to ask how often is a reasonable frequency to visit parents?

(70 Posts)
CurtainsForNow Mon 18-Mar-13 19:11:13

I have 2 DC - aged 9 and 7. My parents live about 30 minutes drive away. Until a few months ago, we (i.e. me and DC) used to go to see them every 2-3 weeks for 2-3 hours after school plus for odd days in school holidays/special occasions.

A few months ago, the children started extra evening activities (now have activities 3 nights a week) plus were getting more homework, and visits after school became impractical and too tiring. I've also started a new job which is full time and the final nail in the coffin of after school visits.

This year we have seen them at the end of January (day for DD's birthday) and for a day in the half term holiday. We will probably see them next during the Easter holiday. I expect over the year it will even out that we see them about every 5-6 weeks.

My mother complains about not seeing us (for this read the DC) enough and that I'm not making enough effort to arrange visits. We could visit at a normal weekend but they are often busy with DC's activities, seeing friends or visiting DH's parents (who live further away - we see them much less than mine) and frankly quite often DH and I are shattered and don't want to do anything! It doesn't help that my mum does not get on with DH (she's been very rude to him in the past) so he is not keen on meeting her more than the minimum necessary - hence I normally try to organise visits when he is at work.

So am IBU about my visiting frequency?

Portofino Mon 18-Mar-13 21:55:57

With these threads I always think it is helpful to imagine how often you would want to see YOUR GCs and what efforts you would go to. And work back from there.....

The right frequency is always going to depend on the relationship you have with someone.

I don't see a problem with your new frequency (I visit parents 2-3 times a week and MIL 2 times a week in the home, but they are close by).

I also think your parents will need a gentle reminder that as your DCs reach teenage years, the visits from them may decrease even further as they go off with their friends for things, which is what DD is doing these days.

CurtainsForNow Mon 18-Mar-13 21:56:37

Activities my DC do:
DD: Brownies (1 evening a week plus approx 3 weekend days a year)
DS: Cubs (1 evening a week plus approx 4 weekend days a year), karate (1 evening a week plus 4 afternoons a year)

Plus both have swimming lessons on a Saturday morning.
Probably invited to 1 or 2 parties a month (between the 2 of them).
Plus we have friends to play/they go to friends occasionally at weekends.

I've never thought of that as a particularly ludicrous amound for their age, but maybe it is hmm

firesidechat Mon 18-Mar-13 22:02:50

I'm not sure if there is a right or wrong answer to this. Everyone has different relationships with their family and what works for one won't work for another. Some families seem to live in each others pockets and some are slightly more detached (mine for instance).

We have no family closer than 2 hours away so visits are few and far between ie maybe once a month.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 18-Mar-13 22:09:44

ds(9) sees my parents about once every 1-2 weeks. We always go there and its always at weekends because they are about 20+ mins away and weekdays are too busy with work, homework, after school and/or activities.

Although they would never complain if I didn't, I do make an effort for him to see them most weekends as I want him know them well. They both have had a few serious health problems over the last year and will be the only grandparents that give a shit he knows.

I remember being very close to my grandparents when young and I want that for him too while I've still got the option, so for me it takes priority over some other things. I also think its good for him to spend time with them, especially recently, as he is slowly learning how to be with elderly people - being patient, taking others needs into consideration, helping, stop saying I'm bored and want to go home. He does have a laugh with them too!

We vary when we go, sometimes first thing in the morning, sometimes straight after footie, for lunch or in the evening. Sometimes we are only there for 1-2 hours, but it doesn't matter as we are seeing them regularly. Sometimes I pop in for 1/2hr then leave him there and go to their local Tesco's to do my weekly shop in peace and then just pick him up and drive straight home.

He still gets plenty of time at home, or out playing with friends and I still fit in a lazy morning or afternoon each weekend. We have limited him to one activity at the weekend (footie on a Saturday morning).

Occasionally we'll have a day out, but not as much anymore.

Suppose what I'm saying is, if you want to visit regularly it is possible, just a case of prioritising. Everyone wants different things (there is no correct answer to how often you should visit), you need to decide how often you actually want to visit and how close you want your dc to be to their grandparents and then prioritise that in the appropriate place with everything else you want for your family.

redwellybluewelly Mon 18-Mar-13 22:12:34

Both my ILs and my mother live within 30min drive. Just.

