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Grandparenting

Grandchildren with no structure

(54 Posts)
Thistlelass Fri 29-Jan-21 12:19:13

I am currently experiencing difficulties offering care for two grandchildren. Little boy age 3 and little girl age 5. They are the children of my son and his wife. I should add I have significant mental health issues, and currently on a Neurologist's books for suspected MS. So I go to their house early to see the girl do her schoolwork with teacher on computer. I was invited to call at this time. There is a 6 month old puppy in the house which is naturally very boisterous. Within minutes of me arriving the kids are excited as is dog. Son is self employed tradesman and was going to do work at his workshop. He did not leave the house for about 1.5 hours after I arrived. Now the pup peed on the kitchen floor and again at the front door also doing its business. The kids were playing around and I was keeping an eye on them. This family does not really live to a routine. Mum has been studying for 4 years and is about to enter the workplace. My grandson, naturally has lots of little play figures - the dog grabs them and runs off, etc. Child starts wailing, that sort of thing. The little girl is very spirited. I love her to bits but she likes to push on the boundaries. I go to their home because it is easier for me.to manage. I know they will run riot in mine and I do get tired..Also have to take steps to keep my mood as even as possible. Kids go to other grandparents and are allowed to run upstairs and play in the 5 bedrooms etc I don't feel I want or can cope with that. I visited one afternoon and quickly the children and dog get excited. My son actually said to me is it worth it?! Meaning.me.visiting. As he went out the door yesterday he said it again! I then spent the afternoon trying to manage situation (pup went with him). It was difficult with the girl wanting to leave the house and run down street etc. But I managed. When my daughter-in-law came back I just made a quick exit. She sent me a message later and I told her what son had said. She responded they were looking for me to be disciplining the kids more effectively. I responded that I did not think it was my place to do that when a parent was in the house. So now I don't know what to think. Just wondering what others would think.about this objectively?

NellG Fri 29-Jan-21 12:40:57

Can I start by sending you a massive hug? It sounds like you might need one. The whole situation sounds extremely stressful.

If your daughter in law has said that they are looking to you to discipline their kids (and btw, I agree it's not your place when the parents are present) then I think you might have to have a very open discussion about what they do and do not expect from you, wherein you can discuss your limitations ( re health issues). Unfortunately people really don't see how much 'we' are struggling. We think it must be obvious, but it isn't, and hardly ever to our kids unless we spell it out.

It's a difficult situation as you obviously love your grandchildren and want to be supportive, but I do think it's going to need a very open discussion about what that entails. Equally I think you might need them to agree that when they, or one of them is there, you are a visitor and not providing childcare at that time and that you need to refer to them.

I hope it all works out for you, grandchild and health wise. Best wishes.

Sara1954 Fri 29-Jan-21 12:52:48

We have one daughter and three grandchildren living with us at the moment. I do discipline them, but only in the absence of my daughter, when I don’t consider it to be my place.
It sounds a truly difficult situation, I don’t expect thanks from my daughter, but I certainly expect some respect and consideration.

Bibbity Fri 29-Jan-21 13:02:23

It sounds like you need to end the arrangement. My children are 6 and 4 and become wild when a grandparent arrives. It can be very annoying that a moment before we were doing something normal and structured.
If they are visiting then we just let them get it out of their system.
If they are babysitting the tone changes as they are the adults in charge.
If you are the only adult in charge then you should be controlling their behaviour.
But due to you being unwell you may not be able to do this.
If you can’t then they need to find someone else.

Thistlelass Fri 29-Jan-21 13:15:15

Bibbity thank you. I am not sure about ending it. I don't really think that is what I want. I am also unsure about me controlling them in their parents absence. Clearly a grandparent does try but parents set the example to their children. If the parent has set the boundaries in a 'good enough' way then the children will be a little bit more co-operative when mummy.and daddy are not around. I know this to be the case as my daughter and son-in- law also have two children. They are being brought up totally differently and behave accordingly. I probably think a full discussion is needed but I am afraid of alienating them or making them feel less as two parents who are trying their hardest.

silverlining48 Fri 29-Jan-21 13:39:22

If your son is not leaving the house until 1.5 hours after your arrival then you need not be there so early. If other parent is in the house why not offer to go for a few hours, morning or afternoon to help.
I sympathise as my GC is also difficult and I started to dread it. COVID ended it and my dd is working at home and dealing with her two without our input.
You need to look after your own well-being so perhaps a chat may help. Try not to worry and good luck 🤞

Thistlelass Fri 29-Jan-21 16:56:05

Silverlining I was there at that time to see my grandchild participate in her lessons. I had no idea my son was not going out straight after that. It is my son who is at home at the moment as his wife is in her final placement t days a week.

