The Day Care Dilemma

I’ve seen this story going around about how “babysitting grandkids may help prevent Alzheimer’s”.   Well who doesn’t want to PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S??  Seriously.  Sign me up today because THIS:

You don’t have time to think about anything else,” said Mary. “It’s a wonderful exercise in love — it really is.”

I guess you would be preventing Alzheimer’s … in a way… because you can’t actually think about anything else except baby so …

This is the VERY LAST paragraph of the story:

The Australian study focuses on caring for grandchildren one day per week. Research showed grandparents that spend five days a week or more caring for little ones may have a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders.

Sorry kids – but grandma’s only babysitting once per week!  We can’t risk developing neurodegenerative disorders – AKA Alzheimer’s!!

Anyhow, I do know plenty of grandmas that do provide day care for their littles – and so far so good for them – mentally!  However, it’s not without some consequences.

Andrea G., MN:  I have done daycare with my grandkids so a pro for me is the extra time I get to see them, the con is that while they are at my childcare they have to follow the schedule/rules. And my 4 yo grandson thinks my house is daycare, so that’s kind of a bummer. But I do have a strong bond with my grandkids, so that’s the trade-off.

Claudia J., MN: I physically couldn’t do day care for an extended period of time. A day, here or there. However, I’m so grateful to be able to give care when I can. It’s a special way to be able to bond with my grand blessings.

I wonder though, do grandparents sometimes feel obligated or guilted in to providing this often FREE service?  I mean childcare is really, really expensive.  To have your grandchildren go to a “cheap” day care or a day home that seems … well … sketchy – you just might feel like you should step in and offer your services.   After all, if you’re not working at least part-time, what else could you possibly have to do with all of that FREE time, right?

Here’s what Susan Adcox had to say at The Spruce:

… grandparents should carefully consider the impact that providing child care may have on their personal finances.  Extra expenses can mount up, and a child care commitment may keep grandparents from accepting other employment or from performing home and property maintenance, which they may end up paying for.

She makes some great points about the longterm effects on personal finances associated with quitting your job and providing FREE day care.

What about if you indeed do insist on payment:

Accepting Payment

Even if grandparents don’t have to quit a job, taking on regular child care responsibilities will require major changes in their lives. For that reason, some grandparents are willing to accept payment for child care. Usually, they charge their children less than other providers would charge. Some grandparents refuse any pay. It is vital to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties before accepting child care responsibilities. If you decide to accept payment, you need to consider your children’s financial habits. Do they pay their bills regularly and on time? Will they consider your bill for child care something they can skip if their budget becomes strained? A very important question is will you feel guilty taking payment from your children?

Some children who do not pay their parents for child care instead buy extra gifts for the grandparents or pay for occasional restaurant meals or even vacations for the whole family. Some grandparents who do accept payment put a portion of their earnings back for similar treats. In both of these cases, any extra treats or gifts must be considered as just that, gifts. Neither side is entitled to feel slighted if the gifts aren’t lavish enough or the outings don’t occur frequently enough. They should not enter into any type of financial accounting that takes place.

Here’s another great point from this article:

Working Overtime

Most child care facilities have definite hours and penalties for parents who don’t pick up children promptly. These should be spelled out between parents and grandparents as well. Although most grandparents won’t mind an occasional half hour of overtime, parents who constantly run late are abusing the grandparents’ good will. Also problematical is the parent who comes to pick up the kids, starts “visiting” and ends up staying for dinner. Some grandparents will welcome this extended day, and others will be fuming, inwardly at least.

Oh boy – I’ve heard this story on more than one occasion from a number of grandmas!  I’d definitely be fuming.   I really have a lot of opinions on this but I’m hesitant to share them because honestly, I’m not sure what I’d do if I was in the situation where my kids really needed the help.  So for now, only you can decide what’s best in your situation.  What do you think?  Have YOU provided child care for your littles?

By the way, we haven’t even talked about all the things that can go WRONG when grandma is in charge all day.  That I do know about!  That’s my next post!




4 thoughts on “The Day Care Dilemma”

  1. Oh, boy, you likely opened a mega can of worms here. Still, it’s good to discuss if you are a grandma in this situation. I am not. I just know that I don’t have the energy I once had for taking care of little ones. A day, an overnight, but beyond that…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes – there are definitely strong opinions on this. I do agree though that it’s important to admit your limits. I adore my littles but know I wouldn’t enjoy being their nanny. Others very much would love it.


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