10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Asking Your Mom To Babysit Regularly

I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer; I love my mom. I realize how lucky I am to be able to have a family member help me with childcare, thus greatly reducing my expenses. I realize how lucky my kids are to be able to be around their grandma this much. What else do I need to cop to so I don’t sound like an ungrateful ass? Whatever it is – all of that. I realize all of that other stuff I’m forgetting, too.

Can we commiserate now – those of you who are as lucky as I am and have your mom around to watch your kids? Are you losing your mind, too?

It’s not uncommon for moms and daughters to have slightly strained relationships – adding the element of childcare just magnifies everything that annoys you about your mom by a thousand. You really need to go to your Zen space, let things go, let her win – whatever. If you’re considering using your mother for regular childcare, you should really ask yourself a few questions first.

1. Are you okay with constant criticism?

You look tired. You’re packing that for your lunch? Are those new pants? I like your other ones better. Nothing like a few passive-aggressive remarks to start your day.

2. Do you mind if the person watching your child has the incessant need to prove your child likes them more?

I’ll be back tomorrow, honey! Don’t worry. Oh, she’s crying! Look! She doesn’t want me to go!

3. Is your self-esteem fully intact?

See #1.

4. Do you mind throwing all the rules and boundaries you set for your child out the door?

He wouldn’t eat anything so I gave him some milk. I know you told me not to replace his meals with milk, but he wouldn’t eat anything!

5. Do you have the time to clean your house spotless every day before she comes over?

You really need to oil your dining room table. And look at all the dust on the TV!

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  • Lauren Victoria

    My mother thinks to solution to all crying is feed her more. Last time she babysat she have her 10oz in the span of an hour. And then wondered why she wouldn’t take a full bottle for the rest of the day and then took an explosive shit. Thanks, mom!! But seriously, I do love her. Her reasoning for everything, she’s “old school”.

    • Maria Guido

      Mine solves that problem by never putiing my infant down. She never lets her cry – ever. It’s maddening.

    • chill

      Ugh, that is my MIL. Thank god we got through the baby years without living near her. But she insisted on being here for the first couple of weeks and wouldn’t leave the baby alone.

      For the first baby, I got mad because MIL would dress her up in warm clothes and hold her. Of course, the baby fell right to sleep, which caused me in a sleep-deprived state of annoyance to take the baby, undress her down to her diaper and talk to her so she would wake up. MIL thought I was the meanest person ever, but I said that if she was going to wake up and breastfeed her in the middle of the night, then she could do that, but otherwise I’m keeping the baby awake during the day.

      For the second baby, my MIL got a nasty cold with an uncontrollable cough right as the baby was born, so I wouldn’t let her near the baby. I calmly explained that I would do the same for my own mother (although my mom has more sense than to go near a newborn when she is sick), but my MIL still continued to sneak around and try to hold the baby. It got to where I couldn’t leave the baby alone for a minute because my MIL wanted to hold her. Sure enough, the baby got sick when she was barely a week old. I was livid, yet my MIL still got mad at me for not letting her near the baby. Still mad about this one, 9 years later (*softly singing “Let It Go”)

    • Mette

      I’m sorry, this has nothing to do with the mom/MIL thing, and I’m not sure when you say “the baby” you mean an infant. I don’t mean to come off as sanctimonious, but I hope you realize that infants need to sleep, often 16-20 hours a day, to help their development and processing impressions. Which means they of course need to sleep during the day as well as night.
      If you meant an older baby with a regular schedule, please disregard my post :)

    • TigersInLove

      My MIL does that too with my youngest. Wraps her in like eighty blankets and holds her nonstop so she expects warm cuddles constantly. And if–God forbid– I let my daughter cry for just a few minutes while I’m doing something else, I can actually see MIL’s blood pressure rising.

    • Yojo

      Yeah the 80 blankets thing. My FIL has his car heater on when it’s 20 degrees (celsius) outside and then loads 10 blankets on munchkin in the babyseat. She’s dripping sweat when you pick her up :( I always tell him not to do this but he keeps on. He watches her once a week.

    • Megan

      Haha I love your mom.