M0nica Fri 29-Jan-21 17:06:26

Thistlelass the simple problem is that you are taking on more childcare than you can cope with given your physical and mental problems and I do not think your son and DiL realise just how your medical problems affect you aand also how we all slow down with age.

There are biological reasons why our capacity to have children drops so fast in our 40s, one of them is our loss of ebnergy and stamina., grandparents are there to support parents not replace them

You need to sit down yourself and think about what youbthink you can reasonably do, not what you could do with a push. Allow yourself leeway.

When you have done this, sit down with DS and DiL and explain about your medical and mental problems, that this limits how much you can safely do, point out, whatever your age, you no longer have the energy you had when you were your son's age. Finally tell them, that if push yourself too far, your health will collapse and they(DS and DiL) will then not only have to do all their own childcare but look after you as well.

Jaxjacky Fri 29-Jan-21 17:19:44

Thistlelass apart from the view that’s it’s not your place to discipline them, there’s no point if the parents, in agreement with you don’t have standards they will keep when you’re not there. I couldn’t do this, never mind with your challenges, it should be a pleasure to spend time with the children and doesn’t sound much like it. I would start limiting your time there after having a discussion with them. It sounds very chaotic and is not fair on anyone, children and puppies need boundaries and consistency.

Sara1954 Fri 29-Jan-21 17:32:46

Monica is so right regarding diminishing stamina and energy, what you could do without a thought in your thirties and forties, seems exhausting now.
After a day with the three who live with us, I am fit for nothing but sleeping in the evening.
Try and be kind to yourself, it’s good to help where you can, but not if it’s costing you your health.

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 29-Jan-21 18:47:46

I looked after GCs when they were tiny, that was 16 years ago, thank goodness they aren’t little now, there is no way I could do it. It wouldn’t be fair to them and it wouldn’t be good for me.
I think it’s time you admitted that it’s too much for you, 2 small children and a puppy are for younger people to look after, not someone who has health issues.
You’ve done your bit , time to look after yourself.

Thistlelass Sat 30-Jan-21 00:03:50

I give a hand with their childcare no more than once a week. The little girl can be a handful but it is important to me to build the bond with both children. Her parents have a go to your room strategy which was advised by a healthcare worker working with pre school children. She does respond to this but often has to be taken to the room etc. So it is like there were two parts to the day - before and after my son went out to work. Oh I do not know. I will come back to this tomorrow. Goodnight.

welbeck Sat 30-Jan-21 00:21:04

this is too much for you.
it is not good for you, nor for the children.

Esspee Sat 30-Jan-21 07:59:49

In your place I would admit it is too much for you and give them time to find replacement childcare.

grandtanteJE65 Sat 30-Jan-21 09:51:46

If you are willing to help your DIL discipline the children, it certainly calls for a very frank talk with her first. You need to know exactly what she wants you to do and how. It would also be a good thing to hear your son's views on the matter.

I would try to reduce the chaos by explaining to the three year old that his small toys are really quite dangerous for the puppy as they can be swallowed and get him to help you put them in a box.

Next I would pop the children into their coats and take the puppy out to wee etc,

Then perhaps you can sit the five year own down with her schoolwork and the little one with a colouring book while you help his sister.

As your son doesn't exactly seem delighted with your help, perhaps it would be better just to tell him and his wife that it is too much for you.

Happysexagenarian Sat 30-Jan-21 09:55:48

Sounds like normal family life to me! Of course the children are going to be excited to see their grandmother. Your son is going out and leaving them with you so if you want them to calm down and be less boisterous then tell them so, whether he is there or not. If you let them think they can run riot whenever you're there they'll go on doing it. They're very young children, perhaps your expections are too high for their age. Make it clear that you're in charge while Mum and Dad are out! But if you're really finding it too much to cope with perhaps you should take a break for a while and ask the parents to make alternative arrangements for childcare.

