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Grandparenting

Looking after grandchildren getting too much.

(33 Posts)
beautybumble Mon 20-Jan-20 18:56:56

I have 3 grown up children and 5 grandchildren whom I love very much. I've been retired for 10 years and in all that time, hardly a day goes by that I don't help out with grandchildren. I'm divorced and very much alone when I'm not doing this. My son never calls or visits except when he wants help with the kids or the dog. My eldest daughter talks to me but about herself for hours on end. My youngest answers me with one word when I try to make conversation. I think if my children were to call occasionally just to say hi, or invite me to tea or something I might not feel so alone and trapped. As I said, I love them and the children very much and would do anything for them. I just wish it all wasn't so intense. Sorry for the rant.

notanan2 Mon 20-Jan-20 19:01:33

It sounds miserable 😔 sometimes one feels more lonely when surrounded by people that when actually alone. None of that sounds like quality time x

CanadianGran Mon 20-Jan-20 19:05:55

Sounds like you need a bit of a family council! Let your kids know how you are feeling; both physically and mentally. Let them know you have to limit the amount of help for your own health, and enjoyment of the grandkids.

While it's nice to be able to help, they know they can always rely on you and don't make much effort for other arrangements. Collectively it can really add up.

Don't feel bad for your rant... we are all grandparents here and can offer ideas, or just an ear.

I know my hubby and I were feeling a bit ragged yesterday after having 2 Gkids for a few hours, plus watching the new puppy of another son while he was working! And there were two of us, so you must be very tired. Please look after yourself.

GrannyOrNanny Mon 20-Jan-20 19:11:31

That sounds a tad unfair. Please please take time to look after you...they might just find themselves in the very same position one day.

Curlywhirly Mon 20-Jan-20 19:15:06

Well, I have the kind of relationship with my two sons that I could just say 'how about I come to you for a change?' It would be lovely to get out the house!" And if I had my grandchildren as often as you have yours, I would certainly say that sometimes it gets a bit too much and you would love some help and to be waited-on occasionally.

DoraMarr Mon 20-Jan-20 19:36:10

You are suffering from invisible mum syndrome, I’m afraid. They have busy lives and are too occupied with their own affairs until they need your help. I think that, difficult though it may be, you should have a quiet conversation with each of your children and tell them how you are feeling. Then it would be good if you could have some activities during the week that you enjoy doing that get you out of the house. I have found U3A very welcoming and friendly, or you could explore groups or activities in your local area through your library. You sound like a lovely person and your love for your family is obvious, and I am sure they love you, but they are taking you for granted. They will probably be very surprised when you talk to them, and will not have realised how unhappy you are. And yes, it IS hard looking after children when you do not have a husband or partner to share the chores.

sodapop Mon 20-Jan-20 20:21:16

That's absolutely right DoraMarr.

Talk to your family beautybumble they need to realise how you feel.

52bright Mon 20-Jan-20 20:37:28

DoraMarr gives very good advice. You explained yourself very well in your original post beautybumble. Do you think you could say or write what you have written here to your children or do you think doing so might make things worse if they get defensive and upset?

I agree with DoraMarr that you should try to find some activities to do occasionally during the week. You could start small by not being available on one or two occasions. I think that when we seem to be always available our children can be more inclined to take us for granted; to think 'well mum has nothing else to do with her time'. I really believe that when you are available only some of the time you are more appreciated. If your children have to make alternative arrangements for childcare now and then, with all the added cost and inconvenience this might entail, it will concentrate their minds and might make them show more appreciation. I'm sure they do appreciate you but you need to have that shown in tangible ways.

As a grandparent myself I have many gp friends who childcare and they sometimes confide how they are really feeling when they hesitate to tell their grown up children. Amongst my friends the 2 couples who do the childcare full time both say they sometimes feel taken for granted whereas the couple I know who do part time childcare seem to really enjoy it. If they have something they really want to do on a childcare day they give plenty of notice and go and do their thing. They say that their dc are really appreciative and they think it's because they have the comparison of gp childcare days and nursery ext with all the extra expense and no lee way about pick up times ext.

