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Grandparent support

(31 Posts)
Gigi1975 Sun 24-Oct-21 21:26:28

I couldn’t think where to ask this so thought it might be an idea to put it here. I have two children, 6 and 4. I found the early days of motherhood difficult and struggled with my mental health. Now my children are a bit older I am moving on from that but I do often find motherhood hard (as I know many people do). And really since my children were born I’ve longed for more help from my mum. She’s always helped as much as she can or certainly as much as she wants to. I’ve never felt like I’ve asked for too much. She lives over 2 hours drive away and we only catch up every few months. I recently asked her to help for an event I wanted to go to and she said “no. She’s getting older now and doesn’t feel she could cope” The rational part of my brain says “ok she’s told me clearly how she feels and I need to accept that” but for some reason I feel so rejected by this. I think it might be because I recently asked another family member for some help so I could attend a funeral and they said they could at an absolute push but not very convenient. I am suddenly feeling so alone and unsupported. So often you see instances where your told as a mum, ask for help if you need it and then when I have it’s felt like a closed door. I don’t know what I’m asking on here really but I think I needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

tanith Sun 24-Oct-21 22:22:58

I’m sorry you feel rejected but can understand from your Mums point of view as I’ve had to say no as I feel it wouldn’t be right to agree to something I’m not sure I could cope with just the thought of a two hour drive would put me off if I’m honest. Of course in a dire emergency I wouldn’t hesitate but for an event you fancied going to I too would of said sorry but no.

Farmor15 Sun 24-Oct-21 22:44:16

Sorry you’re feeling rejected, Gigil, but maybe you have to accept that your mother and other family members may not be able to provide much support, and look for help elsewhere.

When our children were young (5 of them, quite close together!) we realised grandparents wouldn’t be able to help. One set lived thousands of miles away, and the other about 3 hours, and in poor health. I’m an only child so no siblings to help either. Instead we got to know some local women willing to babysit and families near us with older children who gave a hand and babysat when older. We paid for the help, of course.

Skydancer Sun 24-Oct-21 22:47:16

I was 57 when my GS was born and I had loads of energy to look after him. I wonder how old your mum is? If I now (in my 70s) was asked to look after two young children I couldn't do it. I don't have the energy nor the confidence to keep up with their antics. I can understand how you feel though. Perhaps your Mum just didn't explain very well.

GagaJo Sun 24-Oct-21 23:38:28

My mum has had grandchildren in 3 'batches'. First my DD when mum was 50. She helped a bit but we lived about 2 hours away so not very practical most of the time. My brother's first 2 children when mum was 60, she helped a LOT because they just lived around the corner. My brothers last one, when mum was 70 and had moved further away, she didn't help much. 70 is too old really I think to deal with very active children who might be challenging.

So I think it varies. Having said that, there does seem to be an attitude with some grandparents that it's 'their time' after their children have grown up and that they don't want to be obliged to help. It isn't how I feel, but each to their own.

Nana56 Sun 24-Oct-21 23:44:34

I never had a great relationship with my mum. I remember asking her to baby sit my youngest who was about 5 at the time so I could take my eldest to a and e. She said it was too late.
Guess at the time she would have been mid 50.
Husband was away in the end a friend came. .I'm only lived about 15mins away.
I've never forgotten and our relationship got worse.
I learnt to accept it and never asked for help again.

freedomfromthepast Mon 25-Oct-21 03:41:23

It DOES take a village to raise children, but sometimes you have to make your own village. IMO, you are not asking the right people to support you. Create your village according to your needs.

Shelflife Mon 25-Oct-21 07:24:04

I am sorry you are feeling this way. I can understand your Mum and a two hour drive is a tall order! My GC range in age from 18 to 3 . When my eldest daughter became a Mum I helped quite a lot . However my younger daughter has a 3 and a 6 year old and I now notice my age - early 70s. Please don't be too hard in your Mum ! Feeling isolated and neglected is very hard for you. I wish you happiness and hope you have a circle of friends that can help each other.

Gigi1975 Mon 25-Oct-21 07:28:43

Thanks for your comments. This is helping me to get things in perspective and also understand better what she is feeling which is also good. I know some of my feelings about this have been a bit of an unhealthy reaction so I’m just trying to get my head around it and understand my feelings of rejection on this.

Nannarose Mon 25-Oct-21 07:54:43

You are doing well in realising that's it's just unfortunate that the 2 'nos' came close together, and in 'venting' in a safe space.

