As a father of three young kids, I’ve struggled with finding the right balance of when to ask my parents to babysit. On one hand, having grandparents who are excited to spend time with their grandkids is a huge blessing.
My wife and I truly appreciate any time my parents offer to watch the girls so we can have a much-needed date night or get other errands done.
On the other hand, we don’t want to take advantage and overburden my parents, who are getting up there in age.
When our first daughter was born, my parents were still working full-time jobs.
They gladly watched her once a week or so, which gave my wife and I a nice break. Now that they are retired, I’ve noticed they seem eager to spend even more time with the grandkids.
Just last week, my dad jokingly said he wished we’d let him and my mom babysit 3-4 times a week! As tempting as that frequent free childcare sounds, I know it would likely get exhausting for them quickly.
My wife and I have agreed that once-a-week babysitting is plenty for now. We may occasionally ask for a second day if we have something special coming up.
But we want to be sensitive of not overtax my parents. Now that they are in their 70s, I don’t want them to get burnt out on babysitting. We are so grateful for their help and want it to be a fun experience they look forward to, rather than a burden.
Some experts suggest that grandparents should babysit no more than once a week so that they can have time for themselves and their own lives. Ultimately, considering How Often Should Grandparents Babysit, it is up to the parents and grandparents to decide what works best for them.
Babysitting grandchildren is a rewarding experience that can create lasting bonds. It can also be exhausting and challenging, especially if you’re not used to caring for young children.
a Healthy Grandparents Babysit weekly Schedule
Here is our current weekly schedule that seems to be working well:
- Monday – My parents will watch the kids so my wife and I can have a date night. We’ll drop the kids off at 5 p.m. and pick them up around 8:30 pm.
- Wednesday – My mom will pick up my daughter from preschool at noon and watch her until I get off work at 5 p.m. This gives my mom quality time with her.
- Friday – My parents will come over for a few hours in the morning to play with the kids while my wife gets errands done.
- Saturday – We try to keep Saturdays free of any set plans with my parents. But they will often stop by for an hour or so to visit the kids.
- Sunday – After church we’ll visit my parent’s house for lunch and the kids can play. We’ll go home in the afternoon for naps/downtime.
Having one set babysitting day plus other flexible visits seems like a good balance for now.
My parents get quality time with the grandkids but also have plenty of days with no childcare responsibilities. As the kids get older, we may adjust the schedule, but for now, this routine is working well!
Is it normal for grandparents to babysit?
It is very common and normal for grandparents to babysit their grandchildren. Here are some reasons why:
- Availability – Many grandparents are retired or have more flexible schedules, allowing them to more easily baby sit than parents who work full-time. This makes them a convenient and available option for regular or occasional childcare.
- Bonding Time – Most grandparents love spending quality time with their grandkids. Babysitting provides great opportunities for grandparents and grandchildren to bond one-on-one and make happy memories together.
- Help for Parents – Having grandparents babysit gives parents a chance to run errands, enjoy a date night, or just get things done around the house. This can be a lifesaver for busy parents.
- Shared Values – Grandparents may share similar values on things like discipline, education, activities, etc. This provides comfort and consistency for kids.
- No Cost – Grandparent babysitters often provide their services free of charge as a gift to the family. This is significant savings compared to paying a non-relative babysitter.
Why Grandparents Love Babysitting
Here are some of the key reasons why grandparents love babysitting their grandchildren:
- Chance to bond – Babysitting gives quality one-on-one time for grandparents to strengthen their connection with grandkids. They get to focus on just their grandchild without other distractions.
- Feeling needed – Caring for little ones makes grandparents feel useful and needed. It’s very fulfilling to be relied upon for help with childcare.
- Opportunity to teach – Grandparents love sharing their wisdom and passing down knowledge/traditions to grandkids through play, talks, reading, cooking, etc.
- Reliving parenthood – Babysitting can remind grandparents of raising their own children, allowing them to enjoy sweet moments they may have forgotten.
- Unconditional love – The innocent, accepting love of grandchildren rejuvenates grandparents’ spirits and gives great joy.
- Keeping active – Playing, teaching, and chasing after little ones helps keep grandparents energetic and young at heart.
- Watching milestones – Being present for first words, steps and other developmental milestones is incredibly rewarding.
- Fun activities – Grandparents often enjoy child-centered activities like playing make-believe, arts & crafts, reading stories, and more.
- Pride in family – Seeing their family legacy carried on through grandchildren is a huge source of pride and purpose for grandparents.
General Guidelines that Can Help Grandparents Babysit
According to a recent study, 57 percent of grandparents say they have watched their grandchildren overnight, while 31 percent have done so for longer than two nights. But when it comes to regular babysitting, only 37 percent of grandparents say they do it once a week or more, while 63 percent do it less often.
Here are some general guidelines that can help make babysitting go smoothly for grandparents:
- Communicate expectations – Have an open discussion about scheduling, responsibilities, parenting style, and house rules ahead of time.
- Childproof the home – Make sure dangerous objects are put away and install any needed safety devices like cabinet locks.
- Follow a routine – Try to stick to the child’s normal naptime, meals, bedtime routine, etc.
- Leave detailed instructions – Provide useful info likefeeding/nap schedules, medical needs, emergency contacts, favorite activities & toys.
- Rest when baby rests – Take advantage of naptime to recharge your own energy. Don’t try to get too much done while grandkids sleep.
- Avoid over spoiling – As tempting as it is, don’t undermine parents’ rules on things like sweets, bedtimes, etc.
- Ask for help when needed – If you feel overwhelmed or unsure about something, don’t be afraid to call the parents for backup.
- Stay within physical limits – Only take on tasks you can handle safely. Don’t risk injury trying to keep up with energetic kids.
- Keep them engaged – Have age-appropriate games, crafts, books, etc. on hand so you can interact meaningfully together.
- Trade off with other grandparents – If there are two sets of grandparents, consider alternating babysitting duties so no one gets burnt out.