Moggycuddler Sat 30-Jan-21 09:56:24

Yes. Too much for you. We can all see this, from what you have said. You should be visiting to see your GC when their parents are there, visiting as a gran, not as a child care provider. You really need to explain this nicely to them or you will make yourself terribly stressed, exhausted, and ill. All good wishes.

Soupy Sat 30-Jan-21 10:10:46

This sounds as if you're being asked to toilet train the puppy as well - all very chaotic. Surely the puppy should be put in his cage for a while whilst your granddaughter does her school work?

Are you being asked to supervise the schoolwork or just watch?

Do you then do childcare for the rest of the day, make lunch etc?

It all sounds rather a lot to me.

Paperbackwriter Sat 30-Jan-21 10:19:14

Why can't the little girl's father supervise her school work with her? It would certainly help if you didn't have to be there so early.

sandelf Sat 30-Jan-21 10:22:08

They are the parents - if their children cannot behave when with you - they should be appalled and should sort it out with their children. I know comparisons are difficult, but mine were aware I would be horrified to hear they'd been naughty when with their grandparents (not talking just about having a bit of fun) - and it would have been a good while before they saw them again. Are they expecting you to bring them up???

Tanjamaltija Sat 30-Jan-21 10:30:07

The children don't run amok because they see you - they do it at the other nan's house, so it's clear that it's what they are allowed to do when you are not there. The small toys should be out of the dog's reach. The girl should be told that no, she cannot leave the house when her parents are not at home. You are being used instead of a paid carer. It is not fair on you.

BusterTank Sat 30-Jan-21 10:34:06

Perhaps your face says it all . I don't think I would like someone coming into my home and nit picking . There house there rules . Maybe your son is right and should give it a miss for while , until you get your health sorted . Otherwise this could go sour very quickly .

CatterySlave1 Sat 30-Jan-21 10:35:41

Yes it does seem unfair to you with your health but reading your replies you don’t seem to want to end this so I’d flip it on it’s head completely! Think of it as a job and you’re in charge, the Nanny if you will. Parents seem to want this from what you’re said so “normal” visiting etiquette doesn’t apply. You’ve raised good kids so know how to set boundaries and routines. The kids will quickly learn how to behave around Nanny and adapt their behaviour. Lots of structure, lots of attention at the table, free time to run off energy in the garden, maybe a routine of a group cuddle on the sofa on arrival once you take your coat off as the routine greeting (send them to sit ready) and remember any “punishments” are 1 minute per year of child’s age, not hours in the bedroom. Oh and get puppy in your sons immediate care on arrival. Yes we’re not so young and energetic but we can build great relationships through quieter joint activities or helping in story/playtime. Remember the fun of a “fort” under the table or a floor picnic? You’ve got this!!

buylocal Sat 30-Jan-21 10:44:08

The 'go to your room' strategy is a good way to promote behavior issues. Discipline that is about a battle of control doomed. However the parents are the ones who decide on policy when they are there. Best let them pay some alternative child care and you visit as a grandmother. That will give you a chance to reconnect with them positively. The way you refer to them sounds like you are disconnected at the moment and without connection, you dont stand a chance in the discipline stakes.

Scottydog6857 Sat 30-Jan-21 10:53:48

I would stop offering help with childcare right now! Your own health and well-being must take precedence!
When I had my own children in 1991 and 1995, I was in a Senior Nursing position and had no option but to return to work, as I earned much more than my husband did. I would have loved to work part-time but that option wasn't available to me back then. My own mother was ill and by the time my son was born, it was terminal. My mother in law was a lot older than my mum and had early stage dementia so had enough problems looking after herself! That meant we had to pay for childcare, and my feelings are that it is unfair for couples to look to grandparents who themselves are often in poor health to provide this, often free of charge!
I myself am now a grandparent and there is no way on this earth that I will be providing childcare or even babysitting! I had to retire when I was just 54, nearly 10 years ago now, and I have very severe osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, with several fractures. This has affected my mental health significantly and I suffer from severe depression. My daughter treats me badly and tells me to pull myself together, so there's no way I would put myself out for her! Thankfully, I live over 50 miles away from her, which enables me to keep my distance!
Your son and daughter in law sound most unappreciative of the help you provide! I understand that you want to see your grandchildren, but not to your own personal detriment! Tell them you are too unwell to provide childcare, and leave them to get on with it - it's their problem, not yours!