Grandma Daycare

Before I was even officially pregnant my sister had volunteered herself to be our “nanny” so I never looked into any daycare. For whatever reason though, she changed her mind. My stress went through the roof wondering what I was going to do.

The thought of touring, interviewing, comparing prices and working day care into our budget was giving me a lot of anxiety. My husband suggested that his mother could watch her. She was recently retired, so we knew she was available, but I was hesitant not only because I felt it was a huge imposition but because of her overall demeanor. She is a tough, no nonsense woman.

She was impatient and while loving, not affectionate and warm. I wasn’t sure that was how I wanted my baby raised. Even though my husband and I would officially raise her, she would spend a great deal of time with her grandma and absorb all of her mannerisms. I was honestly too overwhelmed at the prospect of searching for an alternate arrangement, so we decided we would try it out and go from there.

I was home with my daughter for four weeks, my husband for eight and she was in a temporary daycare at my husband’s work for another four weeks. So my mother in law didn’t start watching her until she was about four months old. By that time I was more comfortable with “leaving” her.

I know that sounds silly since she had been in a daycare, but the daycare was in my husband’s building and he visited her on his breaks and lunch, so it felt “safe” to me. I still wasn’t sure if my mother in law was going to respect my wishes or not. She kept saying that she was going to do “what she knew was right” from her experience raising three children, which was the total opposite of what I wanted.

In the first few weeks, she did do what she wanted, disregarding my instructions and advice based on what I had found to work for my daughter. She assumed I got these “cockamamie” ideas, such as breastfeeding, swaddling, and keeping her on a schedule, from some book or doctor.

I found myself pushing so hard at work to finish early so I could get back to her. No easy feat when you’re taking multiple breaks a day to pump milk. After finding that what “she knew” didn’t work for the baby, she started listening to me more and all of the sudden all of our days were much more harmonious. The period of adjustment was definitely rough, but we worked out our kinks and it’s all smooth sailing now.

We alternate between our house and hers based on her schedule. There are benefits to both. At both houses, she has full access to kitchens so I don’t have to worry about packing my daughter a lunch that will hold up in an insulated bag all day. I send snacks and milk that can be refrigerated and even ingredients for a meal that I can ask my mother in law to cook.

Sometimes she’ll just cook her something herself which is fine with me, but I like that she’s eating real food. At our house, my daughter is comfortable, has all of her stuff and we don’t have to get up early to commute. At grandma’s house, she gets to see her aunt and cousin, has a bigger yard to play in, and I get to come home and relax ALONE for an hour or so before I leave to pick her up.

There are also downsides to both. At our house, while my daughter naps, my mother in law can’t restrain herself from cleaning my house. I know, “poor me”, but I’m semi-neurotic when it comes to people touching my stuff, especially my clothes and dishes. I thank her obviously, but then I redo them after she leaves.

I also feel as if she’s implying I can’t do it myself. Commuting to her house adds two total hours to my day, 60 miles and a quarter tank of gas. Small price to pay for “free” childcare, but we chose our home specifically to avoid traffic and long commutes. Traffic is stressful!

We really do have a cherry setup though. My daughter gets to spend quality time with her grandmother all day, we save the massive expense of childcare, she doesn’t get sick as often as when she was in daycare and my daughter has brought out the softer side in my mother in law. She is completely smitten with her.

My mother in law often calls after just a few hours to see how she’s doing, and multiple times on the weekends. When she sees her on Monday mornings, it’s a big dramatic affair as if she hasn’t seen her in months, and my daughter loves every second of it. Grandma is nice and soft for cuddling, she makes her special foods, lets her watch cartoons and loves to take her for walks.

She is a completely different person around my baby and everyone can see it. Some are even a little jealous. You see, my daughter is the youngest of her four grandchildren. She never spent as much time with them as she does with my daughter, but she was working then, sometimes two jobs. So my brother and sister in law feel it’s unfair they never got to utilize her, and the second youngest grandchild sometimes feels “less loved” by her grandma.

I know that this bothers my mother in law, but she knows that had she been able she would have gladly done the same for them, and there’s nothing she can do about it now. Having her watch my little one has made us closer as well. We always had a good relationship but we now share so much more in that we both love my daughter immensely and we both know her better than anyone.

We always find ourselves in conversations about what she’s been doing, what we should go out and do with her based on her likes, how much she’s grown and we still occasionally argue about what’s better for her. But it’s all out of love.

She is happy to keep her late if we have something we want to do, which is not often but nice to have available. She is also happy to watch her on weekends for date nights, however I feel that’s too much. I want her to enjoy her time off because as much as she loves her, I know that she is tired at the end of the week. So for weekends we have a young girl who babysits for us.

Guest Mama Debbie is the mother of one adorable daughter, A. She’s a full time working mom who tries to squeeze in as much quality time as possible. She loves all things food related, to take long drives alone, read when she gets the chance, and to relax at the end of the night with her husband on the couch.

Grandma Daycare

5 Responses to Grandma Daycare

  1. I have been wondering about this since my little one was born, since now both of my in-laws are on disability and not working. My one concern would be socializing my daughter- do you have any issues with that at all?

  2. What an awesome set up you guys have! I’d love to have that situation- your little girl is really lucky to have such a loving and caring grandmother as well.

  3. Such a wonderful post, thank you for sharing. For the first year and a half of my son’s life, my MIL was also our daycare provider. So I can totally understand a lot of the early bumps in the road when your MIL wanted to do what worked for her kids and not necessarily what you had already established and working for your little one. I’m so glad you have been able to make peace with the situation and enjoy it.

  4. Jessica S., socialization is a constant worry of mine. I go to every playdate I can and arrange many as well. We frequent a duck pond in our neighborhood and while the kids she sees are always different she gets to play with them and get used to the idea. Also, some days my mother in law will take her to her sister’s house who also watches her own grandchildren and she plays with them while there. it’s definitely not as consistent as I’d like but she’s becoming more and more social everyday.

  5. Growing up my grandma was my daycare. I was the oldest of the grandchildren (13 in total!) and was so fortunate to have that time with her. My aunt was still in HS and raced home everyday to give me my afternoon bottle too. This is definitely giving her something special with her grandma. :)

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