Family Members As Babysitters: Pros and Cons

By Ashley Paskill on March 17, 2022

Looking for a babysitter can seem like a daunting task. Knowing where to look and who to hire is overwhelming, especially with so many options out there. Many people decide to have family members be a babysitter. This, however, has several pros and cons to consider.

Con: lack of certifications

When you are looking for a babysitter, those who are currently working as babysitters tend to have various certifications, including CPR and first aid. However, if you ask a family member to babysit, they may not have the certifications you feel are important. Consider asking the family member if they at least have experience in childcare. If the family member you are consider to babysit has or had children, they have the experience and expertise to take care of your kids.

Pro: cost-effective

Family members may be willing to babysit for free or at a lower cost than non-family members. Babysitters may charge $12 to $16 an hour, and may increase based on how many kids you have and other factors. Family members may be more willing to watch your kids for free or at a reduced cost. It is likely that your family member will want to spend time with your child and would be willing to do so for free.

Con: may build resentment

If you are constantly calling the same family member or expect the family member to babysit, they may become resentful and feel like they are being taken advantage of. Even though it is more convenient to call a family member who you know will be available, if you call on them too often, they may feel like they are being taken advantage and tensions may arise. On your end, you may feel like they are judging you for your parenting style, which will leave you feeling upset when all is said and done. Your family member may have their own opinions about how you should parent your children, and they may be more willing to try to correct you since you are family.

Pro: familiarity

One of the biggest pros of having a family member be your babysitter is that they already know your kid(s). Bringing in a whole new person can be overwhelming for your kids and you may worry about how they truly are. With a family member, they are someone you know and trust, and this will give you a peace of mind when they are babysitting. From the perspective of the family member, they know the child(ren) so they know how your children are and how to best work with them.

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Con: low engagement

When you hire someone to babysit, they know that they are there to babysit. However, your family member may be less engaged with your kids because they feel comfortable and do are not being paid. A paid babysitter will likely be less likely to sit around and play on their phone or watch TV. A babysitter will be more likely to play with your kids than a family member who is watching your kids for free. If you are looking for someone to be more engaged with your kids, paying a babysitter may be your best bet.

Pro: good communication

When you have a family member babysit your kids, they likely know exactly how much communication you need to have peace of mind that all is well with your kids. They also know exactly how to reach you if something comes up and when things escalate to the point of being in contact with you. A babysitter may have constant questions, especially if it is their first time watching your kids, so they may contact you more frequently. This means they care, but it may also disrupt they plans you are doing. Your family member may know other family members to contact with questions before reaching out to you, and they already have these contacts available.

Con: harder to fire

When you bring in a babysitter, you have an expectation of how they will do the job, and if they do not meet the standard you have, you can find a new sitter. However, with family members, that is a little bit trickier. A family member may have their own ideas for what to do while babysitting, and if you correct them, resentment and tension may escalate. If you do not call them to watch your kids, they may wonder what is going on, leaving you in the awkward position of having to explain. Things may become more awkward if you ask a different family member to babysit. One way to avoid this is just to find an alternative and not have a family member babysit. Consider if it is worth the potential drama or not.

Having a family member babysit your kids may seem like a great idea, and it can be. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons so you can figure out what is best for your and your kids.

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