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Grandparenting

Babysitting granddaughter - what's wrong with me?

(62 Posts)
babs75 Mon 13-Jul-20 00:18:47

My husband and I are both in our 60's. He is retired. I still work full time and am legal guardian and conservator for my 94 year old dad who is in skilled nursing right now (went there from AL due to health issues) but I am shopping for memory care for the next move. Covid has allowed me to have my Saturday's back, as I do not make my weekly visit to my dad which has actually been nice -- I've been at this 5-1/2 years. Our son, wife, and 2 year old granddaughter live down the street. My daughter-in-law is working from home right now and watching the 2 year old (daycare is open but they have decided not to send her.) We go back and forth and probably see them for a short time twice a week. I am careful not to intervene too much as I respect their time and don't want to be a grandma that butts in all the time. My job has allowed me to work from home so I am here all day. I go to exercise classes 4 days during the week after work and on Sunday. Our second granddaughter is due the end of August. My daughter-in-law's mom lives overseas and is unable to come and help this time because of Covid, like she did the first time. I could tell that our visit with them yesterday was uncomfortable. My husband and son talked. They are upset that I don't take my granddaughter for a couple hours at a time. I'm still trying to figure out how I would do that given I work full time and then to Zumba. (don't ask me to give that up because I won't). Maybe I could squeeze out some time from the weekend but I also brought up the fact to my husband that since he is retired and here all day that maybe he could bring her down here for longer visits and watch her himself. She is a handful and our house is not child-proof. You literally have to watch her all the time. My guess is that they want me to bring her here during the week for a couple hours during the work week to give mom a break but I really can't do that and work too. I feel like this is being pushed on me and that if I sit down for some quiet time or TV, I am feeling guilty--like that time should be dedicated to her instead of myself. I guess I'm still learning the boundaries of being a grandparent. I love her to death but she is a handful and it gets really tiring. You literally can't do anything else while she's here. How does a grandma balance the needs of her own life with her grandchildren? This is going to be doubled when the next one comes. My husband and I commented to each other that we had no help whatsoever when our kids were little. His parents were already gone and mine played no role in our kids lives at all. Trying to be a good grandma but still have plenty of time for me!

SueDonim Mon 13-Jul-20 00:39:46

Your DiL will soon be on maternity leave, I imagine, so it’s a short term problem for them. Given that you work FT, have an outside interest and also care for your father, adding in childcare is a big ask. How can you do your work if you’re childminding at the same time? As they have daycare available to them, they really ought to use that - my own GC are going back to nursery next week.

Otherwise, as you yourself suggest, your Dh could step in to help. He could maybe look after your GD in her own home, where her toys are and it will be toddler-proofed.

Best wishes.

Elrel Mon 13-Jul-20 01:30:11

Bear in mind that your GC will not be small for long,

Madgran77 Mon 13-Jul-20 05:03:49

1. They should have spoken to you if they feel you need to use YOUR time differently!
2.You really shouldn't feel guilty..this is your life and you can live it as you wish. You should not be unwillingly/guiltily "squeezing out" your own precious "me time" to suit them!!
3. Why do they think that your time is their right to use/dictate to? They are seeing you as a solution to their stresses which is completely unfair. The only solution for them with you, is using anything that YOU are willing to offer!
4. Why do they see this is your "failure"? Why is childcare your job? Your husband is retired, he can do it IF he chooses to!
5. If they don't want to use childcare that is up to them ...but does not mean that they can use you for free instead!!

I think you know all of the above and I think you need to fight your own natural guilty instincts. You are a "giver", someone who helps, and have rightly been doing that for your dad and will be again. Don't let anyone take away your time unless YOU want to give it. It is very true that grandchildren are only young for a short time ...but I think as grandparents we all have to forge our own role according to what WE want and what we are allowed to do ...but what |WE want comes first.

Decide for your self what you want to do; tell your husband. Then I would talk to your son and DIL together; explain that you do not feel able to offer regular slots of time for care because you are working, you get tired, you are looking into future care for your father, you need some time to your self to relax. Tell them what you can offer, if anything. Then ...carry on living life as YOU want to!

Loislovesstewie Mon 13-Jul-20 05:31:42

What Madgran77 says. I'm always amazed that people are so keen to timetable another's life. you are allowed a life you know! good luck!

