but temp workers are usually expected to be flexible by their employers. If she is relying on the income, then free child care is going to take a back seat.

Fundamentally, if she is already hassling you have three choices.
Let it wash over you, smile and nod and hope things work out as you want them, and that she'll eventually get the message but feel rejected
Tell her / or get DH to tell her to back off and live her own life [not v nice though as it's a v nice offer.
Sit her down and gently make some of the points here, aside from pointing out that the baby hasn't even arrived yet and her suggestions are making you feel stressed about going back to work already. See what she says and be firm in your response. Tell her that you think your SIL is a great mum and you are concerned that given her comments in regard to her skills, you are nervous that if you don't see eye to eye, it will create conflict.
Don't burn your bridges now but do be firm. Do TELL her and reassure her now that you see the GP relationship as very important, that your DC will be v lucky to have a young and active GP and you are looking forward to making her part of your extended family.

Finally, and sorry as this has been very long. My MIL got totally overexcited and made lots of similar noises. She started researching houses in our area and talked about moving to our street. Stressful !!. She calmed down when she realised that her rather lovely house and large garden would buy her a shoebox flat in London, and when post baby we regularly visited and got waited on hand and foot I might add, the prospect of her GDC spending weekends at Granny's mollified her and there was no further chat about moving house. I think she was also rather shocked to remember how much work it was looking after a baby.

Choccybaby Sun 10-Mar-13 09:07:07

Mixed child care worked for me and my DS with my mother staying with us for 2 days (and nights as also lived 40mins away), 1 1/2 days at nursery and 1 1/2days with DH who worked part time. No problems with DS settling into different environments. In fact I think it really helped his development and bonding with other members of the family.

I think it helped that my mum's approach to children is similar to mine and she doesn't just spoil him (for this reason it wouldn't have worked with my MIL). There were some things I thought would be best if done differently that I raised gently with her, but no big issues. It was much easier only having to get him ready for nursery 2 mornings a week too.

I'd suggest speaking to her now about your concerns. If you don't feel able to then you probably won't be able to when/if she's doing things you'd rather she didn't when looking after him/her in the future either.

ssd Sun 10-Mar-13 09:57:08

you are looking at this all from your angle, what suits you, what you want

I'd say having a gran babysit for free then have a great nights sleep not on your sofa whilst you are in your comfy bed is a real cheek...ok, she offered but you dont have much problem with it apart from it'll invade your privacy

if I was your mil I wouldnt bother myself, just rock up now and then when it suits me and let you pay full whack for your childcare

ZuleikaD Sun 10-Mar-13 10:08:30

ssd I can't see how your post is helpful in any way. How else should the OP look at it other than what works best for her child and her family?

craftycottontail Sun 10-Mar-13 10:23:39

SSD it was more the way she said it, she wasn't giving me any choice in the matter or asking if it could work, just inviting herself round because it would suit her more than travelling back and forward. That's partly what made alarm bells ring that she might not be up to the challenge of the two full days she's offering.

Thanks very much everyone else for your great advice smile I think I'll leave it all until the baby is here unless she brings it up again but will definitely be taking all your advice on board! Feel more equipped to have a proper conversation with her about it and am definitely leaning more towards getting CM full time as think it will be less stress for everyone, and she can have proper grandma time with the baby then without stressing about commutes etc. Thanks everyone x

Btw those that rely on parents/in laws for childcare, what do you do if they're ill or cancel last minute? Do you end up taking a day off or relying on friends? Thanks

ssd Sun 10-Mar-13 12:37:25

fair enough, but the only way you get totally reliable childcare is to pay for a nursery, if you rely on free family care you take the rough with the smooth

tigerlilygrr Mon 11-Mar-13 00:37:27

zuleika I second everything you say. OP absolutely nothing comes for free and only you and your dp know what you're prepared to flex to make this or any other arrangement work. OK, no arrangement is going to be perfect. However I would strongly suggest a trial fortnight when you're baby is six months or so. It's in the interests of all parties. To get around the legitimate point raised above re timescales for nurseries it might be worth exploring if you can reserve a full time place with an option to drop it down to part time. Don't be surprised though if you end up paying a premium for part time hours as near me the cost difference between five days a week and four is much less than 20%.

tigerlilygrr Mon 11-Mar-13 00:39:19

Aargh that should read 'your' not 'you're' (slaps own wrists)

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