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Summer holiday childcare dilemma

(5 Posts)
flaxwoven Sat 11-Jul-20 13:48:06

I know the answer to this but would appreciate some comments anyway, even if the one poster says "why are you asking strangers online"? I am over 70 and my husband and I have looked after my two grandsons age 4 and 6 from the age of 9 months, two days a week, and have loved every minute. We have agreed to have them for a couple of days during the summer holidays as their parents work (mum is a nurse) and two days pickups from school from September. Now my niece age 50 has two children age 7 and 5, and I'm very close to her as her mother (my sister) has mental health problems and has never been able to support her. My niece is breaking up with her husband and also works full time (trying to work from home) and has childcare problems. Her husband's businesses have all failed, he is in terrible debt, loans and credit cards, they nearly had the house repossessed in January until his parents came to the rescue, and had the bailiffs round 3 times. My niece and husband are living separate lives in the same house at the moment. I've looked after her 7 year old 3 times recently as the poor child has been on her own at home (no school) and I felt sorry for her, but alarm bells rang when I realised this could become a habit. I know perfectly well I can't do it all, I haven't the energy at my age, neither has my husband, and looking after the grandsons is quite enough. But I'm torn with guilt for not being able to do more to help her. I think I just have a problem saying "no" as I know what a bad situation she's in, she's stressed out and lost weight. I've always wanted to please, just in my nature I suppose. My husband backs me up, but I've had sleepless nights, I don't know why, it's just not my problem. Just wanted to offload this to some strangers!

silverlining48 Sat 11-Jul-20 14:06:15

A 7 year old cant be left on her own if I understand this is the case. Are the other grandparents nearby? CAn they help? A friend? Neighbour?
I can understand how you feel but if you are at your limit you really can’t especially if you have the other two children twice a week through the holidays. Is the younger child going to school st present? Problem is when school breaks up.
How sad your sister is not well enough to be able to help her daughter but as we all know it’s the parents responsibility to find a solution. I hope they can.

ValerieF Sat 11-Jul-20 17:55:33

Can understand your desire to help Flaxwoven but please recognise your limitations. Just because your niece and her husband aren't getting along doesn't excuse either of them of their parental responsibilities and both should be equally responsible for looking into childcare arrangements and not relying on you.

Don't be torn. You have your limits and you are clear about them. You are not super woman. You can't help everyone. They really do need to sort out their problems themselves.

I do understand though, as have had to make similar decisions and know they aren't easy but do what is right for you then try to ensure the children are being cared for properly. You can only be used as a prop if you allow it.

If you suspect there is child neglect then you do have a duty to report it. Not easy I know when it is family but as a last resort.

Sussexborn Sat 11-Jul-20 18:07:52

Have they looked into local childminders? Very sad for this little girl but your health and well being must come first. If you overstretch yourselves you may find you can’t look after your grandchildren.

flaxwoven Thu 16-Jul-20 09:27:35

Thanks for your replies. I feel so guilty but must stand firm otherwise I'll be seen as a walkover. I'm an easy going person who avoids conflict, that's the trouble! No, 7 year old has mum in the house who is working full-time at home like so many families, but the child is lonely and these days you can't send them out to play in the street as in the past.