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Granddaughter doesn’t want to go home 😔

(50 Posts)
NanaSquid Sat 31-Oct-20 12:47:03

Hi 👋 I’m very new to this! I think I’ve already posted this on the wrong thread! So apologies for that.

I would very much appreciate any suggestions or advice.

I am a 48 year old Nana to our 2 precious girls - 4 and 2. We have always provided childcare while our daughter and son-in-law work. We have always been guided, as grandparents, by the wishes of Mummy and Daddy.

Before DGD2 came along, our DD worked very long hours, sometimes leaving the house at 5am and not getting home until 8pm and our son-in-law had to leave for 6.30am too. DGD1 would quite often stay over so her bedtime routine wasn’t interrupted. She always slept very well, in her own cot, both here and at home. When our daughter went onto maternity leave, she started climbing out of her cot, so they tried to get her into a bed so that she wouldn’t get hurt. This didn’t go down very well and she ended up in bed with them. During this time she still had occasional sleepovers at our house (because she wanted to) and despite having her own bed here, she ended up sleeping with us. Around 12 months ago, DGD1 began having night terrors.

We both watched our beautiful DGD2 come into the world and then exactly a week later, we were with my father-in-law as he died. Our DD found this extremely hard. We weren’t able to physically be there for her as much this time around, but she did an amazing job and never complained, despite the baby being a terrible sleeper, waking for hours on end every night! She still does this to this day! Our DD had 12 months maternity leave this time around, specifically to have as much time as possible with both her babies before she went back to work. When she did return to work she did 3 days a week.

She was only back at work for around 6 months when COVID-19 started. Due to health problems my husband has been shielding, so our DD was furloughed, then her partner was too. For the first 2 weeks of the national lockdown, we didn’t physically see the babies, other than me dropping groceries off at the door. This was the only time I left our house (being lucky to get online delivery slots) and because I was able to get their groceries when we got ours, they didn’t leave their home either. At the start of week 3, DGD1 became very down and was extremely distressed at not seeing us. I know everyone was in the same boat with the restrictions, but our DD likened our relationship with our DGD1 to that of a split family, so we decided to let her come for a sleepover. We knew there was absolutely no risk to my husband as none of us had been anywhere. She packed her own little bag and I picked her up. She went running around our house and garden, checking everything was the same, stayed for around 3 hours and then wanted to go home before dinner. A couple of days later she wanted to come again and she did end up staying over.

We carried on like this, when she wanted to come, she did. Can I just say at this point, she’s not a spoiled brat. Our rules at Nana and Grandads’ house are exactly the same as at home, always have been. Our precious girl is a worrier and a deep thinker.

In August this year our DD started a new job. It’s full time, spread over a 7 day week, for a six month probationary period, after this she can do part time. It’s mostly working from home, so there’s no travelling involved and her and our son-in-law have been working their rotas so that we don’t have to have the girls for 5 days, but when they do come DGD1 will say she’s having a sleepover or 3 and then she’ll go home.

Which brings me to now. For the past 6 weeks or so, it’s become increasingly difficult to get DGD1 to go home. Each time getting worse and it’s very distressing for all of us. She doesn’t want to go home, begging and pleading with me not to make her go home, like she’s absolutely terrified. It took me nearly an hour yesterday evening to get her into the car, Grandad drove them home and she screamed for me all the way home. When they got there she kept locking the door to try and stop them getting her out. When they did manage to get her out of the car and calmed her a little, my husband FaceTimed me like she asked him to as she wanted to see me and he said ‘see there’s Nana’ and she said ‘yes but I can’t touch her’. My husband and DD sat with her to again try and get to the bottom of why she’s feeling like she is and she said that ‘she just loves Nana, that she likes to cuddle Nana, Nana’s got a nice couch and Nana’s like her Mummy’. This is heartbreaking for our DD. I know her Mummy and Daddy adore her. Daddy plays with her for hours on end, but she just wants to be here.

I know it could be any number of reason, which is why I’ve told you our life story for the past 4 years!

But what do we do? Is it a phase? Do we let her stay when she wants to stay, even though she wants to stay all the time? Do we continue forcing her to go home?

We genuinely don’t know what to do for the best.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, as long as it is! Xx

Grandmabatty Sat 31-Oct-20 12:58:12

That's a hard one. You sound amazing grandparents and parents. Would it be possible for you to provide childcare at your daughter's house? Then you don't have the issues in the car etc. Can you give her something to distract her in the car? Maybe a jumper of yours to take home with her so it smells and feels like you? And maybe a sleepover at your house as a treat. I can see how sad this must make your daughter feel. I think it'll pass in time as my ds screamed and howled when left at my parents when I worked but settled very quickly.

