To ask who uses Grandparents for 'Free Childcare'

(196 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Mon 16-Dec-13 17:10:24

Currently 25 weeks pregnant and over the last few weeks me and DH have been sitting down with a calculator, looking at our finances and making decisions about Maternity pay and returning to work etc.

He kept making comments about how he'd ask his mom to have baby one day a week to reduce our childcare costs - and I said absolutely not. He thinks that because she only works part time it isn't an issue hmm I told him that as his mom is 60 it isn't fair to ask her to look after a 1 year old all day long and make that commitment to us as a long-term thing. He has made the occasional jokey comment to his parents about their role in childcare and from her reaction it is quite clear it isn't something she wants to do, and I don't blame her. I wouldn't ever dream of asking my parents either.

I have always been a bit hmm about the issue - obviously there is no problem if the Grandparents offer and genuinely want to help out, but it certainly shouldn't be assumed. My sister really took advantage of our mom when it came to childcare and I swear I'd never do the same.

We have factored in our plan that I will return to work 3 days a week and we will pay for 3 days childcare. I said to my husband that we chose to have a baby and so it is our financial responsibility - not a case of just give the baby to Grandma so we can save some money.

I know some Grandparents offer to do it and absolutely love to do it, and that's great, but I also know of a lot of grandparents who do it because they feel obliged to but are actually quite resentful.

What are people's thoughts??
Are there negatives as well as positives to relying on grandparents this way?

Izabelblue Tue 17-Dec-13 15:39:45

My MiL and her partner look after 14mo old DD 2 days a week at the moment while I go to work but this is going to go down to 1 day a week in the New Year when DD goes to nursery.

Both of them are in their early 70s (I'm an old new mummy) and have a harder time than we can imagine with things like stairs and travel etc - they live 5 tube stops away from us but we pay for them to go back and forth from us in black cabs.

It's been a great help to us and I couldn't thank them enough. We 'pay them back' by sending them on hotel breaks, concerts, etc.

My silly issue is that having my MiL in the house all the time means I feel like everything needs to be wonderful and clean and organised so I spend much more time than I would if DD was in nursery tidying etc on the days when I'm not at work! I'm looking forward to slacking off a bit when DD has most of her childcare in nursery :-)

elliejjtiny Tue 17-Dec-13 16:23:47

No regular childcare here but inlaws and grandparents will help out in an emergency eg the older 3 went to stay with inlaws for 2 nights when DS4 was in hospital and DH's granddad picked up the older 2 from school today because DS3 and I have a tummy bug and I was worried about one of us puking at the school gate.

Monka Tue 17-Dec-13 16:38:53

When I go back to work (baby will be 10 months) then I will be using my MIL and DM to look after my daughter. They will each do 2 days a week as anymore would be too much for either of them. My MIL has looked after all the previous GC and wants to look after my daughter. My mum is nearer to my work so that will be a massive help. The pros are that my daughter will be looked after by family who love her, the obvious financial benefits. The cons are that my MIL is a bit older now and we have very different views on what constitutes healthy eating but I would rather my MIL look after my daughter then send her to nursery as my MIL will dote on her.

CPtart Tue 17-Dec-13 16:42:22

We use my mum for emergency childcare/sick days etc but not on a regular basis. She made it clear she doesn't want to be tied and I absolutely don't blame her. The number of beleaguered grandparents you see trudging about with buggies saddens me. Who wants to be doing the school run in retirement week in and out?

drudgetrudy Tue 17-Dec-13 19:13:37

I may sometimes look like I'm trudging with a buggy, but I'm enjoying it -Honest!

Neither my parents nor my inlaws live close enough to provide regular childcare (both live in different parts of the country). They have helped out for the odd week during school hols and in emergency situations.

However, I get the impression that even if my parents did live nearby, they wouldn't be that keen to sign up for a regular childcare arrangement. Not because they don't love their grandchildren, but because they have a lot else going on in their lives and a regular day a week would feel a bit like a 'job'.

One of my mum's best friends provides childcare for her daughter and I think my mum has seen how tired her friend gets (also has some physical health issues) and how much time it takes up. The commitment means that her friend is less able to be spontaneous too.

Totesamazeballs Tue 17-Dec-13 19:24:48

I have always felt the same as you Writer. I wouldn't expect my parents to commit to childcare. When they can and want to help that is great but I don't expect it. I don't think its fair on them. They paid their dues already!

