33 answers

Grandma Really Wants to Babysit: We're Not Ready

Hi Mom's;
I have a wonderful 7 1/2 mo. old that has never had a babysitter. She gets a lot of socialization we take her out to activities and to see people, play groups, etc. and she plays with others or will go to other people while we are still there with out any problems. We like it this way, we have talked a lot about when we will introduce babysitters and when we will be ready to leave her with someone other than us and decided it will be after she is a year old and has good verbal skills. We get plenty of alone, couple time when she is sleeping during naps or at night, so we are not in need of time without her.
So here is my dilemma my mother in law really really wants to babysit, and mentions it every time we talk to her. We've explained that we have no need for a babysitter at this time, that we are happy with the way things are right now, and when we are ready we will let her know. We've assured her it is not that we don't trust her and that we don't think she would do anything wrong we just don't use babysitters at this time. She gets very defensive and snidely comments that we are not letting her be a grandma and we are somehow damaging her relationship with her Grandaughter. By the way my husband is an only child so this is her first Grandbaby. We encourage them to come and see her, to come play with her, we take her to their house to play but somehow they think that we are keeping her from them because we won't let her babysit.
How do we get it across to her that we just flat out do not use babysitters and that it won't change just because she wants it to.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for you responses, we won't be letting her take the baby completely by herself; for a multitude of reasons. Not the least being her intense pestering to get rid of us which makes me worry. We will continue to let her play with our little girl at our house or their house while I get things done. We've been doing that where I will go clean the house while they play in the living room or I will get some scrapbooking done while they play. I just am not comfortable leaving her yet, I like the reassurance that if something were to happen to her I am here. After reading some of the posts I realize that we probably don't trust her, she doesn't agree with a lot of our parenting choices, and would probably undermine them if given a chance. They are really pushing solids and don't understand why we are introducing foods on a schedule (The 4 day wait rule the doctor recommends). I will continue to have my husband tell his mom No that she will be the top of our list when we are ready but it's just not at this time. And when she asks me I will be sure to acknowledge that Grandma is different then a babysitter and she is able to come and play with our daughter while I work around the house, every once in a while.

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It sounds like you know exactly how and what you want to say. But do understand that it is abnormal, and you are keeping them from bonding/forming a relationship. My mom waited 20 years from 1st grandchild to mine, and she and he have such a close bond. It is not like the bond with the parents, but so important in forming relationships. It doesn't mean that she gets the baby over night, but you should consider why it is you won't let her babysit, it goes beyond the need for one.

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It is a personal choice when you will be comfortable. And no it's not mandatory to get time away. Those are decisions you must make. For years we didn't have regular time away. Now we are able to get out more (our youngest is over a year). There are seasons for relationships and if you and your hubby are happy with the decision that's fine! Just keep saying that she will be the 'first person' to watch the baby when you are ready to go out, what a bleesing it is to have such a great grandma, etc. Also, maybe you could ask her to come help with the baby while you do a project around the house for and hour or so. Even if you don't really need her:)

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Hi P.,
I am going to be the "Other" side of the topic, becuase it appears everyone differs in their opinion. I think if you and your husband are okay in your relationship(alone or adult time comes in many forms/times) and have open discussion about how you are raising and caring for your child then your MIL will just have to wait!
There are plenty of people in the world who don't have sitters (becuase of whatever reason) and their children are just fine and so is their marriage! You are giving your MIL time with the Grandchild so they are forming a relationship. You don't have to be without your parents to play with your grandparents. You daughter is learning that her parents are there for her and will, when the time is right, learn others can care for her too, when she is older and can understand better!
Just becuase your MIL thinks you aren't being fair doesn't mean you should change your ways. Stick to your guns! Enjoy your family in a way that makes your child, your husband and yourself happy and comfortable. When you are happy and comfortable at home, everything else is easier!
Best Wishes to you all!