    • Liz

      Ugh same! The first time my mom watched the baby for a full day, she gave her a bottle every hour. Baby screamed for an hour when I got home. Luckily, she follows my instructions now.

      The hardest part of having mom watch the baby is being comfortable telling her what to do… and getting her to listen.

    • emily_bemily

      My mom did the exact same thing. Except 11 ounces.

  • ted3553

    This makes me more thankful for my mother than ever. I don’t really deal with any of this when she watches my son. I get some comparisons to my sisters and me and my niece and nephew but they’re very harmless. She follows his schedule and diary intolerance requirements. The worst I dealt with was picking him up and he was wearing PJs in the middle of the day because she didn’t realize they were PJs. High fives to my momma

    • Spongeworthy

      My MIL watches our son a few days a week, and I’m also lucky because she is pretty great. She worked in a daycare for years, so she’s seen it all. She listens when we ask her to not do X (although there isn’t much we give her there, as the kid is pretty easygoing and has no food allergies or anything like that). If she has any criticisms of me, she keeps it to herself. And she loves our son. I remind myself often that we are very, very lucky.

    • Amber Leigh Wood

      My mum does the pj thing all the time, ‘i thought it was cute’ it’s clearly made of that flannel pj material and looks too daggy for the day time

  • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

    I think your mom is also my mom, Maria. “Oh, you are crying because you will miss Grandma sooo much! Oh, give Grnadma hugs. Grandma will miss you too!”. Yes, thanks for encouraging my kid to continue to keep crying over something minor.

  • Valerie

    Thank you for this post, Maria. I am often kind of viciously jealous of people with family help (because it’s usually free and we pay insane daycare fees) but this reminds me it is not without it’s PRICE. Lol. I love my mom to bits but she tends to be pretty head-strong and I know we would come to blows eventually. I like our relationship the way it is so I am sort of glad she works full-time and helping us with daycare is not an option.

    • js argh

      We’re a full day’s drive from my parents; occasionally I wish we lived closer, because my mom would LOVE to watch Toddler Argh all day (and night if she could) long. But I’m also very sure every point on this article would describe our relationship if she did.

  • Megan

    My mother insists the boys sleep to much. Last time she sat for us we came home two hours past bedtime to hear the ” hilarious” story how one of the boys was falling asleep standing up for over an hour before she put him in his crib. Elf was on full volume when we for home too, but that was a vast improvement over the time before when she wanted them and they screened Zombieland.

    • Lauren Victoria

      They can watch Zombieland. There’s no sex, just humorous violence. And if they watch enough zombie movies I might get my wish of their first word being “braaiiiins”. I approve.

  • Angie S

    I can put up with a lot for free babysitting (I did offer to pay) from MIL and Mom. They could both say this stuff and I still wouldn’t feel right complaining because they could tell me to take a hike. Both are totally awesome and stick to my schedule. They do what I ask or they ask before deviating. I really lucked out.

    But this list would really suck to deal with. Like stab myself with a spoon suck.

  • Cindy Ailey

    I wish I had my mom close by to babysit for us. But she’s in Chicago and we’re on the east coast. She also works full time and is super busy. So, it wouldn’t work anyway. Sigh, guess I’ll never know how annoying it could be.

  • Kelly

    My mom watches my daughter one day a week while I am at work, and frequently babysits for an hour or two here and there as needed. I have experienced all of these things at some point, but thankfully not consistently or all at once.

    I feel so lucky that I have my mom, and grateful for the really special relationship my mom and my daughter have…but…yeah. I’m gonna leave it at that. It’s also really, really hard.

    • Boozy Inactivist

      I feel you 100% on this!

  • chill

    My mother was fine when my kids were babies, but now she pushes way too much sugar on them. I teach my kids moderation, so I don’t mind if they enjoy a cookie or two, but when they’ve told her “no, thank you” for the third one, she forces them to take it. Yet, the main reason that I eat so healthy is because my mom (and her mom) has a lot of health issues due to her diabetes but still can’t resist sweets. I struggled long and hard to kick my sugar habit (oh, I still eat chocolate and drink wine so I’m not hard-core, but those are the few vices that I’ve chosen), and I don’t want my kids to be addicted to sugar the way my mom is.

