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How much babysitting help do you get from your parents?

I have friends whose parents watch their grandkids full time. Like Monday through Friday. For free. And, I’ll admit, this makes me a little jealous. 1. Because when my kids are with either of their grandmas I don’t worry about anything apart from Alex getting too many ice pops 2. Because it’s free. I recently took on a really big freelance assignment that’s going to require my full attention (i.e., I can’t write it with one hand while holding Nora’s bottle in her mouth with the other). So my maternity leave is officially over. No more watching entire movies with Nora napping in my arms or huluing Modern Family/perusing stalking friends and fooling myself into thinking I’m actually working just because I’m sitting in front of a computer.


I am super excited about the gig—it’s food writing and recipe testing, which is basically my dream job—but more work means more childcare. And, as I learned last week, childcare for two is freakin’ expensive! Alex usually goes to school (AKA daycare) three days a week but I upped it to four for last week and will probably do the same until this project is complete. His “school” isn't cheap (you don’t even want to know what they charged me to add an extra day) but it’s one and a half minutes from our house, they are nut free and he absolutely loves it (we drove past last night and he asked, “Is it a school night, mom? Can I go to school tomorrow, mom?”). I’ve also just hired a babysitter (Alex’s old teacher) to come to the house a few hours a day to help with Nora because, well, there’s only so much I can get done with her lying on the floor next to me cooing and kicking her teddy bear plaything that sings the creepy, annoying song.


Because I was planning my Easter party (I hosted a brunch/egg hunt for 31 people on Sunday!), I had the babysitter stick around a little extra each day last week. It seemed harmless when we were chatting and decorating and filling plastic eggs together while Nora napped or did her tummy time but when I added up the hours and wrote a big fat check I remembered that all that camaraderie was costing me. And it got me thinking about my mom and how she’s often home most mornings and how Nora is SO easy and how I would love for Grandma Cindy to take Nora at least one day a week, like she did for all the other grandkids at one point or another in their lives. But I just can’t ask her to do it. Because she already does enough for us and I know she would say yes and I don’t want to seem like I’m taking advantage.


My mom is more involved in each of her grandkids lives than some mothers and even has Alex sleepover about twice a month (amazing!), but she has made it very clear that she has already raised her children. And, to her credit, she did a kick-ass job. She was a SAHM and the brownie leader, the CCD teacher, the class mom, the carpool queen, etc., etc. In other words, the woman has paid her dues. She is not interested in being a nanny and I don't blame her. But Nora is so cute! And so good! And I'm only thinking one day a week to save us a little money!


Nick’s parents live in Michigan but when we see them (quite a bit considering the distance) my mother-in-law is amazing with the kids. My father-in-law is just like my dad, which is to say they are really good at playing and teasing and riling up, especially right before bed. So Nick and I are lucky and I shouldn’t complain. We have two sets of parents who love our kids to death and help us out a lot. I know people whose parents don’t seem to offer any help at all. Or who suck at it. Or, worse, people who don’t live anywhere near either set of parents, which I just can’t imagine. I purposely moved back to my hometown so I could be near my parents and my sister and my cousins, et al—so that my kids could know their extended family, yes, but also so that Nick and I would have free babysitters!


What is your situation like with your parents? Do they babysit often? Regularly? Do you ever feel like you take advantage of them? (I make a point of cooking my parents dinner as much as possible and I always always bring my mom a Dunkin iced coffee if she watches Nora when I run to a doc appointment or Mommy and Me class with Al). Or do you wish your parents did more for you? How do you walk the line of asking them for help without asking too much?