As childcare costs continue to skyrocket, many moms are asking their moms to help take care of their kids. “Granny nannies” come to the rescue in a range of ways, depending on the circumstances. From new baby nurses to Saturday night sitters, even full time nannies, their willingness to pitch in helps minimize overwhelming childcare burdens that young families face.
Rachel Duber, a school social worker and mom to six-month old Hannah, is heading back to work in the Fall. Her daughter will go to an in-home day care three days a week and Rachel’s mother will babysit the other two days.
“I feel really lucky because my mom doesn’t work and she wants to do it,” Rachel says. “When both parents work, and they need childcare, the next best thing is family. I know that they are going to take of her like we would take care of her. And it saves a lot of money. In home day care is about $50 a day, while an in-home nanny would be $100 a day. So, my mom helping us two days a week makes a big difference overall.”
Rachel’s mom Rita Mandel adds, “You watch them because you love them, and you want to help your children out. There is a reason they ask you. They need help.”
“I don’t feel bad because my mom wants to do it,” explains Rachel. “She wants to do it as much as we want her to. She says it’s her greatest pleasure in life. It’s less anxiety for me knowing Hannah is in good hands with my mom. When I first went back to work after maternity leave, I was a little nervous because of the adjustment. But now my mom knows her schedule so well, she knows her entire day. So, I don’t have to worry.”
But finding a comfort level with those new responsibilities took a little getting used to for Rita. “I was extremely nervous at the beginning. I felt a tremendous responsibility because it wasn’t my child. The first time Hannah slept over, I couldn’t go to sleep. I had to go sleep in the same bedroom to listen to her breathe!”
Once everyone finds their groove, the benefits are huge for all family members involved. “It gives kids one-on-one time with another adult other than you. It’s really important for kids to know and be comfortable with other adults,” says Rachel.
Niki Resnick, mom to two-year old Madden agrees. “My son gets to know his grandparents, and they get to experience things with him on a regular basis. It’s something I wish I had when I was growing up. Watching them with him is the most special thing in the world.”
Aside from the perks of permanent childcare arrangements during the work week, grandparents are a huge help and money saver when it comes to the weekend. Rather than shelling out $15 an hour for a babysitter (that’s a whopping $75 for five hours), many couples “book” the grandparents for Saturday nights, too.
Niki and her husband Todd are fortunate to have both of their parents nearby to babysit when they go out with friends. “Besides not having to pay a babysitter, our son is with people that love him as much as my husband and I do. He’s safe and well taken care of. I feel best when he is with the grandparents, over a sitter. And they cherish being with him too.”
From feedings to diaper changing, and hauling around heavy strollers… being a granny nanny in any capacity is a tough job. You need energy, patience and of course, a huge supply of baby essentials. Although many grandparents find it easier to have their own stash of kid gear… formula, food, diapers, toys and car seats don’t come cheap. And this leads to the tough question, “Should you pay a grandparent to babysit?”
“I think it’s pretty unusual to pay a grandparent. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that because I’m trying to help my daughter save money. But I do know someone who stopped working to stay home and babysit her grandchild. And she does get paid. So it all really depends on the situation,” says Rita.
Money aside, granny nannies agree that the experience of being there for their kids and grandkids is priceless. And they’ll gladly hop in the car, or on a plane to help when they’re needed. After giving birth to her son Owen, Emily Easley’s mom flew from Dallas to Washington, DC for a 10-day stay to help her navigate the ups and downs of life as a new mom.
“My parents immediately got on a plane right when I went into labor. My mom was more of a ‘mommy nurse,’ taking care of me and the house, helping with laundry, dishes, and making sure my husband Dan and I were eating. She was also there for emotional support as I entered this new world as a mom and realized what life was like with someone so dependent on you. I loved having my mom here so I could ask her questions about how she survived the many challenging moments of motherhood. And she was able to help me see perspective in the first few weeks as Dan and I became parents… and what the joys our son would bring after we survived the sleepless nights.”
While many young parents lean on their own parents for support as they raise their kids, not everyone has that convenience at their fingertips due to geography. Emily explains, “I’ve never missed my mom so much in the 12 years I’ve lived away as I do now. I talk to her on the phone at least once each day venting, asking for guidance. I talk to my friends who do have parents and in-laws close by and only dream of what it would be like to run to the grocery store alone or grab dinner with my husband and not have to book a three hour sitter.”
Although logistics can be challenging sometimes, granny nannies from near and far cherish the one-on-one time with their grandkids, and the special milestones they are part of along the way. Rita says, “To me there is nothing better. I love seeing her wake up in the morning, see her grow. I got to see her crawl for the first time. There is no greater joy than to be a grandparent. Everything grandchildren do is fabulous. If they scream, it’s okay. If there’s a huge poopie diaper — nothing ruffles you. Everything is wonderful. Because you have them for the day, but then you give them back.”
Do you think grandparents should be paid for babysitting their grandchildren? Share your opinion in the Comments area below.
Jessica Solloway is a Washington, DC based writer and producer. From wedding planning to work, dating to dieting (and everything in between), she enjoys writing about lifestyle topics women want to know about. Jessica received her degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Check out her blog, The Savvy Mrs.