My MIL likes to invite us every fortnight, I used to see my mother more frequently but recently it hasn't been possible. Before that she would start to whine if we didn't see her for a fortnight. But DH and I both work FT, we like spending weekends relaxing and also part renovating the house we recently bought

I politely mentioned to my mother she was welcome here as it was easier than us trying to get to her. She has managed two trips in six months, she is in good health, semi retired and has a car.

Do what you can. You deserve time as a family as well.

soontobeburns Mon 18-Mar-13 22:15:13

Is there no way to fit them in OP it doesnt sound like a lot of activities.
I have college on Monday and Tuesday, volunteering on Wednesday and Thursday and on Saturdays. I also take Sunday to do coursework.
Plus I need to see my DP as I dont live with him.
I still manage to see my GPs on Fridays after work 4 until around 7.

firesidechat Mon 18-Mar-13 22:16:55

To add to my previous post, we have no children at home now, so trips to parents don't involve grandchildren.

soontobeburns Mon 18-Mar-13 22:17:52

Sorry OP that wasnt me saying YABU andyour immediate family does come first, just that there is always time if you want it.

I am extremely close to my GP and would hope when I have DCs they can have the same relationship. I do think it is a relationship worth preserving.

Misty9 Mon 18-Mar-13 22:32:06

I think the key part of your post is that if they come to you, they expect to be waited on hand and foot and get annoyed if you do household jobs. If they want to see the dc more often, that attitude will have to change!

Our ds is only a toddler still, but he sees dh's dad about fortnightly, dh's mum maybe every 6-8 weeks. Both live 25-35mins drive away - but dh's dad is retired and ALWAYS comes to us. Usually to help out/look after him while we get on with other things. Dh's mum has her own young ish children so rarely comes to us, hence the big difference in frequency.

As for my family, my mum is abroad (and we have a v difficult rel) so maybe 1-2 time per year, depending on how often she visits. Dad is 4-5hr drive away, so ditto mum really. I do think the gp bond is an important one, and one to nurture if circumstances allow.

Asheth Mon 18-Mar-13 22:32:36

Why wont your parents come over if there's only on DGC there? My parents quite often come over if one of my DC is at a party/activity. It gives them quality time with the other DC and means that the DC who don't have a party/activity have something to look forward to. My parents live about 45 mins away. We see them fairly frequently (several times a month) But they come to us more than we visit them. And they get on well with my DH.

stopgap Mon 18-Mar-13 22:42:42

If my parents lived close by, I'd probably see them every weekend or at least every other weekend. I would definitely expect to take visits in turn, though.

As it is, I live 3000 miles away, but see them four times a year, for between 7-10 days, which is important to me now that I have a toddler.

DumSpiroSpero Mon 18-Mar-13 22:44:30

I don't think your DC's do a ridiculous amount of activities at all, but I think perhaps you could see a bit more of your parents.

DD and I visit my parents every Sunday (they and DH also have a tricky relationship, as do I with MIL - you have my sympathies!). We go late morning - mid afternoon in winter, and stay later and have dinner in the summer as DH plays cricket.

TBcompletelyH, it can get a bit wearing - the fact it has become so much of a habit that it has to be a Saturday and we nearly always go to them but...

...they help me out a lot - both practically and financially on occasions, I am an only child and me & DD are the only local family they have and vice versa and they are in their seventies and won't be around forever.

I'd rather put myself out now than regret it later.

DumSpiroSpero Mon 18-Mar-13 22:45:17

My DP's are about 15 minutes drive away btw.

Rosieres Mon 18-Mar-13 22:57:50

Being about 30 minutes away is the worst of all worlds, to be honest. If grandparents live just around the corner you can drop in for short periods, or have them pop round for half an hour here or there. At a longer distance (mine are 4 hours away) you may only see them 3 or 4 times a year, but when you do you make a big thing of it - we have them visiting for long weekends, or we go and stay with them for a week over half term. But a half hour journey is neither one thing or the other, so it is a tricky situation.

nilbyname Mon 18-Mar-13 23:06:15

It's too low.