Namsnanny Sat 31-Oct-20 13:12:14

As Grandmabatty said you are all lovely caring parents and GPs.
What does your daughter and sil want?
If it was ok with them I would split the week between house holds.
Have a calendar which marks clearly where she should be and what day the changeover is.
Do nt deviate from this.
Let her de stress. When she feels secure you can talk to her about altering the schedule in favour of staying g home more and more.
You could ease the transition by staying the night at daughters house maybe?
Ofcourse this may not suit either the parents or you.
But it seems she has become very stressed and needs some time to readjust herself.
Bet of luckshamrock

Daisymae Sat 31-Oct-20 13:31:38

It sounds like she loves being with you, and why not as you give her 100 percent of to attention when at home it had to be shared? Equally she has managed before to dictate when and how long she stays with you. You refer to your granddaughters as yours, so maybe she feels this way too, with loyalties split. I would seriously consider reducing your involvement in the childcare. It won't be long before she's at school which may also be traumatic for her.

MissAdventure Sat 31-Oct-20 13:34:11

I'm afraid I would just explain that she won't be able to come if she gets so upset when it's time to go.

Bibbity Sat 31-Oct-20 13:47:47

They were selfish to plan a family around their work rotas. Your GD has made a secure attachment to you and is now distressed at the radical changes in her life.
The parents need to work on reinforcing the attachment they have to their child. How child focussed are they when they are home?

Oopsadaisy4 Sat 31-Oct-20 13:48:49

She’s 4 and so far she gets her own way, I’m afraid I agree with daisymae time to visit her in her own home.
But I’m also assuming that you don’t have both GCs to stay? so she doesn’t have to share you? undivided attention is all hers, so maybe if you had both children to stay every time she wouldn’t be so reluctant to go home.
We always had both children to stay Ben when they were babies , so that one never felt more ‘special’ about coming to stay with us, they were often both reluctant to go home, but we never had tantrums.

lemongrove Sat 31-Oct-20 13:54:42

I think it’s down to all the changes from March onwards.It’s affected children more than we realise.
Your DGD is used to the continuity you provide, and in any case most young children love being at Grandma’s house.Our grandson when young would have lived here!
I think you should just go on as before, when it suits you and your DD you have the little one to stay or visit now and then.
She will have to get used to going home, however distressing it is for you all ( I understand as my DGS did this, and I felt awful leaving him.) I used to leave my slippers at their house so that he understood I would be back, or sometimes a scarf.

cornishpatsy Sat 31-Oct-20 13:55:52

I agree with Namsnanny , with the calendar clearly marked she may not get so distressed when she knows there will days at your house.

I wouldnt make to much fuss about this ,although I do understand her parents are probably upset, it is a phase that will pass.

The parents should try to enjoy the break and you enjoy the visits.

They will be glad if she wants to be with you when she is a moody teen full of drama and angst.

Callistemon Sat 31-Oct-20 14:08:29

One of our DGD always wanted to take something home with her eg a teddy (I won him in a raffle and kept him here for them to play with) and I always said "you can borrow him but bring him back next time you come". She had something from here to cuddle and she knew she'd be coming back again.
Now she has a blanket which I made and she said during lockdown "When I miss you I cuddle my blanket".

GagaJo Sat 31-Oct-20 14:26:27


They were selfish to plan a family around their work rotas. Your GD has made a secure attachment to you and is now distressed at the radical changes in her life.
The parents need to work on reinforcing the attachment they have to their child. How child focussed are they when they are home?

This is real life Bibbity. How else do they keep a roof over their heads?

Very few people these days have the luxury of picking and choosing when they work. And if they didn't work, they would be accused of being scroungers.

Illte Sat 31-Oct-20 14:30:02

It may be simplistic but has anyone actually asked her why? Not you or her parents but a neutral, trusted adult like a teacher or classroom assistant.

When I was teaching young children we often found that they became upset in leaving a loved adult because for some reason they were worried about what would happen when they were not there.

It’s a worrying time for a little girl who will almost certainly have heard about older people dying or in hospital in large numbers. People think young children don’t pick up on things but they do, although they often get hold of the wrong end of the stick! Or magnify things to nightmare proportions.

It’s just a thought.

Bibbity Sat 31-Oct-20 14:30:31

Very few people these days have the luxury of picking and choosing when they work. And if they didn't work, they would be accused of being scroungers

They can work. But they had zero right to drag a child into this situation. People pop out children like it’s their right. Without thinking of what is best for that child.

GagaJo Sat 31-Oct-20 14:33:05

Have you read the 'unplanned pregnancy' thread? Very many GN members have unplanned children.

