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to think it's the parents responsibility to pay for childcare if they want to work?

(142 Posts)
StandardNetworkCharge Tue 12-Feb-13 10:59:39

My DB and SIL have a little boy who has just turned 1. She gave up work more or less when she found out she was pregnant (by her own admission she exaggerated her symptoms to get herself signed off for various reasons right the way through pregnancy).

In the run up to Christmas my DB lost his job, he got a new one quite quickly but on less money and with a longer commute. SIL was quickly fed up having to economise so she decided to get a job. She found temporary work with irregular shifts, her reasoning being that Db would look after DN when she was working. But very often DB isn't home in time to look after DN or she wanted to take extra shifts whilst he was working. As things were tight for them (and it was the run up to Christmas) family and friends have been stepping in and doing all their childcare to help them out.

SIL is badly organised though and will often leave it until the last minute to sort out childcare and then make begging calls/text/posts on fb. DH and I have helped them out, often being told it would be for an hour or so but ending up with DN for an entire evening, interferring with our plans. On the basis that it was a temporary situation I have tried to temper my annoyance.

However, her work have now offered her a fixed contract. Rather than getting organised and paying out for childcare when it is needed. She is continuing to expect it free from all and sundry and getting shirty with us when we have said no.

As I don't have any children of my own yet I am prepared to admit maybe AIBU to be annoyed at her but I just feel that if she wants to work to earn money for luxuries then she should be factoring childcare costs into that and not expecting everyone to continuously "help them out" at the last minute.

letseatgrandma Mon 25-Feb-13 18:07:02

What did you do, OP? Did you speak to them about the childcare issues?

Chunderella Sat 16-Feb-13 11:03:00

The post itself is NBU, especially in the context of what OP went on to explain. Tagging her in Facebook statuses asking for childcare is taking the piss.

However, the thread title itself is being utterly unreasonable. Plenty of people have agreements for free childcare within families or even with friends that work very well for all concerned. It is not for you OP (or indeed for Janey68) to pronounce on whether this is acceptable. It's only your business in cases when it's anything to do with you. So you were BU for generalising so much. Goldmandra is right, using family for free childcare is great, provided everyone involved is happy with it. There'd be nothing wrong with this arrangement if you were happy to have DN whenever, and equally you'd be perfectly in the right if you weren't willing to do any childcare at all.

Several posters have mentioned that grandparents doing childcare is the norm in many other countries. Given the number of British people who apparently rely on family at least partially for childcare, I think we have to accept that it's very much part of our culture too. That doesn't mean it's done in the same way as it is in other countries, but clearly it is normal in Britain.

DontmindifIdo Sat 16-Feb-13 10:04:34

The hourly cost of child care compared to the sil hourly rate is irrelevant here, as she just needs a short amount of her shift covering (from when she leaves until when her dh comes home), so for those one or two hours it might cost more, but over the whole shift, she's earned more than paid out. However, the real problem is the db who doesn't see it as his job to get back in time. As I said, evening babysitters are relatively easy to find if you look for them, if his decision to spend an extra hour in the office rather than bring paperwork home would mean he has to pay an extra £10 to the babysitter, it might focus his mind somewhat... Of course when it's just family you are picking up from, there is more temptation to take the piss.

I've seen it at my work, I use paid for child care and my boss and colleagues accept that I have a little flexibility at the end of the day, but then there is the 'hard stop' point I have to leave. The other side of my job share uses free family care and I know she often ends up staying late, she gets given things at the last minute a lot more.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 15-Feb-13 21:01:12

Because they don't want a regular arrangement - they want an adhoc one so SIL can do extra shifts at short notice.

lollilou Fri 15-Feb-13 20:06:49

Why does the op get nothing out of the arrangement? She could chose to spend time with her nephew, enjoy being with him and build a lovely relationship with him if she wished. I understand the last minute asking is wrong but could she not offer one night a week or something on a regular basis and stick to that?

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 15-Feb-13 11:22:46

HappyMummy, If your ASC costs £5-£6 for three hours, you're lucky -my after school cost is £15 plus food.

Adhoc, short notice, pay-as-you-go childcare will always be expensive and it may well cost more per hour than either SIL or DB's post-tax-and-travel income per hour.

This is not to say anyone is obliged to provide it free, just that the economics may make adhoc shift work impossible without access to free care - which means that the shifts cannot be accepted.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 15-Feb-13 10:13:14

YANBU OP, tell your DB no and mean it. Its one thing to be asked in an emergency but entirely another to be expected to do this regularly if you domt want to. It doesnt sound like she values your help and you seem to get nothing out of the arrangement. Family childcare works for many but only if all parties are happy with the arrangement as it is very restrictive on the person doing the care.

