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Is It Smart to Hire My Mom to Care for My Kids?

grandmaIf you’re lucky enough to have your mother live close to you, it may seem like the perfect solution to all your childcare problems. You know and love her, you don’t have to worry about your kids when they’re with her and no one is going to care for them better than Grandma. But you also know it’s a tricky situation and there’s the possibility that it could strain your personal relationship. So what’s the smart choice? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide.

Do you feel comfortable talking with your mom openly and honestly about concerns? There are always issues that pop up in any relationship. When your parent is also your caregiver, there will be even more issues that need attention. Are you comfortable taking these up with your mother? Can you express your ideas and concerns without triggering old issues? Are you able to listen to her ideas with an open mind? Good communication is essential in any nanny/parent relationship. It doesn’t matter if the nanny is your mom or a stranger to your family.

Does your mother support your discipline method? The way parents handle discipline today is often very different than how parents handled it in the last generation. Do you and your mother share a discipline approach? If not, is she able to let go of her ideas and tactics and support yours? Remember, she isn’t in the “Grandma” role as the caregiver. Grandma’s job is to spoil your children. The caregiver’s role demands rules, limits and dealing effectively with misbehaviors. If your mom has an approach that’s vastly different than yours, it will come out as she deals with the normal discipline challenges that come with kids.

Is your mom physically able to care for your children? Let’s face it, age matters here. There are plenty of grandmas that can easily keep up with their active and energetic grandchildren. However, others struggle with health issues that make providing childcare on a regular schedule difficult. Before your mom takes on the job, make sure you have an honest conversation about what will be needed from her and if she’s physically able to tackle it. Remember, your mom may not feel she has any physical limitations, but it’s important that you feel confident about that too.

Does your mother honestly want the job of caregiver? It’s hard for moms to say no, even to grown children. Make sure that your mom truly wants to be the caregiver for your children and she doesn’t just feel obligated to help you out of a tight spot. Feeling like she has to do it rather than wanting to do it isn’t a good way to start out. Even if she’s retired and doesn’t have the obligation of a job, she may not want to commit to being your nanny. She may be enjoying her free time or may have other obligations like a volunteer position. Again, open communication is the key here. Present the idea as a real choice so she feels comfortable saying no. If she’s not interested in taking over the position, she may be interested in covering some of the hours or filling in until you find a nanny.

Will you pay her for providing childcare? Money can quickly complicate any relationship, but this is an important question you must answer before moving forward. Will your mom be paid for her time? If so, how much? If not, is she alright with that? Do you think she’ll be alright with it down the line? How does the money component change the dynamics of your personal relationship? Talk with your mom about how she feels about this tricky issue. Make sure you’re both on the same page around the wage issue before she starts.

Are you comfortable in the employer role? Even if you’re not paying your mom, you’ll still have to take on many of the roles of the employer. Are you comfortable giving your mom instructions? You’ll need to outline what you want your mother to do around the house, like laundry or getting dinner started. You’ll have to set expectations of how she’ll care for your child, down to the very least detail about the type of discipline and environment you want for your child. This can be a very uncomfortable position for many adult children to be in.

Hiring your mom as your nanny can be a great solution to your childcare needs, or it can be a disaster. Think about the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

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