Do you pay family to occasionally babysit for you?
It really depends on your relationship with them, I guess. I could maybe see paying them if they are members of your family that you have little contact with and a distant relationship. If your children are people that your aunt and cousin care about and are involved in the lives of...then they might be insulted if you offer them money. It could be taken as a passive aggressive way of telling them that you don't consider them to be family to the children, or don't want them getting too close to your children.
On the other hand, it is totally appropriate for you to do something to show your gratitude. Bake some cookies, or make a gift, or take them out to dinner...whatever. Tell them it's to thank them for all their help, and show them how much you appreciate them. Such an action should make them feel valued and cared about.
I don't have kids yet, but as the last one in my family to have them, and with a very large family on the in-law side, I thought my experiences might help. I agree with PPs - if someone is standing in for daycare (ie, watching kids daily for hours at a time, or a set number of hours each and every week), I would want to pay them. But if it's an occasional thing, in my family (on both sides) payment would be refused. What we do is to make sure the sitter knows we're there when they need us, plus find extras to do - the meals, or homemade gifts, or whatever. For example, if they're watching your kids while you go to the doc and run errands, maybe you could pick up their groceries (which would also count as payment, unless they insist on repaying you), or give them some homecooked meals for their freezer so they'd have dinner when THEY had doctor's appointments. That kind of thing.
In my experience, we all need help some times. I'd bet your aunt and cousin know you'd pay a sitter if you could. I used to hate accepting any help from my family because I didn't want to take advantage, but the older I get, the more I see that my turn to help will come. I just have to look for it. And honestly, these days most people would prefer knowing they have a support system to getting a few extra dollars.
We rarely have any family around, when we do its a rarity that they are willing to babysit for us. The few times they have I have done something like some cleaning up for them afterwards or bringing them cookies etc. Nothing they expect but I like doing something for someone who is doing something for me
To me family and close friends are there to help each other out. If Im super close to the person or they are related to me (either blood or marriage) its just natural for me to help them. Ive done a lot of free babysitting for close friends/family and never took a payment.. Also, to me an occasional night out/appointment is totally different from me asking them to babysit while I go to work. If it was in that type of situation Id offer to pay.
I never paid my family. I feel like they would be insulted.. even regular car has always been free. My mom, sister and I all had a job at the same place, and we had worked itout that when my mom wasn't working, she would watch my son, and I watched my sisters kids for her when she was working, etc..I'd do things for my mom, drop my son off and pick him up, buying lunch and generally tried to make her feel appreciated by her helping me..my sister never has asked me to pay her and usually we just trade babysitting to make it fair.. occasional care by my mom is frree..I use her for childcare maybe once a week or every two weeks or so..not longer than 2 hours or so. She loves to have that time to spend with them since my daughter is her only grandchild who she never has watched on a regular basis do to my sister and I working. She ends up driving to my house a lot now since she misses them! :) It depends on the relationship. I wouldn't proably offer to pay anyone in my family that lives nearby..I would simply offer to trade babysitting or buy them lunch or something..to show my appreciation...that's just how we roll around here though :)
I agree with everyone else. I have never charged to watch family, and I have never paid anyone either. The only exceptions I could see to that would be if someone was watching my kids in lieu of a job OR my teen nieces were missing out on something (i.e. New year's Eve or a week of summer).
My side of the family all lives out of state, but my husband's immediate family lives close by. We have toddler son who is watched once a month (occasionally twice when needed) by my MIL, but other than that nobody else in the family really offers to help. I am a stay at home mom so its not a significant problem, but sometimes it would be nice to get out more. I've asked my sister-in-law twice in the last twenty months of his little existence and she always acts like it is a huge inconvenience. My mother-in-law always gets a meal, some spending money for fun things to do with him, and we end up doing a lot of little guilty favors for her a few times a week. None of his other siblings will watch him. Which is sad to me because he is extremely social, talkative for his age, will sit and look at books for an hour, and goes to bed on time without a fit. But the way I look at it is its a heart problem. Family that really loves and cares about the well-being and relationship they have with the child and us, the parents will WANT to watch him whether we chipped in all the extra or not.