2 moms found this helpful

I think you're being very rigid. You say you flat out don't use babysitters. I don't consider a grandma a babysitter really. A grandma is a grandma -- someone who loves your child almost as much as you do! What a blessing that you have a grandparent who wants to care for your little one and be involved in her life! I would take her up on the offer for yourselves, and for her. I don't know how you feel about her and if there are issues, but if there aren't, what's the harm in letting her have a little time with her granddaughter? I am not a grandma yet -- I have a 21-year-old and 11-year-old -- but my older daughter's friend had a baby recently. Although she's not my granddaughter, I am close to her family and would love to care for her for a little while just because I love babies, and adore her! I really don't see the harm in getting out once in awhile and giving grandma some bonding time. It sounds like a win-win situation to me. Do it while you can -- and let your baby get to know her grandma. When she's a year old, if you haven't let her spend any time with anyone else alone, you will have a very difficult time detatching her from you. The more people who love her the better!

1 mom found this helpful

This is kind of a different response to your post, just bear with me. When I read your post, you & your husband's decision on no babysitters until your baby is one, is exactly the way I used to think as well. I have a 20 mos. old & unfortunately she was never able to spend time with my MIL, my MIL died suddenly 2 mos. before my daughter was born. It was very unforseen & tragic. From day one when my daughter was born, my FIL also wanted to babysit my daughter all the time. I felt really bad about not letting him, my husband & I were just not ready to let someone else watch her, even though he was quite capable. We too decided to wait until she was one. She turned 1 in Oct. 08, and my FIL was diagnosed in the final stages of cancer not long after her birthday. He passed away in April of this year. He was too sick to be able to spend much time with his grand-daughter. My point in telling you all this, life is short. If you have a loving MIL that wants to spend time with your baby, in her home & just shower your baby with love & attention a Grandma can give, I say let her. I wish I would have let my FIL babysit when he was able too, and I can never change that. Good luck in your decision, and cherish those Grandma's & Grandpa's, you are so very lucky to have them.

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How 'bout this....invite her over, and then run one or two (quick) errands. That way, she is babysitting and you don't have to worry about her messing up feeding/napping/bath times (and you're getting an errand out of the way). When you are thru w/your errands, you come back home and "visit" w/her a bit.

1 mom found this helpful

Hah! My SIL was like this (we do not get along, btw...yeah right like I'm going to let someone I don't trust watch my kid).

Don't give in if you're not ready. It really is your call. And, like Courtney said she really isn't behaving appropriately for a 50-60-70-whatever year old by guilting and badgering you! Let her sulk and pout; it's not your problem. It's hers.

We don't mind having grandma come and babysit but one time she brought her daughter (my SIL) who, even after we told her no, totally went against our wishes and fed our 15 month old McDonalds and then proudly proclaimed, upon our return, how she felt the need to ignore our instructions and "treat him to the real world". My husband, God love him, took care of the whole situation followed by "And that's why even though you ask us all the time to babysit we never have called you."

Not all family members are like this, but unfortunately there are a ton of grandparents and extended family members who are just DYING to get their turn alone with the baby and give them treats, let them stay up later than their bedtime, and do things you wouldn't allow. I'm not saying this is how your MIL is, but if you're not ready, stand firm and wait until you are - it's your child, your choice!

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You may never get it across to her because she wants to babysit so badly that she is not really hearing what you are saying. We never used a sitter til our son was quite old because we took him every where with us too. We enjoyed having him with us.
She is your child and you can do what ever you feel is best but have you ever thought of just doing a date night where you and your husband go see a movie or even and afternoon outing just so her Grandmother can babysit just the one time. It is totally different for a Grandmother to babysit, then to just coming over and playing with their Granddaughter while you sit there and watch. I think she wants some alone time with her. But if you are not ready than maybe your husband needs to just tell his mother that this is bothering you to be asked all the time. That the 2 of you are not ready to leave your daughter with a sitter yet and when you are ready she will be the first one called.

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I really do see both sides of this, you are the parent and this is your call but at the same time I don't see what the big deal is. Not that it's taking away from her being a grandparent but I'm sure she had this vision of becoming a grandma and babysitting, just like you had visions of what you wanted to do when you became a mother. It sounds like a trust thing to me (although it may not be, you may just be very protective of your daughter) which is why your mother in law is probably getting so defensive and using guilt, which is not very nice of her.

