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Nurseries vs Grandparents

31 replies

Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 11:37

There is an article on GMTV website this morning about grandparents doing childcare when mothers go back to work and how they would be better off going to nursery. I am due to return to work in a couple of months when DS will be 9 months old and I am still having a hard time deciding what is best.
Currently the plan is nursery 3 days, my Mum 1 day and with me for 1 day (I am reducing my hours to have a day off, would like more time off but money an issue). I am starting to have mixed feelings though, does anyone else do anything similar or any good or bad experiences with their arrangements, does nursery or grandparents work for you? Thanks v. much.

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ZoeC · 10/02/2009 11:39

Depends on the grandparent really - I think that sounds like you have a mix there which is probably best anyway - part you, part other family and part structured childcare.

I would only worry about my MIL (or my mum, come to that) letting them get away with too much, fine in the context of being a grandparent but less fine if they are doing near full-time childcare iyswim.

blueshoes · 10/02/2009 11:49

I agree it depends on the grandparent and the nursery.

I do feel it is unfair to expect a grandparent to put her life on hold to look after grandchildren at a time she should be enjoying her pensionable years. But I see you are looking at only 1 day a week so that is probably not a big issue.

My mother helped me with childcare for dd for a spell when I first went back to work - dd had a serious heart condition and my work was pressuring me. It was fine when dd was an infant but did not work at all once dd was older and needed grandma to take her out of the house more.

I now rely on aupairs for holiday care for my schoolage dd and I think that just the fact that a carer is younger and more energetic can make a big difference to an older child.

Both my dcs went to ft nursery from a young age and it has worked very well for us. It is easier for children to settle at a nursery if they go for more and consecutive days than if they attended on a patchwork pt basis.

But since you are looking at 3 consecutive days at nursery, again, that should be sufficient.

It is hard. I go for convenience in childcare. I would use grandparents only if my mother actually asked to do it, rather than if she was doing it as a favour for me.

Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 11:51

Exactly Zoe, that's what worries me a little, I think myself and my Mum have very different approaches to parenting and what is acceptable and I just get concerned that we may clash on stuff, I don't want any tension and falling out. Although nursery is expensive and my Mum looking after DS once a week would help alot.

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Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 11:56

My Mum really really wants to do it, I know we are lucky to have someone to help us, I do worry about him settling though, nursery will be 3 consecutive days which is better. How could I get him to settle well, he is a happy contented little man now?

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notevenamousie · 10/02/2009 12:00

I like paid childcare for the majority too - you get what you want that way. My mother is very strict, as she was with us, and I no longer leave her with my daughter for more than a few minutes.

Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 12:03

My mother is the other way mousie, ridiculously soft and would let him have his own way all time, not sure which is worse TBH!

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spicemonster · 10/02/2009 12:05

I do what you're planning on doing and it works really well (my DS is with a childminder rather than nursery but same difference).

My mum offered and she couldn't come last week because she was trapped by the snow and really missed my DS. I read the article too and I thought it meant that full-time care by gps wasn't best. I think it's a good balance.

Actually in a lot of ways I just thought it was another stick to beat working mums with but hey ho!

Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 12:11

I know spicemonster, if I could afford to stay at home more I would, why is it that everyone thinks working Mums are villans? Alot of us don't have a choice, we have to work the cost of living is that high now that both parents and single parents have to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Even if women do have a choice to be a SAHM or to work, surely it is their choice and they are doing what they see as best for their family and situation, why can't folk piss off and stop blaming us for everything that is wrong with society. Sorry about that went off on a tangent there for a sec.

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blueshoes · 10/02/2009 12:29

Wiggles, if your little man is happy and contented now, chances are he will thrive in the childcare arrangements you set up.

The study is just one of many which say different things about childcare by parent, nurseries, grandparent etc etc. It will mess with your mind if you paid attention to all of them because they don't say the same thing, often conflict as to which is 'better' (how do you measure 'good' or 'better'), are based on parameters you would not fully understand unless you are that sort of person to delve into sample sizes, control factors and the such. And most importantly they highlight a risk that in all probably will not materialise in your child as he has immunity from being born in a home with parents who care for him and bring him up with sensitivity and respect for his needs.

I don't see any obvious downsides with your current arrangement. The only downside is if your ds does not in fact settle. But you can only find out by trying it out, and then being flexible to change it if and when you cross that bridge.

You and your ds are fortunate to have that option.

Jenf2306 · 10/02/2009 12:31

i'm a childminder and i share care with one lo's grandparents. we do 2 days each and mum does one day.

it works really well and the lo has always been settled.

you could also ask nursery if they can be flexible if your mum if ever poorly and you may need an extra day.

i would do what your thinking, your lo will adapt and settle.


Tommy · 10/02/2009 12:33

I think a mixture is good. Your DS will have the chance to build up a good relationship with your Mum but you won't be expecting her to do it full time.

The only downside I can see (and have experinced!) is the emotional "strings" that might be attached and the fact that, if your Mum is anything like mine, some weeks she will forget that she is looking after her grandchild and arrange something else

Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 12:34

Thanks for your advice everyone, it is good to get a view from impartial people who don't know you cos they can sometimes see things you can't, I love MN!!

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Wigglesworth · 10/02/2009 12:35

What do you mean by emotional strings Tommy??

