It can be tough to find reliable, affordable babysitters these days. I’m often jealous of my mommy friends who have live-in relatives, or a mother-in-law who lives down the street, or a sibling who loves to watch their nieces and nephews on the weekends!
The problem is that my family doesn’t really have those options, because we have a location-situation with any family-related childcare. One set of grandparents lives in Florida eight months out of the year (and when they are here, there are a few mobility issues), and the other set lives in North Jersey and doesn’t like to drive in bad weather. Also, my siblings are out of state, and my husband is an only child: talk about a lack of family close by!
So, this leaves us with having to pay for sitters and occasionally using a close mommy friend in some kind of a swap (‘You watch my kids today, and I will watch yours next week’). Still…this can be stressful planning for child care coverage for snow days, sick days, work emergencies, and the like. I wish our relatives could watch the kids more, in a perfect world, saving us money and little stress.
This all came up recently when both my husband and I were sick, and we really had no one to come help, so we trucked through fevers and being miserable and barely functioning. It got me thinking: Do your parents or in-laws watch your kids often? How can you ‘get’ them to watch the grandchildren more, or what is reasonable in expecting them to watch the kids? Is ‘expecting’ them to babysit on occasion or come ‘rescue’ you when you’re sick even reasonable (personally, I think it is! When my parents come to New Jersey for the summer, I do expect them to watch my cute-little-terrors at least once a week. I sometimes don’t even ask them – and just say, here’s my schedule and let me know if you can’t watch them this Saturday.)? Is that rude, or a bit entitled? Am I expecting them to offer their ‘services’ too much, when I should be asking more? Or is this all situational, because I don’t get much help, so therefore I think it’s a grandparents’ ‘duty’ to help watch the little ones? (And I am not talking about constant-sitting…these scenarios are for the occasional date-night, or last minute situation as explained above.)
To see if I was teetering on being too demanding of the grandparents, I posed these questions to my mom friends, and here are some of their responses. Let me know if you agree, or if you don’t, and how your situation might be different! It’s helpful to get different perspectives!
“Call in the reserves when you need to…Call for reinforcements! No harm in asking for help. Then it’s up to them to say ‘No.’”
“I think it depends on what kind of relationship you have with them.”
“I’d never hesitate to call my mom if I were (for example) sick. After all, you are their kid, and by helping to look after your kid, they are taking care of you…I am lucky to have awesome family though.”
“My parents are older…I wouldn’t want to make (my mom’s) job worse (since she looks after my dad, too.). That being said, my mom already does a ton for me already and I ask a lot of her. So basically, it depends on the situation.”
“My mom…will go to the grocery store (for me)…but she will not come in the house (and babysit) if anyone is sick.”
“My mother would offer. I wouldn’t have to ask.”
“I think it depends on a lot of things: grandparent age, relationship strength, proximity, personal responsibilities of grandparents, etc.”
“We don’t have them near us so I wouldn’t know, but I would hope they would be happy to oblige.”
“It would never cross my mind to not ask my mom to watch (my daughter).”