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How Much Childcare Help Should you Expect From Family?

The transition back to school presents a whole new set of scheduling challenges. When you need someone to watch the kids, should family be expected to jump in?

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to childcare backup.

The start of the school year brings a whole new set of scheduling challenges, with missed school buses, after-hours meetings at work and ferrying kids from sports to scouts and everything in between being just the tip of the iceberg. Babysitters are expensive these days. Plus, they are virtually impossible to find when a last-minute need arises. And, Murphy’s Law dictates that that last-minute need will come up as surely as the sun.

So, here’s what we want to know:

When you are in a pinch for childcare, should nearby family be expected to help?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Lisa Merk August 12, 2012 at 01:07 PM
No. You can always ask but never should expect family to help you...unless of course it's an emergency, but even then I would hope for help but not necessarily expect it. I do not have any family in the area.
Mary Anne Looby August 12, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Absolutely not! Take a sick day, or a vacation day or a personal day. Unless you have a family member that loves to watch your kids, you should not even ask! Asking only makes that person feel obligated. Now, let the nasty comments begin!
Beth August 13, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I agree with you-especially Lisa. We don't have family in the area either, but if we did, I would ask if they could help out in a pinch, but not expect it. I think it's really nice to have grandparents/family to spend "special" time with the kids, not obligatory time. When we chose to have children, we chose to take on that responsibility for ourselves, not for others to take on. On the other hand, if family volunteer to take care of the kids, then by all means, have at it, but it shouldn't be expected. In this time of ultra-competitive/time consuming sports and activities, I have seen it with some of my own family that 2 sets of grandparents are needed to drive the kids to all of their games. To me, if you can't handle it as a couple yourselves, then they shouldn't be participating. They don't have to do it ALL.
Lisa Amey August 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
We don't have family in the area either. If my sisters lived closer, I'm sure we would all help each other out if the need arose. It wouldn't be expected; we would naturally just want to do this for each other.
Jennifer Elston September 10, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I have family that lives an hour away and my husband's family lives 25 minutes away. When we photograph weddings, my family does offer to help out with childcare--and I am so grateful! Typical wedding coverage lasts about 8-10 hours not including travel so you can imagine the babysitting cost! More recently, when my husband or I want to go out, we use a babysitter. There have been times where I have been disappointed at my husband's family's response to our call for childcare. My family is always there to help when I need them--unless they have alternative plans--which is totally understandable.

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