109 answers

Grandparent Babysitting

I have a question to ask and I don't know if any one else feels this way or am I being selfish. I'm a grandmother to several wonderful grandchildren and I love them with all I am. I enjoy being with them taking them places and just sitting and watching them be. I raised my children and I told my children that I wouldn't mind watching their children from time to time but that I don't want to watch them on a full time bases because they work. I know many grandparents watch their grandchildren but I don't think it's fair that many in this generation think it's owed to them that you take care of their children. I don't like feeling that it's my duty to do this. I feel taken for granted and don't like my children "expecting" me to watch their children. I don't know if they even appreciate it. My one child says to me, I just got my work schedule. Look it over and let me know what works for you!! The other grandparents don't seem to feel as I do unless they do and they don't voice it. I know I haven't voiced it to them. I know many grandparents do watch the kids but they don't love it either and just go with the flow. I guess I just want to know how others feel. And are there any thoughts as to how to let your children know that you don't want to watch them while they are working. I don't know...maybe someone out there will understand where I'm coming from. I love my children and grandchildren I'm just not really in to babysitting. Help....

7 moms found this helpful

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I Want to thank everyone for responding to me about babysitting grandchildren. It was nice to see that I wasn't alone in my thinking. There was a ton of wonderful advice and feelings. I am going to try and get back to each of you individually because I think when someone takes their time to write to you that you should do the same with writing back to them. It will take me some time because...I got an over whelming number of responses. AGAIN, thank you for your time and responses. I love this site and the ladies that take the time to care with their hearts and suggestions. xoxo DebbieS

Featured Answers

Hi D.,
i am 65, i have 10 grandkids and 1 g.grand and i do not babysit....i do for a wedding if they have to go or for an anniversary....i worked hard all my life and love my time... Finding things i never had time to do.....grandmas today are not like yesterday, they have outside activities and friends to have lunch with, or sit and read, etc....there's a book that's called "don't feel guilty when you say no".....
Once in a while is great and at family gatherings you see them...my 3 girls live nearby and i see them weekly but not for babysitting.....love them all and they know for years that this grandma works, and you have to make an appointment for me to do this.....cold-hearted.....no....just todays grandma

2 moms found this helpful

D.: As a grandma to a 5 year old with Stage 4 cancer, I will tell you that I will babysit every grandchild anytime and cherish each and every second. I would walk to the end of the earth to spend just one second with any of the 12 grandchildren I have or any other child.

2 moms found this helpful

I think you have every right to feel the way you do. I am a working mom of a 19 month old girl and have both sets of grandparents close by. My parents watch her one day a week (and it's only from 2-6 or so) and my husbands parents watch her one day a week. They worked hard at raising their children and it is not their responsibility to raise mine. They love spending time with their granddaughter, but do need some time to themselves. Honesty is the best policy and my parents do that and it works well.

2 moms found this helpful

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Thanks for sharing. Wow, after reading some of the responses I am surprised at how many people, even though they support your decision to do what you want to do, feel that this is the "norm" in our generation for grandparents to watch their grandchildren while their adult children work. My husband and I made a choice for me to stay home with our children, and had to make some serious financial sacrifices to do it. At times we were like "two ships passing in the night," and there were times when my husband was working two jobs to pay the bills, but we did it because it was our responsibility to take care of our own kids. It is evident with what is happening with our economy that people have and expect too much.
Kids just want to spend time with their parents....they don't need a bunch of materialistic things. We made it work and we have two beautiful daughters who are 10 and 6, and have never been in day care or in full time care by their grandparents. Yes, their "Nana" watches them on special occasions so that my husband and I could have a night out together, but that's it!
As a result, my daughter's grandparents have been their grandparents, not their babysitters. I think too often grandparents are guilted into watching their grandchildren, or they feel threatened by the fact that their grandchildren will go to daycare if they don't watch them. Well, as far as I am concerned, that is the parent's decision, and they must deal with the consequences of their decisions and actions.

I say do what you want to do....enjoy your retirement, and quality, special time with your grandchildren. Your years of raising children are over!

God Bless You!
ps-I'm also married to the most wonderful man!!!!!:-)

5 moms found this helpful

I know you have gotten a lot of advice. The only thing I have not heard in the 10-15 responses I read to your request, is this: I hear you are not being clear about your needs to your self or to them and have never been. I would never hand my mom nor my mother in law my work schedule, they would hand it right back to me. Clearly when they have taken advantage of you in the past, you allowed it, and said nothing. All of us teach people how to treat us. When we act like a door mat, people treat us like a door mat. When we act in our power and set our limits, people respect them. I know I feel guilt when I say no, and I work on it everyday. Once I stopped feeling guilty for saying no, people stopped acting like I was selfish for it. It is all in how you approach the subject. State your needs, and what you will accept lovingly, and they will respond in kind. If you have never had boundaries before they will be upset in this seemingly sudden change. Don't give in, it will take time before they see that they prefer the happier and more loving grandma who is no longer (secretly) resentful, even if it means she sets her boundaries. They will adjust. Good Luck!

