It's All Relative
It's All Relative
January 3, 2012

When you're pregnant, friends and relatives galore will likely offer up their babysitting services at some point and time. But when the kid shows up, many of those offers conveniently (well-not for you!) evaporate into thin air.

But once in a while, they do make good. Physical proximity not withstanding, some families understand that it takes a village to raise a child (sanely!), and are more than willing to carve out some time to pitch in to give you a well-deserved break. Other relatives see caring for your child as a special favor only worthy of a yearly sacrifice in schedule. Either way, if your friend or relative is ready, willing and physically capable, allowing them to baby-sit is a great way for them to bond with your child, and for you to score some much needed "you" or "couple" time.

Before your temporary exercise in liberation begins, it's important to establish clear lines of communication when it comes to the care of your child. So here are some helpful tips on making it a pleasant experience for everyone involved.

Be Clear
Outline your baby's routine clearly before you leave, as you would with any caregiver. Fill your relative in on your babies' habits and schedules, with detailed information about daily particulars like:

  • Nap/sleep schedules
  • Feeding times and menus
  • Playtime activities
  • TV or no TV?
  • Discipline

Be sure to leave behind a checklist they can reference and phone number in case they need to contact you.

If you feel comfortable enough to leave your child with a friend or relative, chances are you agree with their basic child rearing philosophies. But they still might have some suggestions, questions and concerns about your way of doing things. Make time to listen, and make it clear that you can be contacted with any questions at any time.


Differences of Opinion

If you find yourself at odds with your relatives' childcare tactics, put on kid gloves.  It is your child, and you do have the right to have things done your way, but small issues that don't wreak too much havoc, like slight deviations from schedule (an earlier lunch, a delayed nap or bedtime), aren't worth jeopardizing your relationship.

Show Your Appreciation
For first time caregivers, bring home a goody (cookies, some flowers) or small token of appreciation to show your appreciation for getting a few hours off for free. You'll be more likely to receive a follow up offer!

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