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Exhausted from child care

(141 Posts)
Lupin22 Tue 01-Jan-19 23:23:06

I adore my Grandchildren.
We started with a day a week and it built up to three days a week. Then baby no. 2 arrived and before we knew it we were looking after a 4 month old and a two year old for a joint total of 80 hours per week.
We were exhausted!! My husband in nearly 70, I am 60+ and we kept going for three and a half years until we realised neither of the parents realised how ill it was making us.
After months of anguish I snapped and 'resigned'. My son has made all of the alternative arrangements, but now my dil barely speaks to me. She has to work extra hours to cover the extra nursery hours. I am not feeding the children for four days a week or running them to Nursery or the Doctors. Costs she has to now cover instead of our state pension.
We feel we have let them down but actually we are well for the first time in three years. We can actually meet up with friends or sleep in until after 5.30am.
Why is their expectation so high? Why do we feel so guilty?

MissAdventure Tue 01-Jan-19 23:36:52

Its because you let something start, which was invaluable to your son and daughter in law.

I'm sure most working parents wouldn't balk at the idea of 80 hours a week free childcare!

You did it whilst you could, which is more than enough (more than I would have done!) so you really shouldn't feel guilty.

Childcare should be something the parents sort out, and taken into account before having another baby.

Day6 Wed 02-Jan-19 00:55:15

We have friends who have the same sort of grandchild child-care situation that you used to have Lupin. They wanted to help so agreed to Monday every week when their DIL returned to work. That became three days a week and now they have to take the ten month old baby as well. They even get asked to have the children at weekends for sleep overs so their parents can go out and have 'me time'.

My friend's husband has at last decided enough is enough. They are in their late sixties and much as they love their grandchildren and son, they feel shattered and seem to have less time together to do their own thing than their working children have. He told us recently that son and DIL sometimes meet up after work for a drink in town before collecting the children.

They admit they allowed it to happen but dread telling son he and DIL will have to find other child-care arrangements. He is determined to claim their retirement back, and rightly so, imo. It seems to be a common problem that small amounts of child care time increase without much thought for the strain on elderly grandparents.

LiveLaughLaove Wed 02-Jan-19 01:10:11

Don't feel guilty at all. 80 hours of childcare per week are parental hours - NOT grandparent hours. That was a ridiculous expectation on their end, more especially if you were covering all of the associated costs. Next time don't take on more than you can possibly handle. That's how resentment starts to breed in - from a totally humble act of love. Glad you put stop to it. Now sit back and enjoy your life and free time!

sodapop Wed 02-Jan-19 09:00:53

Don't feel guilty at all Lupin22 you have been expected to do far too much. I understand that the care arrangements escalate without you necessarily realising but your son & daughter in law have been totally unrealistic in their expectations. Not to say selfish.
You have helped as much as you could now it's time for you to enjoy your retirement.

Anja Wed 02-Jan-19 09:33:10

Oh dear, why didn’t you talk about it with the parents before you got to snapping point. It’s not an all or nothing situation, little in life is.

We all need to negotiate and work together

Luckygirl Wed 02-Jan-19 09:34:00

In retrospect I am sure you wish you had sat down with your family and discussed what might and might not be possible. Hopefully others will see your plight and be moved to do this from the start.

TBH if you were doing 80 hours with two children and providing food then that is what is called "taking the piss" by your family. And just bad manners and lack of consideration.

What a shame for you as I am sure you miss the children.

We currently do one full day a week and 2 school pick-ups. We discussed this beforehand and DD made her other arrangements about what we were able to manage. When baby no.2 arrived we arranged that we would have them both, but on separate days. One is now at school so that alters things a bit and we are down to one day with the 3 year old now. If something comes up that we cannot do a day (appointments or visits) then DD shifts things around to fit.

She has never once voiced any complaint and is always very grateful. I would expect no less of her.

I do think this is a total failure of good manners on behalf of your son and DIL and you should not feel to blame in any way for the fact that this has proved to be too much for you - it would be too much for anyone!

It is sad that it came to a head and the arrangement could not be ended amicably. Do you feel you would like to still have the children, but in a way and at a level that you can manage? If so, maybe you could go back to them with an offer that you have decided is manageable between you.

Gonegirl Wed 02-Jan-19 09:40:50

Don't feel guilty. Age creeps up on us all. Don't feel guilty about reaching snapping point either. You are human, and I would probably have done the same.

