Can Grandparents Get Paid for Childcare?

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The expenses for having children can add up very quickly – especially when they very young and need full-time care. 

grandma taking care of grandkid

Some parents are lucky enough that grandparents live close enough and are willing to help with childcare to help save a little bit of money. 

Of course, though, if grandparents are willing to help with childcare you don’t want to assume they’re going to do it for free – they need to get paid for their time too. 

In addition to providing food and diapers, along with dropping off and picking up, many parents want to pay the grandparents a little something extra for helping them out with childcare. 

So, can grandparents get paid for childcare? In short – yes, they can. However, there are a few more details that everyone involved should know so that they know what to expect – especially for income tax purposes. 

Income Tax Write-Offs

There are income tax rules in place for families who have young children that can help with taking care childcare expenses. These benefits usually happen around tax time, and you can write off some of the expenses you incurred this year. 

Why Mention Income Tax?

If you’re going to use the tax credits available to you to write off expenses associated with childcare then you’re indicating to the IRS that you paid someone to help you with the care of your children.

If you are stating it’s an outgoing expense then someone is going to have to state it as incoming revenue.

This is why it’s important to consider all the outcomes before you get into grandparents providing childcare.

Whatever you pay your parents for taking care of your children they will need to claim it on their income taxes. They may want receipts that they can submit – this will be something you discuss with them before they start caring for your children. 

Talk About the Money

Before your parents start providing regular childcare for your kids, talk to them about what they expect to get out of it – especially in terms of payment. 

Some grandparents may not want any money for it, and they just enjoy spending time with grandkids. Others may need a little extra cash to help them in their retirement. 

While you likely won’t pay the same amount as you would for an institutional daycare, you should still plan to pay them something for their time. 

childcare by grandparents

If it’s only occasional care – like when you and your partner want to have a date night – then perhaps you aren’t going to be paying them for helping you out. 

However, if they are taking care of your children on a regular basis you should have the conversation with them about how much they want to be paid. 

Be reasonable about what they might expect to be paid and what your budget is going to be for paying for childcare. 

Be Aware of the Challenges They Will Face

Taking care of kids all day is exhausting – even for young parents. So imagine what it’s going to be like looking after your little ones all day when your parents are retirement age. 

In addition to that, they might have health issues or concerns that make it just a little more difficult to look after little ones. 

If possible, accommodate as much as you can for what your parents might need. If they have trouble with the stairs, for example, maybe put all the kids toys and crafts on one level so that it’s easy for them to get to and they don’t need to be up and down stairs all the time. 

Have an open conversation with your parents about what their concerns might be about watching the kids on a regular basis, knowing that you will be relying on them and you don’t have a backup for childcare. 

Grandparents want to spend time with their grandchildren – no doubt. However, all day every day may be just a little too much for them. They want to enjoy the time with them so if they’re honest about it being too much for them to take on every day then respect their decision. 

Don’t Expect Extras

If you paid a nanny to come into your home then you might expect that they will do some extras: laundry, cooking, cleaning up, preparing meals and so on. 

When grandparents are watching your little ones, those extras should not be expected. 

When you have a paid caregiver it’s fair to expect those types of activities to be done, but when grandparents are helping you out with caring for your children these things may not be done. 

Make Sure They Have an Out Option

As mentioned, childcare is becoming so expensive and sometimes even very difficult to find – with long waiting lists for the best daycare facilities. 

Grandparents may offer to step in as a way to help you out and help save new parents some money – they want to take care of the family just as much as you do. 

It’s really important, though, that grandparents don’t feel taken advantage of or that they have to do this because you don’t have any other options. 


If you rely too much or expect too much out of grandparents, it could create a kind of resentment between you and your parents over time. It’s not that they don’t want to spend time with their grandchildren, but being an almost full-time caregiver may be more than they can give. 

Try to be considerate and respectful in terms of what you’re asking for, as demanding or expecting too much can cause a major rift in even the best relationships. 

If you sense that the grandparents may feel guilty for saying no, let them know you have other options you can explore if they don’t feel comfortable committing to something. 

This way, they don’t feel bad or as though they can’t say no because it’s their children and grandchildren. 

While they may be flexible to babysit for you, full-time care is something that’s a little different and a much bigger commitment. You don’t want it to feel like a burden over time. 

Using Family Members for Childcare

When your children go to a daycare center, you’re paying them to care for your children and this is their job. 

If you have family members – like grandparents – who are providing quite a bit of care for them it can put a strain on the relationship. 

Grandparents want to spend time with their grandchildren, but if they start to resent it because it’s just too much but they feel like they have to then it can make family time together unbearable. 

Holidays, birthdays and other family celebrations may not be as memorable or as special if grandparents feel as though they’re not appreciated or they’re obligated to provide full-time care. 

The Benefits of Grandparents Caring for Your Children

Spending time with your family is irreplaceable. We all wish we could get more time with the ones we love, so if your parents are able to spend more time with your children why not take advantage of that?

child with grandparent

While going to daycare can be helpful for building your children’s social abilities, they can spend time with their grandparents and get to know them too. 

There is also a lot of flexibility in having grandparents taking care of your children (instead of sending them to daycare), and you can drop off and pick up with what works for your schedule – for the most part. 

Additionally, if your child has allergies or special dietary restrictions then you know grandparents will be aware of this so you are not risking someone who doesn’t know your child feeding them something that could make them sick. 

Split Up the Childcare Time

Some families will send their children to daycare a few days a week and then grandparents will watch them the other days of the week.

This saves the family a little bit on childcare, as opposed to paying for full-time daycare, and it doesn’t put the pressure of full-time care on the grandparents. 

Many families have adopted a hybrid model of childcare so that children get to spend a lot of time with their grandparents but grandparents are get to just be grandparents – not full-time caregivers. 

Final Thoughts

Familial caregivers – like grandparents – can be of great benefit to our children. If grandparents live close enough and want to spend that time with their grandchildren this can really help young parents with the full-time care their children require. 

Grandparents can pass down traditions and family recipes, plus you know who is taking care of your children and you can trust what they’re doing. 

It is important, though, to talk about the money and other expectations for what is going to happen. If you can keep the lines of communication open, and make sure everyone knows it’s safe to discuss their feelings it can be the difference between keeping the relationship and building resentment. 

Ask your parents what they are expecting, and any concerns they may have. Make sure that if they say no, or have restrictions on what they can do, you respect their decision and are able to maintain your relationship with them. 

If they say no, retaliating by withholding time with your grandchildren will be really hurtful for them. Make sure this arrangement will truly be beneficial for everyone.