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Grandparenting

What to consider before offering to look after grandchilld

(49 Posts)
madamecholet Sun 17-Jul-16 20:32:29

My sister is about to become a grandmother for the first time and is totally over the moon. I am so happy for her, but concerned that her enthusiasm may be getting the better of her. She knows her DiL plans to go back to work at the end of her maternity leave and sis (who is due to retire in a couple of years) is thinking about retiring early and offering to look after her GC. I am not sure she has really thought through what she may be taking on. My friend did the same thing and is now totally exhausted as GC1 was swiftly followed by GC2 (who will be starting school next year) but another daughter is now pregnant with GC3 and has asked her Mum to look after her baby and my friend feels she can’t say ”no” as she has already done it for the first two GCs.

It is totally my sister’s decision and I wouldn’t dream of trying to tell her what to do, but I do worry that she and her husband may regret taking on such a responsibility at a point in their life when they can finally relax and enjoy themselves. They will be coming to stay with me next month (we don’t live in the same country) and I hoped some of you grans who have looked after their GC can suggest some gentle questions I can ask along the lines of “have you considered …………” just to encourage her to think it through carefully before making this commitment. She is good with young children and I am sure she will do a great job, but she is a strong character and very much the matriarch of the family and one of my concerns is that she may find it difficult to accept that with her DS and DiL’s child she will have to do things their way.

Jalima Sun 17-Jul-16 21:00:31

I suppose it depends if it is part or full-time care. Looking after a small baby for a couple of days a weeks is one thing, but coping with more than one toddler full-time could be exhausting unless she is an very fit, young granny.

one of my concerns is that she may find it difficult to accept that with her DS and DiL’s child she will have to do things their way.
Well, it's always best to take advice from the parents on how they would like things done, but I must say my DIL has been fairly easy-going about how things are done in Granny's house (perhaps we just agree on what is the best way for the DGC).

And remember - your 50s are a whole lot different to your 70s!

But in the end she has to make her own decisions about what to do.

annsixty Sun 17-Jul-16 21:07:56

It is a huge commitment. I took it on partly because I wanted to to but mainly because my GC has a " disability " when we were not happy to commit her care to someone who may not treat her as we would have wanted. As I said it is a huge commitment and our retirement was severely curtailed . You find you are asking when you can go on holiday etc. you need to ask will I still be happy doing this 10/11 years down the line until senior school. If you are happy do it, but think very seriously about your own plans for retirement and the needs of both of you first.

etheltbags1 Sun 17-Jul-16 21:41:04

I took on responsibility without thinking and I don't regret it. I'm on call 24 hours for all sorts, washers leaking, power cuts and so on I support the family without thought, I never have a holiday and would rather spend time with the little one or my DD,if I have an hour or so to read in between work and helping out I'm quite happy. My own housework doesn't get done for days but I'm unselfish enough to not mind.

Deedaa Sun 17-Jul-16 22:02:28

Well I retired at 61 to look after GS1 from the age of 6 months until he went to school. Then I used to pick him up in the afternoons. He was 6 when GS2 was born so that gave me a bit of a break. Obviously things have changed since I had my babies but DD and I are usually on the same page so it all runs pretty smoothly. Really it's mainly been a lot of fun!

tanith Sun 17-Jul-16 22:25:39

If you looked forward to freedom to come and go as you please, slowing down and relaxing when you retired then don't do it but if you are happy to arrange your life around child care then it can work out for some. For various reasons some of which were selfish I never did it but I know someone who retired early to take the task on and although she loves it there is no doubt its restricting plans she had for her retirement as she had to take everyone else's work schedule before she can plan her own holidays/days off.
Its a very individual decision.

numberplease Sun 17-Jul-16 23:34:20

I`ve looked after several of my grandchildren when their mums went back to work, but I was in my 50s and 60s at the time. Now I`m in my 70s it would be a totally different matter, I just don`t have the energy anymore. I enjoyed it whilst I was doing it though.

janeainsworth Mon 18-Jul-16 04:32:11

madamecholet 'very much the matriarch of the family'.......aaaaaaagh!!

The question I would ask your sister, if I were you, would be
'Are you sure your DiL would be comfortable with that arrangement?'