ModreB Tue 17-Dec-13 19:43:55

My DM had a part time job when I had DS3. Prior to that I was firstly a SAHM, but had worked PT when DS1 & 2 went to school full time, there was a 9 year gap between them and DS3, and DS3 was a surprise welcome addition to the family. My DM offered to look after DS3 so that I could go back to work, and I must say that 14 years on it worked well.

Not brilliantly all the time, we had different opinions and I had to be assertive firm sometimes about what I did and didn't want for him, on the whole she respected my decisions and although she did find it hard in the later years to let go of DS3, we sorted that and he had a very, very happy and loved babyhood and childhood as DS3 was the priority for both of us.

And, as she had given up her part time job, I paid her the equivalent (less than a CM or Nursery) so she didn't lose out, I could afford to work which benefited the whole family, not just financially but in terms of my own sanity, and I had someone to care for DS3 who loved him nearly as much as I did, looked after him in his own home, and was prepared to look after him when he had minor niggles, colds etc. I still took time off if he was proper poorly.

It can be done, but only if the offer is made and the groundrules are set and stuck to.

1944girl Wed 18-Dec-13 22:04:27

I am a grandmother of five and have had care of all my grandchildren since they were newborn while their parents worked.
Three youngest live with me, ages 17, 12 and 11.I just do the collecting from school with the youngest now and help out with her and her brother in school holidays.Other side has never offered to help.
I regard this as a privelige now.I was separated from the three oldest for two years after my DS's divorce from his first wife. This nearly broke my heart and since then have never taken my grandchildren for granted.

catgirl1976 Wed 18-Dec-13 22:41:03

My parents take DS on a Sunday afternoon and bring him home on a Monday evening. They have done this since he was about 1.

2 days a week he is at nursery and 2 days a week at home with DH so this does keep our childcare down.

They love having him and would have him more happily but I don't want to take advantage or have it become too much for them. However, if DH gets a job next year as planned they will have him an extra day

It hasn't caused any issues or tension to date

I don't see them as free childcare though. I see them as family who adore spending time with him and who offered willingly and genuinely.

Your MIL hasn't offered so I think YANBU to have such reservations, especially as you say it's clear it's not something she wants to do. Your DH is being U.

Trigglesx Wed 18-Dec-13 23:01:30

Have done it for DD. When DGS was a baby, it wasn't a huge problem, although it could be restrictive for appointments and so on.

As DGS gets a bit older (8yo now), DD is quite strict and has a tendency to impose rules on him that affect him when he is at our house, and seems to expect us to include our two that are still at home in those rules as well. Not happening. My house, my rules. I'm happy to go along with some things, but when she tells him "no video games" and then expects me to keep my two from playing them because it's not nice to play them in front of him, then I draw the line. And I can't have him sitting there watching them play, that's just cruel. So I've basically had to say "look, you do what you need to do at home, but when he's here it's a clean slate or it's not fair on my two here. And if that's a problem, then I just won't babysit." <shrug> That's life.

I don't like doing regular childminding for DGCs. Much more relaxed to just be grandparents. (and guess what? I have a life too!) Regular family childcarer is the way to arguments and tension.

OP - Nice to see that you're keeping in mind that they have a social life and need down time as well.

MillyChristmas Wed 18-Dec-13 23:06:31

No I never used my parents or my DH parents as childcare. I did it all myself until they went to school and I don't intend to do it for my children either as my DH and I have lots of plans for when we retire as its "our" time again to enjoy the years we have left after all the hard years of childrearing and little money. I will have them if they are desperate but otherwise will have them when I would like to have them if it is ok with parents.

MillyChristmas Wed 18-Dec-13 23:09:17

And I don't mean I will have them whenever I want them, I mean that I will arrange in advance a suitable day with the parents when I can have them.

Jengnr Thu 19-Dec-13 05:37:54

I'm going back to work 3 days a week next month gulp

He's having a day in nursery and a day with each grandparent. Everyone is happy with this arrangement (although I'm aware we're very lucky that both sets of parents are reasonable human beings).

I appreciate they're doing us a massive favour and try not to take the piss (eg they were worried about if they go on holiday and I've told them they must still book holidays as they would now and we will sort it out) but at the same time it's not just that we're using them as 'free childcare' - it's an arrangement that will benefit everyone.

My SIL is a SAHM and my niece spends one day a week with my Mum because she wanted that time with her granddaughter, even if I wasn't working I think my MIL would want something similar tbh.

It's not something that could work for everyone but I think it's the best way for everyone concerned in our situation and everyone is happy with it.

