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Regular grandchild-minding

(95 Posts)
jackypat Sun 05-Feb-17 10:41:12

Hi there, am wondering what others in my position feel about this. I have been retired for 4 years. The first two years were spent caring for my M in L who thankfully got through breast cancer and is now able to care for herself ( not alone, F in L still there with her). I then had a year relatively free to begin to enjoy retirement. Then daughter got married and had a baby, she is living far from friends and has relied on me heavily though these first 10 months. It is a 40 mile round trip and I have been going over at least twice a week, sometimes more. She now has to return to work and the nursery costs are huge. Child minders costs are less but she can only get two days. So she has decided to have two days child minder, one day nursery and has asked me to cover the other two days - Tuesday and Thursday
I really want to help out but it is a huge commitment, the journey alone is horrendous. A seriously congested A road, a motorway and then a One track lane for two miles. On a good day in the rush hour it takes 45 minutes. On a bad day up to an hour and a half. I would have to leave my house at 7am to get to hers by 8. Since agreeing to do this I am getting anxious and emotional about it. The cost of diesel, driving tired in heavy rush hour traffic, leaving my dogs at home etc. Am I bad for feeling guilty about these feelings? Anyone else have to do this too?

Jayh Sun 05-Feb-17 10:56:13

This is a big ask, Jacky. Looking after a grandchild is exhausting in the best of circumstances never mind the additional stress of a horrible journey and an early start.
I look after my granddaughter, who lives 5 minutes away, for two days and there are two of us sharing the care but in the early days we both needed a lie down after she was picked up. It is easier now that she is at school.
There is great joy in being part of a grandchild"s upbringing but if you are having doubts about the practicalities just now, what will it be like in the dark, winter months?
Talk it through with your daughter. Would you be able to stay over on one of the days?
Good luck 🌺

Rigby46 Sun 05-Feb-17 11:06:42

No you are not bad at all for several reasons. Two regular days a week impinges on the rest of your everyday life - emergency child care is one thing, a regular commitment is another. Your daughter is a grown up and part of that is that she ( and her partner) take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Maybe they'll just have to be a bit more hard up for a few years - that's not unusual if you have small children. And what about when number 2 comes along? Don't do it

ValC Sun 05-Feb-17 11:08:14

Couldn't she have you on 2 consecutive days where you can stay the night instead of having to do the journey twice. I agree with Jayh, being a part of your grandchildrens lives is wonderful, I have looked after 3 granddaughters since they were 6 mnths old and the eldest is now 13. My home is a second home for them where they are so at ease. My 4th granddaughter lives in Wales so I have not had that closeness with her unfortunately, it is a long way to go babysitting although I do it when needed and stay the night, when I do go to babysit there could be up to 3 children all together as my daughter is a foster carer so don't always get that 1 to 1 with my granddaughter.

SusieB50 Sun 05-Feb-17 11:33:32

We all feel guilty if we feel we are letting our family down . But it is a long way for you to travel as well as the exhaustion of caring for a little one ! I looked after my twin grandchildren for half a day a week at 8 months , I was still working full time so "compressed" my hours so that I could help but was shattered and I had no long journey ! DiL's mother did one and a half days so I took over from her.Then everything fell apart as my DiL's mother became very ill with cancer and sadly died , I couldn't retire to eat more as I needed to work. So my DiL left work ( never regretted it) and we helped out financially with their large mortgage This was the best plan for us at the time. Now 5 years later DGC are at school and my DiL works from home as a freelance journalist ,I have retired and still help out a lot with DD and DS 's families ,but no pressure if I am unable to. You never know what is around the corner and the commitment of "covering" so she can work is very stressful .

Bbbface Sun 05-Feb-17 11:39:09

What about just once a week?

Luckygirl Sun 05-Feb-17 11:49:12

Looking after GC regularly can be a joy - it certainly is for us - but all the logistics and ground rules need to work for all of you.

The DD whose children we care for regularly lives 8 minutes drive away - she delivers each child to us while we are in bed (!) and they snuggle in with us for a bit before we all get up and face the day!

One of the rules we made is that (for the regular child care while she works) we would only have them one at a time (there are 2). It makes her morning journey more complicated as she has to go to two different places on her way to work, but we knew that we needed to make it as easy for ourselves as possible. My DD fully understands that. It has worked very well for us all.

But I would have very serious reservations abut the sort of journey that you would be involved in. We are pretty done in at the end of the day and we do not have to travel at all.

Where does your DD work? - can you meet up half way somewhere so that you share the journey? We did that until we moved to our present home last summer; we each had a journey of about 20 minutes.

One thing to bear in mind is that this will not last long - they will be at school before you can blink - and you would have the joy of your DGC at the most fascinating part of their development.

