AIBU to ask GPs how much babysitting is too much?

(32 Posts)
confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 18:22:05

Posting here for traffic, regular user NC to ask if you're a GP, how do you really feel when you're asked to babysit of an evening for your very young GC, the kind of babysitting where you're sat watching tv in someone else's house whilst the parents are out? How often is too often? Where do you draw the line on saying no, do you ever feel like you're obliged to do it because it's hard to say no or feel like people are over imposing on you? How do you manage when you have multiple DC yourself each of whom has GC and you're the only family support for both? Do you do more for one than another, less for both or inevitably double the amount, does it get difficult to manage between your own DC and ILs (eg what do you do if they try to book you on same night?!)

Background - we have two very young (and very easy going, routine happy) preschool DC. My DDDDDDF died and my DM is unwell and lives a long way away so I can't ask my family for help. My PILs are local and very kind, loving generous people who love our DC dearly and always say I should ask for help when I need it. However, I have over the last 18m worked hard to build up a network of trusted babysitters so we don't over rely on PILs, recognising that they have their own lives. But I think I've offended them by asking other people to babysit their GC and not them in the evenings, when really it's just a case of sitting watching tv. The reason I started to do this was not because I felt they couldn't do it (they're great) but because I felt like I had offended them by asking too much (on that occasion two evenings in a fortnight).

So AIBU to think that there is a line, and if there is... Please tell me where yours is and how you really feel about helping out or other people looking after your DC so I can gauge if AIBU with the set up we have. I just assumed they would rather spend time with the kids awake than asleep!

For full disclosure I am a sahm and never ask them for childcare in the week, only over to play / spend time / have a meal, for same main reason - I don't want to over impose.

It would be different if it were my own parents, it's times like this I miss them terribly and wish that they were able to enjoy the kids as much as I know they would have done.

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 18:24:41

Also, we are in a lovely area outside Bristol, so never go far away for nights out etc or go too crazy. Never later than midnight and neither of us drinks very much

emopod Mon 19-Sep-16 18:31:04

I'm not sure I get what you mean by to manage between your own DC and ILs - surely if they are Grandparents it's not relevant whether it's their son or daughter who is the parent? Are you suggesting that their daughter's children are "grandchildren" vs their son's children being "IL grandchildren"?

It is tough when there's only one set of grandparents though. I'm in a similar situation, and can feel a teeny bit resentful of SIL getting a lot of the grandparent time (14 grandkids for my parents, DH is orphaned) when my kids have only one set of GPs and hers have two!

BackforGood Mon 19-Sep-16 18:33:32

It's going to be very individual to the person.
Some retirees are out every day or every night, packing all sorts into their lives. I know many folk who don't know how they had time to go to work. OTOH, others seem to live their lives through their family and don't have much else to do.

Are they tucked up asleep before you go out, or do they have to put them to bed ?

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 18:40:15

Sorry emopod - I mean from the grandparents perspective, manage between all the parents of GC which would include the GPs own children and their OHs. For example in your case, their daughter (you) and their DIL (your SIL) are asking.

I can empathise with your situation, I also feel for the kids as well who will only grow up with one set of GP in these situations. I think it's really important that bond is as strong as possible

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 18:41:22

In our case 90% of time they are tucked up in bed as they go to bed early

BackforGood Mon 19-Sep-16 18:47:59

Well - if they are happy staying up late, and happy driving in the dark, then there isn't really a limit.
It sounds as if you have a really good relationship with them though, so why not just ask them ?

emopod Mon 19-Sep-16 18:52:26

But your kids are still their GC, aren't they? Do you think it would make a difference if your DP was asking them instead, or is it a case that the mothers are taking on the responsibility for organising babysitting in your family?

I'm sorry I can't say much for how much is too much for babysitting - but maybe ask them how much they feel is too much, and then try your best to trust their answer!

I might try saying something like: "We'd love to ask you to babysit X amount, but are wary of taking advantage of your good natures. What amount of babysitting (in evening times) would you be happy to help us out with? Please don't feel obliged, coz we're happy to find alternatives, but we'd also feel really happy /comfortable knowing you're the ones taking care of them."

