The Babysitter is Here. And it’s Grandpa.

by Kelcey Kintner

Three years ago, I was desperate for childcare. I had a 5 year old, a 3 year old and newborn twins. I needed someone to help me or else I was going to take the next plane to Paris just so I could nap on the flight. I have never been that exhausted in my life.

My 67 year old dad had recently retired after 30 years as a social worker and asked me if I wanted his help several days a week. He was great with my children and we couldn’t afford a lot of childcare. I said, “Absolutely. If you could help us for 6 months, we should be in good shape.”

That was three years ago. He’s still helping us. My husband and I had another baby this spring which means I now have five amazing children who have lots of needs and desires. Usually all at the same time. Although I have a babysitter a few afternoons a week, my dad is my primary source of childcare.

That means that my father can’t always be the typical grandparent who spoils his grandchildren with treats before dinner and lots of extra TV that mommy never finds out about. He actually has to follow our house rules, at least most of the time. But it’s a tricky balance because he’s not paid help.  Instead, I pay him in gratitude and the promise of a really stylin’ nursing home someday.

Sometimes I do insist that he follow my rules. Like the day I walked into the backyard and found him letting the kids take turns riding a go-cart type thing down the slide. Yes, down the slide. I nixed the activity because I had plans that night and it wasn’t at the ER.

And yes, he will still take them for a cookie run just an hour before dinner, despite my pleadings to not ruin their appetites but in general, we have worked out a pretty nice balance.

He’s a man who likes a clean kitchen and will help me with dinner clean up. But he doesn’t do laundry. He’ll bathe a few kids but five is too much. If he babysits at night, we can stay out until midnight. Then like Cinderella, we must hurry home. Granddad is done.

I realize my father (who I didn’t live with growing up) has given us this incredible gift. The gift of time. He has saved my sanity a million times when he has encouraged me to take a nap or go for a walk while he played with the kids. His presence means I can focus for a bit on one of my children, instead of just responding to the non-stop needs of five.

And my own children know him so deeply and so well. He’s part of the fabric of their lives. And my life. And that is truly an amazing thing.

Kelcey Kintner is the popular blogger behind The Mama Bird Diaries. Featured on Good Morning America, and published in  The New York Time’s “Motherlode” blog and Redbook, she’s also a mama to five children nine and under.

Posted in: Family, Modern Parenting, Parental Wisdom

Comments (10)

  1. i’m serious about my kids’ safety | the mama bird diaries

    […] I’m also writing for The Mother Company, so you can check out my piece called, The Babysitter is Here. And it’s Grandpa. It’s about the famous Tommy Tom. I did not mention T.T. by name in the post because I fear […]

  2. Auntie T

    I love this story and all of you!
    Wishing I lived there, too, because I miss my Tuesdays!!!!

  3. abbie

    What an incredible fact that you didn’t grow up with him but are close and connected now. Your children seem to have brought you together. How profound and wonderful.

    • Dildar

      My wife and I have been very blessed in our lives. We have also lived thrugoh very tight times ( I. E., blood donations.) We have always felt the love if others. Many times, we picked up the bill for another at a resturant. Other times we paid for another’s groceries. Another time we put together a baby shower for a lady we never met who left an abusive home. Instead of money, we gave a man in the rain a sleeping bag, a coat, and accessories along with a gift card for a meal at Denny’s. When my wife ad I ran into financial issues, we were blessed by people who remained anonymous with a $500 gift card twice. We always asked why. We had a very hard time accepting. Why us? LovePay it forward It will come back when needed

  4. Amy, Using Our Words

    I know my dad would have loved to have had such special time with my children. What a blessing that your father is strong, healthy, and willing to give you and your kids such a beautiful gift.

  5. suburbancorrespondent

    You are really lucky. I hope you know that. And I hope I can do that for one of my kids some day.

  6. Steph

    What an incredible gift your family is receiving from your father. I bet he feels like he is receiving a big gift of love from your beautiful children, too.

  7. Daphne

    Wonderful piece. How fortunate to have him be such an important part of your children’s lives (and yours!)

  8. Jordana

    You are all blessed!! Love the photo!

  9. Leslie

    This made me tear up a bit. My mom watches our two kids two days a week and I love it that my kids have such a strong relationship with their grandparents. It is an amazing thing.