What is being proposed at the moment does not seem viable to me - I really do not think I would undertake this; and I have expe4rience of the joy of caring for DGC.

cornergran Sun 05-Feb-17 18:33:23

What do you want to do jackypat? If you'd like to help then maybe renegotiate the terms? It is a long journey. Two days together with possibly two nights staying over would make it a whole lot easier as would just one night, again staying the night before and if necessary two nights if the weather is bad. I'm not sure if you have a partner or if you live alone? Easier with help. Having said that, if your instinct is a definite 'no' then you must say so as otherwise there will be resentment. We have never been able to offer regular childcare. We help out when needed, some school holidays and to cover sickness, or support social activities. We stay over the night before with one as it's a 30 mile trip, couldn't do it otherwise. We love it, but it is tiring. I'm wondering now when the baby is older could thought be given to the caring happening in your home? I'm with others, have a chat to your daughter. The instinct to help is strong but you sound weary and must also think of yourself. Please do let us know what you decide, lots of support here if you need it.

flaxwoven Sun 05-Feb-17 19:28:06

My first grandson was born in 2014 and I have looked after him 2 days a week (Monday and Tuesday) since he was 10 months old (my husband helps), but my daughter lives 10 mins drive away (she is a nurse). She needs to work to pay the bills and her husband has not had a pay rise for 5 years, even though he has asked. Now we have grandson no.2 who is 8 months and the first one is 2 and 8 months. They attend a nursery Weds and Fri. It is much harder with two and they seem to bring back non stop colds which we also catch. However I know they will not be small for long and I do love having them and getting to know them. It's just such a long day. I would not do it if my husband did not help. Too much on my own at my age (66). If I had to do all that travelling as well I would definitely say no. I did not work at all until my 3rd child was 8 years old and then only as a dinner lady, and we struggled to pay the bills on one wage.

Cherrytree59 Sun 05-Feb-17 20:01:39

Could your daughter bring your DGC over the evening before and stay over night.
if she did this on a Thursday evening and picked the little one up on Friday evening. You would have the weekend to recover.
My little grandchildren will stay quite happily over night.
As you will be spending a lot on fuel, why not pay for one day at nursery or the childminders instead.
I think the suggestion of staying over at your DD is a good idea
I look after my DGC on a number of days and it does clock up the miles as pick them up and take them to my home so a 10 mile journey becomes 40 miles per day.
I do very much enjoy my time spent with my DGC but it is exhausting

trisher Sun 05-Feb-17 20:55:26

I look after my GS one day a week and did the same for my GD. I stay over the night before and mind in their house, it means I don't have to dress and rush over or wait for them to come to mine. It is hard work but sooo rewarding. I agree about your doing 2 days and staying there overnight. I think it does depend upon your own feelings about it. It might also be worth looking in the area for some sort of other child organised things, like a mother and toddler, music group or other activity. These might give you a bit of help.

NanKate Sun 05-Feb-17 21:43:30

Jackypat Now is the time to discuss with your DD what you can and cannot offer. If you just let yourself get swept up in the arrangements you will in a few months become tired and resentful.

As you say you have dogs to care for, so I expect you can't leave them all day twice a week and it is not safe to take the dogs where a baby is.

You have to consider the journey, feeling tired and looking after your grandchild which can be exhausting. And you are on your own doing this. Are you near enough to some child friendly activities the take your grandchild to ? It's a long day if you are staying at your DDs with only your grandchild to care for and no one else to talk to.

We too have a long journey on the M25 before we help out with our GSs which we do regularly. It is not every week. So I know the benefits of seeing our boys regularly.

I realise it may cause some upset when or if you tell your DD but if you say nothing you will regret having said yes.

Mine is maybe a different view from others. I am a realist and since just turning 70 I tell someone if I don't want to do something.

Finally will you have to give up any of your weekly activities such as U3A or WI ? Bear in mind you can only take holidays when your daughter is on holiday.

Get your strength up and discuss all the pros and cons with your DD.

Best of luck.

Eloethan Sun 05-Feb-17 23:43:33

That sounds like a horrible journey and I can understand you getting very anxious about it.

I think you should discuss this with your daughter. It sounds like you are a very supportive mum and no doubt she will recognise that and realise you would not bring the matter up if it was not causing you anxiety.

I hope some of the suggestions offered here will be of help. (Could your daughter just do 4 days a week? Employers are meant to be flexible if it is at all possible).

GrannyA11i Mon 06-Feb-17 00:05:26

Two days a week is a lot with the long journey. You'll be tired and stressed before you arrive and you do have to think about your own health and your right to do what you want at this time of life as well. You could just say one day is all you can manage or you'll spend all week looking after them and recovering from looking after them!

HellsBells Mon 06-Feb-17 10:57:18

Don't do it! We are available for emergency cover, occasional weekends away, special occasions but not a regular slot - If I was doing a "regular slot" I think I would feel resentful and start judging the way they spent their money etc We both worked in demanding jobs until we were 66 - and although fit and well at present wont have that many years left to enjoy the freedom that retirement can give you - and certainly don't ever feel guilty.

MiniMama Mon 06-Feb-17 11:01:19

I know how you feel jackiepat- we have looked after our grandchild since she was born- my DD had very bad postnatal depression and I felt she needed the support, so gave it when it was needed. It's lovely to be involved but it needs to be done carefully.

