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Making Relative Care Work

For most parents, relative care is the ideal childcare provider because it gives them assurance that their child is in safe hands. However, this arrangement also involves special nurturing. Here are some tips on how to make relative care work and avoid family spats.

Set Ground Rules

Setting expectations from day one will help make the childcare relationship go smoothly. Sure, it is your aunt and she cannot wait to bond with your toddler. But are the two of you in sync? Make sure that your relative is not only aware of your expectations but has also agreed to the requirements of the arrangement. Be clear about how you would like her to handle your toddler. Explain the following issues - your childcare philosophies (discipline, what to do when your toddler cries, throws a tantrum and so on), food (how, when and what you want your toddler to eat), bath time, playtime (activities you want your toddler to be engaged in and day trips), sleep (what time to take naps and how long, bedtime routine) and health and safety issues (allergies, asthma, fever, first-aid, CPR, etc.).

Keep Lines of Communication Open

In order to make your caregiver-parent relationship work, you need to have an open mind. After you have laid down your rules, allow your relative to air out her views, suggestions and concerns. She will look after your little one while you are away so it is best that the two of you understand each other. If she disagrees with your methods, do not lose your temper. Instead, decide on what is really important and consider her opinion. This way, the two of you are able to find common ground.

Also, decide in advance how you will update each other. You can have a quick, casual chat at the end of the day or a weekly or monthly meeting. Reassure your relative that you will always be available in case she needs you.

Show Respect

Never take advantage of your family member. Do not expect her to look after your toddler during holidays, at family events and other functions. Let your relative go back to being an aunt and let her continue her everyday routine. Your relative has her own life, so never demand.

Offer Compensation

Caring for a child is a huge and challenging responsibility. Offer your relative some kind of compensation – monetary or otherwise. Maybe you can decide on a fixed monthly wage. If she refuses to take money, find other ways to repay her like running a few errands for her, volunteering to do the grocery shopping, paying her phone bills, giving her a vacation or giving her gift certificates to her favorite restaurant, salon or spa. Doing these shows her that you are thankful and appreciative of her service which also helps strengthen your relationship with your relative.

Keep Your Cool

Most importantly, do not let any caregiver relationship issues sour your personal bond. In other words, avoid situations that could cause stress between you, your toddler and your relative. After all, in the coming years, your toddler will grow up and your caregiver will be just your relative again.

Having a relative look after your toddler can strengthen your relationship with your relative while your toddler and the family member caring for him develops a close bond. Thus, it is very important that you make this relationship work.

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November 2017
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