Pick up after school straight to GPs, chat, supper, home into pjs quick look at homework bed. Plenty of time. I would do that every other week. My pils live 20min away abs we see them 2/ week

BackforGood Mon 18-Mar-13 23:17:16

I agree with that Rosieres. When my parents were alive, I would often call in almost on my way past, stop for a cuppa, or drop something off, pick something up, and they would actually see me 2 or 3 times a week some weeks. My experience growing up was to see my Grandparents perhaps 2 or 3 times a year, but we would be staying with them for a few days or they would come and stay with us. I find the 1/2 hour distance much more tricky, in that you can't just 'pop', but you wouldn't be staying there / making it into a 'special' weekend either.
Agree with Misty9 as well, re their expectations. If they want to spend time with their grandchildren each week, then they need to be involved in what the grandchildren are up to, rather than expecting them to not go places, or not expecting you to need to get on with things sometimes.
I think I'd probably suggest they come over for tea on a Tuesday (or whenever it's not Brownie / Cub / Karate night), but explain to them that you have been at work all day, you will be at work the next day, and the one after, and that you would love to see them, but they have to understand you will be carrying on with your normal routine (washing up / a load of washing on / ironing / checking your e-mails / whatever, but if they can {don't know ages of your dcs exactly, but you get the idea}.... supervise bath time / read a story / sit and do a jigsaw or play a board game with the dc for 20mins, while you do that, then you'll be able to sit and have a natter once they've gone to bed. That way, they see you, they see the dc, and you get your normal amount of time to do stuff. dh is also in his own home so can presumably go off to another room and work after tea.

grovel Mon 18-Mar-13 23:29:33

Do they have other grandchildren?

piprabbit Mon 18-Mar-13 23:42:54

Is either of your parents retired? Could they come over one afternoon a week/fortnight and collect the DGCs from school, if they aren't allowed to take them home, perhaps they could drive them back to their house and you could collect them from there after tea? The arrangement might still work even when you start work.

I know a lot of grandparents who travel very long distances (much more than half an hour) to do before or after school run several days a week.

CurtainsForNow Tue 19-Mar-13 08:55:47

nilbyname did you miss the part where I said I worked f/t and the DC did activities 3 evenings a week?
I don't get home till 5pm (at least). DD could really do with being in bed at 7.30 (could maybe stretch till 8pm). Maybe I'm being incredibly lazy but quite frankly I don't want to drive an hour round trip after work for the sake of seeing my parents for an hour and a half which will be almost entirely taken up with eating tea and doing homework (the DC). Tiring for me and the DC and disappointing for my parents I would think.

CurtainsForNow Tue 19-Mar-13 08:59:48

grovel I have 2 siblings who both have children. One lives about 2 hours away and sees our parents approx. every 2 months but often stays overnight.
The other lives 30 minutes away, his wife is a SAHM and their children go to a school that is 10 minutes drive from my parents BUT they see them less frequently than us (unless they want my parents to do something for them that is).

CurtainsForNow Tue 19-Mar-13 09:09:00

(in response to various people)
My parents don’t do babysitting. So any picking them up from school /taking them out at the weekend suggestions are just a no-go.
I think that’s half the problem. I do find seeing my parents a chore. My mother almost entirely ignores me. My dad does talk to me for a bit but then busies himself with household jobs. Basically they treat me in a way that would get a barrage of complaints if I did the same thing. So it’s hard to want to make time to basically sit in their lounge for a few hours while they play with the DC.

MTSgroupie Tue 19-Mar-13 09:11:31

My parents are two hours away. We go up for Sunday lunch every 5 weeks or so.

The relationship you have with your parents is going to influence how much you see them.

Eg mum's dad lived down the road and I saw him almost every day.

Dad's dad (the mums in both cases had already died) lived about a 10 min drive away and I saw him about 1-2 times a year. But then, he was a vicious nasty bastard who scared me and DBro so much we used to escape into the garden regardless of weather. These were my dad's duty visits only, and there were no tears when he died. I didn't even go to the funeral.

A 1 hour round trip, as in the OP's case does make things tricky. Not especially a good thing on a school night, after having been at work all day. And if your DCs school is anything like mine, they're going on a lot about making sure children have plenty of sleep, don't get over tired, etc.

There's no right or wrong solution, you'll just have to do what works for you.

HeathRobinson Tue 19-Mar-13 10:25:43

CurtainsForNow - you said 'My mother almost entirely ignores me.'

That's so hurtful, isn't it? My mum's the same. Only seems to come round to see the kids. She lives 15 mins away and I've seen her twice since Christmas.

So much depends on the relationship. Mil was so nice by contrast.

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