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How much time is fair to give to looking after the grandchildren?

(67 Posts)
wallers5 Wed 13-Jun-12 14:39:29

I am 70 in a couple of months & although I adore the 2yr old & 8 month old, they are tiring & heavy to pick up from the ground. (bend the knees, I know!) I do one full day 10-7 with both, then fill in sometimes 2 more days with one child. My partner who has never had kids find it all a bit much so my loyalties are divided & i find I am having to be fair to both partner & grandchildren. My daughter works full time as a journalist & helps on their farm, so has absolutely no time to herself & hardly to speak to me for more than a moment. I know things will improve. The baby is crawling fast & toddler very active, so it is rather full on. I am not complaining - just wonder how other gransnetters cope?!

crimson Wed 13-Jun-12 15:05:50

I know I'm a bit 'bitter and twisted' at the moment wallers, but please be careful about what you're being expected to take on. Two children of that age seem terribly hard work to me, and I certainly couldn't do it without help.

absentgrana Wed 13-Jun-12 15:12:17

This question is one of those "how long is a piece of string?" ones wallers5. I can't answer from a personal point of view as my grandchildren all live on the other side of the world. You say that your loyalties are somewhat torn between your partner and daughter but make no mention of your own needs, although you do point out that caring for such young children is tiring. Sort of reading between the lines, I wonder if you are looking for some moral support towards the idea of reducing the time you provide childcare. Obviously, you don't want to upset your daughter, but it has been pointed out a number of times of Gransnet that the next generation tends to overlook the effects of getting older. They often seem to think of us as still being fit and able to do the things we did when they were children without feeling any strain. Your daughter is obviously very driven, but perhaps you should try to persuade her to give you some time to talk together about childcare responsibilities.

tanith Wed 13-Jun-12 15:56:21

I think a talk with your daughter about the strain this is putting on you and your partner might be a good thing. I'm sure at your age I'd find it too much to have the two of them for a long day and then another 2 days with one child I'm surprised you're not complaining because I would be and I'm only 63.I wouldn't be doing it, as much as I love my grandchildren and my children I love my me time as well and I think you are doing much more than what is reasonable. But if you are happy to carry on then of course you should but at the risk of alienating your partner and wearing yourself out.

petallus Wed 13-Jun-12 16:01:29

I'm about your age wallers5 and I don't think I could cope with two children of that age for long.

I'm not sure whether you are saying it is too much for you or whether you are fine with it but you are concerned about your partner's feelings on the matter.

glassortwo Wed 13-Jun-12 16:08:06

wallers I care for 2 of my DGC from 7am until 7pm (in theory, but does not work that way most of the time as DD works full time and has also just finished 2 degrees on an evening) and have done since the youngest was 6 months she is now 4 and the older 6 so very similar age difference from yours.

I am 56 and I can honestly say that it is very very tiring caring for young children the age of your two, but it does get easier as they get older.

But please make sure this is what you want and ask for time with you DD to talk about her expectations of you and set some guideline up from the start ie times expected to child mind,discipline, feeding, will you be the one doing the toddler groups and nursery runs etc etc.

As absent said "how long is a bit of string" my situation may be different in that I live with DD so I am on tap 24/7 and the children find it natural to turn to me as I am their constant carer.

Our children think parents are in a time warp and that we have stayed the same as we were 20 or 30 years ago when we were their carers, they dont make any allowance for our advancing years.

It can be the most satisfying thing you can do spending your Grand Childrens early years with them............. but make sure its your choice.

Good luck.

Annobel Wed 13-Jun-12 16:10:43

I am a little older, waller and my GC also older, but I know for sure that I couldn't cope with little ones. I often regret living too far from mine to be of any use, but now I'm not so sure. What would your daughter do if you lived a long way off?

