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How to broach the subject of childcare with MIL?

(283 Posts)
ElleDubloo Thu 13-Mar-14 17:50:18

I have a brilliant MIL who I get on with swimmingly. She's delighted I'm pregnant and really excited about having her first grandchild. We live 25 mins away from her (we're actually currently living at her house, because we're having work done to our bathroom). We might move in with her more permanently when I'm due, to have her help with the baby in the early days.

I'd like to broach the subject of childcare, but I'm not sure how to do it sensitively, and without looking like I'm taking advantage of her. TBH, I'd like to take 6 months maternity leave and then return to work full-time, and it would be amazing if she would volunteer to take on all the childcare after that. It's a big ask. She has a part-time job as a teacher, which she has hinted that she doesn't enjoy very much.

Is it reasonable for me to ask her whether she'd like to quit her job so that I can go back to work?
How should we recompense her for the loss of earnings? Could we offer to pay her (because we'd rather pay her than pay a childminder we don't know) but would she take offense?

Would be great to get everyone's thoughts on this smile

PastaandCheese Wed 19-Mar-14 07:47:40

See mumunder has suggested the same thing based on her experience of balancing medicine with childcare.

Good luck OP. I hope it works out for you. No woman should have to sacrifice her career for children in this day and age.

PastaandCheese Wed 19-Mar-14 07:42:40

Just to offer a different perspective I think you should at least explore a part time nursery place. I've just had DC2 and I had to sign him up before he was born to get him into the private nursery of my choice that my DD attends. Don't miss the boat on a good nursery because you think childcare is sorted.

My BIL and SIL are hospital Drs and they have a nursery place 3 days a week and MIL does the rest of the childcare including overnights and weekends where they can't arrange shifts to compliment each other.

That said they were both consultants in their respective fields before their DD was born and SIL was lucky enough to get a 4 day position. I agree this is much harder if you're still training.

DH and I earn a little more than you and your DH and don't live in London. We would really, really struggle to pay our mortgage and a nanny. I know my BIL and SIL would too. £2,000 per month when you have to make NI contributions and deal with tax for the nanny won't buy you many hours in London if your MIL does decide she needs help.

Personally I think a nursery place mixed with support from your ILs is an ideal solution. I know my MIL is really happy to help out in the way she does but she is also very grateful that she only has to help with drop offs and pick ups at nursery 3 days a week! It also knocks out any taxation issues.

Also, your DH does need to get properly set up with a virtual office. I'm a lawyer too (public sector so not corporate but still central gov and therefore still demanding) and I really value my home access. I can get home and put DCs to bed before carrying on with work through the evening.

Mumunder3 Tue 18-Mar-14 22:43:33

I got pregnant (planned) at end of f2. Initially went back to paeds training part time 60% but after 2nd changed to gp training also part time. I love my kids and wouldn't change anything but looking back may have been easier to have got further in training before kids although maybe if I'd waited I would have still wanted to change to gp post kids but would have been too late & if did change would be even more behind than my peers than I am now.
Great that your mil can help out, my mum and mil do but remember that they need a break too so maybe consider 1 or 2 days or nursery. That's what we do plus think good for kids to have that social interaction.
Would say think you'll change your mind about full time once you have your baby. As remember it not just the 'day job' but the time spent revising for exams, doing audits, presentations, stuff for cv etc. you'll hardly get to see your child and think you'd really miss out plus be exhausted. I really appreciate the days I have off and that time with them. You won't get that time back but you'll be working for a long time and few years extra for training won't make a difference. You'll soon find that your cohort that you graduated with all start to go off in different directions either by having kids, changing specialities etc so you start to notice less the extra time it's taking you to get through training.

applepearorangebear Tue 18-Mar-14 15:17:09

Good luck with it all OP. The only suggestion I'd like to make is that you can (I'm fairly sure) top up your own / someone else's NI payments voluntarily so if it looks as though your MIL (or FIL) won't have enough qualifying years to get a full state pension due to taking early retirement, you might want to look into doing that for her / him. Time limits apply though - I can't remember what they are (you have to make the payments within years rather than months, if I recall correctly, but I could be wrong on that) but the DWP should be able to help you, and will provide your MIL / FIL with a pension forecast (and advice on when to make any top up payments / when they would need to be made by) for free.