PinkSwimGoggles Mon 19-Sep-16 18:54:49

any they don't want to do.

daisypond Mon 19-Sep-16 19:18:45

I think you just outline your dilemma as you've written it here directly to the GPS - you've explained it very well.

loveyouradvice Mon 19-Sep-16 19:22:43

Really do just ask them and tell them what you've told us - that you don't want to ask too much... I suspect they love feeling they are helping and knowing that their grandchildren know they are there for them... but only they can tell you what too much is! Many grandparents do at least one night a week and sometimes more...

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 20:41:28

Thanks all, I have asked but they don't like to commit as it feels to them like its restrictive having a regular expectation. There are simply some weeks when they are too busy and don't want to, I don't know when these weeks are. They are definitely the type who don't know how they used to find time to work! Which is great, but if I ask and get several knock backs I then find it uncomfortable to ask again. I was just hoping some grandparents might be able to tell me how they feel about being asked, especially if they identify with these kind of circumstances

ConvincingLiar Mon 19-Sep-16 20:48:06

Is there any scope for identifying a few dates over a few months, then asking "are any of these convenient? If not, no worries, we'll contact our B list baby sitters."

Sofabitch Mon 19-Sep-16 20:51:31

I guess it depends on the grandparents. My mum picks mine up from school every single day. I have offered alternitives but she says she absolutly loves it.

Shes less keen on the evening stuff though as she goes to bed early so we try to avoid asking.

Some grandparents want to be really involved

roses2 Mon 19-Sep-16 20:52:02

Are they the type of people that are very busy so can't babysit but also take great offended if you don't ask them?

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 20:52:40

Yes they are really happy to do that, but more than once a month feels too much. I guess I'm just after a GP perspective of how it feels to be asked and to manage people families asking?

PoshPenny Mon 19-Sep-16 20:56:47

I think you need to explain your position about not wanting to abuse their good nature and see how much babysitting they are prepared to do. My PILs made it very clear they weren't going to do any babysitting whatsoever, and my own parents weren't much better. All were local too. It sounds like you've got a pair of gems there.

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 21:00:51

Thanks Penny, we really do but I know that there is an invisible line and if I cross it there's no going back. When I have asked the question, it's always been "whenever we can" but then when I ask specific dates (eg once every 3-4 weeks) I get quite a lot of knock backs. That's why I am confused of DILdom! I don't like to ask again as feel I shouldn't have asked in the first place

Sellingyesterdaysnews Mon 19-Sep-16 21:01:49

It can be tricky. Because they might want to see all of you together most of the time rather than babysitting. I would say babysitting once every two to four weeks seems reasonable.. But it also depends if they have a big routine around sat night.. Going out, having friends over etc. Sitting in your house while you are out is helping, but not very social.
Would they prefer the gc to have a sleepover once a month at their own house maybe ?

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 21:02:30

Sorry you had that experience Penny, it's hard when expectations can be quite mismatched not to make a big fuss out of it isn't it. I've really tried to tread lightly so as not to upset anyone, you read lots of perspectives here from the same pov but not so many from the actual GPs. I wonder what gransnet would say to me!?

Sellingyesterdaysnews Mon 19-Sep-16 21:03:45

Actually, I would say four to six weeks on reflection.

roses2 Mon 19-Sep-16 21:05:28

Why don't you leave the ball in their court and ask them to call you to let you know whenever they are free to babysit?

confusedofDILdom Mon 19-Sep-16 21:07:03

Sleepover at theirs is a GREAT idea. Thank you grin

CocoLoco87 Mon 19-Sep-16 21:12:32

My DM and DMiL do 1 afternoon a week for each set of GC. So my DM gives 3 afternoons a week for GC and my DMIL has GC on 2 afternoons. My DS has an afternoon a week with each of them if that makes sense?

Sellingyesterdaysnews Mon 19-Sep-16 21:12:53

I think there's a big difference between just hanging out together and babysitting or childcare which is essentially what babysitting is.
I would feel offended if most of the invitations I received were from my son and dil to look after the DC while they were out.... It's much more fun for them to come over altogether. Conversely, if they wanted time to themselves and told me they were hoping to do something without the DC I would offer to help out.. But I must admit I wouldn't want to be asked to babysit regularly in the evening. So I would say that you want a night out ... Can they help . They can then choose a suitable day for them.

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