Relatives, mainly grandparents, are now the single largest group providing childcare for working mothers. Clearly, there are many advantages to leaving your baby with someone whom you know so well. However, there are possible pitfalls and it's best to have thought about them beforehand.
• Your baby is with people who will love and care for them.
• They will get to know their grandparents and they can get to know their grandchild.
• Grandparents will probably be flexible and won't mind if you get back from work late.
• They might tidy the house for you and do some cleaning if they are looking after your baby at home.
• It's harder to lay the law down on such things as discipline, food and television when it's your parents who are looking after your baby.
• Family tensions - if you have siblings, also with small children, they might resent the fact that you've 'commandeered' granny!
• Your relationship with your parents might change when you rely on them as childminders.
• Grandparents might underestimate how tiring looking after a baby or toddler is, but still struggle on for fear of letting you down.
• What happens if grandma or grandpa is ill?
Make sure that you are aware of your parents' needs and be prepared to change your childcare arrangements if necessary. Perhaps combination childcare is the answer - your parents look after your baby a couple of days a week and a childminder the other two or three days.
"Since my father's illness," says Fiona, "Lucy goes to my parents one day a week instead of two. On Tuesdays, my husband's parents come to our house to look after her. For the other three days, I use a childminder. It's a bit complicated, but I'm really glad that Lucy has the chance to form strong relationships with both sets of grandparents."