Built in babysitters – My advice to the grandparents

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Built in babysitters. Yep, that is a perk of multigenerational living. But it can also be overwhelming for the grandparents. Over the past couple months, I have gotten a lot of emails about babysitting. Mostly from parents who are living with their grown kids who have kids of their own. So many are like my parents age (mid 60’s) and wondering how we handle babysitting duties. I think it’s different if your kids (or grandkids) are really young and there are a few kids at once. That would be a lot in my opinion to ask of a parent on a regular basis. We moved in with my parents when my son was 2  and now he is 10. It’s definitely way more stressful when the kids are toddlers. My step daughters live with their mom full time and come on weekends but they are now almost 16 years old so babysitting isn’t an issue.

When the girls were younger, my parents were always really good about helping out and watching all three kids if I needed to work on writing an article for the blog or run an errand but for the most part, when the girls were visiting on the weekends,  I was always home so we rarely ran into a situation where my parents needed to babysit all three kids. My husband has always worked in the car business and his hours at work are usually long and consist of working weekends.

Buitl in baby sitters. A perk of multigenerational living / built in babysitting / my advice to the grandparents

When my son was younger, it was so helpful having my parents in the same house. I rarely left him alone with my grandparents as my grandfather is pretty old school and doesn’t have a lot of patience with younger kids. In fact, he still doesn’t have a lot of patience with kids and loses his temper easily.

I never wanted to subject my son to that side of him so I just avoided it. That’s all I would need is for my grandfather to say something to my son that I didn’t like and then all “H*ll” would break loose! -ha.  Now that my son is 10 years old, he actually will stay with my grandparents for an hour or two if I am working or need to run out. It’s so much easier now that he is older.

My son is fully aware of my grandfather’s temper and knows that his brain is super old and he can be crabby at times. -ha.

My son has watched my grandfather go through stages during the day when he is confused and doesn’t know what end is up, so he tends to want to “take care” of my grandfather. My grandfather likes having my son around, especially in his workshop. I have an agreement with my grandmother that if my grandfather is banana’s that day, crabby or simply just off his rocker, she will tell me and my son will not hang out with them while I am working. She knows I don’t want my son exposed to his crabbiness. So that works for us.

Buitl in baby sitters. A perk of multigenerational living / built in babysitting / my advice to the grandparents

I am VERY lucky to have both my parents and grandparents (when needed) to help out. I never ever though have expected them or just “dropped” the kids (when they were younger) on my parents.

I have always been super conscious of their own time and never would want to be a burden.

I get the impression from the slew of emails coming my way from readers (mostly parents my mom and dads age) that their adult kids are just taking advantage of their parents for free babysitting. If that is the case, I would strongly suggest you set some ground rules and if your kids can’t afford to pay you, then maybe they do other things for you that would help you out. For example, house cleaning or errands. I totally get that money is usually the reason why adult kids move in with their parents but adult kids need to be responsible and help out where they can if babysitting is a regular occurrence.

I have written a few articles on how we handle our finances and suggestions on how to co-exist as a multigenerational family if you some of you are new and interested.

I was so surprised at how many emailed me asking questions and were really interested in these topics. Trust me things are not always hunky dorey around here. I don’t normally air our really dirty laundry but sometimes you can read between the lines I am sure, and see that we are just like all of you living in a multigenerational family. We have our ups and downs and sometimes, I think the blog may only portray the really pretty, organized life we have. I struggle with how to share some things without offending other members of my family. Does that make sense? Anyway, I am working on that :).

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.


  1. Ali Jackson says:

    We are three generations living under one roof. When we decided we would all live together, one thing I told my Mom and my three siblings was that Mom was NOT a babysitter. I figure my Mom raised her four kids and helped with raising two of her grandkids, that she should just be able to enjoy my daughter, not have to parent her. We do occasionally leave my daughter home with my Mom for an hour or two if I need to the grocery store or run an errand. I know it bothers Mom when I do hire a babysitter but again, I don’t expect her at 82, to have to babysit my 8 year old daughter.

  2. Thank you for sharing! And thank you for being careful with just how much you do share! My husband (69) and I (63) live with our oldest son and his wife and their, soon to be, 3 children…ages 4, 2, and baby due in December. We have our own space and contribute a good deal financially. I try to help with the kiddos as much as I can…but we have 6 other grown, married children and 7 other grandchildren. They are all under the age of 8…so I have to be careful that we don’t spread courselves too thin!

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