Good luck op. You sound a very caring gm but you do need down time for yourself as well. We are none of us getting younger flowers

TrendyNannie6 Mon 20-Jan-20 20:51:56

I think there’s a few grandparents that possibly feel like you do, so many AC are so wrapped up in their day to day lives that they don’t give a thought that you could be feeling like this, I think you should speak to your AC and explain how you are feeling, but I also feel you should do things for yourself

Grannytomany Mon 20-Jan-20 22:43:57

I’m not sure that talking to the adult children is the right thing to do as it could as easily cause trouble and resentment as create solutions. Instead I’d do my damnest to find things to occupy myself out of the house and gradually and gently begin to make myself a bit less available.

I have 5 children and 13 grand and great grand children and know just how easy it is to fall into the routine (or trap) or it being assumed that you’re always available for childminding. I wasn’t very good at saying No for a long time and would often change my plans to fit in with what was being asked of me but there comes a time when enough is enough and I think I managed to wean myself away without upsetting anyone. I think often adult children think their parents love having their great children so much they can never have too much of a good thing.

It’s amazing though how they seemed to manage and find alternative arrangements as I became that bit less available.

Franbern Tue 21-Jan-20 09:28:11

Grannytomany - think you have hit the nail on the head - My best friend (sadly dead now these past ten years), often complained to me that she had no friends. I did point out to her that one of the reasons was that she let people (including me) down often with arrangements if one of her children clicked their fingers at the last moment for childminding.
She desperately wanted to be needed by her children and they took advantage (do not think they realised it). I did tell her that to say 'No' occasionally - particularly when she did have other arrangements would actually earn their respect, but she could never bring herself to do this.
Even when she came with me on a weeks holiday, she returned back after 48 hours as one of them called to say she needed her for baby sitting!!!! When she visited one of her children in Australia, she complained to me, that they had not gone anywhere during her three weeks there, and had been given the new baby to hold almost as soon as she arrived. She said that this was done as if they were bestowing a great honour on her. But, she only said these things to me, NEVER to her children.
I made it very clear to my AC from the start that I have done my job of bringing them up, and my day for that is over. Whereas, I am happy - where possible to help out in any emergency, I am not in the business of child-minding any more. Did help once or twice a week with nearby daughter who became a single parent very early on - but that was it. When I visit my children, it is THEM I am visiting, the g.children are almost incidental - and they all appreciate that my own children are first for me.
Love my g.kids, obviously, but as I only see them occasionally, can be the 'Spoiling Grandma' on those occasions

Yehbutnobut Tue 21-Jan-20 09:39:07

A happy medium surely? You cannot do this day in and day out without a break or some recognition of what a lovely mum/grandmother you are.

Take back a day or two each week. Find something to do that you like and make new friends. It might not be easy at first but you need more in your life xx

polnan Tue 21-Jan-20 10:04:31

Just read the initial post, not the comments yet,

I was thinking, wouldn`t it be lovely if we all lived nearby each other, so none of us would have to say that we are lonely.

deep sighs

Jue1 Tue 21-Jan-20 10:25:19

Get them all together, start with how much you love and enjoy them and the grandchildren but you would like to be visited for YOU as well. Not just as the childminder.
How fabulous you are. I have one grandchild, adorable but hard work all the same.
Well done you.

Summerstorm Tue 21-Jan-20 10:28:46

You are the only one that can sort this out. Your AC and GK are not your life or they shouldn’t be. You would be a much more interesting and enjoyable person to be around if you had some outside interests. Art club, gardening group, knitting or sewing group, or book club. These are all skills that you can pass on to your GK, some of the best friends I’ve made recently have been made at toddlers groups. You have to be less available and more independent. You are actually relying on your AC’s for company. Learn to be busy and less available, they will appreciate you more in the long run

jaylucy Tue 21-Jan-20 10:29:48

Do you have a friend that could have a quiet chat with your family, individually about how you feel? They are obviously in complete ignorance . as those closet to you often are.
I know a little about how you feel - when my nieces and nephews were little, along with my son, I often looked after them, took them out for the day ( their highlight was often catching a bus to go anywhere!) all paid for out of my own pocket. Nearly every weekend, one niece in particular used to come and stay and we used to shopping (her mum hated shopping)then through her teens we used to go to concerts together. That all stopped when she went to uni and now she is married, I only see her twice a year - usually my birthday and before her birthday! The others are just as bad!
I have obviously outlived my usefulness!
I just decided to go to concerts on my own ( met some lovely helpful people) and go shopping on my own or meet up with ex workmates.
Try voluntary work or join a group that do things you are interested in- you will make friends and a life for yourself.

