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The Na Na Dilemma

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The Na Na Dilemma
When using Grandma as a full time babysitter, follow these simple rules to avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

My Mom was already a amazing grandmother to her four other grandkids and every one of them always looks forward to time with their Na Na. However, when I had my first child at age thirty-eight and needed regular daycare, my Mom offered to watch my baby girl, anytime I needed. I learned, however, that anytime meant not every day because Na Na needed her down time too. Use these five simple guidelines to arrange babysitting needs with family, in order to avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

1) Ask in advance.
Give Grandma enough time to plan her week out.
Even if you know that your Mom keeps a spotless house and has free time, do not assume she will be at your beckon call to watch the kids. Mom has a life and if she chooses to spend it watching QVC or running errands, it is her prerogative, she’s earned her time. Respect that time and grandma will be more receptive to your call when you need help.

2) Offer Compensation.
I know that childcare is expensive and if I could afford the alternative, I would. Hey, if one of us could afford to stay home, this would be an option, too; but the economy is still tough and it takes two incomes plus some just to make ends meet. Offer Grandma some pay and when she refuses and gushes that watching the grandkids is pay enough, know she's being nice and up the ante.

*Have lunch delivered.
Perhaps not every day, but once a week, will take the load off.

*Offer Maid Service.
If your Mom is anything like mine, she wouldn’t allow a cleaning lady in her house, ever. Ask anyway, if once a month, someone can come in to do her deep cleaning. Remember, it’s still less than childcare.

*Leave money.
Whether grandma turns around and spends it on the kids, leaving some money for the day shows that you value her time.

3) Let Grandma set the boundaries.
Whether she watches them at her house or yours, the kids will be under grandma’s rules. Make sure you are ok with grandma’s rules and if not, then address those issues before they become big misunderstandings.

4) Don’t take advantage. Don’t assume.
Grandma is not a babysitter at your disposal. So don’t drop the kids off, thinking you can run to get your nails done for an hour. It’s rude and See Rule #1. Daily tasks need to be done on your own time and if you are unable to multitask, find a responsible high school girl in your neighborhood that is looking to make some extra money and keep her number on file for those last minute trips to the market or the dire mani/pedi.

5) Avoid Na Na burn-out.
There is nothing worse than finding out, that while out of town on work, hubby decides to not follow Rule #1 or #4 and you come back only to find a burnt out Na Na. Again, if your mom is anything like mine she has a hard time with the word “No”, but is very quick to build up resentment. Stop hurt feelings in their tracks and inform hubby that if the days he needs help are not the regularly scheduled days, then he needs to ask, find alternative help or learn to multitask better.

Following these rules will certainly help avoid family snafus. Be sure to engage Grandma in a conversation and find out what she would find helpful. Planning ahead and juggling your time is always a mother’s task and remember that your Mom did it once before too and most likely did it without the help you are now receiving. Of course, it was a different time then, but time is a valuable commodity these days. Respect the fact that your Mom has earned her free time and she will certainly be more receptive to helping you out.

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