Is my aunt being unreasonable to change this babysitting arrangement?

(22 Posts)
glitteryshitshower Sun 24-Aug-14 11:24:03

NC'd as don't know if family are on here! Sorry if this is long!

My aunt (71) has been caring for my cousin's DD every other weekend between 9am and 3pm approx for about three years now. The DD, we'll call her Polly, is now 9.

My cousin is not my aunt's DD. My aunt's brother was cousin's father (he died several years ago). My aunt has two grown up children living with her, a DD and DS but they are in and out all weekend and are not able to help much with Polly. That aside, the arrangement was very much between my aunt and cousin anyway.

Polly is not an especially demanding child, she will entertain herself much of the time, but she is difficult to converse with and can be fairly frosty with my aunt and her DCs. I suspect this is because the DCs do not like Polly's mum and do not have anything to do with her themselves due to her past bad behaviour (too much to get into it all here, but it's things like borrowing large sums of money and never giving it back, rudeness about the DCs when they have asked for it and bitching about them, etc). I wonder if my cousin has been feeding comments about them to Polly and she is now being cold with the family because of this. It would be very typical of my cousin. I would just lately describe Polly as being hostile. I hate saying that about a child, but that is the impression I have got when I visited.

My aunt also strongly suspects that Polly has been taking things from the house. Just little knickknacks so nothing big but still. She can't prove it but it can't be anyone else. She hasn't said this to anyone other than me and felt bad even saying that.

In conversation with my aunt this weekend, it transpires that she is unhappy with continuing to babysit on such a frequent basis but doesn't know what to do. I want to advise her to either reduce the hours of what she is willing to do or cease the arrangement altogether and just do ad hoc babysitting. I think she would be okay with either, just not the every other weekend arrangement they have now. It makes it very difficult for my aunt to make plans to do anything and can't take Polly with her if she did as Polly never wants to go anywhere. It's also a lot of pressure and commitment and although my aunt isn't frail, she shouldn't have to feel like that at 71.

My cousin will either kick off or sulk big time over this. The arrangement was originally put in place because she works weekends (that is still the case) but she has also put some pressure on my aunt to babysit during holidays as well.

Would my aunt be reasonable to have a conversation with my cousin about reducing the amount of hours she has Polly? I think she's entirely reasonable, but I'm not impartial in this as I have a similar relationship with my cousin as aunt's DCs do.

Some maybe important info:

* Polly's mum has no other close family nearby who could help with childcare. Her brother works shifts and would be unable to commit even if he agreed to help (which he may well not).

* Finding and paying a local babysitter might be difficult at weekends they would be in limited supply around here.

I think I've gone through most of the important stuff here....so is my aunt being unreasonable?

Sunna Sun 24-Aug-14 11:26:49

No she isn't. She's done more than "family duty" requires.

Floralnomad Sun 24-Aug-14 11:27:17

The aunt should just tell the cousin that it's not convenient to do it anymore ,give her a months notice so she has time to arrange something else and that's that . Does the cousin pay her for this service ?

Coughle Sun 24-Aug-14 11:28:04

Not U.
It would be kind of her to give Polly's mum a couple of weeks notice.
I wouldn't go into any of the reasons, just "I'm afraid it's getting too much for me."

She's done loads!

Purplepoodle Sun 24-Aug-14 11:30:57

Could yr aunt start off by saying she won't babysit during the holidays and go from there?

AlpacaYourThings Sun 24-Aug-14 11:35:37

Agree with cougle she just needs to say its too much for her.

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Sun 24-Aug-14 11:36:03

I think you should stay out of it. Your aunt is a grown woman that can take care of her own business. Family fall out can spiral out of control and you don't want to be dragged in to it.

If anything, I would just tell your aunt to do what's best for herself. Does your cousin have any other family?

Regarding the stealing, my niece did the same a my house. Started of with chocolate, sweets them went on to small sums of cash. When I broached it with her mum, her mum just brushed it off. It's really spoiled our relationship.

glitteryshitshower Sun 24-Aug-14 11:36:34

Thanks for replies.

No money exchanges hands for this. No offer has ever been made either.

Holiday care she has been careful to limit anyway so I think that as a compromise wouldn't make much of a difference now. It's more the pressure of doing that from my cousin that has been an issue.

