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Childcare or dogsbody

(48 Posts)
Granali Sun 05-Jun-16 20:01:42

We look after our two lovely pre school grandchildren one day each week which we really enjoy. They also come to stay separately or together a couple of times a year for a few days, which we also enjoy. However I am increasingly noticing and feeling that we are being viewed as easy childcare options when this isn't appropriate. When we are all together as a family my DIL and my son will often just clear off to chat whilst we are left looking after the children. My DIL will sometimes lie down and fall asleep. She does nothing to help with the children throughout the visit, unless she is unhappy with something we are doing with them like a game we are playing or something. If we are at their house, my DIL seems to switch off from the children as soon as we arrive. This does not seem to happen with her own family, who very rarely look after the children, but they all meet up a great deal. I do understand about being tired, about needing a break, about the relief of someone else taking the load ..but this is our whole family time, not just free child care. I always end up feeling disappointed and a bit resentful which I really don't want to be.
I know that I could talk to my son about this and my DIL but I am so worried about causing problems as it has taken so long to build up a relationship with my DIL. My son, who is a very good patient and caring dad, is understandably protective of his wife who has always struggled with the children, although she loves them dearly. I don't want anything I say to be taken as criticism as has happened in the past ...I do know that it would be easy to see this as an over sensitive interfering MIL situation ....but even my daughter has said to me that we are too much taken for granted and that our good will is in danger of being abused.
Any ideas as this is really worrying me. confused

Tegan Sun 05-Jun-16 20:14:57
I don't think this link will work [mine never do] but this article helped me enormously when I was feeling that way[if you google I'm the grandmother not the babysitter you might find it]

Deedaa Sun 05-Jun-16 21:02:29

You say your DIL has always struggled with the children and as they are getting older they will have become harder for her. It sounds as if she just grabs the chance of a break as soon as you appear. Could you tactfully raise the subject of finding some support for her with your son? I know my DIL was helped a lot by some counselling.

Granali Sun 05-Jun-16 22:32:46

Thanks for that suggestion. I have tried to raise that but it is difficult as he tends to block the conversation which isn't like him.

NanaandGrampy Mon 06-Jun-16 02:38:09

How about suggesting visits that take you out of the house, to the park, or to the country or a zoo where your DiL can't just tune out? I think I'd feel like you if this happened to me.

italiangirl Mon 06-Jun-16 07:34:55

I sympathise with both sides I had very little help with mine mum ,saved by my in-laws although their was a pressure to provide meals etc.I was exhausted and unbeknown was ill .I found a child minder for a,few hours a week which meant I could have a sleep .I try to help my daughter if I can .A n d at times find she is self the previous post I am trying to be clear about when I am available so as I have time to recoup and my own life.still have to work .

Anya Mon 06-Jun-16 07:50:21

I think it's wonderful that your DiL feels relaxed enough in your house to fall asleep, and I'd see it as a positive that she feels she can do that, though the poor women sounds like she'd worn out.

I'd try not to over think this. Just enjoy having the grandchildren round.

It did annoy my when my daughter and SiL ignore us and just chat between themselves but I've got over that and just get on with things I need to do.

janeainsworth Mon 06-Jun-16 07:53:29

Granali You say your DiL has always struggled with her children - I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but imagine you're referring to setting boundaries with them and so on.
Maybe she's afraid of appearing as as ineffective mother who has difficulty controlling her children when she's with you, and perhaps that's why she takes a back seat?
I think you should look st this positively - your DiL and son trust you to look after their children and you're enjoying a lovely relationship with them. Many on these forums will envy you for one reason or another. You sound like a lovely Grandma too so I would stop worrying and just enjoy your grandchildren at this stage - they won't be little for very long flowers

janeainsworth Mon 06-Jun-16 07:54:30

Crossed posts Anya smile

Alea Mon 06-Jun-16 10:18:41

From the moment you give birth -if only you revised it- you are 100% a parent and your child's welfare is paramount. That can mean sick on your shoulder, or weetabixy finger marks around the knees of your trousers, never finishing even the rubbish chick lit "easy read" you would have turned your nose up at previously, never relaxing properly on the beach again until they are at least 16, rarely completing a meal or cup of coffee while they are babies or toddlers, no privacy in the bathroom (!) , sleeping with one ear open, and listening to at least 3 conversations at once.
If a visit to the in-laws can give a window of peace while a loving and competent granny takes charge, your DIL would be mad not to seize it with both hands!
Enjoy the fact that she trusts you and is not a control freak me Mumzilla like some we read of on GN!

Alea Mon 06-Jun-16 10:19:47

My iPad has its own ideas "if only you REALISED it " of course blush

Alea Mon 06-Jun-16 10:21:01

Ignore "me" in the last line too. Where do these iPads get their weird ideas from?

Cold Mon 06-Jun-16 11:02:38

Could your DIL be exhausted or depressed and struggling to cope.

When your DIL lies down does your DS take over with the children or does he leave them to you as well?