  • My2bits

    My mother in law watches my 4 year old for a few hours once a week. She is amazing! However, I hear number 6 and 7 ALL THE TIME. I have even started saying, “Of course he’s perfect, you give him undivided attention and whatever he wants!”

  • Kate

    Omg. #6. Every freaking time.

    • Maria Guido

      Six is rage-inducing, isn’t it?

    • Kate

      So so much. I feel my blood pressure rising as I type. Where’s my wine???? :)

  • aCongaLine

    For a long time, I nannied my BFFs daughter 3 days a week, and her mother had her the other two… her mom was all of these things, with a healthy side of Judgement and Aggressive Passive Aggressive that was actually mean and hurtful. My friend drinks a lot of wine….

  • Boozy Inactivist

    My Mum has my daughter every Thursday and is awesome with her and I am so grateful. But yes, I still want to strangle her sometimes when I get “she likes scrambled eggs better THIS way” or “She likes my porridge from scratch with fresh fruit from my garden WAY better than that horrible microwave rubbish you feed her”. It did make me feel slightly better last week when my Mum said “She’s had so much fun she wants to say with me!” and my daughter slapped her in the face and cried “Noo, Mama!!”

    • Lackadaisical

      I make porridge “from scratch” instead of microwave sachets out of stinginess rather than a belief in some kind of magical wholesome qualities of home made porridge. I am a bit confused as to how her porridge could be any better than the microwave stuff or how anyone can gloat about the “from scratch” nature of porridge. What does she do, grow the oats herself? The most she can be doing with it is adding oats to milk and stirring over a hob, how on earth does that make it in anyway tastier than adding oats to milk and popping them in the microwave. Is she not aware that the ingredients of the microwave sachets are the same as her bag of oats? Actually, while I have often done it on the hob (I assume what you need to do to qualify for the smug “from scratch” label) when I am making it on a school morning I put the “from scratch” oats in a bowl with milk and bung it in the microwave before stirring in a dollop of syrup and a few raisins, it really doesn’t taste any different from the hob and is just the same as using a microwave sachet to make it. I really don’t get the smugness from your mum on this one.

      Huzzah for your daughter putting your mum in her place, but I suspect that if your mum is like mine she will find a way to blame your parenting for it even though she was there and it was in response to what she said.

  • AmyH

    okay THANK YOU FOR THIS. I thought I was the only ungrateful brat who feels crazy on a daily basis. I pay my mom, very well (the going rate for a nanny here in SoCal) and I still get all of the above plus more. She doesn’t treat it like a job in ANY way. I put up with it because hubs is stationed overseas for another year and my kid loves her. But I’m counting the days until he can go to preschool.

    • Emil

      Wait, you pay her the going rate and she still does this stuff? You are a better daughter and mother than me. There is no way I would be putting up with that. You have every right to complain.

  • TigersInLove

    My MIL tries to tell me what my daughters’ favorite things are, as if I don’t know. As in, “Her favorite song is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “She doesn’t like Sesame Street anymore so I let her watch cartoons all morning”. It’s maddening.

    • Maria Guido


  • Liz

    This is precisely why I opted to be a SAHM.

  • ChickenKira

    This makes me very glad that my mother is… normal.
    Except she doesn’t believe in dishwashers so if she is at my house she will tell me to not load the dishwasher and she will hand wash them.

    Hey, if she wants to waste time washing dishes when I have a perfectly functioning dishwasher, then she can knock herself out. Saves me from loading the dishwasher.

    • Yojo

      We have a functioning dishwasher yet my FIL insists on handwashing too. Umm…okay then! Strange.

  • Abby

    Re: #6 – My mother insisted that my son was always a perfect angel at her house (we leave him there about every two weeks or so in order to have a night to ourselves and will be leaving him there again this Friday so I can get a night of uninterrupted sleep after having surgery) until this weekend, when she finally got to see him in his “too tired to eat, too hungry to sleep” afternoon screaming fit. Her “I love being a grandmother smile!” wilted into the sort of teeth-grinding expression I’ve started to wear with frequency (saying, as I do, “I love my son”), and I don’t think we’ll be hearing about what a perfect angel he is again any time soon.

