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very bad babysitting experience

(50 Posts)
Thistledoo Sat 07-Dec-13 09:55:57

My DS asked us to babysit for him and DIL, so they could attend a work night out. I agreed, but did say to him that I hoped DGD, 17 months would go to bed without too much trouble, just as her brother, aged 4 does, after a bedtime routine of bath, story, warm milk and a cuddle. But DGD does not do bedtime, instead mum sits breast feeding her most of the evening and eventually gets her to bed around 10 30pm or even later sometimes. Hence we have not done much night time babysitting, for this reason. DS stated that he had not had an evening out with his wife since baby number two was born. Of course I agreed to give them this opportunity. Oh how I wish I hadn't, they left us at 6 30 pm. We started the bedtime routine at 7pm and we were hopeful DGD would go down as she was obviously very tired. At 7 45pm DGS went to bed as good as gold. But Toddler just refused to even entertain bed. Well she then started to scream and kept this up for nearly 2 hours. We tried everything in the book, but she just continued to scream, getting herself worked up into a terrible state. I can tell you, we were exhausted. At 11 30pm she just fell asleep on the sofa. Needless to say I just left her there in case she woke up again.. DS and DIL returned at 12 10am, to find a pair of frazzled grandparents. I did say to them that I will not babysit for them again in the evening until things improve. Anyone one out there had similar experience with GC. And would any grandparents babysit under these circumstances.

wisewoman Sat 07-Dec-13 10:23:08

Oh, poor you! It sounds like a nightmare and it is so upsetting when the baby is so distressed. I wouldn't babysit with a child who is continuously breastfed all evening unless an emergency had happened with the older child and mum needed to be away. When a 17 month old baby has never gone to sleep without being breastfed then it seems cruel to expect them to do it - cruel to the babysitters as well. You must have been exhausted! I have walked the floor for hours so can sympathise.

Mishap Sat 07-Dec-13 10:28:10

I think this goes with the territory of babysitting. We just go with the flow and get on with it as we realise how badly the parents need a break.

If DGD is used to being up with Mum and Dad till late, there is no way she is going to be happy about someone else trying to put her to bed at a strange time. We try and replicate whatever the parents usually do as closely as we can, so the child does not feel disturbed by the change in routine - even if we do not necessarily agree with their routine!

In answer to your question as to whether I would babysit under these circumstances, the answer is yes definitely - but I would not even try to put her to bed, until that is something that she is used to. It is less frazzling to stick with their routine I find.

ninathenana Sat 07-Dec-13 10:33:17

I think it would depend how often I was asked. If it was every few weeks then yes I would do it. Having 'got the T-shirt' with DS at that age I know how wearing it can be.
I don't know if you are retired but I would be saying to myself 'At least I can lie in tomorrow ' That's not something their parents can look forward to.
Due to GS's special needs he still wakes 2-3 times a night and that's a good night. I would love to have him at mine for the night to give DD a break but I don't have the room.
However I do think the child needs some 'training' for want of a better word.

Aka Sat 07-Dec-13 10:43:05

Do I detect a note of disapproval that DGD at 17 months is still being breast fed and has no bedtime routine? I wouldn't blame you for this as I'd be a tad disapproving too.
It is about this this issue was tackled, but perhaps you could gently suggest your genuine willingness to babysit to babysit when this is resolved by saying 'I'd love to help out when this is sorted' rather than 'I'm not going to babysit again until things improve.'
It's a small difference I know but an important one.

Aka Sat 07-Dec-13 10:44:13

Should read 'it is about time this issue was tackled...'

glammanana Sat 07-Dec-13 10:59:47

I know how exhausted you must have felt but this little one was experiencing the first time she had been separated from her mummy and the comfort of being breast feed,so upsetting for her as she is too tiny to understand the change in routine.Things will get better I'm sure in time,do you ever babysit during the daytime or have sole charge at week-ends that way the little one will get used to mummy being absent for a while and this can be expanded as she gets used to not being fed on demand.

Granny23 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:20:37

We did a fair amount of babysitting with all 3 DGC when they were around this age. All three were breast fed and used to going to sleep at the breast, so we did not attempt to put them to bed, just cuddled up on the couch with a blanket and bottle of expressed milk and the telly on low. This usually worked fine and they eventually dropped off. We did have some 'difficult' nights when they were teething but DH resorted to the trick we learnt, many years ago, when we were stuck with a screaming 1 year old, in a tent, on a camp site. Just pop them in their car seat wrapped up warmly and a couple of miles ALWAYS does the trick.

