Daycare is expensive, and many studies conducted show that outside of college, it may be the largest expense parents must deal with. In fact, one study showed the cost of daycare in Illinois averaged $12,964 in 2015 while college costs for the same time period in a public college in Illinois was $12,770. These expenses often mean parents are looking at more cost-effective methods of ensuring their children are cared for while they go to work. One of these options is turning to grandparents as a daycare option.
The benefits of grandparents as child’s caregiver
One of the most common benefits of having your parent’s care for your child is the cost-savings. Naturally, many parents offer money to grandparents, even if for the added expense of having a child in the home every day. However, chances are most grandparents caring for a grandchild will not ask the parents to pay as much as a daycare center would charge.
Children develop attachments in different ways than adults do and this can be a significant benefit of having a grandparent caring for a child than sending a child to daycare. The relationship between the children and grandparents already exists and this type of caregiving arrangement can often result in a stronger relationship.
The downside of grandparents as a child’s caregiver
While there are significant benefits of having grandparents care for your child while you work, this does not mean there are not downsides as well. One of the most common problems parents are likely to face is more lax rules. The saying “if mom says no ask grandma” comes into play here. Parents must set ground rules about what rules are not flexible; particularly dietary concerns and naps. While grandma may not think these are a big deal, mom and dad should have the final say on some things.
Another common problem you could run into is time. While parents have a basic understanding if they are late for picking up a child from daycare they are likely to pay an additional fee, having grandparents care for children tends to make parents a bit more lax in honoring time frames. Let’s not forget that caring for a young child all day long can be strenuous. Make sure you, as a parent, are honoring your parent’s time and do not take advantage of their generosity.
Understanding and communication still required
Parents should make every effort to have an honest discussion with their parents when they will be the primary caregiver of their children. Grandparents may be more flexible, and more cost-effective than a daycare provider but you must have certain ground rules in place and you should have some type of financial agreement in place.
Parents should treat the grandparent as they would every other caregiver and make sure they have everything necessary to provide proper care for their children. This includes the appropriate safety equipment such as car seats, gates, etc. that are necessary to keep your child safe. Having other discussions about nap times, meal preferences, etc. is also a necessity for your child’s well-being and so that you have an understanding of what is acceptable and not acceptable.
While having a grandparent care for a child may be very cost-effective, it is important to have an open and honest discussion with your parents before reaching an agreement with them caring for your child while you work. For some parents and grandparents, this may not be a good option, particularly if your parents need more flexibility. In some cases, you may still benefit from having grandparents care for your child a day or two a week, saving you money while still allowing your child to interact with other children their own age as they would in a typical daycare facility. The most important consideration should always be what is in the best interest of your child; this will be even more important than how much money you might save.