Enjoy your new found freedom.

trisher Wed 02-Jan-19 09:43:01

Lupin22 If you have done three and a half years you have done more than your share.You say your DIL is working more to pay nursery fees, is she claiming the free nursery provision the child is entitled to? You shouldn't feel guilty. But if it gets too much and you want to offer an olive branch you could make yourself available in the school holidays and offer a limited amount of time. On the other hand guilt is the default position for all parents and grandparents!

Telly Wed 02-Jan-19 09:45:25

The only thing that went wrong here was falling out, understandably so, when things got out of hand. Saying no is hard and you were taken advantage of. It is interesting to note how you say your DiL now has to cover the additional cost as opposed to your son or rather both of them? I guess you find it hard to say no your son? I would start to mend some bridges, perhaps meeting up for lunch or something, if there is a birthday coming up? That way you can get some sort of normality back to your lives. There is no need to feel guilty, it was partially their responsibility for laying an intolerable load at your door.

Bathsheba Wed 02-Jan-19 09:53:13

I do really sympathise. When my DiL became pregnant for the first time, my DS said, jokingly (or was it??) that I could retire early and look after the baby full-time instead. I responded in kind, laughed my head off and said "yeah, you wish!" or something similar.
I then went on in a more serious vein to say that I would be more than happy to help out with babysitting now and then and in emergencies, but I wouldn't be prepared to commit my time to a permanent full-time (or even part-time!) child care arrangement. So we all knew where we stood right from the start and it's worked well. We love having our GC and spending time with them, but even the odd day or two here and there is exhausting!
I am continually shocked at how many parents expect the grandparents to provide free full-time childcare, and seem to have no clue about just how exhausting this can be to people in their 60s and beyond. Utterly selfish in my opinion, and rude beyond belief to expect them to pay for all their food and entertainment on top of this!
I really feel for you, because now you will be worrying about how to get your relationship with them back on an even footing. But please, please, do not torture yourself with guilt. The only people in this case who should be feeling guilty are your son and daughter in law for taking the piss for so long.
Incidentally, I don't really understand how you were doing 80 hours a week. Serriously? That's 16 hours a day over a 5 day week! Surely not? hmm

Grammaretto Wed 02-Jan-19 09:53:50

I am sorry for you but also grateful to you for voicing your feelings as a warning.
I am the sort if person who might spontaneously agree to something like you have done but luckily was never asked.
DD has mentioned, with a glint of envy, other people's parents who do the bulk of child care but knows we are not in a position to help.
I know someone who is muttering how as she gets older and creakier the child gets heavier and more demanding and there's another expected.
I hope you can sort something out now. It shouldn't be all or nothing .

Alypoole Wed 02-Jan-19 09:55:36

I feel for you both and totally understand how these things happen. We currently look after a 2 year old for 2 days and pick up the 4 year old from school. In the mornings we help with the school run etc. I volunteered to look after the 4 year old for 2 days and this was then expected when the second one came along. We can cope with this BUT it is enough! The wine bottle comes out on Tuesday evening when they leave even though we adore them both. I could NOT cope with anymore. Don’t feel guilty.......... or at least try not to, but I think it’s a woman’s lot in life.

Teetime Wed 02-Jan-19 09:59:32

lupin2 I think you did remarkably well to do what you did. I often see grandparent her in the park trying to keep up with a manic 2 year old and looking tired and dare I say bored. Golf and bowls friends have their retirement overtaken by these arrangements and cant enjoy their own life whats more they expect the rest of us to fall in e.g. 'I have to golf at 8.30 in the morning to fit in with the school pick up' . The rest of us ladies are expected to fall in with this- I dont hit the tee until after 10. Anyway lupin2 I hope you can enjoy your own time but enjoy the GCs too but on your terms.

Kalu Wed 02-Jan-19 10:08:33

What a charming DiL.

You did your best and more to help them with childminding then when you explain you find it too exhausting now, her nose is out of joint. She should think herself very lucky that you did all this caring for her children was FOC.

You understood her position and needs so what is it she can’t understand about your position and needs. Sounds like it’s all about her and in that case, hope this helps you not to feel the tiniest bit guilty.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Wed 02-Jan-19 10:22:43

Oh dear. You did your best but they expected too much. I expect they didn't realise just how onerous it would be for you and that's not your fault. I hope it all blows over for all your sakes.

inishowen Wed 02-Jan-19 10:24:57

Don't feel guilty. When our first grandchild was born we agreed to mind her two days a week, from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm. I was shattered as I did all the childcare (hubby just did what he felt like). I started getting vertigo and was diagnosed with anemia. Still I carried on until she started school. Then her brother was born and I was asked if I would do one full day a week. I had to say no. I was six years older by then and just couldn't take on another baby. He goes to nursery now at £800 a month. He loves it but I know my daughter struggles to pay as her marriage has just broken up.

