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More and more parents are opting for informal, unpaid childcare arrangements with family members or close friends.


  • You know and trust the person.
  • You can talk to them honestly about your worries and needs.
  • You know they’ll love and care for your child.
  • They may be flexible.
  • Family and friends are cheap – possibly free!
  • Your child should be very happy.


  • A tricky relationship won’t be ‘cured’ by mutual love for your child. In fact, it could bring major issues to the boil.
  • It can be hard to tell them what to do, or criticise their ‘parenting’ style!
  • You won’t be entitled to the free childcare given to those who use more formal arrangements.

How to arrange family childcare

It’s best when a family member offers help – and not because they feel they ‘should’. But you must set ground rules:

  • What can your child eat and who provides it?
  • How much TV can she watch?
  • How much time outdoors do you expect her to have?
  • What time will you pick up and drop off? And stick to this!
  • If you share childcare with your partner, who takes care of household tasks?

Cost of family childcare

This is something to agree between you. Even if it’s ‘free’ you should offer to cover costs such as food, milk, play equipment and expenses to avoid resentment.


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