My parents are also extremely supportive and provide lots of free childcare very happily - it's been an absolute godsend to us, and I hope you all have many very happy child-filled years ahead together smile

moregranny Tue 18-Mar-14 15:02:27

I would of been horrified if my daughter had NOT asked me and her mum in law to look after the baby from 9 months onwards and the 2nd one due in September, we are not super fit grannies and granddads but to have missed out on the joy that little girl has given us would have been awful, it is hard, it is tiring but it is worth more than money.

cheeseandpineapple Tue 18-Mar-14 09:34:04

Good luck, OP, sounds like you have lovely inlaws and since your mother has passed away, it's great that you have a close relationship with MIL and hope it continues to go from strength to strength. I'd be delighted to have a daughter in law who wants to live with me and involve me so actively with my grandchild, really hope it all works out well.

PenguinsEatSpinach Mon 17-Mar-14 14:44:57

Glad it is all working out.

FWIW, I didn't accuse you of tax evasion. I said you were being patronising when you called me 'agitated', which I think you were. But on the tax all I was trying to do was point out you were misunderstanding the tax and that it wasn't as simple as you (and many people) initially assumed.

weebairn Mon 17-Mar-14 14:37:35

Good luck ElleDubloo.

I also get loads of help from my mum. I'd get even more if she lived closer. I don't think people are built to bring up babies alone, it's really tough and a team effort is better.
I went back to work as an SHO part time when baby was 10 months, working nights etc, and it was really hard, but I got through and am glad I'm working now. I would miss my baby too much full time though - and full time as a doctor is much more full time than most people's full time. So go easy on yourself and be flexible if you find the idea impossibly hard when you get nearer the time. (You may be the opposite of me and longing to get back to work!)
If you'd suggested living with my parents before I'd had a baby I'd tell you you were mad, but now I wouldn't run from the idea!
I would get your husband on board- you're both having a child and you both need to make sacrifices.

Good luck with your pregnancy and don't let the hospital be complete dicks about it -they were to me! Call the BMA if you hit problems working nights late into your pregnancy etc.
All the best.

GarthsUncle Mon 17-Mar-14 14:36:47

Good luck, OP. FWIW, no one accused you of tax evasion - plenty of people think that the set up you proposed shouldn't cause any tax issues so Penguins, myself and others were flagging this to be helpful.

ElleDubloo Mon 17-Mar-14 14:27:23

Thanks Georgina, I saw that page too, very helpful.

OK everyone, I'm pulling out of this thread. Everything's been sorted out beautifully as far as I can see, and continuing to be bombarded with negativities is not what I need at the moment, albeit from people who are "concerned" for me and "watching out" for me.

1. I'll take 1 year maternity leave and look after my baby full time.
2. After my baby is 1 year old, I'll go back to work FT and my MIL and FIL will take over, as they will both be retired by that point. Yes my MIL is only retiring because of the baby, but she wants to stop working and is only waiting for a reason to do so.
3. We'll make sure they don't suffer financially. We'll do everything above board, of course, once we research what exactly that involves.
4. We'll hire a nanny if they require one.
5. We might or might not live with them. Haven't decided yet, but they've made us welcome.
6. Other family members will help out too. A lot.

I've been really blessed by such a great family. And the advice on this thread has been invaluable. I've been upset by people who've accused me of being presumptuous, selfish, tax-evading, and a number of other things. It's hard to judge someone accurately when you don't know them. But things have really worked out in my life, so I hope you'll be happy for me. No hard feelings.

Georgina1975 Mon 17-Mar-14 14:13:36

This is a pretty good starting-point resource for anybody in a similar situation (including grandparents)

Georgina1975 Mon 17-Mar-14 13:54:00

Not a great idea to assume that somebody is happy if they say they are happy. Family can be great (including mine) but is also famous for being a hotbed of quiet resentment.

It also concerns me that you would feel uncomfortable asking about finances, but okay about the childcare. Pretty much everything about childcare can become deeply personal. I would not even think about going down this road if you cannot raise the subject of money.

Georgina1975 Mon 17-Mar-14 13:47:50

With the others on not bring it up yet.

You do not know how you will react to being a new mother. I could not wait to get back to work when DC was 5 months. Plenty of people I know (including a bio-medical researcher who was very invested in her career) never returned. Some return to work and find - for all sorts of reasons - they want to be a SAHM - it also works in reverse. Just wait and see how you and your husband feel once baby is here.

That said. I do think you are being a little unrealistic. FT flexible childcare (with some overnights included) is the dream having a moment. But with a family member? Big risk - however lovely you all are.

I assume you get a reasonable degree of warning regarding your nightshifts? Perhaps you can get professional childcare for most of the daytimes and (assuming she is willing) ask MIL to do overnights with DC. But please also be aware that - as other people have said - even such a relatively small amount of childcare would be a HUGE ask. Small children - however much you love them - are exhausting.

Another possibility - is there any way you can request a temporary arrangement whereby you are do not undertake nightshifts for the first six months of after your return to work? I did something similar (for 14 months in total inc. my 5 months mat leave) and it has not harmed my career.