Children are the responsibility of the parents, nobody else. Chldcare in the UK is very cheap per hour, the cost of coffee out and a sandwich is more than one whole session at our afterschool club for three hours childcare and a sandwich/fruit. Yet so many begrudge paying it despite children surely being the most important thing in their lives.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 15-Feb-13 09:25:22

MrsKeith - my parents adore my boys, and vice versa. We have lovely times with them and DS1 is going to stay with them for a few days over half-term.
They aren't my childcare though, and IMO the relationship is all the better for that.

My parents have their own life to lead, and it would be awful if I was resenting them booking holidays or whatever else because it meant I would have to sort out alternative childcare - which is a scenario you see often on MN.

In an emergency then they would come and help out, but not on an ongoing basis.

It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that just because GPs are not involved on a day-to-day basis that they are being kept at arm's length hmm

Goldmandra Fri 15-Feb-13 09:11:46

Relying on family members is a wonderful arrangement for lots of people but it only works if the family are willing participants.

Constantly asking at the last minute and putting pressure on people who have already said no isn't doesn't constitute a good arrangement for anyone, particularly the child.

janey68 Fri 15-Feb-13 08:24:21

Once again, you're projecting. No one has talked about an urge to keep grandchildren at arms length (well, apart from you!)
I have actually stressed the value of loving relationships between children and extended family- I've just pointed out that this doesn't have to be synonymous with the parents getting a freebie. Surely if we're going to be logical about it, we could argue that a family who take the time to invest in the grandparent relationship simply for its own sake, visiting and having days out together, without strings attached, are actually valuing the relationship more.

And finally I've never understood the 'jealous' tag some mumsnetters sling as a final 'argument' to those who disagree with them.
No jealousy here- my children went to a wonderful cm then nursery which they still talk about. Not as an alternative to a good relationship with their grandparents- but as a different, complementary experience. I didn't begrudge the costs even when it took all my salary for a whole because I could see the benefits to me and my children.

Mimishimi Fri 15-Feb-13 08:20:16

In your situation, YANBU. If the help was only a temporary measure to help them out of a tight fix, she needs to find regular care once they are out of it.

MrsKeithRichards Fri 15-Feb-13 08:08:45

I don't think it is that common to have this urge to keep grandparents at arms length, in fact I'd never came across such nonsense until mumsnet.

My two will have a sleepover about once a month. I'm extremely lucky, I have my parents and in laws about 15 minute drive in either direction. They adore our boys. When it came up to me going back to work after ds2 they both said, straight away, 'I'll do a day of looking after him'. Neither of them seen sense in finding and paying for childcare when one is retired and the other work on 3 days a week. Neither we're in a position to do so with ds 1 as they worked shifts, they wanted to but I declined, needing more stability and played for nursery. Also ds1 was nearly 2 when I went back to work and I felt a lot better about using a nursery. Ds2 is 9months and I wasn't so keen on the thought and think he's better of with his grannies!

We've never had issues about conflicting values. They know just to say if they want to stop at any time. What I do know is that they are both delighted to be getting one to one time with ds.

Extended family support is the norm in my world, I wouldn't have it anyway.

Someone up thread admitted they thought it was awful and entitled but that's because she had none and was jealous. At least she was honest.

janey68 Fri 15-Feb-13 07:36:08

Whoops- a bit of that cut off- it should read 'if they're younger grandparents, they are likely to still be working themselves, or fit and well enough to be wanting to enjoy some flexibility and freedom (which btw is not incompatible with being a loving and involved grandparent, but may well be incompatible with fitting their life around childcare )

janey68 Fri 15-Feb-13 07:33:35

Childcare to enable to people to work isnt just the odd afternoon which is mutually convenient though. It's having the child during working hours, even when that means the arriving by 8 am and being there all day. It's hard work! When I look back to the toddler days, I wouldn't expect anyone to have that level of responsibility and work just for free. it's something which is actually a huge imapacf on ones life- you can't just take off and visit friends or go on holiday or have a day off and put your feet up- fair enough when youre paid to do it, but hardly fair if you're not. Also, hardly reasonable to expect grannies in their 70s to be doing this sort of running about. And if they're young grandparent , as someone else said, theyll

And while childcare costs are high in this country compared to others, people on low wages do get subsidised care nowadays. I also think that some people have a weird view of childcare costs. They accept that rent/ mortgage/ car etc are legitimate costs but somehow begrudge paying for their children to be looked after. Same with babysitting - you often hear of people who will pay for the drinks/ meal out/ cinema but then claim they 'can't go out' because they havent got anyone to babysit. What they usually mean is: they haven't got a free babysitter. I am all for making childcare even more affordable if possible- but it's a two way thing and there needs to be a willingness among people to accept that childcare is a legitimate and fair expense.

I don't think it's helpful to try to compare with other cultures where it's totally the norm for the grandparents to look after their grandchildren- I'm not sure exactly what countries the earlier post referred to, but I would bet good money that in these cultures, it's also accepted that there's a more laissez faire approach with the grandparents being allowed to impose their own rules and values. Whereas you only have to skim MN to see that the families in this country who use the grandparents for free care tend to be the same ones who post on here in shock and horror that granny fed the kids a couple of biscuits or let them watch TV! I agree with dahlen that generally there is an overwhelming sense of entitlement about it.