BlueBelle Mon 13-Jul-20 06:33:09

Be careful..,, they are grown before you blink
Do what you feel you want to do I just remember how frazzled I d get looking after a number of different grandkids over a number of years Now they re all older teens I never see them barely hear from them ( just how it should be) but I d give anything for those frazzled tines back

vegansrock Mon 13-Jul-20 07:14:15

Looking after a little one is exhausting and time consuming. You already have a full timetable, just say , sorry but can’t fit it all in. Your choice.

tanith Mon 13-Jul-20 07:53:02

If you don’t want to have her then do as others have said but if you do want to spend time with her as you are organising your own work day could you not arrange to have an afternoon off even once a week to do this? Surely your have leave entitlement that you could use to do this. A family member is doing this for my GGD so mum gets a couple of child free afternoons to fully concentrate on work.

Curlywhirly Mon 13-Jul-20 08:42:09

I too had no one to help with childcare when my children were young. I would have given anything for some help and it would have made such a difference to my stress levels. With this in mind, I was determined to help out with my grandchildren whenever possible. When I worked (4 days a week) I looked after my granddaughter on my day off; but we also had sleepovers at weekends to give her parents a chance of a lie-in. If you don't have time during the day to help out with childcare, could you not offer to have your grandchild overnight at weekend? All you need is a cot and some toys. Both my grandchildren love staying and fight over whose turn it is to have a sleep over (it's hard work to have them both sleep!). The pleasure we get from looking after them is priceless, it's hard work, but very rewarding.

sodapop Mon 13-Jul-20 08:59:02

Quite frankly babs75 I would be telling my husband and son if they have anything to say speak to me personally. Why does the caring role fall entirely to you ? Surely your husband can help with this.
I agree it may be better to care for your granddaughter in her own home which is more geared to her needs. Having said all that time with your grandchildren is precious and you may regret it if you miss out on this. I would have a serious talk with your husband about sharing more of your responsibilities.

PECS Mon 13-Jul-20 09:02:16

Reading your post it sounds like you are truly selfish. But unless we look after ourselves who else will? Just do what makes you feel right. There is no obligation to visit your father, to care for a grandchild. We owe nothing to parents or to our adult children but we do owe it to ourselves to be fit and have an independent life.

flaxwoven Mon 13-Jul-20 09:09:00

You sound like you are racked with guilt because you can't "do it all" and are trying to please everyone. You had your own children 30 years or more ago and are entitled to your own life. You already care for your husband and father. However, although the 2-3 year age group is the hardest and most tiring, it doesn't last long they quickly grow and you need to decide whether you want a close relationship with the little girl or not. I had no help at all with 3 children under 10 and a husband who worked long hours and almost never there. I didn't want to be like that and I've enjoyed having the two grandsons. They make me smile and laugh and happy. I would suggest you discuss this situation with your husband and let him know how you feel and see if he would be willing to do some childcare.. I would also suggest you get your son on his own and discuss it with him. Then make your decision.

Susan56 Mon 13-Jul-20 09:50:51

I don’t think it is wrong of you at all to want some time for yourself so don’t even think about giving up Zumba.You work full time,your husband doesn’t work,your son and daughter in law have chosen not to sent their child to childcare.I don’t understand why your family think it should be you and not your retired husband who helps them out.Mum has no time,dad has lots of time so let’s ask mum to look after our daughter??

theretheredear Mon 13-Jul-20 09:56:59

They are only little for such a short time, blink & it's gone.. Your dil mother can't be here just now, do the right thing & support them now, Zumba will always be there shamrock

Bathsheba Mon 13-Jul-20 10:05:41

There is a very good reason why nature arranged for childbearing years to be when women are young. As we get older we simply don’t have the energy to keep up with the demands of young children.

Besides which, we’ve served our time - for most of our generation with little or no input from our parents. I honestly do not understand why today’s young parents expect so much support, nor why we as grandparents have to tippy toe around them for fear they will take offence and stop us seeing our grandchildren. Are we not allowed at last to make our own life choices, now that our children are grown?

Tell them nicely but firmly babs75 that you simply cannot fit childcare into your already busy life.

GagaJo Mon 13-Jul-20 10:29:30

I give all of my free time to my grandson. He is 2 and is a REAL handful. But as a result, I have a wonderful relationship with him. I'm still in full-time work so I am tired a lot of the time but I take the view that he will be little for such a short space of time.

If you don't form a close bond with your grandchildren now, don't be surprised when you have no real place in your children/grandchildren's lives when you're older and DO want some of their time and attention.