I am not sure I would have wanted a matriarchal sort of MiL taking over, however much I had wanted to go back to work. It might end in an unpleasant power struggle.

Christinefrance Mon 18-Jul-16 07:49:30

I think like a lot of things it's probably better to start small and build on that. Your sister could offer help for limited periods initially and see how that worked out. It's difficult to withdraw help once offered. Parents may have other ideas too and that needs to be respected.

Mumsy Mon 18-Jul-16 08:43:13

dont be frightened of saying no! so often kids seem to think you will always babysit as your the grandparents. I remember one time my daughter asked me to babysit and I said I wasnt sure that I had anything planned and she replied " you never go anywhere" !! No I didnt babysit that time I went out.

Jayh Mon 18-Jul-16 09:07:37

We look after my GD two days a week and that is probably enough for us. On the plus side, I have met lots of other Grans and mums by taking her to classes and nursery. Now she is at the stage of going on play dates so some days I can drop her off at a friends or have one here to play now that the school holidays are here.
Physically, is very hard work looking after GC so your sister should take that into account before committing to anything.

trisher Mon 18-Jul-16 09:19:13

I think she should make sure that she only does part time, most of the full-time GP carers I meet are tired out. Overdoing it isn't good either for the GP or the GC. I've had both my GCs 1 day a week since DiL went back to work for 2 and half days a week, the rest of the time they are in nursery. I've also spent time in the nursery as a volunteer and found it a great place. It is good to spend 1 to 1 time with the younger one now that big sis is doing more nursery time. Ask your sister about long term plans. It's easy to say you want to care but it can be a long commitment.

Zena510 Mon 18-Jul-16 09:39:26

After having 5 children and having spent most of my adult life raising them I made the decision that I wouldn't look after any of the GC when my children went back to work.
I will babysit without hesitation if I am free, but like some of the people on here......this is my free time now and I want to relax and have fun and space. Plus of course I still have my DH - a child himself 😂😂😂😂😂 - who needs attention now he's not contending with the children.

Some relish the thought and that's their choice and is fine.

hulahoop Mon 18-Jul-16 10:13:43

I look after gd one day a week and find its enough it gives us free time to do what we
Want

ayse Mon 18-Jul-16 10:23:46

My daughter and I had a good chat before I began looking after my twin grandchildren of now 18 months. We agreed to provide care 2 days per week (Tuesday and Thursday)with 8 weeks holiday per year. I've just started a little evening babysitting on an as and when basis.
She had a year's maternity leave and throughout this period I was with them most days so got to know them very well.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the days I spend with them. Our agreement is working well and as both of us can be a little flexible when needed.
For me this is just the right balance as I can fit in other activities, including other child care and visiting to my other two daughters.
The one thing that is a little difficult at the moment is being able to take time out with my DH. He is very busy as secretary of the local fishing club, although I wouldn't have it any other way as he is keeping active even though he has a bad back.
It has to be up to the individual but I'm glad I took the plunge. Each to his own

Lewlew Mon 18-Jul-16 10:27:43

I asked my neighbour who did this for both her GCs and she is now my age, 66. She did it when she was in her mid-50s and said it was really tiring and she was a teacher of young children before!

So I took that on board and we only have her one or two afternoons a week, picking her up from nursery. She is just one year now and we are enough of a novelty that she's happy to be at G+Gs this way.

That said... she has chickenpox. Not in much discomfort at all, but nursery has excluded her till next week. Mum had to go on business trip today and tomorrow, dad is self-employed and very busy. So we are having her today and tomorrow all day.

DH and I do this together... I could not do it on my own. Will have to see how we hold up, but it's an emergency, so are happy to help!

Consider your energy level and health first. And your back, too LOL!