I was in a similar situation to Farmor, and I agree with her solution. If you haven't got an obvious social group to ask, think about advertising through the local pre-school or school, where you find folk who are good with children and already vetted. I also used the child-care course at the local college to find help - the college can't get involved, but didn't mind putting the word out among their students.

As a nan with mobility problems, I know that my family have had to adjust to me not being able to help the way I used to. I also think that, when you can think about it practically, you know that if your mum says she can't cope then your children wouldn't be safe.

I also know how hard that it for you, and hope you can find someone.

SusieB50 Mon 25-Oct-21 08:03:21

I am 71 and have 4GC . The first 2 (DS) I was 60 and very able to cope with lively twins and looked after them 1 day a week plus babysitting. They also lived nearby. The next 2 -my DD’s lived about 30 minutes away and I was older but not too old and I helped out a fair bit , the youngest is now 5 and they are 2 hours away now , a very different scenario. I visit and see them about every4-6 weeks , but now think I would struggle to cope all day with the 5 year old . He is lovely but a bit wild !He older one is 10 so she is easy .. So I think it depends on the children and the grandparents.
My DD has made good friends where she now lives and they help each other out . Maybe your DD could link up with others in the area . I still babysit but not sure who looks after who nowadays !

Lucca Mon 25-Oct-21 08:04:00

A bit of generalising here about 70 being too old to drive two hours and or look after young children! I’m 71 and do both those things cheerfully. Being retired I can rest up afterwards !

silverlining48 Mon 25-Oct-21 08:11:39

It was very common when I was a young mum in the 70s/80s to be in a babysitting circle of others who lived locally to call on. At that time grandparents were generally not involved in child care as they often are now, but a 4 hour round trip possibly in the dark would make me say no now that I am in my 70s.
Don’t take it personally and certainly don’t take offence.
If you have the room Why not invite her to stay over for a day or two.

V3ra Mon 25-Oct-21 08:37:25

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times my children's grandparents babysat for us.
Fortunately I had a good neighbour who was in much the same boat, and as she said "us mums need to stick together" so we used to help each other out.
It is hard though when you see other parents who have a lot of support from family.
I hope you manage to find someone locally Gigi1975.

TerriBull Mon 25-Oct-21 08:47:44

You didn't say how old your mother is Gigil, or what her state of health is like, a lot depends on the latter. For many, increasing tiredness as we age. I remember looking after ours for a long stretch when they were around the ages yours are now and feeling completely wiped out towards the end of the day. I think it's fair to say they need quite a lot of entertaining at 4 and 6, less so as they get older. I remember one particular time, we'd been out in a Royal park for a good few hours, came home and my grandson said "what are we going to do next?" my response "some quiet time I'm putting on Stick Man" that desire to recoup some energy is a must for many of us and young children can be quite full on at times. So really can't make a judgement unless you tell us more about your mum's energy levels, state of health etc.

Grandparents of yesteryear weren't so great at stepping in, my husband told me when he had children in his first marriage, his parents who weren't that old when he asked his mother for some occasional babysitting, she responded , with "you had them you look after them" true but a blunt intransigent response imo and I'd hate to come across as that unhelpful.

Grandparents input is varied from those who take on day to day care to those who just don't want to do any looking after grandchildren whatsoever and justifiably state that is their prerogative after raising their own.

I wish you well and hope the responses here help a bit.

silverlining48 Mon 25-Oct-21 09:25:40

Times were different in our day because there were no maternity regulations in the 70s/80s,
We had to give notice in and leave our jobs at around 7 months pregnant. There was no choice and many mums were at home as pt jobs were hard to find. Some did. evening shelf stacking and a lot did low paid home working ( stuffing envelopes, piece work etc)
There was little childcare other than childminders and a few Playgroups but this was only for one or two sessions a week.
Since maternity pay and job guarantee laws were introduced most women now return to their original job so need regular childcare; hence all the nurseries which subsequently sprang up taking children full time if necessary.
I say this for the younger grans as have noticed the odd comment about their mums not going back to work, assuming it was choice. It wasn’t,
Worse, if you worked in the Civil Service and then got married, you had to leave. Those were the so called swinging 60 s.
If kindergarten or nurseries were subsidised as much as they are abroad there would be no need for grandparents to take so much responsibility for childcare. As women have their children older, we too are older as GPs and though we love our GC, sometimes we get tired (especially if they are naughty/ lively).

DiscoDancer1975 Mon 25-Oct-21 11:30:30

Hello there. Sorry to hear you’re feeling so low about this, but sometimes it is difficult for grandparents, depending on the age, health, distance.

You don’t say anything about the first two, just the distance, which could be difficult, depending on the first two, if you follow me.

