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Were we so busy that we had no time for parents

(65 Posts)
lippyqueen Wed 01-Dec-21 17:20:14

Hello all, I just wondered what your thoughts were with regard to time spent phoning, visiting or just general thoughtful acts towards your own parents.
I must admit that my DD’s generation just seem to have very little time to do any of the above. I know DD has a busy job with their own business and 2 teenage children who are very busy themselves but it seems that as time goes on there is a smaller amount of time allocated for us as the grandparents! Perhaps I am just being a bit needy as suffering from the “super cold” but I do feel that unless I push to see them that visits happen very infrequently. I get quite a few what’s app messages which are pretty easy to do and take no time at all which is something that was unavailable for us. For some reason our children’s generation also think that as we get older we are incapable of any sensible thoughts or opinions. 😄 😉

Framilode Sat 01-Jan-22 18:42:17

My parents both died in the eighties and I know that I didn't give them the time I could have. We lived 100 miles away and it was an obligation at a time when our lives were extremely busy.

We are now in the same situation as our parents were. I think we are closer to our children but I know, and accept, that they have busy lives. I am always delighted when we spend time together but certainly don't expect to be at the top of their list of priorities.

lilypollen Sat 01-Jan-22 18:08:55

AmberSpyglass thanks for the article recommendation. One of my offspring has just recognised ADHD due to millennail burnout and is going to seek help. Just recognising this condition has helped already.

TerriBull Sat 01-Jan-22 17:31:20

When my father died, I made a positive effort to see much more of my mother, she was a great mum to me and I valued that one to one time we had in the last eight years of her life more than I can say. It was a bit of a journey at the time from West London down to the Sussex coast where my parents retired, my mother having berated her own mother for leaving suburbia years before to do the same thing, telling her she would end up in a colony of widows then ended up exactly that way herself! Although she was better equipped than my grandmother to deal with it.

When my in laws were still alive we had lunch with them every other Sunday, which I found a bit of a penance, I did like my mother in law, she died first, but my late father in law drove me up the wall with his xenophobic attitude towards anybody or anything foreign, half my family are foreign, so I spent a lot of time biting my tongue. He presided over cooking the Sunday roast, or more like over cooking it, we had to sit round the table whilst he heaped praise upon his own efforts. Meat like leather and soggy green veg, which always made me recall what my own dad said about roast beef "The English only know how to cook one thing and they still manage to ruin it" Well that generation at any rate!

I see my own children quite a bit, one probably a bit too much and one slightly not enough. Grandchildren usually for a week end every other week. I'm close to my step daughter, see a lot of her our relationship is more defined as friends. Also enjoy seeing husband's grown up grandchildren, but not so often as we used to they are all busy now.

grannyactivist Sat 01-Jan-22 17:29:23

There are 19 years between my eldest and youngest child so there has never been a time when I haven’t had to juggle competing demands: Managing teenagers, pre-teens, a toddler and baby whilst my husband and I were working in very demanding careers meant we have always had to prioritise.

So school holidays were always spent with our extended family - either we visited our parents, they came to us, or we all holidayed together. As our children grew those family holiday times have become ever more precious - and they have never ceased. We still get together as often as we can and our children are now all adults (the youngest is thirty) and are taking more responsibility for ‘family times’.

My children are scattered and we are now four generations, but we still try to eat together at least once a month. Easter and Christmas are spent together as much as possible, and we always have at least one summer holiday together. Our grandchildren all come to stay with us individually through the year - and just today one of our visiting three year olds asked me if he can come to stay ‘tomorrow on my birthday’ and make biscuits with me. (He’ll be 4 in May and is coming to stay for the bank holiday weekend.)

Our children have before them the example we set of including their grandparents in our lives - now they’re simply carrying on those same traditions by prioritising family times. Plus, we all like each other. 🤗 (Which really does help!)

Aveline Sat 01-Jan-22 16:58:10

I did read the article. Sounds like they overthink themselves into paralysis. My motto was always 'Just do it'. I always felt much better once whatever it was was done.

