Balancing Time with Both Sets of Grandparents

Updated on May 31, 2012
J.C. asks from White Lake, MI
11 answers

My parents live 2 hours away and my husband's parents live 45 minutes away. (We used to live 10 minutes from my husband's parents but recently moved. They are a little bitter about that but that's another story) Of course everyone wants to have time with our kids. My parents like to see the kids every 2 weeks so they come up to visit once a month on a weekend and we usually go spend one weekend a month down with them. Which leaves the other weekends to go to my in-laws for a day. I am glad that we have family close by, really I am so please no unkind remarks that I am ungrateful or such. It is just getting a bit frustrating that we end up being spoken for almost every single weekend.
Does anyone have any advice on how to make everyone happy and still maintain our sanity and some time to ourselves? Or do I just have to suck it up and be glad both our parents are around?

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answers from Boca Raton on

I would cut them both down to one weekend per month - that leaves you with 2 free weekends every month.

It could be worse - they could be indifferent. That being said, it amazes me how involved some grandparents want to be now-a-days. My grandparents were wonderful, but my parents never consulted with them or relied on them constantly. And neither set wanted to "compete" with the other set.

I hope to be a wonderful grandparent someday (God willing). But I also hope that I will be patient and understanding, and solely a source a support and love (and not angst). It's hard to raise a young family.

Good luck,

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

oh my. you are lovely to be this accommodating.
i think it's important for kids to get lots of g-rent time and agree with you to make this a priority. but i'm very selfish with my own family time and could not agree to commit every weekend to it. can you get on a schedule where the kids spend one weekend 'family day' with each grandparent and maybe the other weekend day with JUST the grandparents (ie you and hubby take advantage of babysitting while g-rents get lovely face time without you there)? if you alternate your parents coming to your place and you going to theirs, that means 2 weekends a month are grandparent weekends, and 2 are just you and yours. it may be a little less than the grandparents want (can you supplement with occasional weekday visits?) but they still get regular visits and you get some needed valuable just-you time.
you're not being ungrateful at all. the grandparents sound wonderful, they just may need to compromise a little too. having your own family time is VERY important.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

It's definitely nice having grandparents who want to see their grandkids! But, you need time as a family too. I'd try to find some alternative ways to see them. Maybe the grandparents that live closer could drive over for a weekday dinner with the family a couple times a month? Could you Skype with either grandparents? That helps us a lot since we're 4 hours away. Talk with your hubby about how many grandparent weekends you're both comfortable with. Maybe you could try to do a grandparent weekend, every other help keep the sanity. Grandparents are great, but your kids need time with just you too! Once the grandparents hear that it's a bit overwhelming to be busy every weekend, they'll find new ways to keep in touch. Change is good :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

That is a lot of time in the car!

For you parents: cut it back to one weekend a month. One month they come visit you. The next month you go visit them. Maybe the first weekend of each month.

For your Inlaws, the same. One visit a month: preferably two weeks after your parents. So the third weekend of each month.

This way, you have every other weekend (#2, 4) to yourselves to just chill.
(and a bonus when there are 5 weekends in a month!)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Yep, as others said: ONE weekend a month for each set.

You will soon burn out on them and on the traveling. Better to see them when you are all fresh and happy about it, rather than to do it tired and out of a sense of duty.

Are you an SAHM? Then your husband needs weekend time with his kids and you, as a family unit, by yourselves. This is how you really learn to be together, all of you, not just mom-with-the kids or dad-with-the kids. If you are not an SAHM and work outside the home, the weekends are even more important so the kids can see you and your husband, together, for substantial time. Having other people always around -- even loving grandparents -- alters the family dynamic. When with your parents, you and your husband are always going to be the adult children, and that affects your interactions with your own children at those times; when it's the two of you and your kids without grandparents, your interactions with your kids are not being affected by worrying about what MIL will say, or how grandma is feeling today, or whether grandpa should take one child somewhere and not the other. It is great that you have both sets of grandparents but you also must find your footing as a family independent of them.

Also, a reality check: How old are your kids? I'm figuring young, maybe younger than elementary age? Once the kids really get going in elementary school, if they have any activities at all, they are going to have weekend activities: Homework and school projects; play dates with friends they adore; sports, Scout events, dance classes, swimming lessons, music lessons, whatever. The grandparents will suddenly find "their" weekend is gone because "Sally has a recital Saturday and Jimmy has a lesson Sunday." If the grandparents start coming to those events, great, but don't let them take over and move in every weekend.