  • Colleen Machine

    My mother-in-law is an amazing woman and she tries really hard to give my kids a really fun day when she keeps them once a week…but there are so many things that get under my skin. She always pushes naps so far out of wack and she doles out far too many treats. For a while she was bribing my 2-year-old daughter with Kinder Surprise eggs every time they got in the car. This was horrible for so many reasons: we really try to limit treats (especially really junky ones), and Kinder Surprise toys are meant for older kids, so it was just constant heartbreak for her when they fell apart and she couldn’t fix them, and also every time we got in the car she demanded a treat!

  • Yojo

    I’ve had most of these offences at some point from FIL or MIL. Because they’re divorced munchkin sees them separately, thus doubling the time spent with annoying inlaws. I will add 2 more things:
    1. Why can’t they understand cloth nappies after the 55th demo? Our clothies work almost the same as disposables. I keep them assembled for use too.
    2. My MIL keeps accepting donations of 2nd hand clothes for munchkin, even though i have shown her 100 times that munchkin already has too many clothes. I have nothing against 2nd hand (i’m addicted to Ebay) and i understand she wants to see munchkin in things she likes (i don’t do pink frills, but MIL loves them so i can tolerate a few items) but a lot of these clothes she gets munchkin are in poor condition with QUESTIONABLE STAINS! Ewww. WHY!? Things rejected by the charity shops probably. Munchkin comes back from MILs house in these awful clothes with “oh she dribbled on the clothes she came over in”. Funny, that’s not a problem when she’s home…oh let’s put munchkin in a 1981 balloon onesie with a sailor collar, press studs on the back, ripped sleeve and suss brown stain down the middle back. Much better.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Sometimes I wonder what sort of a grandmother my mom would have been. I imagine great. Perhaps we would have butt heads, but I never got the chance to develop an adult relationship with her so I can’t really know.
    This article bums me out. Not that I think it sounds ungrateful on your part. I don’t. Frustrations are frustrations and worth venting about. Just from where I’m sitting, I just can’t help but wish they were my frustrations.

  • venting guest

    My mother watched our daughter for about 2 weeks while my husband was in the hospital.

    The baby had just started to toddle, so I’d cleared out the entire living room. The whole floor was open and all the furniture was pushed against the walls or moved into other rooms so she’d have a smaller chance of hitting herself on something.

    So I come home one day & my mother had MOVED A TABLE back into the living room. “She LOVES standing and playing at her little table! Here, let me show you!” So she scoops the baby up & takes her into the living room, which is when I notice she’s wearing socks (which is weird since it’s, you know, summer, but my mother has always been INSANE about thinking the baby is somehow chilled even though she runs hot like her daddy…to the point where on an overnight trip she ended up with fucking heat rash because she was bundled too much. Grrr.), and plops her on the rug by the table.

    2 seconds later her socked feet slip out from underneath her and WHAM! She hits the edge of the table WITH HER TEETH and shoved the top FOUR back into her gums. ALL THE WAY IN. Blood went everywhere, I grabbed her and was trying to calm her down AND MY MOTHER TOOK HER FROM ME AND BOLTED TO THE KITCHEN WHERE SHE STOOD CRYING HYSTERICALLY AND DOING NOTHING FOR THE BABY.

    I took the baby back, put a cold wet towel on her mouth and rocked her and glared at my mother and said “Maybe she’s too little for that table to be in the living room, you think?” and she was all “Yes, yes I’ll move it back right now!”

    UGH. It’s been forever but honestly I still haven’t forgiven her for that. WHO THE FUCK MOVES FURNITURE IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE?!? The table was put in a really weird place, it was pretty obvious that it had to be there FOR A REASON. She didn’t even text and ask or anything.

    Also, NGL, I almost punched her when she took MY baby from me. It already makes me irritated that she refers to the baby as “hers” and posts inane crap on facebook about “her most precious baby angel fartface” or whatever.

    Sorry for the long post. She’s on twitter, too, so I’m running out of places online to vent. ♥

    • Maria Guido

      OH GOD. I’m sorry. You deserve a good venting session.

    • KatDuck

      Vent away, honey, vent away. I’m not certain I wouldn’t have punched my own mother in that situation.

