Q: I’ve been to court today with my son and he has 4 children with [...]
Ask Jackie: Husband losing patience with my childcare commitmentsCreated by Jackie Highe in Ask Jackie, Being a Granny-carer
Q: Hi Jackie, I am new to Grannynet. My daughter is married with two children. She and her husband work full time and my daughter is the main breadwinner. My granddaughter is 15 months and goes to a day nursery. My grandson is 4 and goes to a state nursery. I look after my grandson after nursery and my grandaughter if she is sick. I also babysit perhaps once or twice a month and have had them on three sleepovers. During the summer I will have my grandson all day but he will be on holiday with his parents for one week and will be going to his sister’s nursery for two weeks. My daughter and grandchildren pop in at the weekend and sometimes I go on outings with them.
My husband was made redundant two years ago but gets about 3 days work a week but does not know when he will get work and it can be spaced over the week. He realises that it would be costly for my daughter to get childcare and that I enjoy looking after my grandchildren, but he finds it hard having my grandson every day and them popping in a lot. I feel torn between trying to help my daughter and my husband not wanting the children around so much. Neither of us know the answer to the dilemma. Can you help? I would be grateful for any advice or help you could give me. Carol
A: The role that you and your husband are playing is one that modern grandparents increasingly fill – supplementing childcare. Your children are working flat out and you’re helping them to cope.
It’s clear that you’re a close family, and it seems from your letter that your children appreciate what you’re doing and are trying very hard not to take you for granted. It’s also clear that they like spending time with you themselves, and don’t just dump the children and run.
But habits form, and what you’re doing isn’t easy – in fact it’s difficult on many levels – it’s hard work, stressful, restricting and at times, exasperating. Small children can stretch your invention – and your patience – to breaking point. It’s understandable that your husband is struggling with all this. He possibly feels that you’ve both come to a time in your life when you deserve a bit of a break.
Perhaps it might help if you suggested to your husband that he came on the outings with you all – or that you wouldn’t go on them so often. And try to involve him in the things you’re doing with your grandchildren.
Rather than feeling torn, have a family chat next time you’re all together. Discuss it with your husband first, pointing out to him that you love helping, but that you understand how he feels, too. Then when you see your daughter and son in law, you could both put it to them that although you love what you’re doing, you’d like to do a little less, and discuss how that can be managed. Keep it calm and low-key.
In giving this support you’re helping to surround your grandchildren with security and love. And you get to spend precious time with them – time they’ll remember all their lives. You’re right in there, playing a major role in their lives and it’s lovely.
But that doesn’t mean either of you have to be a doormat. Make sure the care you provide is at a level you’re comfortable with. You need time together as a couple, too. If you need a discussion guide for sitting down and talking with your daughter about the help you offer please refer to the Grannynet Ground Rules.