Childcare by a relative


Grandmother and granddaughterIf you're a working parent with a nearby relative who is ready and willing to provide some childcare, then what can we say except lucky, lucky you.

There are obvious advantages - family childcare is often free and your baby will be with someone she or her already knows and whom you trust.

You can't, of course, look at granny's Ofsted report or demand a CRB check, and you may have to accept that she not going to do everything exactly as you would do it ('granny' is code for any family member).

Drawing up an extensive manual for your mum or mother-in-law to follow is likely to be a trifle insulting. But you can discreetly and tactfully explore whether the arrangement is likely to work.

Is your relative happy to parent at least broadly as you do (food, discipline etc) or are you happy to live with the differences? If the whole thing is going to drive you both mad, this may not be the childcare for you.

If your parents or parents-in-law are doing close to full-time childcare, then realistically it's going to be difficult for you to make requests assertively. But for a day a week it's not a big issue.

"A day a week is a lovely arrangement and one that I think would hugely benefit any child (how lovely to have that special, bonding time with granny), granny (gets bonding time with her grandchild) and parents (saves you a bit of dough). My mum has my son two or three afternoons a week, and while we don't pay her (she wouldn't accept money), we try to make sure all 'expenses' are paid for (ie if she takes my son out anywhere or buys him little treats) and we try to treat my mum now and then, with a nice meal or theatre tickets etc." MrsMattie

You are allowed to pay a family member to look after your child in your own or your relative's home without that family member being registered as a childminder.

But, remember, if you're considering having a friend look after your baby (in her own home), she would have to be registered as a childminder for it to be a legal arrangement.

And don't feel too hurt if your mother or MIL doesn't want to be your childminder, they may have very sound reasons for not wanting to go down that particular path with their grandchild. Plus, fast-forward to how you think you might feel if you're cast in the granny-come-free-childcarer role. 

"Even when it is only one day a week, the relationship between grandmother and grandchild changes when it is a regular care situation and I can understand her not wanting that to change." Ineedacleaner

"My parents do a lot for us - babysit at our place, have DD overnight, have her on odd days that I go on courses when I'd normally be off work. But they will NOT (and I wouldn't ask them to) commit to a regular arrangement, as long as we would be reliant on it. They're retired, they have other things to do, people to see, holidays to go on, they don't need me looking at them all askance cos I can't go into work on Tuesday afternoon cos they have something else to do than look fter DD." DontCallMeSantaBaby

Last updated: almost 2 years ago