Dahlen Fri 15-Feb-13 07:05:17

According to government research, 4 out of 5 working parents rely primarily on family help in order to work.

Throughout history, professional childcare has only ever been the preserve of the rich. Most parents have relied on an informal network of family and community (usually female).

Housing costs and the general cost of living has never been so high. Wages have stagnated. People cannot afford childcare.

It's a growing problem, particularly so since more and people move around for work and don't have access to those wider family/community support networks. Also contributing to the problem is the rising retirement age, since many GPs will find themselves having to work themselves and so unable to provide free childcare.

Dahlen Fri 15-Feb-13 07:00:30

Organising childcare for irregular shifts is a nightmare. Most CMs won't do it and insist on regular days being booked and paid for even if they are unused. You may find a CM who is willing to negotiate flexibility in return for a guaranteed income per week, but that will be dependent on the number of children that CM has. I know lots of people working 30 hours who pay for the full-time 40 because of this problem. Considering the average full-time place for a single child can be upwards of £700 per month, it's a problem and I'm not surprised the SIL is trying to avoid it by using family members. People are free to say no just as she is free to ask.

That said, as someone who has always had to pay for professional childcare and never had anyone who can do it for free, I am frequently amazed at how many parents rely on free family support with the most overwhelming sense of entitlement about it.

Yfronts Fri 15-Feb-13 00:43:04

suggest she starts a baby sitting circle? that way she can babysit for friends and they can babysit for her. will be free. look it up on google

Tasmania Fri 15-Feb-13 00:42:12

^^ P.S.: I am ONLY talking about grandparents. Not SILs, etc. I just think that the whole society could do with going back to the traditional model of grandparents looking after grandchildren (as said previously... it makes sense) that does still exist in other countries.

And as I know some people tend to say that the "grandparents have earned the right to retirement, etc." - retirement is something that has only existed for little more than a hundred years, and some of us will hardly be able to "enjoy retirement" at all. I would think that - the way the world is going (i.e. rising population, increased competition, etc.) - in a hundred years or so, the few decades leading up to our time will be seen as the golden age when standard of living found itself at an all-time high.

Yfronts Fri 15-Feb-13 00:41:10

suggest a labor swap- you baby sit for her for a few hours, she cleans your house for a few hours?

I do agree with helping family/friends out but not if she will just take and take and take.

Tasmania Thu 14-Feb-13 23:55:39

janey68 In many countries, grandparents actually have a vested interest in their grandchildren... less common here in the UK (unfortunately), but with plenty of people I know from abroad, grandparents do the childminding job whilst parents work. That's just how it is, and if you think about it - makes economic sense. Not just for the parents - but grandparents, too. They continue to be "productive" for society even after retiring.

Solves the problem of parents having to pay ridiculous amounts for childcare, and grandparents don't feel alone... as a grandparent once said... it's a win, win scenario.

letseatgrandma Thu 14-Feb-13 22:51:55

OP-have you thought about what you might do to resolve this?

janey68 Wed 13-Feb-13 09:01:33

Why is it 'stupid' to simply point out that the only people with any actual responsibility for the child are the parents who decided to have him/her?
That's a simple fact.
Ideally children will have lots of positive loving relationships with the wider family, but that doesnt have to be synonymous with getting them
To provide free childcare while you earn. Tbh, when people start implying that families are somehow lacking in love and
supportiveness if they aren't acting as free childcarers, it comes
across as simply a justification for themselves, not a genuine opinion.
Op- it sounds as though youve taken on board now that you shouldn't allow yourself to feel guilt tripped into this which is good. I would follow it up with making it clear you will 'de friend' her on FB if you have to read any more of these last minute ask-arounds for childcare

MrsKeithRichards Wed 13-Feb-13 08:07:11

This whole since October thing puzzled me. Op said db lost job in the run up to Christmas then sil found work after he did.

clam Wed 13-Feb-13 07:56:19

Tasmania Things haven't changed "just like that" here - this SIL has been emotionlly pressuring people to babysit last minute sice October and it all looks set to continue indefinitely.
And I object to "^those who will stupidly say"^ as well. Who are you to judge that other people's opinions are stupid? It's not about whether people "are meant" to step in or not, it's about whether they feel taken advantage of. The OP clearly does, which is exactly why, tryharder this IS to do with the OP. She's not objecting on behalf of others, but on her own account. She's been saying no, but then receiving additional pressure subsequently. That's not on.

Tasmania Wed 13-Feb-13 01:32:15

^^PS: For those who will stupidly say that Grandparents aren't meant to look after children either... the previous generation had it pretty good in comparison to working parents of today. So if they CAN help, that would be good.

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