Small, Nice Things

25 Small, Nice Things To Do For Family Who Helps With Childcare

If you’re lucky enough to have family members available to watch your kids, here are a few ways to let them know how much their help matters.

Whether you rely on them for a few hours every weekend or nearly every weekday, it’s a fortunate thing to have family in your life who are willing and able to watch your kids. Sure, their presence saves you a considerable cost and frees you up in ways you might otherwise not be. But, more importantly, it provides you with peace of mind. Be it trusted grandparents, aunts or uncles, your family is your family and has your child’s happiness and well-being in mind. They are playmates and protectors, educators and entertainers, keepers of schedules, givers of snacks, and readers of bedtime stories. And while their particular brand of caregiving may bring you to the brink of madness from time to time (it comes with the territory) they’re there for you and deserve recognition and appreciation for all that they provide. Here, then, are 25 small, nice ways to do just that. Because where would you be without them?

  1. Write them a letter that expresses your gratitude for all they’ve done. Include a gift card for some e-books, wine, or to their favorite restaurant if you want. Most importantly, be honest and heartfelt about the impact they’ve had on your life.
  2. Even better? Tell them in person. Be sincere and specific in your appreciation.
  3. Create a scrapbook for them — yes, a physical scrapbook — that documents their time with the children. Add lots of photos and keepsakes. If they’re old enough, have the kids draw/write/contribute.
  4. Gift them a framed photo of them with your kids. Simple? Yeah, but touching.
  5. Or send them a digital photo frame so they can have a rotating feed of some of their favorite shots.
  6. Make your home as comfortable for them when they watch the kids. Stock their favorite food and drink at the house so that they never have to look far for a treat. Does the streaming television sometimes frustrate them? Write out a simple list of instructions, laminate it, and keep it in plain view.
  7. Apologize when you lose your cool. They’ll probably make decisions about or develop routines with the kids that frustrate you or make you jealous. State your peace but admit your fault and understand that they’re trying their best.
  8. Do they like beer? Buy them a six pack. Do they like sweets? Make them some cookies. Just do something you know they’ll appreciate.
  9. When they’re not around, schedule regular phone calls and try get the kids on the line, too. This helps make it known that they’re a part of your life and not just someone you call when you need an extra set of hands.
  10. Help your child make them a card or draw them a picture. Be sure to make specific references to shared activities: “No one reads a bedtime story like Uncle Brett” or “Grandma’s the best zoo buddy ever.”
  11. Have them over for a nice, relaxing dinner. Cook their favorite meal. Dessert, too. Make the night all about them.
  12. Are you handy? Help them with any projects around their house they might be ignoring. Attack that loose cabinet handle. Silence that squeaky floor.
  13. Make them a custom gift basket. Include their favorite snacks, their favorite bath products, their favorite coffee, their favorite everything.
  14. Be their driver for a day. Chauffeur them to the store, to the doctor — wherever they need to go. This is especially thoughtful for older parents or relatives.
  15. If you can spring for it, book them a weekend away at a venue they’ll love. Maybe it’s a day spa. Maybe it’s an AirBnB near a great fishing pier.
  16. Be as reliable a presence in their lives as they are in yours. Do what you say and say what you do.
  17. On a similar note: Be available. Answer when they call. Say yes to requests as often as possible.
  18. Plan a day that’s just for them. Schedule their favorite activities. Visit their favorite restaurant. Whatever it is that they enjoy the most.
  19. Buy them flowers. You can never go wrong with flowers.
  20. Text them photos and videos of the kids. Send them funny things the kids say. Just do whatever you can to make them feel included and missed when not around.
  21. What’s their love language? Words of affection? Acts of kindness? Learn it and make a point of expressing your appreciation in ways that speak to them specifically.
  22. Brag to other family members about how helpful they are and how much the kids love them. Who doesn’t want good news to travel back to them?
  23. Are they not a physical gift person? Donate something to their favorite charity.
  24. If they drive the kids around, their car is likely a mess. Surprise them by giving it a top-to-bottom cleaning. That means, yeah, scrub out those yogurt stains and vacuum up allll those goldfish crumbs.
  25. Tell them as often as possible what they — and their help — mean to you.