Mother provides child care

My mom has been watching my child since about 3 months old, now going on 2. It's really becoming a strain on our relationship. She doesn't work and is on SSI so I offered to pay her to watch my daughter as opposed to sending her to daycare. We could probably afford daycare, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea. I thought it was a win - win for both of us. I'd help her out with a little extra money and she could spend time with her grandchild but now she's treating it like it's her job and I'm her employer. Since the beginning we've had issues with her not being able to come in due to all sorts of reasons, weather, dr appointments, sick, too tired. Of course we expect anyone to need a reasonable amount of time to themselves or days off for usual reasons but it's really getting out of control. It's 5 or more times a month that my husband or I either have to use our vacation time or scramble to find someone to watch our child because she's texted us last minute that she cannot watch our daughter. Lately she's begun to complain to others in my family that we don't pay her enough and that the days are too long or she's too tired. It's really hurtful to me. Meanwhile, i'm constantly giving her extra money for things because "she's not going to make it this month". I feel like she's taking advantage of the situation because she knows at this point I don't have any other care options. When I ask her if she thinks it's becoming too much for her she says no, she needs the extra money. I wouldn't have such a problem paying her more but I know she is lending money to others and I just can't depend on her to show up consistently. My husband is at his wits end and we keeps saying it's only for a short while but I'm starting to resent her. I'm not really sure what if anything I can do at this point. I feel like I'm damned if i do damned if i don't. If I find daycare she'll be mad because she needs the money, if I don't it will probably destroy our relationship. Thoughts or advice?

  • Kieli
    Sep 23

    That sounds like a really tough situation, I’m so sorry to hear that. When my daughter was 7 weeks old my grandma watched her until about 9 months. I worked 16-40 hours a week, and every week was different (retail). I could see that it was really starting to take a toll on her, and we all lived together so she couldn’t not watch her for me. Finally when my husband and I moved out we asked other family members to watch her, and I used the excuse of “I could see it was just too hard for you”. Maybe a compromise? In the mornings she can watch your daughter, and then drop her off at a good staffed, well inspected, well known daycare and you can pick her up or even have your mom pick her up and still pay her some so that way she’s still getting a little bit of money. Just an idea, not sure if it will work out for your family, but I wish you the best of luck!

  • Sug
    Sep 23

    I went through this first-hand with my Dad watching our son 1-2 times a week since he was born. He's almost 2 now. I started to feel like our relationship was turning into a parent-babysitter relationship and my Dad would cancel at the last-minute due to other things he had going on, which caused me to have to cancel my own plans or rearrange meetings since I worked from home. We put our son in a 2's program part-time, but he'll be going full-time now since I'm no longer going to work from home. This will eliminate the need to use my Dad, which I'm looking forward to. Don't get me wrong - it was much more affordable... but, the inconsistency along with not respecting certain boundaries my husband and I set in place was making me less excited to be in my Dad's presence. Now, we'll just be using him for days when school is cancelled or if I'm unable to pick him up on time. I must say though that we may run into the same problem when Baby #2 is born since we aren't doing daycare and my mom has offered to help.

  • Melissa
    Sep 24

    I went through this before. Just get daycare a few days a week and let her have a few days. Or get daycare full time and use her for date nights (which it seems like you and your husband need). Daycare is essential for them learning to socialize.

  • Anonymous
    Sep 24

    Thank you so much for your empathy and suggestions. We've thought about part time daycare too. I'm hoping once she's talking more and is potty trained i'll be more comfortable with day care!

  • Anonymous
    Sep 24

    So glad to see I'm not the only one who has dealt with this situation! I was feeling ungrateful.

  • Kendall
    Sep 24

    I think 2 is a great age to start daycare! SO much fun and SO much to learn. Maybe just say you found a great program and you want your daughter to attend to get some social experience? Or maybe find daycare for 3 days a week and explain she will have 3 days off a week for her rest and appointments, yet still making some cash? In my humble opinion the care of my kid and my family come before any other relationships- even my mil. If she’s unreliable than you need to do what’s best for YOUR family.

  • Ashley
    Sep 26

    I would switch over to daycare. She's losing that warm fuzzy feeling that ideally should come with being a grandparent. I run my own daycare and watched my nieces full time for about a year, but because they were my nieces it surprisingly made every day more exhausting and then when we had family events I wasn't as excited to see them cause I never got a break. I had to let them go as difficult as it was. Plus as a general rule of thumb, doing business with friends and family is SO HARD. Someone's feelings always gets hurt. I'm sure your mom will start feeling better and you and your husband will have better peace of mind.

  • Jenny
    Sep 26

    Have you thought about enrolling your child in preschool instead of daycare? You could tell your mom you want your little one to start school, but could still use her when preschool ends for the day (the ones in my area are usually just a few hours a day).

  • Jenn
    Sep 27

    I'd look for a daycare/preschool and put her in at least part time. If you don't want hurt feelings, just say you want her to socialize with kids her age and get used to a school type atmosphere early on. We put our daughter in Montessori school at age 2, primarily for socialization and no one thinks twice about it when I explain it that way. Good luck :) hopefully everything will turn out well.

  • Holly
    Nov 02

    I have SO been there. With my MIL. And my ex-husband only made things worse because he refused to address, or even acknowledge, any of these same issues. So at least it sounds like your partner is allied with you!! Jumping forward four years: we’ve had a private nanny, a nanny share, an expensive private preschool, and crappy in-home daycare and let me tell you, they ALL suck in one way or another. Childcare is just so darn hard, no matter how you slice it. So I know it’s easier said than done but I would encourage you to try to focus on the positive and try to avoid the trap I fell into - allowing my MIL’s faults to become all I could focus on and thinking ANYthing had to be better than dealing with her for one minute longer. Truth be told, I’d give absolutely anything to have her loving, attentive, educational care back now that I’ve been to the other side and realized the grass is not that much greener, it’s just different. Sadly though, it’s not an option now that we moved several states away... I am not in any way trying to trivialize what you’re going through. And I know when I was in the thick of it, I would have rolled my eyes at advice like this and assumed no one understood how bad it was. But I hope you will find this somewhat encouraging and take solace in knowing other mamas have been there... and come out the other side :) :)

  • anonymous mom
    Nov 26

    Oh man. Just put her in daycare!!! My daughter has been in daycare since she was 12 weeks. Of course at first it was so sad but she is thriving in daycare now at 2 years old!!! Your daughter will learn so much and will love the stability and routine that a good daycare will implement. Good luck!!