There’s a problem in my family: my cousin and his wife are in quite a tight spot (little kid, both work full-time, even overtime sometimes, not a lot of money), and receive little to no support from my cousin’s parents.
As my mum (his aunt) was always really close to him, we often help them instead, both with money and babysitting (esp during the holidays). I’d like to help them as well, but I’m rubbish with kids (she’s four and very hyperactive). Is there another way for me to support them?
I don’t know them, so it is hard for me to say what they need help with.
The best way to find out might be to ask them, possibly by saying something like: “I’m not comfortable watching children, but I’d really like to find other ways to support you. Is there another way I could be helpful?”
That said, asking an open-ended question might not make it possible for them to tell you what they did. Open ended questions don’t tell them much about what you are and aren’t ok with. If you don’t know what someone is likely to feel comfortable helping with, it can be really hard to ask for help.
So it might be better to offer something specific.
You may be able to help with childcare needs indirectly:
- People who have young kids and no childcare have to take their kids with them to a lot of places
- That makes a lot of errands take longer
- It also makes them more draining for both the parent and child
- Eg: Parents who have no childcare have to bring their kids to the grocery store
- At best, this means that grocery shopping takes longer because they have to supervise their kid and shop at the same time
- And they have to bring their kid even if their kid is too tired to tolerate it well
- Then the kid is miserable, and the parent has to deal with caring for a miserable (and probably uncooperative) kid in a public place while judgmental strangers stare at them
- And it’s likely that both parent and child will be upset even after the errand is over
- And it can interfere with sleep and make the next day difficult as well
- If you can do some of their grocery shopping for them, that can relieve childcare pressure without you having to watch any kids
Some other things that might help to relieve childcare pressure:
- Picking up their mail
- Picking up their prescriptions when they or their child is sick
- Dropping off things that they need transported
- Being at their house for the plumber/cable company/etc so that they don’t have to take off work (which means they have more time off available to deal with child-related things)
- Household tasks that are difficult to accomplish with children who need close supervision (eg: mowing the lawn if they’ve got one)