    • Aussiemum

      Same thing happened to my son, when my mum was watching him play with her friends son. They were wrestling, and apparently is super funny to watch an 18 month old wrestle an 11 yr old boy. I came in halfway thru and asked them to please stop, cause you know, 11 yr olds aren’t really the gentlest thing around. Next thing I knew my boy was pretty much thrown into the coffee table, blood pissing everywhere, screaming 18 month old, crying 11 yr old, me yelling at my mum.
      Poor little bugger had to have 5 teeth removed in surgery, microsurgery to sew up 2 massive lacerations (1 inside his mouth, and the other along the lip line), broke his gums in 4 place (who knew you could even do that?!?!?)
      His teeth didn’t grow out til he was 10, he still has a scar on his lip, pain in his gums occasionally, and the coffee table still has teeth marks on the side of it!
      He’s just turned 17 today and still sometimes drinks the way he used to when he had no teeth.
      Mum still carries on like a pork chop at me sometimes, so I put her back in her place by telling her atleast I didn’t break the baby!! Mean I know, but it shuts her up!

  • Katie L.

    My parents aren’t the judgy variety but they have some interesting practices. Like letting my kid watch Frozen two times in a row while we went to a movie (so we were gone MAYBE 4 hours). Their reasoning? “She wanted to!” Well no shit, Sherlock. She’s 3. She’d also eat fruit snacks all day long and ride the cat like a horse if you let her (spoiler alert: they would actually let her if I didn’t put a limit on how many fruit snacks she can have).

    The other thing that frosts my cookies is that they leave my house a mess when I come home. Toys everywhere, no attempt to put one thing away before you get out another. This one burns because I distinctly remember catching shit when I was a kid for not tidying up before they came home from work.

    I love that my daughter is so close to her grandparents and I do feel petty complaining (sometimes), but I’ve come to realize that daycare is never “free” You pay with money or with your frustrations, but you do pay.

    • PAJane

      On the flip side, my bestie’s mom stays at her house 2 days a week to watch their kiddo. They spend about 48 hours after she leaves trying to find all the things she “cleaned up” because no matter how many times they explain where things go, she can never remember and just sticks things whereever. And she has a terrible memory, so if you ask her where she put something, she’ll get frustrated and defensive becuase she doesn’t know, but it must have been where you told her to put it.

  • Jayamama

    My mom lived with us for over a year because of health reasons, and half of these are why it just didn’t work. It got to the point where our relationship was horrible and I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s now been five wonderful months of me doing everything on my own. Sure, there were perks to having her there, but my sanity wasn’t worth it. Thank you for reminding me of how happy I am.

  • Lackadaisical

    I get this so much. I am very grateful to my parents for providing babysitting but accepting babysitting is seen as permission to try and “fix” us and return me to the position of a child. I was a mum of three children aged 8 – 2 when she moved near us, we had managed to not kill or break any of the kids in all that time before she moved nearby and started showing us how it is done. My kids get stressed around my parents because they always have to walk on eggshells to avoid my parents rage points which means I have had to cut down how much babysitting (and time spent with the kids in general) but still my parents are convinced they know my kids better and are much better at parenting them.

  • alexesq33

    My mom has watched our twins for 3 months – she’s lived with us for 6 months – and as of yesterday our relationship is totally over. I can’t really point to any one thing – she’s judgmental and nasty and selfish and bratty and I guess used to getting whatever she wants (used to be she could do whatever she wanted b/c she lived with my dad, now that he’s died I guess she thought my husband would just do whatever she felt needed to be done at whatever point). Every weekend there’s a list of things we HAVE to do (me and my husband) that she’s determined have to be done. Leaving me very little actual time with my kids (I work outside the home and am gone from 6am to 5:30 pm and they usually go to bed at 6:30pm).
    Last straw was yesterday. We are going to buy a new car and I had told her that my husband wanted to ensure that we got one she would be able to get the baby in and out of (since some 3rd rows are very tough to get to for a person by themselves, and she’s always by herself with the babies when she goes out to errands). I thought it was rather nice that he had this concern!! Well what an idiot I am! She suggested coming with us car shopping. Now, I know my husband wants to do this alone. First of all, it would be “his car” and he doesn’t want his MIL’s bossy opinion on which one to buy, getting judgmental on buying pre-owned, etc etc. And second of all, I mean, yes we live together, but do we HAVE to do EVERYTHING together? Jesus! So I say (I thought nicely) that I think this is something DH and I would just like to do alone, but that we’ll make sure it’s something she’ll be able to handle. She FLIPS OUT tells me that I can’t stand hearing anything against whatever plans I had (“hello, pot? kettle?”) and that I have his family now and don’t need her anymore.
    I pointed out they were also not invited car shopping with us. No matter. She’s gone fully insane by this point.
    So I irreparably say very mean and hurtful things because she’s always been so manipulative and nasty and I just think I can’t let my kids grow up seeing ME handling things so badly because of all the stress she puts me under.
    I only hope that I can get some help so that I don’t turn out like her.
    WHEW – sorry for the hijack but the post was just SO fitting to this vent!!!!! :(