Ella46 Wed 13-Jun-12 16:22:42

wallers I've refused to commit to looking after my 8 month gd when her mum goes back to work in Sept. as I know it would be too much for me and I'm a fairly fit 66yrs (today smile)
Don't take on too much,it's not fair on any of you.

HildaW Wed 13-Jun-12 16:32:30

How long is a piece of string???
Ooops have just realised am not the only one to type this.
Yes it could seem to be a flippant cliche but its very true.
To one person in one set of circumstances spending time 'looking after' the GC might be pure pleasure, whilst to another it could be a real chore.

Any arrangement that seems, or becomes to be, one sided needs looking into and changes made if at all possible. Anyone in any caring situation needs to feel valued/appreciated (money is a whole different subject - and I'm just not going there!) and whilst your children might think they are simply giving you ample opportunity to spend time with your GC they do need to appreciate your needs and capabilities. Many grown children dont fully realise that caring for the GC has a whole added layer of worries and responsibilities. Yes we brought them up well enough but this next lot are not actually ours, and somehow that adds a lot more pressure. When our own bumped a head, got a tummy upset etc etc we just sort of got on with it but if its a grandchild, I find, I am all of a flutter.

That being said waller, it does sound to me as if you are being expected to do a lot. I think you and your daughter need a chat in a calm atmosphere away from the home. She needs to research a few more options and perhaps keep your services in reserve a bit more. My own daughter has to budget for every penny but finds that a couple of hours at a well run but low key (village hall type) playgroup/nursery is money very well spent. I do hope you find a compromise. It would be aweful if you came to resent your time with your GC, hopw it all works out.

HildaW Wed 13-Jun-12 16:50:08

And, there is just a little voice in my head saying something like .....'someone chose to have two babies under 3 (yes I know sometimes it cant be helped) so perhaps she should have had a little think about who was going to look after them'. Yes I know tis not exactly helpful but with my ex-preschool teachers head on I do get a bit cross about children who seem to be passed 'from pillar to post' when I deliberately chose to fit my life choices around my children not t'other way round. I shall sit back and await the brick bats.

crimson Wed 13-Jun-12 17:17:55

The last comment I had from my SIL before the lines of communication came down were, when I pointed out how much I had done for them over the past 5 years was, 'no you did it for your grandchildren'. That, to me summed up how much appreciation I'd had for trying to help them, both financially and from a 'helping them have quality time together as a couple' point of view. Be very careful, waller; I'm only just beginning to realise how little time I have had for my partner over the past few years, and how understanding he has been. the fact is that, by taking on more than I could probably cope with, I've ended up losing both my daughter and my grandchildren. Not understanding how it feels to be a lot older, our children seem to feel that they are bestowing a special gift to us by allowing us to look after the grandchildren, which is true up to a point.

gangy5 Wed 13-Jun-12 17:23:10

I agree HildaW - no brick bats from me. Not only did they decide to have 2 children but haven't altered their lifesyle to cope with them. I am sure for a few years it would be possible for the Mum to reduce her hours if she had any sort of a mothering feeling.
I feel that my family expected too much from us when it came to looking after the grandchildren. As has been said they have no thought about us getting older and not having so much stamina anymore.
I'm 70 next year and certainly wouldn't agree to having 2 such young ones for a whole day and I would feel sorry that my daughter would even expect or ask me to.
I can also see things from your partners point of view - for one thing he probably feels that you're being put upon!!

wallers5 Wed 13-Jun-12 19:09:24

Thanks for all your helpful & supportive replies. One thing seems certain. Our children do not realize that at our various ages, life does become more difficult & that we really are older & have aches & pains & are not too good with noise! I certainly won't take on any extra days.

Mishap Wed 13-Jun-12 19:11:40

Waller - this does sound like too much - I am 63 and care informally for my Gss quite frequently - or have them here while their Mum gets some sleep here - but I find it totally exhausting; and have to take great care about my dicky back and painful hip.
I find it very hard to acknowledge that I am getting older and get tired quickly as I feel hugely disappointed about that this is the case - it seems to have crept up on me so quickly.
Don't overdo it - you have your health and your OH to consider - even though having the children there is lovely!