Giving a months notice would be a good idea. I will suggest that.

glitteryshitshower Sun 24-Aug-14 11:39:15

Softly, thank you for your opinion, but I'm not involved. I'm just about the only person my aunt has to talk to about this without there being some fallout because it would be her own DCs otherwise who would be understandably upset about their DM having her belongings taken. They are very nice people who would stand up for their DM. As mentioned above, no close family nearby who could help.

Nomama Sun 24-Aug-14 11:42:07

NU at all. She should just say no more.

Your cousin needs to work something else out, other people manage without calling upon 71 year old aunts.

nocoolnamesleft Sun 24-Aug-14 11:54:36

"I'm sorry, but it's getting to be too much for me. I'm not getting any younger" would seem the easiest route to go.

DaisyFlowerChain Sun 24-Aug-14 12:23:28

Of course she is NBU to cease the arrangement. The parent should have been paying or treating her at the very least rather than taking the free childcare for granted. It might be a good wake up call.

I'd give a couple of weeks notice though to allow for a replacement so that she doesn't get into trouble with work for failing to show.

HappyAgainOneDay Sun 24-Aug-14 12:24:19

I agree that, in these circumstances, the aunt should make a move to limit further any babysitting she does. As far as I'm concerned, it's nothing to do with her age although that could be used as an excuse to limit current arrangements.

I have a friend well into her seventies who often 'babysits' her grandchildren whenever needed (no routine sitting though) and she's out partying socialising, theatre-going, book clubbing, agony-aunting and a member of the local U3A. Just because someone is in his or her seventies does not make them incapable and I'm one of them.

The aunt should just say to the cousin that she doesn't want to do it anymore because she has other things to do and the babysitting limits them.

Viviennemary Sun 24-Aug-14 12:30:54

Your aunt would be perfectly reasonable to end this arrangement. She has done far and beyond the call of duty already keeping this up for three years. She should just say it's just too much for her, or she's taken up a hobby on Saturday afternoons or she wants her weekends free. It's a poor show that's she's even been put in this position of obligation.

glitteryshitshower Sun 24-Aug-14 12:40:51

I agree absolutely that age is not the barrier in this particular situation. I think it's just that at 71 my aunt should be looking at relaxing if she wishes not having pressure put on her. And that my cousin either doesn't care or doesn't take account of this.

The shit will hit the fan whatever my aunt does here.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Sun 24-Aug-14 12:46:25

Your aunt would certainly not BU to stop babysitting, however I am a little concerned about the child. Stealing and being 'hostile' aren't normal behaviours from a 9 yo - not all the time anyway.

But I suppose if you say the mum is feeding the child with a lot of stories she must be very confused as to why she's sent there every other weekend, so stopping the babysitting may be in her best interests?

queenofthemountain Sun 24-Aug-14 15:09:57

I think unless your Aunt specifically asks you to intervene , you should stay well out of it.Sometimes everybody likes a little moan to someone , it doesn't mean they wanted to be acted upon.
However Polly is a little girl.It her aunt wants them to all go out somewhere then it is not for a 9 yo to decide otherwise.Maybe she needs a bit of support standing up to Polly.

Egghead68 Sun 24-Aug-14 15:14:14

I don't think the aunt is BU. You should stay out of it though.

coppertop Sun 24-Aug-14 15:17:36

Three years of free childcare is extremely generous. She shouldn't feel at all guilty about stopping or reducing this.

HappyAgainOneDay Sun 24-Aug-14 15:41:54

QueenoftheMountain You might well have a point there. The fact that the aunt talks to the OP reminds me of tells me something.

My own late mother used to tell me things about her life and it was only after a while that I realised she was actually hinting (not asking) that something should be done by me and I dealt with it.

glitteryshitshower Sun 24-Aug-14 18:00:42

Just to clarify, I will not be getting involved and will not be acting on my aunt's behalf. She wouldn't ask me to do that.

I agree there are issues here outside of the obvious. A 9-year-old should not be used by her mother to bitch to and my cousin shouldn't want to send her to a house where there are people she doesn't like. Polly's mum is certainly the one in the wrong, but still....

Thebodyloveschocolateandwine Sun 24-Aug-14 18:53:05

Your cousin is taking the piss.

Your aunt is a saint.

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