RedheadedMommy Mon 06-Jun-16 11:13:13

What's your son doing?
You say your DIL switches off, falls asleep etc, what's your son doing while this is going on? Is he looking after his children? Why is it left to you?

thatbags Mon 06-Jun-16 12:25:02

I've only read the OP so far so I don't know what others have said in response to it. It seems to me, granali, that you have put your finger on the problem when you say: she has "always struggled with the children, although she loves them dearly". This says to me that she finds being a mum very hard so when someone else can play with them and look after them it's a relief for her. Pat yourself on the back for being such a helpful person to someone who needs help, someone who needs to switch off from the children when she can.

For a year when Minibags was 4–5 years old MrB worked in Glasgow and lived away two weeks at a time while she and I were still in Oxfordshire. When he came home alternate weekends, I would often say on a Saturday morning: Please take her away! and he would go out for a few hours with her.
I wouldn't say I struggled with her–she was an easy-going child on the whole–but kids can be very full on and some people find that very hard and need breaks.

Keep up the good work! smile

thatbags Mon 06-Jun-16 12:27:37

Now I've glanced at other posts too. Perhaps your son could muck in a bit more too to give her a break now and again.

Granali Fri 24-Jun-16 16:03:50

My son does the lions share od child care as soon as he is home and at weekends! The children are in Nursery for large chunks of the week as she struggles to cope with them. I do muck in and help when they are here, but I still feel that it is unreasonable to leave everything to others when we are all together ...especially as it doesn't happen with her own family! I think I would mind less if I was asked .."would you mind if I had a half hour rest?" rather than just getting left to it, with an assumption that I/we will do it. As I said this is our family time, a d lots of childcare is provided at other times!

Granali Fri 24-Jun-16 16:06:10

NanaandGrampy ...thanks for the suggestion of outings ...when we do that, the problem seems to continue as my DIL just sits and everyone else sorts out the children! I really do understand about the need for a break, rest etc ....but this doesn't seem the way or very fair really ....maybe there isn't really a solution!

Nonnie1 Fri 24-Jun-16 20:33:12


Does your daughter in Law suffer from depression? It reads to me like she does not enjoy life much at all and that is quite sad.

I wonder what would happen if you just asked her out of the blue "are you alright " ?

Deedaa Fri 24-Jun-16 21:36:23

I agree that it does sound like depression. My DIL is very similar. She suffers from anxiety and depression and, although her little boy is very good, she finds him very hard work and DS does a lot of the childcare.

Luckygirl Fri 24-Jun-16 21:41:34

Maybe you could look at it in a different way? You are so lucky that the GC obviously love you lots and love being with you - give them a few years and they will be grunting at you from behind their acne! - enjoy it while you may!

If DIL is feeling low then your role is very precious. Please don't allow yourself to feel resentful about it.

RedheadedMommy Fri 24-Jun-16 23:14:39

But what's he doing when your DIL has fallen asleep on the sofa? Is he there or is this when he's at work?
Maybe she doesn't realise she's doing it?

She's obviously exhausted if she's falling asleep while she has visitors. Maybe she has depression, she sounds like she's having a really crappy time and is struggling.

RedheadedMommy Fri 24-Jun-16 23:17:06

I do muck in and help when they are here, but I still feel that it is unreasonable to leave everything to others when we are all together ...especially as it doesn't happen with her own family! I think I would mind less if I was asked .."would you mind if I had a half hour rest?" rather than just getting left to it, with an assumption that I/we will do it.

Is your son there? Or is he at work?

Granali Thu 14-Jul-16 19:38:05

I'm talking about when they all visit as a family. My son, who as I said earlier, does the lions share of childcare when at home mornings, evenings and weekends, tends to move between my DIL who goes and lies down, and back to js...asking if we are ok with the kids whilst he sees if she is ok etc etc ...this carries on until she reappears , meaning that our family time to chat etc is completely taken over. she usually reappears once the next meal is on the table or if she wants something. I know this is all sounding pretty moany, .w..I think I partly just feel it is rude, as well as I am sad that our time together vets spoiled a bit. Of course my grandchildren love doing things with us, and we have a lovely time when we look after them every week, but after family days together when I want to chat all together I always end up feeling disappointed, resentful and a bit sad! Ive tried saying how its nice when we can all chat, asking about what she/ they has been up to and offering to change nappies whilst she sits and relaxes or talks to the others ...but the same thing keeps happening and I suppose I also feel a bit taken for granted. As I said she never does this with her own family. Oh well, reading all this posts back I am grateful for the advice, suggestions and common sense and will carry on enjoying my grandchildren and the family as best as I can!

Jaxie Fri 15-Jul-16 09:56:23

I sympathise with you Granali; but sometimes DILs & sons aren't either capable or prepared to say how they really feel about you. Perhaps your DIL will only realise what a kind MIL you were after you've gone! I had absolutely nothing in common with my MIL; I resented her inability to ever make me feel good enough for her son. She did, however allow the children & me to stay for considerable periods of time without complaint. Looking back I think her cold behaviour was something she couldn't help. Sometimes we are treated like dogsbodies, which hurts our pride, but your grandchildren will look back with pleasure on the way you looked after them when they are adults, if not now, and they are the important ones.