JessM Wed 13-Jun-12 20:02:41

And we do things for our grandchildren, its true.
But also because we want to help our busy, weary grownup offspring who are trying to do jobs and raise families.

glassortwo Wed 13-Jun-12 21:12:21

I often wonder if the career Mums of today who have passed the childcare over to Grandparents will be willing to give up their career to take over the care of their Grandchildren when the time comes. hmm

Anagram Wed 13-Jun-12 21:31:43

My DD used to joke when she was young that she'd let me live in the garden shed when I got old - wonder if the invitation's still open....hmm

crimson Wed 13-Jun-12 22:04:08

The more I think about it, the more I feel that 'too much' is when you don't do things that you want to do for yourself because you haven't the time or feel too tired because of looking after the children. It's a difficult one, because it sort of creeps up on you. The night before I had the big bust up with my daughter I nearly didn't go to a concert I'd been looking forward to for months because I'd been at work since 7.45 that day and was childminding till 6 that evening; the following night, having gone to the concert and then gone to work and done the school run I was exhausted. Anagram; I actually lived in a garden shed for a short time in my youth, and it was great. No housework! Although the lack of a bathroom was a slight problem sad.

Anagram Wed 13-Jun-12 22:11:08

Yes, crimson, I fear DD would provide me with a commode....

nanakate Wed 13-Jun-12 22:17:27

Crimson, I really feel for you, the family really have taken advantage. I feel enormously lucky because I seem to have had the best of both worlds. I took over childcare of my DGC (2 boys) when her marriage broke up and her ex abandoned her with a 3 year old and a 3 month old baby. As a family we all pulled together to help her, and over the last four years, we have settled into a routine where my husband does the school run in the morning, and I have the boys after 11.45 and after school, for three days a week. She has been really grateful and we are all much closer than we would have been had her husband stuck around. I gave up my career and have just retired completely.

We are only 60 and yet I am beginning to feel it, physically, psychologically and emotionally. I adore my family but I honestly don't know how I could have done it had my husband not been an absolute star and helped me in so many big and small ways. My problem now is that the youngest is starting full-time school in September, my daughter is changing her work patterns, and this is my opportunity to say that I don't want to carry on doing the childcare at the same level. I'm ok at the moment, but do I really want to go on being an unpaid fetcher and carrier, cook and bottlewasher for ever?

glassortwo Wed 13-Jun-12 22:20:28

crimson I have just read your post and think I need to go to bed, thought it had said the lack of a ballroom was a slight problem grin

Jacey Wed 13-Jun-12 22:35:25

Well, I have that problem too glass grin

Annobel Wed 13-Jun-12 22:45:23

OMG! I now know why my DS was painting an outhouse in his garden at the weekend!!

Anagram Wed 13-Jun-12 22:59:05


crimson Wed 13-Jun-12 23:16:32

nanakate; how difficult for you. My partner and I realised that turning 60 hit us both awareness that we needed to do things now, not next week or next year. Having said that, we couldn't bear the thought of my grandson going to a nursery after school..being picked up in a van and all that. I've still got to work part time, at least for the next 15 months and then probably for longer if I want to have money for holidays and such like. It was watching the Grayson Perry programme today that made me wonder just how much our lives have been shaped by wanting our children to have better lives than our own. And how much of our lives we want to devote to that, as if we don't know when to stop. We sometimes need to stop and look at what our raison d'etre now is, because our lives change and we change. From speaking to friends and aquaintances recently, I've realised that men seem better at seeing when things have gone too far in our willingness to always be at the beck and call of our children or seeing that they, at some point have to take sole responsibilty for their own lives and happiness. We're always saying that, to look after other people we have to look after ourselves first, and we need someone to give us permission to do that sometimes.