Experience with Watching a Family Member's Baby

Updated on February 17, 2009
B.H. asks from Rexburg, ID
4 answers

I have been asked by my brother and sister-in-law to be the full-time babysitter for their son that is due in May. She will be taking a 3 month maternity leave and then going back to work full-time. I would watch him M-F about 8-5. I have a 15 month old that will be almost 2 by that time, but we are also trying to get pregnant right now, so hopefully I will be about 6 months along.

I have reservations. My mom said not to do it because I will be restricted and can't parent him my own way since it's someone else's baby and I will be stuck at home since I can't really drive with him (I'm sure they would say I could, but I personally wouldn't feel comfortable doing it).

I'm just nervous that he might be a cranky baby, also how do I go to Dr.'s appts when I have him to care for? What if I don't like it or it's too hard? My husband doesn't think it's a big deal and says "Well you're just home all day anyway". It would pay for our rent every month, so he's looking at all the benefits of it. I get along with my sister-in-law really well and they are really easy going, so I don't think that would be a problem.

Also, I will hopefully be expecting baby #2 a couple months after I start watching him and my husband and brother-in-law don't think it's a big deal, I can just watch all 3. My brother-in-law said "don't you want to have 5 kids anyway?" Well, I wasn't going to have them 6 months apart though.

I would at least need to take time off to get situated with my own baby, but I don't think it's even possible to try to tend to a 2 year old, 9 month old, and 3 month old & exclusively breast-feed the new baby.

I would like advice from you moms who have done it or have been in a situation like this. I want to make it work because my husband really wants me to and it would really help out my brother and sister in law, but I want to be practical and not rush into it either. It's like agreeing to a full-time job.


Oh, and I thought it was really hard caring for our son when he was little, but my husband thought it was easy, so I think he just has a different idea of what it's like to truly be the main care-giver for an infant.

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answers from Denver on

** I have to disagree with Kate P, on her take it may be a problem for your children! How dare she accuse your sister in law of ABANDONING her child! Wow she must be so lucky to have oodles of money and never have to worry about working! Some people especially moms HAVE NO CHOICE or has she never watched the news! She obviously has never done this and maybe is in such great financial standing she has nothing to worry about in this economy. However I do it and have for several years. It takes nothing away from your own children! It adds income to your family without you having to go to work outside of your home and your children be in daycare. I suggest unless she has some proof or experience she shouldn't give out advice like that. My children have benefitted greatly with the socialization and learning to share and also it will help your son get adjusted to sharing your attention when the new baby comes! Please take heed with people who have reasonable advice based on experience.

I do home child care and have since my son was 2, he is now 4 1/2 and I will have to go back to fulltime employment next year. It has been a blessing to have been home and finding the great families I have to work with.
I can say that from a standpoint of it being a family member, sit down and discuss ALL concerns, even get it down on paper so there is no confusion.
You need to establish your rules are yours, though with a baby that is not an issue. Most 3 mos old sleep A LOT, so it is mainly making sure he is happy, clean, well fed and gets her naps with lot's of love and snuggles.
Get their schedule for naps, meals in sync so it isn't really a big added stress. If the baby sleeps at a particular time in the afternoon, put your son down at that same time. Then you get a few hours to regroup and clean up.
I would tell them you want to get pregnant and if you do that you will need time off, they should totally understand that. Since it hasn't happened yet, just make sure they are aware when it does.
Voice your concerns as you have here on this site to them.

When I first starting doing this I had a kindergartener, watched an 18 mos old, my two year old and another three year old part time. It works fine, it is great for your child to learn to share "you" (great prepping for a new baby) then to learn sharing toys and just interacting as his cousin gets older. I can say my doing it allowed my son to really grow in a peer situation big time.
It is good money, if you are good with kids then to be honest I think you are over thinking it.

It is a committment, it is you really looking after another child as if he were your own. That is a must. I remind myself daily how I would want my son or daughter treated at some care givers home. I keep things structured so everyone has the expectations of what is going to happen. They know my house rules and I reviewed all of that the parents beforehand, even about how I do time outs.
If you can do that and talk to your brother about any concerns, schedules, expectations then I see no problem.



answers from Casper on

Watching a family member can be a little more tricky than watching someone elses baby. They tend to be a little more sensitive than others. You also have to associate with them in more places than with someone else, so if feelings are hurt then it carries over. I agree with the other poster that you need to sit down with everyone involved, your husband included and go over rules and expectations that you all have. Make sure that things are in writing and you all agree on price, how often that sort of thing, because then if a disagreement comes up you can show the "contract" and tell them that they agreed to it from the beginning. I have 6 children of my own and have also had other children in my home for about 6 yrs now. I feel that if the children are close in age to yours it is a practical way to socialize them without having to leave your own home. What better way to show an only child how to share---I have had some of those children in my home too. It does take a lot of work and if you are unsure, then do it as a trial. I have watched children and been pregnant too and just told the parents of those children that I wouldn't be watching their children from about my 34 week mark until after the baby was born and then we would discuss when their children could come back. You just need to be sure that this is what you want and can handle.....if not don't be afraid to say no. Good luck



answers from Denver on

I was in a similar situation as you- my son was almost 1-1/2 and I was pregnant with my daughter when I started watching my infant nephew, although in my case it was 3 full days per week. It was challenging, and I did end up stopping when I had my 2nd. My main advice to you would be that if you do it, you might see if they will agree to try it out on a trial basis as you can't know how it will be without trying it 1st, making sure to give them ample time to find someone else if it doesn't work. They may not be willing to do this, but you have obviously a number of reservations that are valid. If they aren't willing to try it this way, it may be best to say 'no' so you won't feel stuck or as if you're letting them down if you weren't happy. Taking care of 3 very little ones would be TOUGH! Good luck with your decision!



answers from Denver on

If you are absolutely sure that you do not want to do it, I would stick to your guns. There are plenty of other child care options that they can use. You know how hard it is to be a mom.

If you do want to do it or at least want to try, you should still build a way for you to get out if it does not work for you. Either let them know that you will give them a 2 to 4 week notice or let them know that you will only work until a month before your due date or something that works for your sanity. That way, they will have enough time to figure out another option if they need it.

Whatever you decide, I would get it in writing. It is a full time job so you will want to make sure it feels fair to you. Some things you probably have thought about are how and when you'll get paid, what it will do to your taxes, etc. but have you thought about who takes the kid if it is sick (them or you) or who would cover for you if you became ill (them or your husband or a third party)? Will your husband be upset if he wants to go on vacation and you can't go with him because you have to work? Do you get any vacation/breaks? You really need to talk it through and think it through.

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