This is the thought that keeps running through my head. What if something happened to where you HAVE to leave your daughter with someone else. God forbid it does, but it is possible, if someone got hurt or something. If she's never had a babysitter she may not react well to one, especially in a stressful situation like that.

I'm not sure what your true reasons are, but I would weigh every possibly thing out and then decide. If you are still set on this decision then keep firm.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi P.!

Just some things to think about...........
1) It is rare to find a MIL and DIL who agree on how to raise a child.
2)A MIL will never do things your way
3)You will probably be irritated by things she does/doesn't do
Pick you battles, let things go and set FIRM but kind limits with her. This happens to all of us!!!!!!

1) My Granmda died two years ago at the age of 94. Looking back we were not close. As an adult I could see her imperfections and that she probably was a better grandparent then parent. As a child, none of that mattered. What mattered is that she babysat me so my parents could go to church and let us eat cereal infront of the TV..that when I was sick at school she would come get me and sit me on the couch to watch cartoons all day..she did little things that made me feel special that my mom couldn't do. Just cause it was Grandma. No matter what my folks/aunts/uncles thought of her, the relationship was perfect in my head and did the job to make me feel special. It was OUR relationship.

My Grandma got to be a great-grandma for five years before she passed. What an honor to see the next generation!!!! I think about that now as my last will turn one (boohoo) and I think that the next time I am in a nursery, a maternity ward, buying newborn clothes, holding somebody so close....will be a long, long time. And that makes me so sad, and to think to have to wait 15, 20, 30 years to meet the next family member. Think of how your daughter makes you feel and just think of having to wait for that.

If she is inappropriate or hurtful or doing more then being a spoiling Grandma then put your foot down now!! But if there is none of that, let your daughter start the relationship with her Grandma without you interferring. An hour is not long for them to spend together alone.

Diane G., your story touched my heart!

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You will not like my response, but I think you need to let go! It is GOOD for your child to learn the world without you for a bit. And time at home together is so different than time out to dinner/movie, etc. without your baby. I really don't see the harm in leaving her with a sitter for an hour as you go out to eat. It would probably be good for you to try and detach your death grip on your daughter. That being said ONLY if you actually trust the baby-sitter. Have your MIL come to your house and make it a short trip. If you don't trust her--that is a different story! This is just my opinion! I let my kids from early on and my husband and I and our kids LOVE when they stay at grandma and grandpa's house. My son begs me to stay out longer and he's 3! I think his positive attitude and comfortable attitude is because he has done it since he was an infant! Just my Opinion. There is nothing wrong with sitters and freedom!


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I am sure she just wants some time alone with the baby. Playing with the baby while mom and dad are around is not as much fun as actually babysitting the baby! I say go out for a quick dinner, and let her have her alone time with the baby. Remember that this is her baby too! That was thhe hardest thing for me to "get" when my first was born. My baby was also my husband's baby and both grandmas' baby. It does not sound like your mother in law will harm the baby. Babies can never get to much love. Studies have shown that kids greatly benefit from spending time and having strong relationships with their grandparents. She is not a "babysitter", she is your baby's grandma who deserves the right to care for her as well.

I agree with the other moms, unless there are some issues we don't know about, it would be a good idea to start having her watch your daughter for a small amount of time.

You do need to get your daughter used to having you not around. You also need to get your MIL used to what you want when she watches your child.

I would start with the errands. Leave her with Grandma while you go to the grocery store, etc.

You will need to go out with your husband alone. Training Grandma will help with this!

I think her feeling are really hurt and I can't say that I blame her. I would see it as not being trusted to watch the baby. She does need time to bond with her. Plus, if you wait until the baby is one, you can run into severe seperation anxiety and then you will be ready to go out but you won't. If grandma is capable, I don't think it could hurt to schedule a quick lunch date and let grandma babysit. You may even enjoy yourself!

I can understand your caution because she is your first and I can see that you adore her. It is natural to want to be protective and do what is best when it comes to her care and well being.

