What Grandparent Sitters Want Parents to Know

Yes, We Want to Keep the Grandkids, But Keep Your Cell Phones On!

Some parents use grandparents as full-time child care providers. This list is not for them. This list is for those parents who occasionally drop off the grandkids for a few hours or a day or a night with the grandparents. Yes, we love being with our grandchildren, but there are a few things that grandparent sitters want parents to know. Co-operate with us, and we may plan to have the grandchildren for a sleepover, or even grandma camp!

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It's helpful to schedule ahead of time.

grandmother welcoming grandchildren she will be babysitting
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If I know the grands are coming over, I won't dive into that closet-cleaning project, and I just might schedule a nap instead. I know there are times when you need a last-minute sitter, but give me advance notice whenever possible. I want to be well-rested and in a good mood for my grandchildren!

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You may need to bring food.

food can be an issue when grandparents are babysitting
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If you have scheduled ahead of time, I'll be sure to have kid-friendly foods in my pantry, but if not, you may need to bring something. Grandparents tend to have meals that are minimal and possibly unappealing to the grandchildren. I don't think that Grannie's spinach omelet or Grandpa's Wheaties will be enthusiastically consumed by the grandchildren.

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Bring extra clothes.

grandfather dressing grandson while babysitting
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I know that Johnny hasn't had a toileting accident in a week, but guess what. Murphy's Law says that his next one will occur somewhere where extra clothes are non-existent. Children who are thoroughly toilet-trained can still have spills, so toss in an extra change of clothes for all. And it's always a good idea to put in a light sweater or jacket, in case of weather change or a chilly restaurant.

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Let me know if they're sick.

grandparents may not want to babysit an ill grandchild
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I may consent to babysit even if one of the grandkids has a runny nose, but if there is something contagious involved, let me decide if I want to take the risk. Grandparents don't bounce back as quickly as five-year-olds. Also, some seemingly minor illnesses can have serious repercussions for grandparents with certain health conditions.

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Prep the kids for their visit.

Bored boy at grandfather's house
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It never hurts to remind the children that things at their grandparents' house can be a little different from things at home. For example, perhaps there's only one TV, and Grandpa doesn't share well. Remind the grandchildren to be on their best behavior, even though Grannie and Grandpa will love them anyway.

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Consider our schedules.

Avoid sleepy, overtired grandparents and grandchildren
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If Grandpa has to be at work at 5 a.m., or if Grannie's yoga class meets at 7 a.m., pick up the kids early. Just because we are grandparents doesn't mean that we don't have social lives and other commitments. Besides, many grandparents don't handle sleep deficits well.

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Don't bring us kids that are too well-rested.

grandparents babysitting grandchildren
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We don't want the grandchildren tired and cranky, but please don't let them sleep until 11 a.m. if they are going to be spending the night at our house. It's hard for grandparents to make it past midnight, and it's dangerous for us to go to sleep while they're still awake.

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Be sure we have car seats.

grandparents need car seats if they are babysitting grandchildren
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It's never safe to assume that we won't have to go anywhere while the kids are in our care. There could be an emergency. We've probably educated ourselves about car seats and bought the appropriate models, but if not, leave us yours.

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Keep your cell phones on.

worried grandparent trying to get in touch with parents
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Okay, so perhaps the music is really loud at the club where you are meeting your friends. Keep your cell phones on, and put them on vibrate if you need to. Check them occasionally to see if you have missed a call or a message. We won't call you unless we need you, but there is always that possibility.

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Be on time.

Grandparent babysitters
Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Drop off the children when you say you will, and pick them up at the agreed-upon time. If you are going to be late, call. Don't leave the children for unscheduled sleepovers unless we enthusiastically assure you that it is okay. If the kids sleep over, pick them up before noon. We love our grandchildren, but after babysitting them, an afternoon nap sounds really good!