All our grandchildren are local. My husband and I are 62, but we still have limits. Mine is due to a condition I have had all my life, which affects my nose. So if I get a can be debilitating. So....I avoid the kids when they’ve got colds. I’m basically fit and healthy. So swim, cycle and walk, but this gets in the way. My husband has mild mobility dysfunction. Winter is worse.

It seems you asked two family members...your mum, and someone else? Do you have a partner/ husband, or are you on your own? Are there other mums at the school you could socialise with? Some of my best friends were met at the school gates.

Of course....some grandparents just don’t want to be involved, even if they live close. My mum wasn’t much help, but most of the time I didn’t need it. The one time I did when my husband was away....she couldn’t come. To be fair though, she was 1 1/2 hours away at a push.

Could you move nearer to her, ( and your dad?), if you get on? Would that be an option?

I think the trick is...just enjoy what you do have, and perhaps try to make new friends, rather than rely on people who are not responsive. I’m inclined to think it’s not so much the help you need...but the rejection you feel. Many of us have been there, and’ll be happier in the long run, without them.

Take care

Newatthis Mon 25-Oct-21 11:38:03

Maybe your mum is feeling rejected if you only catch up with her every few months, does this mean that you only contact her every couple of months? We all, as grandparents are not getting any younger. Is there. is help out there through social services or can you afford paid help. Any kids clubs?

Redhead56 Mon 25-Oct-21 12:07:46

I am very sorry to read of your struggles have you not made friends with other mums. It’s what I did when having a difficult time my parents where both ill so didn’t really volunteer much help. I had to miss weddings funerals and other occasions because of the lack of help.
When I was getting divorced with a baby and three old son I asked friends to help me when I really needed it. I also found mums who were childminders very helpful.
I don’t know your mums circumstances so can not comment about that. However if I could help my dd more I would but she lives an hour and half away. It breaks my heart there is the distance between us. Its only a thought but could you not consider moving closer to family.

Smileless2012 Mon 25-Oct-21 12:39:54

I'm also sorry that this has upset you Gigi but I'm sure you're not alone and there will be as many GP's always willing to look after their GC as there are those who aren't as willing.

This isn't a rejection of you, you've asked her and she's declined, that's all.

Gigi1975 Mon 25-Oct-21 15:36:39

Thanks again for your comments. They really are helping me and yes, perhaps it’s a feeling of rejection I’m feeling as much as a desire for help. I don’t think my parents would want us to live closer. I think they like seeing us in small bursts rather than regular contact. I do have a partner. The reason I’d asked for help on those two occasions was so we could both attend a family funeral then so I could go to a work event while my partner was working. Looking at it now, I know it was a bit of a luxury request rather than necessary. I offered for her to stay for several nights and was hoping when she wasn’t helping she could sit back and enjoy hanging out with us all but I think that also seemed tiring to her. Following some of the covid restrictions I feel my mum has become quite housebound and I don’t think her health is bad for her age (70) but I think mentally she feels less capable, ie. she lacks confidence. I have mum friends who live nearby but we’re all just keeping our heads above water at the moment. All with 2+ kids so I couldn’t imagine asking for help. Maybe that’s something that will come as our kids get older.

Allsorts Mon 25-Oct-21 16:11:11

I would love to be in your mothers position but it sounds as if your mother has confidence issues, probably not helped by covid. She doesn’t sound as if she is rejecting you or her grandchildren just doesn’t feel able to cope. In time she might take on more, perhaps meanwhile you can expand your social group to have a back up system nearer to home.

Norah Mon 25-Oct-21 23:41:06

Some grandparents feel their children have grown, they don't want to be obliged to grandchildren.

Teacheranne Mon 25-Oct-21 23:51:38


It was very common when I was a young mum in the 70s/80s to be in a babysitting circle of others who lived locally to call on. At that time grandparents were generally not involved in child care as they often are now, but a 4 hour round trip possibly in the dark would make me say no now that I am in my 70s.
Don’t take it personally and certainly don’t take offence.
If you have the room Why not invite her to stay over for a day or two.

Ah yes, babysitting circles! The one I was in used beads as payment, one for each hour! If you used up all your beads, you had to do some babysitting before you could go out.

Deedaa Mon 25-Oct-21 23:55:04

My mother was happy to go out with us but rarely actually baby sat for me. Looking back she was only in her early 60s but at that age I was looking after one of my grandsons five days a week and enjoying it. Different times I suppose.

My mother in law came to stay when I had my second baby to look after the tree year old for me. I came out of hospital to find her retiring to bed with one of her mystery funny turns so I had the baby, the three year old and her to deal with!