I do believe that you should start taking small steps to reach out to your MIL to help you. How lucky you are to have someone practically begging to help you out. If she lives within a reasonable distance and you trust her take the opportunity for short periods of time to allow her to babysit. Your MIL wants a relationship with her grandaughter so as long as she is responsible and there is no safety threat, please give her the opportunity.

Alone time is crucial for you both. Staying at home and relating to your spouse over naptime is not the same as date night etc...My husband and I differed on this issue. I was willing for my parents to babysit at an early age and he was opposed...Created many heated arguments.

Give it a shot...Good luck

Why don't you let Grandma watch her for a few hours so you can have a date night. I know you love your precious baby but it can really strengthen your marriage to have some "real" alone time. It sounds like it would also make Grandma really happy. 7 1/2 months is a long time to go without leaving her. You are going to run into some severe separation anxiety if something ever comes up and you have to leave her unexpectantly. Good luck and be glad you have someone willing to babysit!! There is nothing wrong with getting a little help.

When I first read the title, I thought maybe your baby was a newborn. But at 7.5 months, you should think about letting your MIL sit for you, even if it's for a couple of hours. Go out and do some shopping or get a manicure or haircut, something for yourself. I think it is every Grandma's wish to babysit a new grandchild. Keeping her away will damage your relationship, long term. Consider letting her babysit for short periods of time.

I had this exact same issue with my MIL. Not only did I not feel like leaving my daughter with a sitter, I didn't want to leave her with someone who I felt lacked good judgment. Just let her make the remarks, they don't hurt you unless you let them.
And now that we have three kids we have a standing date night...I still don't trust her judgment but it's nice to get out and I try to grandma proof the night. Good luck!

I'm jealous. I live 1000 miles west of one set of grandparents and 700 miles east of the other set (who recently spent 9 months in Ireland). I would LOVE to live that close to grandparents. You are so blessed to have them so close!

I have a friend who asked nearby grandparents to babysit and was given money to hire a sitter (she didn't need the money).

When my oldest was 1 and we visited Grandma, my mother had to get up with her and I had to hide out in the bedroom (and carefully run to the bathroom) so that they could get time, once she saw me, Grandma time was over. I wish we had been close enough for that bond to be stronger.

Why aren't you ready? What are you worried will happen?

The answer you'd probably rather hear:

If you really won't change your mind, then your husband needs to communicate with her (it's his mother) and possibly spend less time with her. If she is defensive and snide around your daughter, that's not a good vibe for her to be around.

Good luck.

I can tell it is your first...I was the same way. Looking back I wish I would have let my MIL watch our kids...now she is nearing 80 and it is just not a possiblity. I would let her watch her and understand that if your daughter would not let you watch her child, you would probably be insulted too. It is harder with the in laws than your own parents...just do not make any decisions you may regret!

Hi P.,

I know this is not the advise you really want but for my MIL we started going out for a movie or a walk or a glass of wine somewhere. (going out for not-to-expensive stuff) so that she could babysit for an hour or so. It helped our relationship alot. I understand that it is nice to be able to talk to her grandchild without everyone watching her every move. I think it is her chance to pass on her little words of wisdom to be grandbaby in her own way.

What I felt weird about what that the MIL felt she had some claim over our child. In the end, I think I was thinking about it too much. She really just needs a little one on one time. Good luck whatever you decide, your decision will be right for you. V.

So, has anyone followed up with this thread. Did the kids turn out to be well adjusted around others as they got older... or did they freak out when they spent time with new people. How about at 2, 3 or 4 yrs old...To me, its not about the parent...what are you denying the grand kids and why are you denying them? Is it your own insecurity? If you dont trust yourself, there is no way you would trust anyone else...You can't hold on to the kids forever...you have to trust in them and your family. After all your parents, the MIL's and FIL's raised happy well adjusted loving people that you married. They can't be all that bad. I grew up on a very small farm right next door to my grandparents and cherish all the face time we got to spend with each other. We had overnights on weekends from the get go, so my parents could have alone time and nurture their own relationship. If you don't spend more than an hour alone with your spouse you are truly missing out. Those of you that have been together longer can vouch for that. Intimacy (all kinds of it) is important to maintain so that you each feel valued as you did before you had children!... I was lucky learned all kinds of things from wonderful, active and hard working grandparents. thank you!