Thistle I am sure that if you did the evening shift more often the wee one would get used to the idea and not make so much fuss because you are not 'Mummy'.

On a lighter note - DD2 was childminding her own DD + her sister's DS and DD. The older two had gone off to bed nae bother but her 4yo niece would not settle. She asked where Uncle J (DD2's DH) was and when he would be home then said, 'I'm just a wee bit frightened when there is not an adult in the house'. DD2 is 40! grin

JessM Sat 07-Dec-13 11:38:59

I once babysat a 4 year old who was having a bit of a bad patch. His parents came home to find him asleep under his blanket on the landing (two strong wills reach a compromise) grin
Well they won't get many evenings out until this little one gives up being breast-fed off to sleep will they - unless they only go out after she's asleep. She's bound to be furious that her mother is not available and then unable to settle herself once she's got herself all worked up. I guess they will work it out at some stage.

Grannylin Sat 07-Dec-13 11:41:48

I do sympathiseThistledoo but I think you just have to 'go with the flow'.The last time I babysat my 3year old GS and 9 month old GD, I flew from Exeter to Manchester to do it!My DiL got them both off to sleep and my DS sent for a takeaway curry for me to have a relaxing evening in front of the television.
No such luck.Within 20 minutes. they were both awake and ended up on the sofa with me cuddling, playing and singing for about 4 hours.I got several texts asking if all was ok but didn't let on that they were awake. 10 minutes before their parents came back I remembered the curry and managed to eat half of it, while juggling with the GC. The little b.....s then fell asleep just as they walked in.
I was exhausted and relieved to hand them over, albeit with slightly Tikka Marsala streaked sleepsuits!!

annodomini Sat 07-Dec-13 11:48:35

Thistle, you mention that the older child has a normal bedtime routine at the age of 4. I wonder if he had the same routine when he was a baby as his small sister has now. If that's the case, there is hope for your GD.

janeainsworth Sat 07-Dec-13 11:53:33

I too have the screaming DGD t-shirt thistledoo but agree wih the others that you should hang on in there.
It's not as though you have to do it every night or even every week. But I think on balance the benefit to your DS and DiL of actually having an evening out for a change far outweighs any distress your DGD might feel at not having her mummy for once.
I hope you haven't inflicted too deep a wound with your 'I won't be babysitting again till things improve' - whatever must your poor DiL have felt at that, I wonder sad

Kiora Sat 07-Dec-13 11:56:38

Oh dear you must have been exhausted! I'm ashamed to tell people this because I was a very very strict mother especially around sleep routines and never had any bother from my own children but my grandchildren are a different kettle of fish.when babysitting my grandchildren as babies if they were very unsettled I would pop them in their buggy or pram and rhythmically rock them through the crying it almost always worked. One of my grandson who stayed regularly would say " grandad you sleep in the spare bedroom ill sleep with nanna" I used to go to bed with him at his bed time. I loved it we would chat and go to sleep. I now sometimes babysit for my other son who has 3 under 5 the oldest two are in bed and stay there or at least go back to bed when told. The youngest who is a bit of a drama queen hears my voice waits for her parents to leave comes downstairs and just climbs on the setee and slowly saddles up close to me with out a word until shes right next to me so that I can put my arm around her. We don't talk but when she gets bored she climbs down and toddles off to attitude these days is anything for a quiet life. The answer to the question is yes I would agree to babysit and just brace myself for a bad night . things will improve as she gets older .. Hopefully

Lona Sat 07-Dec-13 12:07:39

I think it's all part of the joy wink of babysitting Thistle.
I often sit in dgd's room when she's upset, and we rock on the rocking chair, talk quietly, sing, read stories etc until she calms down.
I'm often exhausted, but I wouldn't give it up for the world.

Now, whenever she's upset or cranky, she gets ds's phone and sobs "Phooone Nanaaaa" and I love it smile

nightowl Sat 07-Dec-13 12:17:12

I'm afraid I was a very laid back mummy much like your DIL Thistledoo and breastfed until my children were toddlers. My DD was the same but now DGS is 3 she has established a good bedtime routine, although it took time. I agree with anno that the fact your DGS goes to bed without any problem proves your DS and DIL are aware of the need for routines as the children get older.