If only people who have easy lives had children, that would really only be the upper-middle classes and the artisocracy. Real people work. The child is there now. They can't pop her back, can they?

Illte Sat 31-Oct-20 14:34:58

Don’t let her derail the thread 🙂

GagaJo Sat 31-Oct-20 14:37:13

Good point Illte. I'll ignore.

Harris27 Sat 31-Oct-20 14:38:15

I work in childcare and their are children who prefer to be at grandparents usually this is where their getting more attention and possibly their own way. My advice to you is to remember you are the grandparent not the parent. This could cause distress with your family and could limit your time with your grandchildren. Which in turn would be an shame she is going through a phase and will come through it but perhaps it’s time you took a step back.

Bibbity Sat 31-Oct-20 14:38:58

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ExD Sat 31-Oct-20 14:43:09

I was an older child.
My parents doted on my brother and I felt excluded at home, but was little blue-eyed girl at Granny's who gave me total attention. Nanna didn't have potatoes to peel, clothes to iron, floors to hoover like Mum - Granny baked with me, painted with me, watched TV with me, found me dressing-up clothes ...... Mummy was too busy and too tired.
I know just how she feels poor child.
Somehow you need a break from each other - somehow - not much help I'm afraid. what will happen if this threatened lockdown occurs and households can't mix?

Jaxjacky Sat 31-Oct-20 14:49:40

She’s been accommodated - sleeping in her parents bed and yours rather that her own, habits that are difficult to break. As others have pointed out, as you only have her, not both GD’s, she’s also had your undivided attention, why would your GD want to return and ‘share’ with her sister? I’d have a long chat with her parents on the way forward, maybe you could have both of them for an afternoon, it will introduce sharing that will be more apparent when she starts school.

Callistemon Sat 31-Oct-20 14:52:26

It’s a worrying time for a little girl who will almost certainly have heard about older people dying or in hospital in large numbers. People think young children don’t pick up on things but they do, although they often get hold of the wrong end of the stick! Or magnify things to nightmare proportions.

Illte yes, children do pick up on things however careful you are in trying not to discuss the news in front of them.
She may see you as 'an old person', NanaSquid and be worrying that something may happen to you when she's not there.

It's a terrible time for us all but especially for children who should not have to live with anxieties.

Feelingmyage55 Sat 31-Oct-20 14:53:29

NanaSquid welcome and no need to apologise. Come and say good morning tomorrow on what will be the Good Morning Sunday thread. A new thread is opened each day by Michael.

Now, to the problem. Lots of good ideas already which I won’t repeat. Could your granddaughter have something very important to take home and show/give? Baking, a drawing, painted stone etc. Does she have a pet who must be fed and watered? If not buy a goldfish/hamster/pot plant. Does Mummy need her help with making dinner? Simple ideas for a child of four. Is she newly four or nearer five? Does she prefer not to share her time with her younger sibling? Could she get extra storytime if she goes without a fuss? She may be worried about you being old and vulnerable from what she has heard but you are very young to be a grandma and perhaps you can tell her how young you are in an age appropriate way. Are there much older great grannies or neighbours around to illustrate that?
You clearly love her dearly and I'm sure others will be along with ideas.

ExD Sat 31-Oct-20 14:57:52

I should have added, I remember the anguish of starting school (My DH can't understand how I can remember that far back) but with hindsight I think that broke my obsession with Nanna. Can she start school a term early, some schools have a Christmas intake ..... ?

V3ra Sat 31-Oct-20 15:22:27

Harsh words Bibbity ☹️

NanaSquid if you only have the older granddaughter at yours she's probably enjoying being the centre of your attention. At home she possibly has to wait her turn a bit more because of the younger sister.

Hard to know how to phrase it without sounding callous or cold but could you try not making her the centre of everything at yours? Make life a bit more humdrum and routine?

While she's at yours could you make some cakes together specifically for her to take home when she goes? Something to make it worth her while to go?

A simple calendar is a good idea, one at both houses, to cross off the days so she knows what's happening when.

She's probably not old enough to really think through why she's feeling like this and questions don't always help.
Agree amongst the adults what needs to happen and when, then do so in a calm, confident, consistent manner.
Small children need security and to feel the adults are in control. It really shouldn't take an hour to get her into the car for example.
Time for a little bit of gentle tough love I think.

Callistemon Sat 31-Oct-20 15:33:11

I do recommend the simple tactics first, such as I recommended; if you have a 'precious' teddy or item that you need her to take home and look after for you the bring back, it reassures her that she will be coming back to your house. She is also doing something for you, looking after your precious possession.
Or, as someone suggested, bake cakes/biscuits together that she can take home and share.

It may be the thunderous threes lingering on or, if simple tactics fail then they may have to investigate further.