AmberSpyglass Sat 01-Jan-22 16:23:04

I highly recommend people read this article - it’s a look into how much the younger generation has on their plate compared to previous generations and the way even small tasks eat into a lot of time.

Aveline Sat 01-Jan-22 13:10:48

Visits and phone calls to my parents were at least several times a week and increased as they grew older and needed more support. Not a chore. We all enjoyed it and it was just part of everyday life.
These days I see my DD and grandchildren several times a week and speak to DS at least weekly too depending on his shifts. We go on holiday together too just as we did with my parents.
When MiL was in hospital we visited every day. Prior to that while she was at home we went in morning and evening and arranged company for her at lunchtime too. We both worked full time. Only thinking about this retrospectively after reading that other thread complaining about her mother. At the time we never stopped to think about it.

nadateturbe Sat 01-Jan-22 13:00:59

You are indeed lucky Louisa.

LOUISA1523 Sat 01-Jan-22 09:51:41

I see at least one of my 3 adult children daily.....I see at least one of my 3 GC every other day....I work full time DM live 2 hours from me but I see her monthly and ring her every 2 to 3 days....its not unusual for me to come home midweek and have all my DC and GC there .....mostly I love it and feel lucky

nadateturbe Sat 01-Jan-22 06:13:01

I agree Humbertbear different attitude. I visited my mum almost every Sunday as did my 6 siblings. I looked forward to it and often during the week too. I can still see her smile as I opened the door. Often the three sisters and mum would meet up on Saturday after shopping for tea. Lovely memories.

aonk Fri 31-Dec-21 15:59:36

When I was a mum with small children our parents and other relatives came first. Try telling this to my DS! We come very low on his list after his in laws and his friends.

Namsnanny Fri 31-Dec-21 15:03:17

I think it wasnt spoken of quite so much in the past. Also each family is different of course then and now.
I do find the excuse 'I've been busy' or derivatives of, to be very hurtful.
Do people not realise that is shorthand for 'everything and everyone else is more important in my life than you, ergo I can only fit you in when I've done these everso important things first?!'
I wanted to see my parents and would have definitely kept up a relationship with my Nan if she had lived long enough.
So I made time to see them, especially my Dad.

Humbertbear Fri 31-Dec-21 14:49:55

DS has no time except for a weekly phone call on his way home from work, I used to visit my parents weekly and have them over at the weekend. Later on I used to visit my DD in his nursing home every day followed by calling in on my mum. we used to go to Manchester to see my grandmother in every school holiday and also visit in laws in the Midlands regularly. There is a different attitude these days.

henetha Fri 31-Dec-21 11:26:59

I'm very lucky that all of my family, except one grandchild, live withing a few miles of me so I get to see them often. And they call, text, whatsApp etc, regularly.
When I look back, I suspect that I was not a particularly loving or attentive daughter. I had a chip on my shoulder for many years.. I regret it now.

Pumpkin82 Fri 31-Dec-21 08:04:39

It is very different for our generation than our family’s in a lot of cases. My MIL didn’t work from when she had her first child, so she was a stay at home mother/unemployed for 40 years until she received her state pension. She only had two children. My own DM was a stay at home mother/unemployed from when she had her first child until I was 12, which was the best part of 20 years. That’s literally decades of time without a full time job to factor in. And now we have children later again, so parents are often more elderly when we have young children who are pulling us in different directions. My DM became a grandmother at 65, her DM at 48 etc. we had largely flown the nest before my grandparents needed more company, but my DM is at that point now and I have a one year old and work full time, as does DH.

PIL don’t do phone calls so we never speak on the phone and they aren’t interested in me so occasionally message DH. My own DM I have to berate because she doesn’t let us know if she isn’t well or needs help because she doesn’t want to bother us. We message daily and I probably see her every couple of weeks. DH sees his parents every couple of months or so.

