How To Set Babysitting Ground Rules As A Grandparent


There’s an old saying about grandkids that goes something like this: “It’s great to see them come and great to see them go.” I’ve heard many versions of this depending on the attitude or weariness of the speaker but one’s thing’s for sure– we don’t want to feel like the babysitter.

feel more like babysitter than grandparent

I babysat with one of my granddaughters for nearly two years. She was just a few months old when we began. I loved it! I loved all the baby things in the house and our family dog even perked up with her around. There came a time, due to my personal limitations, when I could no longer sit with her every day. I missed her terribly and yet I knew it was beneficial for her to enjoy time with one of her aunts.

I think most of us would sit with our grands if we’re able and healthy boundaries were understood. However, as grandparents, we tend to slip right into the position of babysitter without communicating our needs and desires.

It may seem stressful to initiate such a conversation but it will keep everyone in harmony without silent hurts and anger.

  • Determine a specified length of time you’ll babysit. We can also set a trial period.
  • Share a list of items you need your son or daughter to provide.
  • List the things you will and will not do. You’ll stroll your grand around the neighborhood but not take him or her to the doctor.
  • Set regular drop-off and pick times. An open-ended day will hit hard when you’re exhausted or want to leave the house.
  • Discuss and agree upon a method of discipline.

If these topics seem sticky for everyone, it may be best to leave the babysitting to someone outside the family. That way, you can keep your grandparent status without negative feelings on anyone’s part.

Occasional Babysitter– Forever Grandparent

Feel more like babysitter than grandparent

Occasional babysitting usually creates less stress and strain and keeps that “newness” alive. Your grandkids can’t wait to see you and those feelings are mutual.

If you volunteer to keep your grands for the evening, that sends a signal of willingness, yet still on your terms. 

Finally, no one wants to be taken advantage of. If you’re already in a babysitting situation and things are getting sour, speak up as soon as possible. A calm discussion and new sitter may be in order.

Then you can enjoy your role as grandparent once more. And truly we do love them to see them come and yes, to see them go. Not because we don’t thrill to spend time with them but because we aren’t getting any younger and they belong to their parents.