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Please help! would you drive an hour to mind your grandchildren?

(79 Posts)
Speldnan Fri 12-Oct-12 17:29:38

I am in a bit of a quandry at the moment as I rashly said I would look after my grandson two days per week when my daughter goes back to work in January. He will be 1 then but has been a bit molly coddled because he was premature and my daughter doesn't want to leave him with anyone other than family.
Anyway I live about 30 miles from my daughter and go up there at least once a week at the moment with a journey of 50 minutes. However, for work, she will need me to get to her house before 8 so she can get the train to work. This will mean leaving the house before 7 to allow for traffic.
Both my partner and my parents think that I shouldn't be doing this and that my daughter should put her son into day care. I want to look after him but am worried about the early start on winter days and also whether I will be able to cope with a toddler for two days a week. If I start doing it and find I can't cope, how will I tell my daughter and her partner that I am going to let them down?
My question to other Gransnetters is this: do any of you do a similar thing to this? if not what do you think of this arrangement? am I crazy to take it on or is it a natural thing to want to do? they intend to pay my expenses plus a bit more.

absentgrana Fri 12-Oct-12 17:39:16

If you want to do it and it feels natural to you, why not try it out? If it doesn't work, just explain that it doesn't and why – heavy traffic, too exhausting at your age or whatever.

JessM Fri 12-Oct-12 17:46:25

could you stay over one night a week to cut down on driving - and the cost of fuel? A friend of mine used to rail to London and stay overnight to look after GD 2 days a week.
I know one person who drove her baby about 40 miles to her mum's house and then back again the same distance for work at 8am, and left baby with nan overnight. So that is another way some people manage it

gracesmum Fri 12-Oct-12 17:51:27

Could you stay over so that you can be there for an early start without the hassle of the traffic? When my DD first went back to work I used to drive 75 miles to pick him up from nursery by 4 so that she could stay late at the office. I would do play/bath/bedtime and the next morning she could leave at 7.30 while I was doing breakfast and then I would take him to nursery about 9/9.30 and drive home. It worked very well. but it was only once a week. and I only looked after him for the whole day when he was unwell with chickenpox and couldn't go to nursery.
Does she have a back-up if for any reason you can't do this? I agree that it has to be your decision if you want to do this. I enjoyed getting to know DGS better by having time with him and only stopped when she started maternity leave when she was expecting her second baby.
As to whether it is a natural thing to want to do, well all things being equal, I think it is for most mothers/grannies, but reasons such as distance, ill health other family commitments or age may make it impossible.

Marelli Fri 12-Oct-12 17:52:11

As absent suggests you could give it a go, but make it clear that it's only a trial to see if it works out ok. Tell you daughter that you feel a bit apprehensive about the early starts on the winter mornings, but you'd like to give it a try. I have a friend who travels 35 miles a day each way (takes about an hour) to look after her grandchildren. She's done this since they were tiny and they're now about 7 and 9. Her daughter pays her petrol costs.

Speldnan Fri 12-Oct-12 17:55:03

I could stay overnight but my man would not like it and I prefer to keep my home life if at all possible. Good to know that other people go to extreme measures to look after their grandchildren though.
My trouble is my critical elderly parents who disapprove of just about all my daughters parenting!! (co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, baby led weaning etc) and still think they can tell me what to do even though I'm 62! (but that's another story!)

Speldnan Fri 12-Oct-12 18:00:29

thanks Marelli! I will certainly do that and if your friend can drive 35 miles so can I-I just didn't want to think that I was being ridiculous to even consider it, which is the feedback I have had from some family and friends. I adore my grandson and feel priviledged to be able to share in his upbringing-my parents do not think the way I do and rarely looked after my children even though they lived nearby.

annodomini Fri 12-Oct-12 18:00:39

Could you have a try-out before your DD goes back to work? That way you can find out how long it's going to take you each way or you could try the overnight stay solution.
Isn't it remarkable how many of our children think of their parents (particularly mothers) as super-human? It can come as a shock when they discover the truth...

Speldnan Fri 12-Oct-12 18:10:00

Yes annodomini I was intending to try the journey at different times of day. And you are so so right about the way our children think of us- I did so much more for my children than my mother did for me and they seem to just carry on thinking I can do anything at all even though I am that much older now.

Lilygran Fri 12-Oct-12 18:11:36

I know a few who have travelled half way round the world to baby sit in a crisis and even more who regularly do a day a week like gracesmum. I think you have to really want to if they don't live within a few miles. If you regret having agreed to what seems to be a rather unreasonable arrangement, the fact that it will be January and you might not be able to turn up if it's like last year or 2010 is a good and true get out. And she has time to make other arrangements.

baubles Fri 12-Oct-12 18:21:58

I look after my grandchild once a week and leave my house at 6.30 am, it is a 45 minute drive. I leave at about 7.00 pm, it is quite a long day and I then work the rest of the week. I consider it to be a privilege to be so involved in her life and hope I can continue for a long time to come. I think if it is something you feel is right for you then just do it, in the end it has nothing to do with your parents.