  • Véronique the Attachment Shark

    I’m feeling really lucky right now because I don’t have those experiences with my mom anymore (thank gawd). Our relationship has been improving leaps and strides for the past two years to the point where she is barely ever slightly annoying when babysitting my kids ;). She’s got her faults, but not the ones described above lol.

    She DOES question me on a lot of my parenting choices repeatedly (and seems to forget my perfectly logical answers in favour of her own “logical theories”). For example, for a long time, she kept harping on the fact that she thought that my daughter’s nap at 11 am was too early. That is, until she watched her for a week while I was in the hospital with my son and saw for herself that by that time she was a zombie, very much willing to go to sleep.

    She also tends to compare my daughter and niece (who were born three weeks apart) and it’s super annoying (especially for my sister). She sees my daughter a lot more than my niece, and is more familiar with her. Our daughters also have very different dispositions. My daughter is extremely go-with-the-flow, her daughter is extremely analytical (and quite brilliant). It means that they interact with people a lot differently, and mom my relates a lot easier to my daughter. Interestingly enough, my niece is a lot like I was when I was a kid, and my mom had always had a hard time interacting with me. So I can totally see the link.

    BUT I have to say that I totally trust my parents with my kids. Understanding that they will NEVER follow our rules is what keeps me happy. No, they will not follow bedtimes, especially if the kids put up a fight. They’re not there to discipline the kids, they are there to spend quality time and have fun with the kids. Therefore when my dad babysat the other day and said that Lea didn’t want to go to bed before 11pm and watched lots of Yo Gabba Gabba, I laughed. When they eat too many toasts and not enough dinner, I don’t care. That’s what grandparents are for. It’s the beauty of their relationship.

    But I think that, if my MIL and FIL watched my kids (if they lived in the same country), they would probably drive me INSANE (like they do my SIL and BIL)

  • Aussiemum

    My mum thinks I’m a terrible mother. Why, I’m not sure. So far I’ve managed to keep all 4 of them alive! She and my dad both work full time, so I don’t have deal with them often. They take th
    e kids on the weekends sometimes, either 1 or 2 of the younger ones, but never all 3 of them! (The eldest is 17 so he’s not interested) and it doesn’t matter if I have sent them over wearing a brand spankers outfit I paid $100 for, nope it’s not good enough and she insists on going and buying them more clothes, and then asking if I could make them wear them more often. Uumm they go to school 5 days a week and wear uniforms, and on the weekends I can’t pay them enough to get out of their pajamas!
    She also randomly rings me to yell about something I supposedly did wrong with the kidlets months ago. I can honestly say, I’m stoked she doesn’t watch the kids everyday! I’d have ripped all my hair out by now.

  • http://lawleramericanadventure.wordpress.com/ Nicole

    My mum is great 99% of the time, but the sleep thing gives me the shits. My kid sleeps through the night (usually) from 10pm – 7am and has done so since she was around 6 weeks old but, during the day, naps on or next to me. We’ve not had any success getting her to sleep alone during the day but nights are great so I’m perfectly happy with that.
    But no. She HAS to be in bed at 7pm, she absolutely HAS to be put in her cot for a day sleep and it will be detrimental to all of us if we don’t do it now! She’s 4 months old, I think she’s going to be ok.

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