Yes, it's your life. But they're only hoping for a couple of hours a week and you and your husband could share it so you're not doing it all. You could toddler proof one room in your home. Again, even the new baby will be off and gone to school in 5 years. It's a tiny window of time we're talking about.

It sounds as if really you just don't want to though.

jaylucy Mon 13-Jul-20 10:42:39

I would guess that you don't live in the UK by the fact that you are still able to go to Zumba!
There are many of us that would currently love the chance to go to a Zumba class (or anything in a group setting, come to that!) as well as spend time with grandchildren - some haven't seen them for months!
So what if you have to stop what you are doing for a couple of hours a week ? Seriously, spending time with a grandchild is one of the best things that you can ever do. She won't be into everything for long and if there is both you and your DH to take care of her, it won't be so difficult.
I always think that it is sad when grandparents always say "well I did'nt do that/have that help " - my own mother lost her mother in her late teens and had no help from her MiL even though we lived next door to her , so when GC came along she went out of her way to have them stay at week ends etc and she got so much joy from doing it!
I really would not want your GC, in later years to be saying that she wished she had spent more time with you. Time spent with others cannot be replaced once it has passed.

eazybee Mon 13-Jul-20 10:46:50

Did you have to work when your children were very small?
I think you could miss one Zumba class a week, and I think your husband should certainly offer some time out of his day.

FarNorth Mon 13-Jul-20 11:01:21

I was going to say the same as eazybee.
Also, if your son wants to ask you to do something he should speak to you not to your husband.

PetitFromage Mon 13-Jul-20 11:14:02

No wonder you are exhausted, working full time in your 60s and looking after your father. Is there any reason why your husband can't go to their house and help out a bit, as one of the previous posters suggested? But only if he wants to.

It's better to be upfront now about what you can and can't do, rather than agreeing to something which you subsequently have to give up and let them down if they are relying on you, or taking it on and feeling tired and resentful.

Could you help them with nursery costs, if that is an issue?

Dylant1234 Mon 13-Jul-20 11:26:42

I think you and your husband (especially your retired husband) need to be honest with yourselves and admit that, for whatever reason, you don’t really want your two year old grandchild at your home. If you did, you would have child-proofed at least one room and would have been willing to watch the toddler at all times, because that’s what has to be done with toddlers ...... you find time to visit a couple of times a week but neither of you can find just two hours a week in your schedule to have one to one time with your grandchild, which is the best way to really get to know them well. Most grandparents would jump at the chance and two hours is no time at all to ask. I can understand that your son and DIL are a little resentful, esp in these very stressful Covid times for young families. Did your husband help much when your children were little? As he’s retired and you don’t say he’s unwell or anything, surely he could help out your DIL who is pregnant and still working and would really appreciate being able to have an occasional break, esp. if they’ve had a broken night or whatever. You say you adore your grandchild to death so surely it’s in her best interests to have a less tired mother and happy family relationships, something being put in jeopardy by you and your husband’s failure to help them; your DIL is clearly in need of some respite.
I think you’ll regret this in years to come - they might even move if possible to be nearer to her family ......

Oopsminty Mon 13-Jul-20 11:33:11

I'd have been rather shocked if either of my two children had expected me to do anything at all when they had their children!

I think we're all different. I love all my grandchildren. I probably see the girls once a month and the boys pop in with their Mum, ( my daughter) once a fortnight .

I've never really provided childcare but I would always help out if need be

My parents rarely looked after mine. And they never looked after them for any length of time

I used to think they were my children and I'd be taking responsibility for them

Of course if you want loads of contact that's perfectly fine.

Just pointing out that not everyone is the same

TwiceAsNice Mon 13-Jul-20 12:31:32

It’s what your priorities are. Personally I think 4 Zumba classes or time with my grandchild I’ll never get back? I know what I would choose . Say no by all means but don’t come complaining on here when your daughter and grandchild don’t want to spend time with you

Madgran77 Mon 13-Jul-20 12:36:24

don’t come complaining on here when your daughter and grandchild don’t want to spend time with you

I dont think that choosing not to look after her regularly means the above. Presumably you will still see her , do things with her, just not in the way you have been asked that you maybe dont want to do

sodapop Mon 13-Jul-20 12:46:21

Bit harsh TwiceasNice the OP has a lot on her plate already whereas her husband appears not to help much at all. I think she has a right to enjoy her relaxation. It must be possible to compromise.