Madwoman11 Tue 21-Jan-20 10:41:06

Time to sort out a social life for yourself, and then tell them that although you love them and your grandchildren you are finding it too much now.
Join some groups, make new friends, look after yourself and your needs. Nothing worse than being used, and surely an occasional coffee out somewhere arranged by your family to show their appreciation is not a lot to ask. Life is to enjoy so please do it...but in a nice way of course flowers

Summerstorm Tue 21-Jan-20 10:48:11

I’d be very reluctant to let anyone else speak to your AC about this. It could cause all sorts of problems. Could sound like you have been complaining about things behind their backs. I’d feel very resentful if someone did this to me. Find out about interesting things in your area and then tell your AC’s that you have decided to do XY or Z and you are giving the advanced warning that you will be busy on whatever day it’s on. You will be surprised by their response. Either delighted that your doing something for your self or a bit annoyed about not being available. You will soon get your eyes opened to what they really think of you

KatyK Tue 21-Jan-20 11:01:22

I speak to a lot of grans who are in this position, in fact most grans I know. I once tried to talk to my daughter when I felt left out and taken for granted. It almost caused a major falling out. Some good advice above.

Rhinestone Tue 21-Jan-20 11:12:31

We have been estranged from two of our four grandchildren because we stopped sitting. We were taking care of three parents and two babies. We just couldn’t do it regularly anymore but offered to do it whenever we could. We were still expected to call and come over all the time to see them. They never visited us. I’m not trying to scare anyone but I don’t think talking with your children is the right thing to do. I would just announce, cheerfully, that you just joined this group ( whatever it may be) and you are excited but won’t be available anymore on such and such days.

Keeper1 Tue 21-Jan-20 12:00:17

I have never babysat my grandchildren. I work full time so it hassle been possible. I can however visit and bring treats, toys etc and love that. If I am ever in the position to babysit I would be thrilled.
I do understand that to be expected to do it and without warning is unfair.

Jishere Tue 21-Jan-20 12:08:41

Everyone gets into a routine and a way of living. Why don't you be pro active and suggest something like what you want to Do? Coffee with son or lunch with daughter.
It's something you don't usually do with them. Otherwise they will think you are ok when you are not.

Janiepops Tue 21-Jan-20 13:20:44

Franbern, I completely agree with your last paragraph, I feel the same way!
I’m a tired enough person as it is, lifting little ones in and out of high chairs, and pushchairs, and upstairs, on and off swings, in and out car seats,I’m cream crackered by lunchtime!!
Adore them (8 currently) but having babies is for the young!!

Noreen3 Tue 21-Jan-20 13:25:06

I think you need more time to do things that you need to do .It must be hard work with so many grandchildren,I only have 1 myself,I look after her ,but not too much.Everything is so much harder when you're by yourself,I can relate to that

willa45 Tue 21-Jan-20 14:31:46

I'm divorced and very much alone when I'm not doing this

I think the above summarizes the root of your problem. Unless you have a health problem or some other serious limitation you haven't mentioned, you need not depend on your family for your sole social life.

You may have to step out of your 'comfort zone' to develop new relationships outside of your family, but I suspect you will be much happier if you can succeed in doing that.

Start by finding a new hobby, join a club, get a dog, ride a bike, try volunteering, develop a new interest...even a part time job. There is a whole world of activities out there waiting to be re-discovered. .....and when your adult children realize that you are busy and that you have a life of your own that is independent of theirs, they will be less inclined to take advantage of your time.