As grans we are all too aware of how quickly these early years pass and I would just go with the flow, enjoy the cuddles, and do whatever is required to keep DGD happy so that her parents can enjoy some time off. As others have said, you can always arrange it so you can rest the day after. These are the times we will look back on and treasure when we are truly in our dotage tchsmile

whenim64 Sat 07-Dec-13 12:18:19

I do secretly love it when one of them isn't ready for bed, although I respect the parents wishes about bedtime routines. One of my 2 year old grandaughters is a bit of a night owl, and will spend the evening telling me 'no more toys, nana' 'bedtime, good girl' or 'no toast, all gone' obviously parroting the conversations that take place with mum and dad every night. smile

thatbags Sat 07-Dec-13 12:26:42

I think I'm going to be the odd one out again. I didn't ask anyone to babysit until my kids had a settled bedtime routine without needing me for milk. That is, I didn't ask anyone except their father. And even then I would only be gone for less than two hours to teach a class.

My daughter takes the same approach.

So I don't know if I'd babysit in similar circumstances, thistledoo (obviously I would in an emergency). I do think it's a bit unreasonable to ask. Why don't people just accept that as a parent of babies one doesn't have any 'right' to nights out? My grandmothers accepted that, and my mother, and me, and now my daughter.

Lona Sat 07-Dec-13 12:30:35

I think it's probably more to do with desperation than 'rights' bags.
However much you love your children, sometimes/occasionally it's just good to have a break.

nightowl Sat 07-Dec-13 12:52:22

Because 'it takes a village to raise a child' and because it's good for children to know there are lots of people that love and care for them. Where did this notion that only parents are responsible for children come from? Of course no one is under any obligation to babysit if they don't want to but I feel it's a good way of affirming all family bonds if they do. I wouldn't miss it for the world, even though it wears me out.

Thistledoo Sat 07-Dec-13 12:59:25

Thank you all so much for your helpful hints and funny stories. (Granny23 especially) I must admit that I have been feeling really guilty all morning for being so direct to DS and DIL. I should have kept my mouth firmly shut and just waited until a suitable time to tell them how I felt. I was so exhausted, plus I had to be up early today to do two two hour concerts with the choir I sing with!!!
I think many of you are so right and I hadn't really thought about it last night, that DGD just needed a bit of breast to get to sleep. DGS had a really good routine and there was never any trouble with him going to bed even at that age. The answer to the question about whether I babysit during the day, is yes I do it often and DGD usually goes to sleep.
She seems to spend an awful lot of time sleeping during the day. She is at nursery 3 full days a week and on reading her sheet yesterday I noted she slept for two hours in the morning and another one and a half hours in the afternoon. This surely must prove that the child is turning day into night or is just making up for lost sleep at night. Incidentally she has never slept through the night, she wakes for a breast feed sometimes twice a night. Mum seems to be ok with this though.
I will babysit again and plan to phone them tonight to apologise. But I will not even entertain such a long night , and will not consider putting her to bed. I would like to say to DIL that she should try and wean her off the breast. But wont go there........

Elegran Sat 07-Dec-13 13:02:47

But babysitting a child who is accustomed to breastfeed all evening when you are physiologically incapable of providing what they want is doing no good to anyone. The child will be distraught and so will thebabysitter, who will appear to be a horrid wicked woman to the grandchild. Not a good relationship.

DiL has made a rod for her own back by not teaching him another way of getting to sleep, and has become desperate to get an evening away from the tyranny. Grandmother does not deserve to have the rod exercised on her - and the child is not being well served either.

Elegran Sat 07-Dec-13 13:05:41

What I am saying is, DiL does need to do something to wean him off it, for her own sake as well as yours. If she gives him a bottle at night it will ease off the pressure on her, as well as on a grandmother with a dry milk-fountain.

janeainsworth Sat 07-Dec-13 13:11:04

Bags I agree with Lona, it's not a question of rights, it's simply a question of wanting to give the young parents some time for themselves. I've certainly felt the need, even long after the DCs had left, to make an effort to spend some special time with DH when it felt as though we were both stressed out with workand like ships passing in the night.

Thistle good on you, make that phone call sunshine

thatbags Sat 07-Dec-13 14:27:39

I don't think it's a question of rights either. I expressed that badly. I do think that leaving a baby who is used to spending the evening attached to its mother's nipple with someone who can't provide that is a bit mean to both the baby and the babysitter just straight off like that. They could have spent a week or two weaning it off that system first, especially with a baby that old, if they want an evening out.

As it is the baby was distressed and so was the babysitter. Unfair to both.

thatbags Sat 07-Dec-13 14:29:22

Seems elegran agrees.