Hiring a Family Member to Provide Childcare

Parent Q&A

  • Hi BPN folks,

    I’m looking for different options for childcare for siblings close in age down the line, as we are expecting baby #2 when our son will be 19 months. We are both full-time working parents. I don’t have maternity leave for when #2 arrives, but I may have some mother-in-law help plus a few weeks of disability leave. However, my MIL is also in her late 70s, (completely ambulatory but still).

    Cost is definitely a consideration, so hiring a full-time nanny for 2 kids is likely not be affordable for us. However, I’m not ruling anything out at the moment. I also have my own parents who could help out, but they are still 6 hours away so it would not be a full-time thing. I am less concerned about the immediate post-delivery time (since I do think I’ll have a few weeks disability), but more concerned about long run when I’m back at work full swing. Another additional piece to the puzzle is that my MIL will in fact be staying with us long-term, which actually complicates it because while she is willing to help, we can’t expect her to be the full-time caregiver (she doesn’t have a license either, and we will be applying for a green card for her, so she is really not assimilated here). So I also don’t know what a good balance might be because I know she will want to have some part in taking care of the grandkids, but I need to find a solution that would probably be part-time preschool for toddler, part-time infant care, and part-time let-grandma-have-a-role-as-well. Thoughts/suggestions welcome! Thanks.

    An au pair, if you have a spare bedroom.

    Infant care, at a childcare center, tends to be the most expensive, and has longest waitlists. Get on them ASAP  I would get the toddler into care at a local center if you can.  And when you can, start getting the infant a few days a week at the same center, if possible, as well.  Let the MIL help a few days, but yes, in her late 70s, it will be challenging to fully rely on her.  Good luck.

    You should visit a few home-based family daycares in your neighborhood.  They might offer more flexibility in terms of hours, and they are an affordable option when you have two young children, compared to the cost of a larger childcare center or a nanny.  They are great for very young children with their home-like setting, and many daycares also have preschool programs for older kids. Another option you could consider is planning for you or your husband to reduce work hours temporarily for a few years, so you can patch together childcare until the kids start preschool and/or kindergarten. It can be an opportunity to rethink your long-term career goals, too. When my 2nd child was born and daycare for two kids basically consumed all of my paycheck, I decided to go back to school and get a graduate degree. I qualified for grants and loans, I found a part-time office job, and I could arrange my schedule around my kids, unlike when I was working full time. By the time the youngest started elementary school I had a new career path that considerably raised my earning potential over what it was before. Not for everyone, but it worked for me!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Father-in-law has expressed interest in childcare for baby

August 2006

I will be returning to work mid-November when my son is 4 months old. I will be home 2 days a week and my husband will be home 1 day a week to take care of him. This leaves us 2 days a week needing child care. My father-in-law has expressed interest in taking care of our son on these 2 days. However, I am unsure of his capabilities and do not feel that he has the know-how. Has anyone been in a similar situation? What did you do? Should I require he take a baby care class, cpr/ first aid? Where would I find these classes? or would I be better off with another alternative? Thank you for any advice New Berkeley Mom

In answer to one of your questions, American Red Cross holds classes in Infant CPR, and they also have ''babysitter'' classes. I think it's great that your father-in-law is interested in providing some childcare. Maybe you will get more comfortable with the idea (and he will get some training) if you begin by having him come over and help out while you are still home. If it all works out it will be a great opportunity for your son to bond with his grandfather. Good luck with your return to work grateful for grandparents

When I went back to work my son was three months. My father never cared for my son for a whole day as it was too hard on him physically and he needed to work. We had an arrangement where a nanny would come for four or five hours to relieve him in the middle of the day. My father is really great with my son, but he is around him and me all the time so he knows the routines, moods, methods, etc... I would reccomend having your father in-law spend a lot of time with you watching how you do things and having the opportunity to ask questions. The agency I work for offers CPR/1st aid if you are interested. Sarah

I think that (most of the time) family is always going to have more of a vested interest in your child's happiness and well- being than someone you are paying to do it. That said, I have a wonderful nanny that I use 2x a week, and she is great with my 2 1/2 yr old son. But his grandparents watch him 1x per week as well so I get to see the interactions and bonds in the different relationships. And I have to say that it has been incredible for my son to have that closeness with his grandparents, he adores them and feels so safe and happy in their company, often he wants to be with them rather than me, but he never says that about the nanny he has known for over 2 years. My father-in-law usually watches my son by himself in the morning while my MIL does some work, and I wouldn't have said that he was a real paternal kind of guy before my son was born. But now he takes him to the park, or the Play Cafe, or zoo, and changes his diapers, feeds him, or works in the yard with him or is showing him how to use tools. It is really neat. The thing you need to talk to your husband about is how his Dad was as a father and how do his ideas about raising a child coordinate with yours?

What about discipline, safety, responsibility? Unfortunately, as much as I love my parents, I would not be as happy leaving my son in their care due to their own poor judgment and lack of good boundaries and limit setting. I suffered as a child because of this, and don't want my son to have to deal with it, too. ANd by all means, get your FIL to take the child CPR classes that BANANAS (on Claremont) offers and see what classes that they have, I know that they offer childcare classes for teens who wish to babysit, don't know about grandparents. But the best thing might be for you to spend time with the baby and the FIL so that he can see how you do things and you can check out his style as well. A close relationship with a loving grandfather is an incredible experience for any child lucky enough to have it. lucky to have involved grandfather

From the time my daughter was 7 months until almost 3 years she was babysat 1 day a week by my mom, 1 day by my grandmother and very old great-aunties, and 1 day by my mother-in-law, while I worked. While there were many times that we had disagreements about what to do and how to do it, generally things went well and the relationships my daughter built with her extended family is invaluable. I don't love everything about how the family parents, but they love her instensly and were caring for her becasue they wanted to, not becuase it was a job and they happened to like kids... I have also used wonderful babysitters/nannies (primarily with my second child) but I think the benefit of having family care, and the opportunity to build that kind of relationship is wonderful. Even nannies make mistakes, at least when it is family you know that their motives are from love! Maggie

Your father in law will learn what he needs to know the same way we all do; through experience. I think it's great that you have such support from family. Unless there are some other issue going on like he's developmentally delayed, smokes like a chimney, has a history of abusing kids, stuff like that, you should give it a try. I would love for family to care for my kids - sure beats paying a stranger to do it. good luck

How much should I pay mother-in-law for afterschool childcare?

Oct 2005

I'm wondering about how much we pay(should pay) my mother-in- law for child care. She picks my son up after school and is with him until either my husband or I (usually me) gets home. Approx 3-4 hrs/day M-F. Plus occassional evening babysitting. We pay $350 cash; car gas $90/month(has our gas card); car insurance $85/month. She is 80 and on a fixed income. The last 4 years we have been supplementing her rent/expenses because her live in adult daughter has not paid half the $1600+/mo rent. We have paid close to $2000/yr which has caused some strife in my household. I'm tring to maintain a budget but am up against a spendaholic partner and a large credit card debt (that is a topic for another time) So, does grandma get enough? After school on site dayare is $4.50/hr. anon

If you take the after care hourly rate x 4 hours per day, 5 days per week, x 50 weeks per year, you get $4,500. So if you are paying $2,000 per year (for whatever the reason) and your kids are being looked after by Grandma, I think you are getting a great deal. Might not be worth the stress but 1/2 price is 1/2 price and when you are budgeting, that may make it better!! Good luck. DiAnn

Our neighbor has her mom nanny for her two kids as well. She is on a very fixed income as well, and they pay her $10/hour, and does not pay for gas or car insurance. Your pay/perks sound more than generous. Mary