Mamie Fri 31-Dec-21 07:31:59

We both left home to go to university and never lived near our parents after that, but we were still in the UK and kept in touch by phone and visits. Our son moved to Spain after university and then we moved to France. Daughter and family are still in the UK.
We keep in touch with messages most days and FaceTime a couple of times a week. When I retired and the granchildren were young, I used to go back to look after them in school holidays and we also took them away on holidays with or without their parents.
Covid has made it all much more difficult, because at least one of the three countries always seems to have border restrictions in place. That is hard, but unless you live really close I guess visits are difficult for everyone.
I think it is a worry as you get older though. We have good social care here in France, but not sure how we will feel in ten years time!

Ali23 Thu 30-Dec-21 23:13:46

An old colleague once said to me that the greatest gift we could give to our children is their freedom. My mum never dreamed of giving me my freedom. I vowed to give my children their freedom, but I still struggle to get the balance right... I’m sure I miss them more than they miss me, and yet I’m sort of pleased that they have gone off and developed the close relationships and friendship groups that I was never encouraged to have.
Not really sure that I have the balance right yet, but I’m determined that they don’t end up feeling under obligation to me every day.

MayBee70 Thu 30-Dec-21 22:17:38

I was only thinking about my relationship with my children the other day. My parents were quite old when I was born and they were of a different era. I thought that I would be more like a friend to my children. We went to gigs together: liked the same films, music (still do). So I thought I would have a different relationship with them to the one I had with my parents. But I just feel that it’s turned out more of it being a case of me being the uncool friend that they don’t really want to spend time with. I know that the pandemic has changed a lot of things because I used to just go round to my daughters for a cup of tea. And I sometimes used to take them all to a pantomime and we don’t do that any more. So I don’t really know what my relationship with them is any more.

Sago Fri 03-Dec-21 10:29:45

My horrible mother put enormous pressure on me to go and stay with her.

She once insisted we go as a family for my 40th birthday.
We suggested us going to a restaurant with the children “early doors” she said she had a meal planned.
It was Tesco value beans,sausages and chips.

She then said during the meal did I have any nice recipes for salmon as my pescatarian cousin was going to stay with her.

I never ate another meal in that house again!

As a result of my mothers behaviour we don’t put any pressure on our 3 AC to visit.

esgt1967 Fri 03-Dec-21 10:27:37

My lovely mum died 2.5 years ago and I so wish I had taken time out of my "busy" life to see her more. We spoke at least weekly and I saw her once a month, sometimes more but now she isn't here, I miss her dreadfully and wish I had made more time. She always said "I understand you're really busy" - working full time and bringing up 3 children and running a home but as always "I always thought we had more time" so when she was taken away from us at the relatively young age of 74, 4 weeks after a terminal cancer diagnosis, I was devastated.

She only lived 25 minutes drive away so we could easily have fitted in more visits but as with other things, you never really appreciate what you've got until it's gone.

Sheilasue Fri 03-Dec-21 08:56:44

Both my parents are dead now but when I was younger with two young children my dh and I managed to see our parent’s fortnightly but that was back in the 70s/80s when work wasn’t so stressful, life was a better time,
My daughter has moved to the end of our road not just because of our ages but because it’s a lovely area where we live.
We don’t see her every day as she is working from home but she rings us every night and we meet up fortnightly to shop.
My son died in 2007 so a lot of things sadly are on her shoulder she has a lovely partner who is very supportive too.

Nannina Fri 03-Dec-21 00:35:17

After reading some of the comments I do feel extremely lucky. I’ve always been close to my two sons and the pandemic has only strengthened this. Both ring every day, I see my eldest 2-3 times a week and my youngest, who lives in another city, comes to stay every other weekend. My only cause for concern is my relationship with my granddaughter, which was always very close, seems more distant since she’s hit the teenage years although I still see her every fortnight.