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SilentTerror · 10/02/2009 12:35

Am lucky in that my parents,both fit and well in their 60's,look after D3 one day a week whilst I work.
Used nursery years ago for DD1,have never worked much so never had to use childminder or nursey since.
DD3 loves going to her grandparents,and they adore having her,so great situation all round.
They take her out,go to lunch,make cakes,crafts etc.
I think as long as both sides happy with arrangement and if ggrandparents are up to it physically,then it works wonderfully.
Having said that,one day is probably enough of DD3 for anyone

Tommy · 10/02/2009 12:48

my Mum used to point out to my sister that she was "saving her lots of money" by having her DS and sometimes expected some sort of pay back - not financial but in ther ways, she would parent slightly differently than my sister wanted (that is something you have to live with though I'm afraid unless they are doing something dangerous) and criticise my sister's parenting (to me )

Maybe that's just my Mum though - she sounds like a dragon - she's not really

alibubbles · 10/02/2009 13:21

I too, as a c/m do a lot of shared care with grandparents, some of the gp's like it to begin with, but when the realisation hits them, that this is for every week, 50 or so weeks of the year, it is a tie, and can begin to find it a chore. They can't have a lie in, go out to lunch with their friends etc as they have to manage their diary aaround the child.

They all started off with good intentions, wanting to see more of the grandchildren, help out with childcare costs etc, but it does have other 'costs' involved.

I have seen the parent get annoyed at the way things are done, not the way the parent wants, etc also when the gp decides they want a few days off, there is chaos and resentment on both sides.

I have 2 families this week looking for extra days as gp's can't cope anymore, and want to stop.

It can work, but it needs a lot of thought and give and take on both sides.

smallorange · 10/02/2009 13:40

I'm A SAHM and I see lots of frankly exhausted grandparents caring for energic toddlers and pre-schoolers. I think a mix of care is the best way forward and what you describe sounds great.

smallorange · 10/02/2009 13:41

I wish they would stop beating up parents with these studies - most of us are just trying to do our best!

Iklboo · 10/02/2009 13:45

Ds goes to playschhol in the morning and MIL looks after him in the afternoon. MIL and I have long had the same views on parenting (scary really) and it's with MY folks that I have to keep reminding them about discipline/boundaries/treats etc

EsmeWeatherwax · 10/02/2009 13:49

I would agree that the mix you are suggesting sounds fine, as it shouldn't put too much strain on the gp's. My mum and dad initially looked after dd the full three days when I went back to work, (voluntary on their part, and paid by me) but it very quickly became too much for them. We now have a good balance of dd at nursery 2.5 days with gp's picking her up a wee bit earlier to give her dinner on the two days, then having her a half day on a Wednesday. Works very well for all of us, dd loves nursery, and still gets to see gp's every week!

ThursdayNext · 10/02/2009 14:06

My mum has looked after DS for 1 day a week since he was about 8 months. It's worked really well, on the whole.

What areas do you think you might clash about? I think the success of these arrangements depends on whether you disagree about fundamental issues or relatively minor issues. I have found that even quite early on DS seemed to accept that his gran would do some things differently to his mum and dad, and this has rarely been a problem.

Is she going to look after him in your house or hers?

Horton · 10/02/2009 18:57

My ILs look after my daughter one day a week, my aunt does another and my DH does a third day so I can do three days of work for the price of travel for the grandparents and aunt. It's worked brilliantly so far and one day a week is not, IMO, too much too ask of a grandparent/relative who genuinely wants to be involved.

I take DD to playgroups etc on my days off so I don't think she misses out on seeing other children.

We have clashed on a few issues (mainly with the ILs not my aunt) but overall it's been a good thing for all of us.

redskyatnight · 11/02/2009 08:59

Some things to consder about using a grandparent

  • are there things that you will disagree on about looking after your child? Will these things cause strain in your relationship? I have many friends who moan about grandparents looking after children and they nearly all start with "I know it's doing me a favour but ..."

  • are the gp fit and healthy enough to cope with looking after an active child for a full day?

  • Will the grandparents be available as you want? Will they feel like they can't take holidays/go away or conversely go away so often that you are always struggling to find extra care.
Maveta · 11/02/2009 09:08

My mum looked after ds 3 days a week from about 5 months old til he was almost a year old. It worked really well for us. She did the settling in period at nursery for us and from 1 year slowly built up to going 5 days a week (to match my days going up from 3 to 5).

He loved going to her and she loved having him but I think the time she had him was perfect. Now he is almost 2 and I think he would exhaust her if she had him for anything more than a couple of hours. Also, she was willing to commit to 6 months and dedicate herself to looking after him. She has offered to take him again for a couple of days per week but I wouldn't want to rely on her again. She has her own life and another grandchild now and like redsky says, I don't want her to not be able to do things because of an obligation to me or likewise leave me in the lurch if she did want to go off and do something else.

I never had big issues re. clashing over how to raise him. He was so small that tbh there wasn't much to it in terms of what he can/can't do. She did ignore my wishes on some small things (giving him juice or sugary biscuits) but I eventually got over myself and realised it's a nana's right to spoil her grandkid. He adores her and knows he can do lots of things there that he can't do at home, but isn't that half the point of grandparents??

Wigglesworth · 11/02/2009 11:31

My Mum is fit and healthy (she is only in her early 50's) and would already drop everything to help us out (which is lovely). She can be a little overbearing and interfering at times (aren't all mothers!) but I am now confident enough to tell her so. I would prefer for her to come to our house to look after him,it would make our lives so much easier as it is near our motorway junction etc and all his toys etc are here and it will be fully baby proofed too. Do you think this is an acceptable request given that it is only for 1 day a week?

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