PECS Wed 02-Jan-19 10:26:31

It can creep up if you are not careful. I have seen it happen with friends. DH and I have looked afted DGC a couple of times a week and still do but now they are all at school it is for fewer hours. You don't have to stop completely .. could offer to do pick up early from day care a couple of days ..whatever suits you. And that is the has to be a two way agreement. Help for busy parents and pleasure for GPs. When it is not a pleasure it is time to rethink.

ariana6 Wed 02-Jan-19 10:27:58

There's a strong sense of entitlement with many young parents and its very hurtful when they put their own needs first all the time.
I'm very, very tempted to have a six month break from my adult children and their spouses just to re-set the boundaries, lower the expectations and have fun whilst we spend their inheritance!

dirgni Wed 02-Jan-19 10:31:59

Our children don’t seem to realise that we don’t have as much energy and fitness as they have!

lemongrove Wed 02-Jan-19 10:32:33

Lupin.....this doesn’t stack up.You say you have been doing this for three and a half years.That makes the two year old five and a half now.Children go to school now when they are four years old.
The baby that was ten months should now be in free childcare ( as she is three) during the week.

Craicon Wed 02-Jan-19 10:35:24

I have a friend like you OP who cancels arrangements with friends last minute because one of the grandchildren needs minding because the parents want to do something else. She also looks after her 1 yr old DGS several days a week when her DD goes to work.
Her DD is also talking about having a second child but with no thought or care as to how it impact on my friend.
Friend struggles to say no at the best of times but what really irks me is that when she’s out in town and we see DIL, DIL actively ignores her. I was shocked when I witnessed this the first time but friend says DIL has always been like this.
Why are some adult DC so rude and entitled?
I think they’ve been spoilt as children and still put their needs first.

JanaNana Wed 02-Jan-19 10:40:39

I honestly believe that because we are a more active and involved generation of grandparents than previous generations, that it is not always recognised that we are still the age we are and can feel tired and worn out. So many grandparents just want to help their families out but you have to draw a line somewhere when your own health is suffering. It is unfortunate that your DiL is barely speaking to you, and probably feels resentful at all the extra expenses they are having to cover. However this is,nt really your problem, you have given them three years of dedicated childcare and they should appreciate what you have done for them and not begrudge what you can longer do.
Yesterday I read in one of the newspapers that grandparents who do the childcare are now being blamed for the rising obesity rate in children.
This being because they are apparently too generous with the biscuit tin and packets of sweets! and the AC unwilling to say anything to them in case the childcare is withdrawn! Seems whatever you do these days " you're damned if you do ....and damned if you don't ".

NanaAnnie Wed 02-Jan-19 10:44:08

In the young folks' defence, these days Mum has to go back to work to cover the rising cost of living. I've been providing childcare for 10 years, one whole day a week because I am still working (I'm 64). My boss allows me the day off during the week to provide said childcare and the other 4 days, I do extra time so as not to lose any income. It's worked out fine and in the beginning, it was easier having the babies for a whole day because I was younger but when the second baby arrived 4 years ago, I had a word with my DIL and told her I couldn't have a 7.30am start to my day any longer so she made alternative arrangements with a childminder for the first few hours of the day until it was time pick-up time (I also had to travel the 16 mile round trip TWICE on those days because the eldest grandchild was at school in the same town and also required pick up). Now they've moved closer to me and have changed schools and nursery so it's a little bit easier for me. On the upside, that one whole day a week with my girls ensures our special time together and I thoroughly enjoy their company (I have two sons so having two little girls to look after has been such a joy!) then and when they come for sleepovers. The other set of grandparents do their share as well, although they are better at saying 'no' on occasion! I feel thoroughly blessed to have my granddaughters and to be included in their lives but I wouldn't feel guilty if the time came when I felt it was becoming too much for me and I'm sure my son and DIL would understand if that were the case.

Samiejb Wed 02-Jan-19 10:45:00

I imagine that although the comments you are receiving are saying you shouldn't feel guilty - you still will - I think it's a parent thing, you just want to help your children as best you can and you're regretting that that is not as much possible as it used to be.