4 moms found this helpful

I never thought about it before. I live overseas so this doesn't apply to me in the day to day sense but now it is on my radar, so I thank you for that. When we are back in the States it is usually for only a short time but I remember buying a small thank you gift when my Father's wife baby sat for me. This way she knew I did appreciate her doing me the favor. I knew she would not accept money and if I did offer she would have had her feelings hurt.
Great post!

3 moms found this helpful

Lots of great advice already, but I guess I'll add my two cents. You are definitely entitled to be Grandma, not Mommy - round 2. My mom and I have an agreement: I can ask, and she can tell me no at any time, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Anything on a regular basis (if I were to go back to work, for example) means I pay her competively. It is my job to raise my kids, not hers. She already put in her time and deserves being a Grandma with all benefits included!

It works for us, because we are being completely honest with each other. She doesn't feel like she has to come up with "excuses" and I don't feel bad for unknowingly "using" her more than she's comfortable with.

Please let your kids know what is too much for you - physically, emotionally, whatever. Did you raise them to be thoughtful and courteous of others? Yes? Then they probably have no clue that it's wearing on you and think you love it. They may feel bad getting another sitter thinking you may be hurt if you didn't get first dibbs on the kiddos.

3 moms found this helpful

late comment here. But maybe something new to add.

If your kids are asking you to babysit grandkids because they TRUST you more over strangers, then take it as a compliment. BUT, make sure you are offering your services on YOUR terms. Grandma time should be special time where you get to name the time, place, and activity (with parent's permission and agreement too). If you WANT to sit for them 1 night or morning/week, or be the emergency back-up on days kiddos are too sick for school, then offer that and do it cheerfully. If not, don't offer.

If you are already feeling like they expect you to step in as daycare, tell them, "Honey, I'm willing to help you out in a pinch, but I'm not looking for a part-time childcare job. I love spending time with my grandkids, but not as a daycare provider. I'd be happy to let my friends know that you are looking for some in-home care in case they know someone who is available that is really trustworthy."

I am willing to treat you and your spouse to a "night out" for some special occasions, because I love you and understand that parents need some time to recharge away from kids. But, I'd like that to be a gift I give to you, rather that a regular obiligation that is expected of me. Please try to understand. I want my time with your kids to be special and fun. I can't muster the energy for that on a daily basis. It will be better for everyone's relationship if I can keep my "grandma" role, and not also be the daycare provider too.

3 moms found this helpful

I can not believe Stephanie B's response ... "you will have all the ME time when you die" ... unbelievable. We're in the US, not in some 3rd world country as she suggests for raising families and no other sufficient care is available. You have shown that you are a loving parent by taking on the responsibility of caregiving for your grandchildren without speaking up. I have parents who are young (in their early 60's) and we used to joke about my mom needed to go ahead and retire so she could keep our kids. She would look at us and say "HA!" She loves us dearly and loves our kids very dearly, however, as a mom myself, I can totally relate - I am raising our children and since ours our getting older now, I too enjoy the free time and lack of care that I need to provide to them on a full-time basis. Babysitting is very tiring and me, my brother and sister all arrange for professional care when we are working. It's not our moms responsibility. She raised us with enough compassion and sense to be able to hire someone for this job. Yes, she loves when the grandkids spend the night on special occasions but she LOVES her time to enjoy her own life. ENJOY your life after kids now and maybe give the adult kids a few "babysitting tokens" as a Christmas gift to be used as needed during the year (maybe 2-3 for each year) and when there's no more tokens, only for special reasons should they expect you to sit. This is the norm in most families anyway.

3 moms found this helpful

My mother-in-law gets out a calendar at the beginning of the month and tells each of her married kids, "pencil in your activity for the month." That way, we can know she'll be there for that big event of the month, but it's quite clear that she isn't going to be there every minute of the day. Maybe instead of your daughter handing you her schedule, you should hand her yours. :)

3 moms found this helpful

Hi D.,
I completely understand what your feeling. As a matter of fact I don't always want to babysit outside of their work schedule either. My guilt lies in that I am raising one of my grandsons who is also a special needs child. So the guilt runs deeper for me at times because of this. I also love my several grandchildren & children more than life itself! However I enjoy them more when I choose the times I take them than when I am asked. I think my kids understand , but I tend to give in because I feel bad. I'm sure your children will understand if you find the right way to inform them. What happened to babysitters & daycares ???? I don't always trust these options , but through the right sources its not out of the question. What did we do !?!?

3 moms found this helpful

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