I would love to have grandparents close by but my folks are dead and my husband's are 6,000 miles away and very infirm. So treasure the grandparents but stop worrying about "balancing time." Cut back and carve out family time for YOUR nuclear family too. It will be hard to explain at first, but tell the folks you are simply busy -- and then BE busy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

TWO for YOU, one each for THEM, not counting holidays - maybe do a full family weekend - or an extra YOU GUYS weekend - on the 5-weekend months. You all need your own family time, and if they can't understand that you need weekend time with YOUR OWN CHILDREN AND SPOUSES, then THEY are being selfish. They may think you are being selfish, but there is a healthy level of "selfish" and you have to do that for your own family and sanity.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

In my opinion, the ones 45 minutes away aren't a big deal at all (the distance, not the grandparents!). My parents are about 30/35 minutes away from us. We see them ALL. THE. TIME. But never once for an overnight visit. Just last night we went to a party at their house after my husband got off work. I often go after school for my son to play or we might all go for dinner. They come here a lot because we live closer to the things they want to do. Sometimes it's just for ice cream, or to go to his soccer game, school picnic, museum trip, or they meet us halfway for a meal, activity, etc. Tonight with my brother in town from NYC they are coming here for dinner. Sometimes they just stop by for 20 minutes to drop something off. Even if we see them on a weekend it has never involved a full weekend and they are pretty busy with their own stuff on weekends, too.

Now my husband's mother lives 45 minutes away in the complete opposite direction and we see her maybe once or twice a year. But that is not a physical distance problem.

You certainly don't need to "give up" your weekend for an in-town relative.

Regarding your parents, that's a much bigger deal to have a 4 hour round trip commute. An overnight is fine, but maybe not all the time. Perhaps you could just do a one day thing where you leave in the morning, be with them all day, and come back in the evening.

Growing up on the east coast, it wasn't weird to drive from philly to the jersey shore for the day or go from philly to nyc to visit a relative. When we go on vacation to the shore now we do those types of day trips still. It can be a bit tiring when you only have a short time for vacation but i would think if you are talking one every week or two that would be fine.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Oh my you are VERY generous with your time!
I'm afraid there's never a way to make everyone happy. It IS wonderful that they want to spend time with you, but you have a family of your own now. It's time for them to cut the cord. Your weekends should be spent relaxing, playing and being together, not traveling and having house guests! No matter how much I loved them I would hate that :(
My in laws live about an hour and a half away, and when the kids were little we saw them about once every six weeks or so. Usually we went up there and spent a night or two because that's where most of the family lived so we got to see and spend time with everyone.
I hope you are able to find a peaceful balance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

"It is just getting a bit frustrating that we end up being spoken for almost every single weekend. "

That would drive me nuts. I know what I think you should do, but that's based on my own needs and wants.

Designate 1 weekend a month for grandparent visiting, with one set per month. That means they see your parents in January, his in February, and so on. (Deal with birthdays and special events as they occur.) That leaves 3 weekends a month for you. You're just going to have to be upfront and tell them you want to spend more time doing things with just your husband and kids.

That is still more often than my kids see their nearby grandparents (and we have a good relationship) so my suggestion still seems like a lot of visiting to me. I wouldn't be able to deal with seeing both sets every month.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Both sets of grandparents are not more than a daytrip. Perhaps start pulling back some on your visits to your parents? Start by going in Friday night and leaving Saturday mid-afternoon or early evening or going in Saturday late afternoon and coming home Sunday after lunch "to get ready for the week." Use phrases like "get ready for the week" and "family time" as your excuse as you cut back some on your visits there. For his family, decide which day they are coming to visit, and then invite them down for a specific event "please come for brunch this Sunday." Finally, some weekends you need to tell each set of parents "oh, we've got plans this weekend." and set an alternate time to visit them (Friday night or a weeknight for dinner or the following weekend). You could also meet either set of grandparents 1/2 way between your houses at a park for a picnic, a splashground, or a restaurant to spend time together. Also, there can be times when both sets of parents can visit at the same time. Your kids, husband and you need some unplanned alone time as an immediate family, too. You don't have to plan every weekend around grandparents. Heck, they may be feeling it's a bit much too but not sure how to let up a bit now that they've started the routine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

if you're home during the week (sahm) I would visit his parents more often on weekdays without him and not on weekends unless you're free andin the mood. maybe that will make them a little less bitter too. As for your parents I would do every other week and the week they are at your house have them tag along to whatever you're doing do you're not inconvienanced and how about on the week they go to your parents you let them sleep over without you and do a date weekend with your husband?

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