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Pros and Cons of using a relative for childcare

Pros and cons of using a relative for childcare

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If you have a relative who is able and willing to look after your child while you are out at work, you may be trying to figure out whether or not it’s a good idea. To help you make your decision, The Working Parent has come up with some of the pros and cons of such an arrangement.



Your child will probably already be familiar with the person who will be caring for them. This means you’ll need little in the way of settling in sessions and you can go to work safe in the knowledge that your child is being looked after by someone who knows them well and that they feel comfortable with. While childminders and nursery workers may often grow fond of children, with a relative you know your offspring will be in a loving environment right from the start.


Professional childcare fees can be eye-wateringly expensive, often to the point that the vast majority of a salary can be eaten up by them. Of course, you may wish to offer your relative some form of payment or other compensation but this probably won’t end up being anywhere near the amount of cash you’d shell out for nurseries or childminders.


Presuming you’re not leaving your child with a relative they haven’t yet spent much time with, they will be in comforting surrounding either in their own home or that of your relative. This will help them deal with the transition of you going back to work. Unless your relative looks after other children too, your child will be receiving one-to-one attention for most of the day. Even if other children are in the house, there will probably be fewer than there would be in other childcare options.


Different parenting styles

With a nursery or childminder you can lay out your parenting style and reasonably expect that your guidelines will be followed. However, relatives might have their own ideas about bringing up children and be less likely to budge. Differences of opinion on issues such as discipline, naps or even how many sweet treats are acceptable in one day, can lead to strained relationships as well as your child becoming confused.


Relatives may well have brought up their own children already and although they may have experience in dealing with children, they won’t have had the same level as training (and probably not as recently) as professional carers. As well as struggling with things like potty training or thinking up creative ideas to keep your child entertained, relatives are less likely to be fully trained in first aid for children.

Pros and cons of using a  relative for childcare

Energy levels

Most grandparents love to look after their grandchildren but, for some, energy levels become lower as they get older. They may be perfectly capable of looking after a baby but become exhausted during the toddler years. Also, if you have another baby they might find looking after both children a bit too much to cope with.


Childminders and nurseries are a great way for children to socialise with their peers. From the age of around two, children can get a lot from playing with and being around other children learning to share and make friends. A relative looking after only one child may not be able to provide the same opportunity.

At the end of the day there is no one size fits all solution. Each family is different and while some kids may get on really well at nursery, others will thrive being looked after by a relative.



About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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