Having a member of your family look after your child may well be the cheapest childcare solution, but it's important to ensure that you're both happy with the arrangement.
Keep it in the family
If you're thinking of getting a family member to look after your child, you must be confident that he or she is fit enough, has a basic knowledge of childcare and first aid, and that the house where your child will be cared for is safe.
- A family member, particularly a grandparent, is likely to love your child almost as much as you do.
- Your child will probably develop a close bond with the relative, which will enrich both their lives.
- A grandparent - or an aunt or uncle who's already a parent - will be experienced with children.
- A family member may live locally.
- They'll probably be flexible about hours.
- They'll probably be prepared to drop off/collect from nursery/school.
- They may be able to look after your child if she's sick.
- Your child may be able to have friends round to play.
- Your child will be cared for in a familiar environment.
- Your child will have continuity of care.
- A relative, particularly an older one, may find the physical demands of a young child exhausting, however willing they are.
- They may have pre-existing commitments and interests they don't want to disrupt, which may not fit in with your work hours.
- They may have different ideas about discipline, potty training, homework and so on, and you may find it difficult to ask them to do things your way.
- If they're looking after a baby or toddler, you'll probably have to buy two sets of equipment.
- You may want your child to meet other young children, but an older relative may not feel comfortable attending a playgroup predominantly for younger mums.
- If your employer or college is contributing to your childcare costs, they may insist you use registered childcare, but if this is the case, your relative can apply to become a registered childminder, if they want to.
- Informal arrangements can go wrong and if they do, it's your own family you're falling out with - potentially causing long-term rifts.
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