ElleDubloo Mon 17-Mar-14 13:32:10

Yes we're in the UK. No idea how NI payments work though. And I don't feel comfortable asking her about her financial situation, so I'll just keep it simple and assume that, if she says she's happy with the arrangements, then she's happy.

TheFabulousIdiot Mon 17-Mar-14 13:29:17

it's only relevant if she would be giving up a pension and NI payments that she might be getting for her part-time teaching job.

Just thought that it might be something you need to consider for her sake but if she's not getting these perks in the first place then I guess it isn't relevant.

Are you in the UK? How do NI payments work RE the state pension?

ElleDubloo Mon 17-Mar-14 13:25:34

She doesn't have a pension and has never had a pension, for various reasons, but she has savings and a house (and us). I don't really see how that's relevant though?

TheFabulousIdiot Mon 17-Mar-14 13:15:12

How old is your MIL though? If she is young and still working then she is still paying into a pension probably.

What will happen in 10 - 18 years time when her services may not be needed so much. Will you continue to pay her a decent wage beyond those 18 years? What will her pension look like when she's much older and has no job?

cheeseandpineapple Mon 17-Mar-14 12:46:41

Mummytime, you may have missed up thread that OP is Asian and there are cultural differences. OP, I understand why you have a different outlook about living with your inlaws and vice versa, there are different expectations. I left home and started my own family thousands of miles away from my parents and inlaws. Now I have my children, I love the idea of us all living together as an extended family in the future, at the moment they do too but suspect when they're older and have their own partners they might be less keen!

If you're all living together and your inlaws are your dependants then maybe there aren't any tax issues, I don't know though, as people suggest perhaps best to get some advice, your DH should be able to find out. There must be a very large number of Asian families in the UK in the situation you're proposing, I don't think it's that unusual or unique.

LauraBridges Mon 17-Mar-14 12:43:54

Ah, when does a relative become an employee? Fsacinating issue. When does an occasional evening babysitter become an employee? When do you employ family? Nigel Farage employs his German wife we now know (rather than an English woman or someone not nepotistically connected to him).

Where I live 3 generations often live together - lots of Indian families and the grandparents do loads of childcare. They won't be paid. Often the grandparents own a very rich business but do not give more than pocket money to the sons for working in it so that if the son divorces the daughter in law gets none of the business or money. I doubt money changes hands for babysitting either or even full time childcare. So if the grandparents allow the children to live in their big house totally rent free and in return the children get full time 5 days a week childcare how are the tax experts of Mumsnet going to say that should be sorted out?

GarthsUncle Mon 17-Mar-14 12:42:49

Your relatives can provide as much free childcare as they like though!

GarthsUncle Mon 17-Mar-14 12:41:11

If you pay people to provide a service more than their reasonable additional expenses eg petrol and lunch to provide that service then somewhere along the way that payment will be liable for tax.

Whether they are related to you or not is irrelevant.

ElleDubloo Mon 17-Mar-14 12:29:50

And it was MIL who invited us to live with her... just in case anyone thought I was being presumptuous again...

ElleDubloo Mon 17-Mar-14 12:28:56

mummytime - I'll return the compliment. I'm glad you're not my MIL.

Would I ask my own mother to look after my baby? Oh how I wish I could! She died two years ago, and she wished more than anything else to see me married and start a family, and she would have been delighted to help.

ElleDubloo Mon 17-Mar-14 12:25:30

I feel this can be such a grey area. We have lots of extended family nearby. What if the grandparents-in-law (who are still fairly fit) decide to take the baby for one day a weak? What if my own parents come visit for a week every month, or every weekend, to help? What if we send the toddler to live with my parents for a couple of months to give my in-laws a break? I don't want to pay my parents, because they don't need the money, whereas my parents-in-law do. If we reduce their hours of childcare, without reducing the money we give them, at what point does it turn from "salary" into a "gift"?

Once again, bear with me when I say, I think it's silly to tax families for their own private financial arrangements. But hey ho, if that's the way it is...

mummytime Mon 17-Mar-14 12:23:20

I am so pleased you are not married to my son (he is too young for you anyway).

I love children, but I wouldn't want you "moving in with me" even for just around the time of the birth. I would think you were strange for wanting to do so, having just given birth is not the most dignified time - and I much prefered only having "visitors" around, and definitely being able to disappear off for a nap without anyone commenting (never mind all the messy bits). I would also not want to bring up anyone elses children - if I had wanted to I'd have become a child minder. It is a huge responsibility, and you will undoubtedly have different ideas on some aspect of child rearing.
Being related has the potential for making things so much worse.

Would you ask your own mother this?

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