Finding appropriate childcare can often be a tricky task. So, whether it’s for money reasons, for ease or for trust, many families turn to grandparents or other relatives. And while some family members can be great nannies, it’s not always a perfect solution. Issues, such as differing child care philosophies, can arise.
Here are five things to consider when a family member is your nanny.
1. Rules and expectations
Grandmas are used to spoiling children on a regular basis and may have completely different ideas about how to raise them. But a regular nanny needs to enforce your discipline and behaviour rules. Is your family member okay with that? Children need consistency and authority.
To avoid this issue, make sure you talk it through. Rules should be jointly agreed upon. Sleeping, eating and going to the toilet are all important routines, and so it is much easier if you and the family member agree and are doing the same thing.
With consistent rules in place, carers and parents can agree on cohesive and collaborative ways to raise children.
Whether it’s a family member caring for your child or a professional nanny, you need to come up with a schedule and stick to it. Just because your sister is the one caring for your child, you shouldn’t abuse this big favor by coming home late or changing the days/times at the last minute. At the same time, your sister should respect your agreement and schedule too.
Decide in advance how often and on what days the family member wants to work. Talk about flexibility: what happens if you need to work late or leave early? What will happen if your relative gets sick? After a schedule has been created, everyone should respect it.
3. Taxes and working tax credit
Some relatives will not ask for any money for looking after your child. However, if you do chose to give them money (and this is a regular payment rather than a gift), then they are legally your employee. This means that they may be liable to tax – depending on their income. For further advice on tax implications contact Canada Revenue Agency.
If you have an income below a certain threshold, you may qualify for working tax credit to help with the costs of child care. However, you are ineligible if your child is being cared for by a partner or relative – unless your relative is a registered childminder and they care for your child outside your home. Make sure you bear this in mind!
4. Family gatherings
Relative carers are going to see the children at family gatherings. This raises the question of who should care for and discipline the child on these occasions. Talk to your relatives to avoid any awkwardness and so they know you’re in charge and they’re off duty. Make sure your child understands as well.
Put this question to rest by insisting that care giving duties and responsibilities end when the scheduled sitting time ends. With rules like these in place, there will be no ambiguity when a child sees his or her nanny/relative outside of care giving situations.
5. Payment and appreciation
Don’t forget to show your relative carer appreciation. Whether or not your family member/nanny requests monetary payment, it’s always good practice to show that you’re not taking that loved one for granted. Offer payment, but if it’s declined make sure to give things like extra-special holiday and birthday gifts. And don’t underestimate the power of a simple thank you on a regular basis.
In family care giving situations, remember to create space for dialogue, respect boundaries and build trust to ensure that you, your children and your family member carer maintain your relationships. If you get along well with your relatives, then they would generally be good carers for your children.
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