Why parents often choose a relative caregiver
- Comfort because children are generally more at ease with people they know.
- Love and attention if it's a close family member who has a genuine affection for your child.
- Trust because you know them well and you know what values you share.
- Flexibility to meet your schedule, especially if it is part-time, evening hours or rotating shifts.
- Familiar location in your or a relative's home.
There can also be problems
- Relative care can be lonely for the child and your relative.
- Child care raises unexpected and sensitive issues that can complicate family relationships.
- You and your relative may underestimate how time consuming and tiring it is to provide child care.
- Ideas about discipline may differ.
- Children's needs change as they grow, and you may need to change child care arrangements.
Make it work for everyone
- Take time to talk regularly, when children are not around.
- Discuss and clarify your ideas about discipline and how you want your relative to set rules and guide your child.
- Talk about your child's daily routines: sleep, crying, feeding and outdoor play.
- Make sure your relative has the time, energy and health to keep up with your child.
- Ask if your relative sees this as a long-term or short-term arrangement.
- Discuss plans with your relative about television, reading, friends, and chores for your child.
Remember, SAFETY FIRST!
- Double check for child safety in your or a relative's home. Use a safety checklist.
- Prepare for emergencies with a safety plan, a fire extinguisher, medical and allergy information and a list of work, fire and emergency phone numbers.
- Agree on who may pick up your child.
- Remember, safety for a young child means no hitting or shaking.
- Be clear about exactly when and how you'll pay your family member.
- Write down your agreement so there is no misunderstanding about your arrangements and payments.
- You'll need to agree about holidays, vacations, and sick days for your child or relative.
- Be creative. In addition to money, what can you do to show your appreciation?
- Learn about Child Care Agreements and tax implications from your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.
Keeping good relationships
- Offer to pay for a first-aid and CPR class.
- Ask your family member what might be helpful to them in doing child care.
- Call your Child Care Resource & Referral agency to see what information is available for relative caregivers. Ask about resources like toy libraries, story hours and community activities.
- If you change child care, remember, your relative caregiver is still family!
When there are issues
- Find the right time and place to talk about it, when you are both relaxed.
- Express gratitude for all your family does for your child.
- Keep the focus on the child.
- Show respect for your relative's point of view, even when you disagree.
- Think about how to avoid the problem in the future.
- Decide if you are still comfortable with the arrangements or if you will need to start looking for other child care.
You may need to make a change
- If your relative finds it too hard to take care of your child everyday.
- When your child needs a preschool experience with other children.
- If your schedule changes.
- If it just does not work out.
But family is still family
- Thank your relative for helping.
- Consider asking if your relative could help with backup care.