We now only take her one day a week- but we were asked to have her for two-her child minder took her for one day. As my Son in Law's family live in the States that would have left just us- and that is a big responsibility- what if you are ill or want to go away? It is better to share the childcare and your daughter will have to take some responsibility for having the child!

I know childcare is expensive- but for you it would be just as expensive stress wise- I think one day would be reasonable- after all you are paying for the car, fuel and probably meals. If you have a good relationship with your daughter please talk to her- she will understand. If you don't then you have to state clearly what you are able to do.

Shazmo24 Mon 06-Feb-17 11:01:41

Do they have room for you to stay over for the night and you could then do Tues/Weds or Weds/Thurs...It is however a huge comittment and what happens if she has another baby?..difficult one!

GlamM Mon 06-Feb-17 11:17:37

I have my GS every friday and every other thursday , which means I have him wednesday night to enable my DIL to have a stress free start to her day and a good nights sleep. I love having him and being able to help out with the ridiculous costs of childcare, I have to say though that on the odd day I think goodness I wish I had the day off!

I have adjusted my working hours and my husband has agreed that for the time being its an acceptable arrangement... not sure how she will manage when I have my holidays

I would have the chat with her. good luck

Ziggy62 Mon 06-Feb-17 11:27:16

I helped my son out with childcare for all three of his children and now the eldest is 18 I wondered why I gave up so much of my life to help them out.
Once our children are adults they are no longer our responsibility. Caring for your grandchild would be lovely if it wasn't for the horrendous journey, so don't feel guilty explaining this to your daughter

gillybob Mon 06-Feb-17 11:29:32

I have looked after my 3 DGC since they were weeks old (they are now 10,9 and 7). I do 2-3 days a week depending on DDiL's shift pattern and this includes at least 1 overnight. I also work full time ,28 hours at my place of work and the rest from home. It is a huge commitment and not to be taken lightly, however I cannot imagine not doing it. I am so close to the children that staying at mine is just like an extension of their own home and they have everything they need there including their own room, toys and clothes. I am very lucky in that my DGC only live a few miles away from mine (we moved closer to them) and now that they are all in school I am able to pick them up and drop them off and go to work, relatively easily (although they cannot get into the schools beside where they live). It is much harder during the school holidays though, when there are not enough hours in the week.

As others have said you have to be prepared to take holidays around the needs of the children and perhaps step in when they are poorly too.

DotMH1901 Mon 06-Feb-17 11:31:27

When my grandson was born I was working full time but my employer was offering condensed week working (5 days over 4) so I opted for that and had him from Thursday night to Saturday evening at my house. When my daughter had her second child I had both of them at the same time. When baby number three arrived I had all of them at the same time. I found I was absolutely shattered by Saturday pm so decided to reduce my hours at work so that instead of a 10 hour day 4 days a week I went back to 8 hours. After my ex son in law walked out on my daughter and kiddies I used to get to her house to get them all up and dressed and then went to work after they were in school. Eventually I had to reduce my hours even more to be available some days for school up as ex son in law didn't keep his word about helping. I finally decided to take early retirement and it was the best thing I did. I look after my grandchildren full time now as my daughter works long hours. They are older now so that is a help but I am lucky in that I now live in with my daughter so don't have to travel anymore. Won't be that long before they are able to sort themselves out mainly so I am enjoying this time with them. I think you should ask your daughter if you can stay over the night before and do 'your' days together rather than split. Would be much less tiring to care for them without the travel daily.

dbDB77 Mon 06-Feb-17 11:32:40

I agree with HellsBells & her approach - you are being asked to make a huge commitment. Did you retire in order to become an unpaid child-minder? And what if your MiL and FiL need help in the future?
Some grandparents want to be regular child-minders for their grandchildren & thoroughly enjoy doing so - but it should be a voluntary arrangement. I feel you are being pressured into this - which is not good.
Best wishes

doglady1 Mon 06-Feb-17 11:37:12

Jackypat. I missed helping out with my first batch of grandchildren as I worked full time, now an unexpected grandchild has come along after I have retired and I share childcare with her other nanny, between 1 and 3 days a week, both covering for the others holidays.

However my D I L has reduced her hours and changed from permanent night shift to days as she also wanted to spend as much time as she could with her baby.

Explain your concerns and offer to have her 1 day a week with her mum or dad doing the transport. Maybe she could also reduce her working week to spend some time with her baby

We often agree to things as we want to help but dont do it if it doesnt feel right

gillybob Mon 06-Feb-17 11:44:52

I don't agree with HellsBells at all (sorry).

My parents were no help to me whatsoever when my children were small. I had my son at only 18 and they NEVER so much as babysat to let me have a night out. I vowed that if I was ever lucky enough to be a grandma I wanted to be "hands on" and help look after the grandchildren as much as I could. I have never begrudged a minute of it.

I would never enjoy "freedom" thinking that my children were struggling. Surely that's what families are for. To help each other?

EmilyHarburn Mon 06-Feb-17 11:47:14

Why aren't you doing 2 consecutive days, taking your dogs with you and staying over night?

and I think, as doglady says your should explain your concerns.