It sounds like you know exactly how and what you want to say. But do understand that it is abnormal, and you are keeping them from bonding/forming a relationship. My mom waited 20 years from 1st grandchild to mine, and she and he have such a close bond. It is not like the bond with the parents, but so important in forming relationships. It doesn't mean that she gets the baby over night, but you should consider why it is you won't let her babysit, it goes beyond the need for one.

Just let her watch this precious little girl! Like many other posts, let it be just while you grocery shop or run errands. She wants to feel needed as well as wants some of her own bonding time. Why ruin this relationship and hurt her feelings when it's so easily done? You're going to have so many more bigger problems down the road-this one is easily fixed and will benefit your little one too! It's her GRANDMA-not a babysitter!!

I have no problem with feeling like you don't want to use babysitters until a certain point in time, for whatever reasons you have, but I can see grandma's point in that perhaps she feels that you do not trust her to spend time alone with your child. And this is probably hurtful to her. She does not consider herself a "sitter", but a grandma- for the first time. This is a big moment in the life of a woman, a milestone for her, too.

I am sorry that she is using hurtful, snide comments, but perhaps she feels like you are not hearing her, or understanding her request- not as a sitter, but as a grandparent who wants more time to bond with her granddaughter. And it is different bonding when the parents are right there, especially if your daughter is especially close with you. I can see that she might want solo time to make a connection, not to spoil or undermine, but to just have some quiet time alone getting to know your daughter.

I think you could be outside gardening or going for a 20-minute walk, to start. This may be very challenging for you at first, it is hard for a parent to leave a child in the care of another, but I think it is a good thing for your daughter and her granny!

It doesn't mean you have to book a sitter or a family member regularly, but give grandma a chance. If it doesn't work, or she undermines you, then wait a little longer to try again- after you share with her what concerns you have. She may not get everything right the first time- she is new to being a grandma- but give her a chance to succeed.

I agree with the suggestion to have grandma watch the baby while you garden, work around the house, etc. You have a good problem. My MIL lives 20 minutes away and won't babysit or is never available, where as my mother will drop what she's doing but lives 4 hours away.

Keep stating your case with her... keep in mind that she's as excited about being a grandma as you are about being a mom.

This is really a tough call. On the one hand, the woman gave you your husband, obviously she needs to be honored. On the other hand, she's using guilt to try and get her way, rather like a large child.

Having had my share of grand-parental issues throughout our marriage, I'd truely say pick your battles. Again, while speaking out of both sides of my mouth, establish you're the mommy this time around, so she needs to please respect your need to be with your own daughter. On the other hand, if your daughter will not be harmed by your in-laws, there's no harm in going out to run some errands or have a drink while your inlaws are tending to her at your home.

Sometimes it's give and take, but make sure you make it clear it's not a trust issue, you're just not ready to leave her. If you say you're not using babysitters yet, that is a little impersonal, they're more than sitters, they're family. If you say I am not ready to leave him/her then that's your issue, not theirs. It's subtle, but important. Especially if you say something like "How could I not trust and love you, you gave me my husband, the father of my baby. It isn't about you or your abilities, it's about me and my attachment to my baby."

Take the fall, otherwise you'll NEVER, ever hear the end of it. lol. That way you get to have your way and spare their feelings. Get used to being the bad guy, you're a mom now! lol.

As your child grows, they'll be some fantastic allies! Causing hurt feelings in the beginning can make things difficult later. And yes, I speak from some serious experience here!

Good luck!

Boundaries are hard for some mothers. :) It might work to meet half way and she watches baby in the house why you're somewhere else in the house taking a bath, cleaning or enjoying some time doing something. She gets the one-on-one and you get peace and quiet.

