5 Reasons Grandparents Are the Best Sitters, If You're Up to the Challenge

grandpaThe luckiest people in the world are not people who need people. (Sorry, Barbra!) All of us, especially all parents, need people: We need spouses who pitch in, kids who occasionally behave, babysitters who show up on time, teachers who actually care. No, the luckiest people in the world are people who are parents of small (or even medium-size) children and have parents or in-laws who live close by and are willing to pitch in on childcare. Those people have it made in the shade!

Turns out there are a lot of them: According to recent census data cited by the Associated Press, 30 percent of preschool-age kids whose moms work are taken care of by a grandparent. Alas, I am not among them.


My kids' closest grandparent lives a two-hour drive away. But I have spent a great deal of time in the preschool pickup line cursing myself for moving far from family and gazing jealously at my kids' classmates who skipped happily to their grandma or grandpa's loving (remarkably unharried) arms each day.

Here are a few reasons why having grandparents take care of your kids is the best:

1.    It's free. Though you may occasionally want to pay to get your mother to stop nagging you about your not-so-clean bathroom.

2.    There's always emergency coverage. Of course, you and your mother-in-law may not agree on whether your single friends at the office suddenly inviting you along for after-work drinks constitutes an "emergency."

3. You can have more date nights. But then there is that regression to your own teen years where you come home later than expected with your clothes slightly disheveled and your lipstick askew, since it's the only time you and your husband have a moment for ... you know.

4.    Your kids will have a rich sense of extended family. They may also know more than you'd ever imagined about Great Aunt Gertrude's arthritis (sigh -- poor thing), and Cousin Jackie's latest boyfriend. That deadbeat.

5.    Your kids will be well fed. Old-style, home-cooked meals, made with love, may beat frozen chicken nuggets seven days a week, but your mom may also sneak your kids more treats: candy, cookies, cakes. What, you're going to deny their grandma the pleasure of seeing them happy? But when you get those astronomical dentist bills, just remember how much you saved on child care. (Did I mention it's free?)

Is having parents or in-laws around to take care of your kids the greatest deal going?


Image via Salim Virji/Flickr

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