Trigglesx Thu 19-Dec-13 07:21:10

although I'm aware we're very lucky that both sets of parents are reasonable human beings

I don't think that refusing to be free regular childcare for my grandchildren qualifies me as an UNREASONABLE human being. I have 2 grandchildren, but I also have 2 children still at home (4 and 7). I have other responsibilities and other commitments. Even so, I still did it for awhile, and had to stop because it was just too much stress trying to coordinate another schedule into our already insane schedules.

If I didn't have young children at home, I'd most likely be working full time, which would mean I couldn't provide free childcare either.

I think that nowadays with older people having to work until they're in their late 60s and early 70s (and the pension age getting higher and higher), there are going to be less and less grandparents that will be free to provide childcare anyway. Although ironically, with all the government's talk about family providing care for elderly, all those adult children being pushed into full time work will then be less available or able to care for their elderly parents either - so everyone is going to be struggling. A lot of poor people (who might benefit from free childcare from grandparents) are being encouraged/pushed to move due to housing availability or not being able to find a job - only to then be in an area where they cannot access family to help with childcare.

We personally have MIL close by, but she cannot provide childcare (paid or free) because she is elderly and beginning to have memory problems and much as she is a wonderful sweet woman, I cannot safely leave the DCs with her.

exhaustedandannoyed Thu 19-Dec-13 08:12:18

My dm looks after dniece 1 day a week, she offered and does really enjoy it but she also finds it very tiring at 60, she has to get up very early and drive nearly an hour each way and is always picking up bugs that dniece brings home from nursery on the other 2 days dsis is working. It is also a bit of a problem with holidays as now is the time that she and df are wanting to go away more. I think it's better to do it without involving them if it is possible.

exhaustedandannoyed Thu 19-Dec-13 08:14:32

We don't live anywhere near my dps but my dh is sure that if his mum wasn't still working full time, she would be delighted to provide as much childcare as needed. I don't know if this is him having a warped view or if she genuinely would.

WinterWinds Thu 19-Dec-13 11:22:51

Op i totally agree with you.

I am a sahm anyway so don't need or never have needed childcare. I would never dream of asking my mum if the situation was different. I hated asking her to babysit on the odd occasion in case she felt obliged to do it.
But she would offer and that would only be when I was stuck.

I have a 2yo DGD. I made it clear from the start that I couldn't offer full time childcare when DD returned to work.

I have 3 dc's still at home, so am still parenting. I struggled massively with my youngest dd when she was a baby due to PND and I know the emotionally I couldn't do it again. Even though I am not yet 40 I do find it physically draining looking after a young child. DH and I have never had a relationship without children and we are certainly looking forward to spending time together as a couple when they have all upped and left or fending for themselves.
I might sound selfish but I am looking forward to the day when I can just think about us without factoring in the DC's.

We have 5 Dc's altogether and when dh retires we will probably do a lot more travelling and things we enjoy. I don't want to be tied down to the many GC we will possibly have in the future just because I don't work.

Don't get me wrong, I love to spend time with DGD and will also help out in an emergency for whatever reason. But I have done more than my fair share of childcare, I need a break.

MillyChristmas Thu 19-Dec-13 12:14:40

Winterwinds this is exactly how I feel.smile

My In Laws kindly take the kids a lot. I don't work so no need for regular childcare, but they love having the kids and so when they aren't screamingly busy with their jobs they tend to have our three kids overnight. In Christmas holidays often I will hardly see my kids for a few days at a time. I try really hard not to take advantage of their generosity with childcare, I was angry at my husband last week as I was really ill and couldn't look after anyone, I was stuck in bed for a week. He could easily have done the school runs and dropped the kids off with me in the evenings, our oldest is 9 and all three are quite good at being self sufficient, she can use the microwave to feed them all snacks etc. Instead he kept asking his mum to get them from school, knowing she would end up keeping them overnight and he wouldn't have to do the morning run either.

If they didn't want to have our kids that would be fine too. I don't let my own mother babysit as I don't trust her not to shout and even hit them if they are bad, and I don't trust her partner not to lose his temper. I love them very much, but their parenting methods aren't gentle like my in laws.

ThurlHoHoHow Thu 19-Dec-13 16:14:35

I don't think it is selfish at all. Grandparents have already raised their children. I think it is quite unfair to ask them to do it all again. It's one thing if they offer, but quite another thing to ask someone to go through toddler wrangling again.

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