As has been said before, why not try it out before committing yourself?

glammanana Fri 12-Oct-12 18:25:00

Speldnan Your DD must have the utmost trust and confidence in you to ask you to do this for her so feel proud of yourself,things have changed since our own parents became nanas/grandpa's then the off spring was expected to take care of their children themselves,now we are so much younger in mind and body and relish the chance to have the babie's to ourselves.Good luck and

glitabo Fri 12-Oct-12 18:25:05

BeforeI moved nearer to the family, I travelled 145 miles each way to baby sit, mind you I did stay the night. I must admit I only did this occasionally, but each year along with the other granny I mind the children for about 4 days when DS1 and DiL go off on a jolly.
I have also been over to Ireland to look after the children for DS2.

whenim64 Fri 12-Oct-12 18:26:20

One other solution might be for your daughter to bring him to stay overnight with you the day before, then you look after him in your home till it's time to take him back at your leisure next day. If she gives you a key, you could drive over in the afternoon and avoid heavy traffic. Are the 2 days a week consecutive? That might make it less suitable for this solution, although you could do one night at yours and stay over at her home the next night?

kittylester Sat 13-Oct-12 08:03:12

Since my daughter returned to teaching, when her eldest was six months old, I have left home at 7 am and come home at 5/6 pm one day a week. I have loved being there with the children and really appreciate the fact that others have far less contact with their dgc. But, the youngest will start school next september and I will be pleased to have that day back after five years.

I have enjoyed the drive - I love driving anyway and appreciate the chance to chunter at radio 5 uninterrupted.

The other point I would make is that we now have other dgc and I am unable to offer the same help to them as I have a life of my own too! grin

Nanadogsbody Sat 13-Oct-12 08:33:24

I think whens idea is a good one. I have my grandsons aged 2 & 6 one night a week sleeping over and I drive the elder one to school and look after the 2-year old all day. It makes for an even better bond. Also it gives the parents one night to themselves.
But whatever you decide, do take the advice given above that its a trial period to start with.
As for your own parents, grow some!! hmm

harrigran Sat 13-Oct-12 11:14:54

My GC are a 45 minute drive away and yes we have done it at the crack of dawn and in the rush hour in winter. We even bought a 4x4 because they live out of town and on the top of a hill, saloon type car couldn't manage the hill in snow and frost.
Give it a go, on a trial basis, if it doesn't work don't be afraid to voice your concerns.

nightowl Sat 13-Oct-12 11:24:41

I was very lucky that my mum used to travel 45 miles by train to look after my children while I worked three days a week. She stayed with us for those days. It was therefore second nature for me to want to do the same for my own grandson although I am fortunate that they live only two miles away. If you want to do it I would say go for it. I have loved every minute I have spent with my GS and I have such a lovely close relationship with him. As others have said, it is a sign of your daughter's trust in you that she wants you to do this. You will never regret it, even if you find you can't do it long term.

HildaW Sun 14-Oct-12 15:57:27

Good suggestion Harrigran, sometimes thinking about things too much makes them seem worse - we tend to just dwell on the potential problems.
Its interesting Speldgran that everyone around you seems to be so negative, are you being put under pressure to say no, why might that be? I also find it interesting that you say that your premature one year old Grandson is being 'molly coddled' or am I just reading too much into your comments?
Give it a go but have a good chat with your daughter and see if you can come up with a plan B - because it would be needed anyway if you were poorly or the car could not start!

gracesmum Sun 14-Oct-12 16:17:19

They call us the "sandwich" generation - pulled in both directions - parents one way, children the other. I too wondered why your DH and own parents were against the idea. Do they feel needy do you think? We have never felt there is any problem with spending nights away from each other and for 8 years DH worked and lived in Bournemouth Mon-Fri, only coming home a weekends. I have to say it worked very well!!

bikergran Sun 14-Oct-12 16:46:54

I used to stay over at my daughters as she started work at 7-00 am so I had to be up and out of the house for 6-15 as approx good 20 mins journey so was easier to stay over..DH wasn't always too pleased and it was hard leaving him if he wasn't feleing well. but then I tended to stay at home and just get up early and go over, but yes I would do it and did do it..but she now lives closer and changed her hours to 8-00 start so a lot easier..but yes the cold frosty mornings are not good..hope you can sort something out...somtimes I used to bring GS here so I was here for DH then take him nursery (thats GS not DH)! smile (although did! feel liek taking DH to nursery at times)! smile

Greatnan Sun 14-Oct-12 18:17:21

I think you are all truly remarkable and I hope your children appreciate you! flowers

nightowl Sun 14-Oct-12 18:32:39

Greatnan you are very kind. Speaking for myself (and I don't drive long distances as some grans on here do) I look after my DGS for mainly selfish reasons - wanting to feel needed as well as pure enjoyment of seeing him grow and develop and return my love. My daughter appreciates my help and we have become even closer since she became a mother.

NfkDumpling Sun 14-Oct-12 18:38:10

Speldnan - if you do try it and find it rather too irksome, do tell your DD that my DGD was also a prem and my DD had to return to work full time when she was 6months old. The nearest grandparent was 150 miles away with London in between so nursery was the logical choice. She looked around for a good one she was happy with and DGD has only gained from being there and loved it from the first. Only DD suffered angst! DGD has just started school as the youngest in the class with a perfectly smooth transition.
Us GPs are there for sickness and holiday cover and look forward to them coming to stay.

gillybob Sun 14-Oct-12 19:03:03

speldnan I have looked after my three grandchildren from them being only a few weeks old as DIL had to go back to work after only 6 weeks (private sector). I used to pick them up at 7.30 and drive them back to my home which took almost an hour in the traffic. Once the eldest started school it became impossible so we started to have them sleep over night which saved a great deal of going backwards and forwards. This worked until I was dropping one at school leaving at 8am with two little ones in tow (one of them a tiny baby).

So to save all the hassle we moved to be closer to them. I still have them overnight as they didnt want to change their routine and it gives son and daughter in law at least one night of peace a week, something that I never had when mine were small....... smile Slight problem is that they often forget to go home or their parents forget to pick them up again. hmm