Ginpin Thu 02-Dec-21 16:28:23



Hello all, I just wondered what your thoughts were with regard to time spent phoning, visiting or just general thoughtful acts towards your own parents.
I must admit that my DD’s generation just seem to have very little time to do any of the above. I know DD has a busy job with their own business and 2 teenage children who are very busy themselves but it seems that as time goes on there is a smaller amount of time allocated for us as the grandparents! Perhaps I am just being a bit needy as suffering from the “super cold” but I do feel that unless I push to see them that visits happen very infrequently. I get quite a few what’s app messages which are pretty easy to do and take no time at all which is something that was unavailable for us. For some reason our children’s generation also think that as we get older we are incapable of any sensible thoughts or opinions. 😄 😉

I have four children and 5 grandchildren and they are in my face 24/7 we all live near each other so that will be a factor as well as they all need childcare so this may tail off as they start school.I love them all but sometimes just want two minutes of peace on my own!

Absolutely, Betterlatethannever.

I have three 30 something daughters ( and sons in law)

Youngest ( 6 minute drive away) has just 2 yr old girl and 5 week old girl. We had a year of looking after the older child, 2 days a week and often more as my daughter was very, very sick in her pregnancy. We did think we might see less of them as she is on maternity leave atm but they always seem to be around here.

The middle daughter also works 2/ 3 days a week and we have to do childcare for 11 and 9 yr old girl and boy after school twice a week and all day during holidays. Also some weekends as her husband is in the Navy based in Scotland and we are in the Southwest.

Eldest daughter is an hour away with an 11 and 9 yr old girl and boy, just like her sister. She also fosters a 7 yr old girl who calls me Nana as well as the other grandchildren doing so.
We see less of them but I do spend money on holidays where we can all get together in a large holiday home.
Bude over the New Year if Boris lets us !
Sometimes though I am really exhausted despite Grandpa 'helping' !
So, as you say, two minutes peace would be lovely.

With regard to my own mum ( dad died 23 yrs ago at 68 ) I have rung her every day for an hour for the past 23 yrs but I look forward to it as much as she does. Mum lives alone and is 2 hrs away but we try to see her as much as possible.
Even when I was still teaching, I fitted that hour phonecall in before I left home at 7am.
When I am 91 and no longer able to provide childcare I do hope the girls will ring me or visit !
Oh, by the way, childcare does not tail off, you then have to drive them to their clubs etc !!!

Thisismyname1953 Thu 02-Dec-21 16:11:45

My children are in their 40s . I see the eldest 2 at least 3 times a week and my younger DS about once per month which I’m happy with . I do school pick up for youngest DGD 3 times a week so that’s probably why I see her dad so often grin. Once she goes to secondary school in 2023 I will not be seeing them as much grin

Dinahmo Thu 02-Dec-21 16:01:39

My Father died when I was in my early thirties and my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers shortly afterwards. During the early stages she and I would meet up sometimes in London for a concert or to go shopping but the day arrived when she got on the train going in the wrong direction and was a couple of hours late at Fenchurch Street so that was the end of our outings. My sister and I took it in turns to visit her each weekend and sometimes I and my OH would take her out for a drive.

I remember whenever I went into M & S in Oxford Street seeing the women my age with their mothers and felt very envious.

After leaving home when I was 19 I kept in touch regularly. My OH and I during our twenties rarely went to either parents over Christmas, preferring to either stay at home or to rent somewhere with friends. My in laws were quite relieved because they enjoyed going to an hotel for a few days over the holiday. When they became ill we would visit them. I remember one year, after my MIL died we shared Christmas with another couple. We collected my FIL and our friends brought their mother/in law. It was sweet watching my FIL being chivalrous to the other MIL.

I do regret not seeing my grandparents as often as I could when they were still alive and I was living in London. This was when I was in my early twenties. I still feel a bit guilty about that, 50 years later.

I think that sometimes people forget that children are (or should be) brought up to lead independent lives. The downside is that they develop other interests and have families which will come first. Some of the interests that I have now were developed by my GPs taking me to museums, the ballet, castles etc etc and I have been grateful for that ever since.