Good luck smile

Rosina Mon 18-Jul-16 10:32:55

We have three GC and adore them, of course. Due to DD's awful first marriage we looked after GC1 quite a lot, and now have 2 and 3 often when S and Dil go out for the evening - the little ones stop overnight and it is a very happy time for us all. BUT - Dil became unwell earlier in the year and we had the youngest GC (2) for two weeks. He is a darling, happy, trouble free child but at the end of two weeks I was almost on my knees, and this was with help from DH. As we drove away, leaving the little dear with his now recovered Mum the relief was immeasurable.To read of someone approaching seventy who is contemplating full time baby care makes me go quite hot and cold - as the baby grows and becomes mobile it gets much harder, as we all know, and like it or not we do not have the muscle strength and stamina in our sixties that we had in our thirties.

moobox Mon 18-Jul-16 10:33:12

my friend is nearly 80, and has ended up looking after 2 young children, one a toddler, 4 days a week. The last time I saw her she looked completely spaced out

Lewlew Mon 18-Jul-16 10:41:19

OMG moobox. that poor woman! shock

Also, in my case, it was not just chickenpox. GC gets every cold, virus, sore throat, etc from the nursery. And I was a bit run down for a while from my brother passing away and got everything she did. She'd be ill a few days, I was sick for a month!

That can be scary for older folks. (Won't say elderly. Elderly is at least 10 years older than whatever age I am at now! grin )

Thingmajig Mon 18-Jul-16 10:54:33

We are our DGD's only babysitters and generally are happy to help out. While it's lovely watching the wee one grow and develop, it is very tiring and a huge tie. We are 57 and 62 now (DGD is 2.5yrs) and always do it together as she is such a wee monkey!

We thought we'd be going off on lots of last minute (bargain!) holidays, weekends away etc in our retirement, but no, we have to check when we are free to go, or give a few months notice.

Falconbird Mon 18-Jul-16 11:02:04

We looked after our first grandson, one day a week, from the age of 10 months. It was lovely and now I'm a widow we have a strong bond because he remembers grand dad - however our grandson was frequently ill during the first few years and this is how it went - Wednesday he had a virus - Friday we came down with the virus - next few days recovering from the virus (tummy upsets, sore throats etc.) ready for Wednesday.

Our dil was difficult which didn't help and I got run down and had a nasty boil under my arm which needed out patients treatment - but guess what I'd do it all again. smile

ajanela Mon 18-Jul-16 11:03:30

A mixture of nursery and grandparents is good for all.

Important parents don't presume you will be there as and when but sometimes you have to step in and help and it makes life easier for everyone knowing grandparents are there.

If you sister is a strong character and the Matriarch then the parents will have to accept that or find another solution. Although it is good to work together they must be aware already that your sister will do things her way.

peaceatlast Mon 18-Jul-16 11:06:13

I have 5 grandchildren aged fro 0-7. The two 7 year olds I had for two days a week when they were little. Hard work but enjoyable. My only complaint was/is, it's a long old day and you need to be firm about pick up times otherwise it is not fair to anyone. The middle one I had on his own for a year or two which was more manageable. I now have my almost 18month old grandson one day a week but, come January, he will be joined by his 13 months old cousin. It will be hard work! Sort of looking forward to it but with some misgivings. I seem to pick up every bug that's going around which means I have to let them down sometimes and I always feel bad. Thankfully my husband helps out and although he never had any children of his own, he is wonderful with them all.

I'm now almost 65 as opposed to 58 when they first came along so beginning to feel my age a bit more.

I have a feeling that there's going to be at least one more baby but I would have to think carefully before committing in the future.

sluttygran Mon 18-Jul-16 11:06:24

I look after my DGD age 2, 2-3 days a week, plus I am always on call for evenings out, weekends away, hairdressers visits, doc's appts - you name it and I'm available. I love my family dearly and am very happy with the arrangement, but I was somewhat dismayed when my DD urged me to take up some voluntary work as: "otherwise you'll just sit at home all day and mope" Ha! Chance would be a fine thing! grin

grammakate Mon 18-Jul-16 11:27:10

It is a big responsibility and there is a lot to consider. Definitely consider "offering" for 1/2 days a week so that you have some life of your own. We looked after GS1 for one day a week for three years then GS2 came along and DiL has now returned to work and we are doing 2 days a week with TWO of them until Sept when oldest is going to school but it is HARD WORK when both of us are very fit but in late sixties. Also, my husband and I are current struggling with a really heavy cold caught from the little one last week when we had to continually wipe his nose - you tend to get everything they pick up from Nursery if they also go there!