Or make sure to use "I feel statements." Your husband's work probably has an EAP which provides free counseling sessions to help provide you with the tools to resolve the conflict. Better yet, your husband resolve it since it's his mother.

I would just continue telling her no. My mother in law does the same thing and is very pushy about it. When we have let her baby-sit we usually regret it as she does not respect our requests with feeding, bedtime, etc. Just consider what she is doing to you- making snide comments, badgering you ,etc. That is not appropriate behavior so do not reward her for it.

I can assure you that her not babysitting will NOT damage her relationship with your daughter! (Unless she lets it, of course.) Both my husband and I had long-distance Grandparents that we had little opportunity to see, and each of us were very, very emotionally close to them into our adulthood when they passed on.

There will come a time when you WANT to have her babysit, if you think she is able. I have been a SAHM for both of my children and, yet, the most important relationship that I need to nurture is my husband and mine.

You think your daughter is amazing and so does your mother-in-law. For that hour or two that you may leave with your husband to take a bike ride or go out to dinner, it would be a good thing to learn if she was capable and competent to handle your baby/her granddaughter. Having alone time with grandma may be a thrill to her - having you hovering over them during the time together, does take something away from the event. She's raised one great son and you happened to marry him. Don't call it babysitting - call it "alone time with Grandma" if the term "babysitting" is throwing you.

Doesn't sound like you really like your mother-in-law. There has to be more to it. If your issue is not about "trust", then, take a deep breath, hand her over and enjoy your husband. Don't feel guilty - I've known my husband for 30 years and I'm hopefully going 30 more - that relationship has to be nurtured also.

I agree with some of the other posts. You and your hubby really need to get out for a little while without the baby!! Trust me it's good for people to take a break once in a while! I know you said you want to wait til your daughter is 1 year old before having a babysitter. But at 1 year old they are already so aware of they're surroundings and they know who mommy and daddy are. I would just worry that mabye she'll have a problem going to a babysitter since she hasn't been exposed to that before.
My mom first babysat for my daughter when she was 3 weeks old so me and my husband could grab some dinner. It was great! She's 10 months old now and very well adjusted and loves to go by all the grandparents houses and we have no problems with attachment issues. So you might want to let go a little bit to avoid bigger issues later! Just my thoughts.
Ultimately do what's best for your family.


IMHO - I say first and foremost, trust your Mommy instincts. If you don't want her to sit THAT IS HER PROBLEM - don't make it yours. Your husband should be talking to his mom and tell her to back off! You "starting a fight" with her will have horrible consequences, even if it's just digging in your heels. She will blame you. He needs to step up and "be the man of the family" here and tell his Mom and IF and WHEN HE decides he needs her help, HE WILL ASK FOR IT. And that you are a very busy Mom and don't need her guilting you and hassling you about raising your child.

Secondarily to that, I think that if your daughter is home with you all the time, it is in your best interests to start getting her used to a sitter. Otherwise, you'll be creating a monster. You'll create a child who doesn't trust anyone but you and your husband and screams when you walk away. At this point, I think you owe it to yourself and your husband for a date night - not all night, just dinner at first. Then dinner and a movie. Then dinner and no agenda... No one doubts your daughter is fantastic and worth being with. No one is going to take care of your daughter like you. But all of you need to learn to walk away from each other and that it will all be ok. So with that said, find someone you trust - family or a sitter or another family (like you take our kid tonight and we'll take yours next Friday...leave your child while you go to dinner, let her have a "playdate", then pick her up). Believe me, I'm a mom of two, another on the way, we've dealt with the separation anxiety, it's awful - don't go there.

Best of luck. And make your husband stick up for his family.

I agree with several of the other responses - let the baby's grandma come sit while you (and your spouse) run out for 1-2 hours. Not only will you benefit, the baby will as well (this will make it so much easier in the future to leave her with caregivers when the separation anxiety becomes much more difficult.) I think you need to examine your fears, trust issues and the kind of worry/anxiety you may eventually be passing on to your small child. It will be fine! Life is too short as another responder mentioned. Grandparents are much more involved if they get to spend time with their grandchildren as infants. This is a good thing!

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