To think if you can volunteer you can work?

(82 Posts)
BoyMeetsWorld Fri 19-Jul-13 22:35:59

Now I may get flamed for this, not sure, but I'm not saying it as a personal dig against ALL people on benefits - obv every persons' situation is different.

But my DM is on a full wack of benefits for disability. Her disability is based on being scared of public situations (lots of people) & that she can't handle stress. So she doesn't work & she gets circa £28k per year.

Recently DM relocated closer to us because we are seriously struggling with childcare costs with baby 2 on the way (who isn't!) obv that's our problem, not hers, and we were exceptionally grateful for any childcare help - but as she literally does NOTHING else with her life (gets up at 10am most days, goes back to bed 3pm, plays on the computer all day) it didn't seem too unreasonable.

Fast forward few months & she was claiming she didn't want to get up in mornings to do any school runs. Fair enough though annoying - again, not her problem. Then she announced the stress of doing ANY childcare for us had given her a nervous breakdown. Cue days of slurred speech, acting oddly, lots of guilt tripping. We found a fulltime childminder - all pressure removed. 95% of our salary gone on house & childcare but, again, that's the same for hundreds of couples.

Found out today that she is volunteering 2 days per week at a very busy local animal sanctuary / tourist attraction. A)how can she claim benefits as cant be around people, then work somewhere with hundreds of tourists per day? B)how can she claim benefits for being unable to work as it causes too much stress, but is fine to spend 2 days volunteering? (she has no plans to ever work again btw)? So she lives 5 mins away from us but can't help us with any childcare yet is happy to help the animals.

Whole thing boggles my brain AIBU?

ImNotBloody14 Fri 19-Jul-13 22:38:16

Ask her, not us hmm

HeySoulSister Fri 19-Jul-13 22:38:24

You are bitter... And you are talking about your mums situation

Your title generalised about volunteers...

WorraLiberty Fri 19-Jul-13 22:38:32

What did she say when you asked her about it?

PearlyWhites Fri 19-Jul-13 22:39:44

Yes yabu

beyondthepaleandinteresting Fri 19-Jul-13 22:39:46

Hmm, I see where you are coming from, but I volunteer and find it comparatively stress free compared to being in paid employment. I can see how the responsibility of a job might feel too much but volunteering (especially if in a low responsibility role, or one which you personally find cathartic e.g. being around animals) might be ok. So yes, I think YABabitU.

moogy1a Fri 19-Jul-13 22:39:56

I agree with you OP. always bemused when peole who "can't work" can do volunteer work

HeySoulSister Fri 19-Jul-13 22:41:21

Job centre encourage it because it can build confidence and it looks good on a cv!

Also gives you a good reference..... Improving job prospects

DevonCiderPunk Fri 19-Jul-13 22:42:47

DMs don't have to help with care of grandchildren. It's hard work. If she wants to volunteer for a cause she's interested in, good for her.

DorisIsWaiting Fri 19-Jul-13 22:43:09

Wow just wow.

Reread your OP you sound like a child who hasn't grown up yet.

You minimize your mothers difficulties, You seem to disbelieve her problems You now have to pay childcare like hundreds of thousands of other families and you are pissed off that she is volunteering. Regardless of the fact that working somewhere with animals (not necessarily with the general public) may actually help her overcome her fears.

Oh and not sure where you got the £28000 from that highly unlikely as a single person.

YAB Completely U

BoyMeetsWorld Fri 19-Jul-13 22:43:23

When asked she just gets very aggressive or starts slurring her words. Same with any type of confrontation or suggestion she's doing anything wrong.

Yes, happy to admit I do feel bitter about it all - I've had many years of her games.

It's two separate issues really - 1 that she won't help us even though she easily could but also 2 that I feel she's blatantly fleecing the benefits system.

Did explain v quickly in my OP that it's about one situation not all people on benefits (though I would like to learn more about why people who can't work can volunteer except in obvious situations ie getting people back into work or when they have physical disabilities but v much want to do something useful)

coppertop Fri 19-Jul-13 22:44:13

So you're happy for her to 'volunteer' if it takes the form of childcare, but not if it involves working with animals instead? confused

Turniptwirl Fri 19-Jul-13 22:44:23

I work and volunteer and I find volunteering much less stressful than work!

Yabu. I used to volunteer on top of my part time work pattern. I cannot commit to more work hours, but can commit to voluntary work as with the type I was doing I could drop out last minute if need be, which I couldn't do for work. Could be the same storey.

Though a lot of benefits can be cut for volunteering so I doing think it's that common :/

Don't think

nenevomito Fri 19-Jul-13 22:48:49

YABU - I have a lot of friends who volunteer. They all have health problems that mean that regular work is out of reach to them due to a) people not wanting to employ them because of their health and b) because their health is too unstable for them to work to fixed hours etc.

Volunteering means that they can still contribute - and most contribute a heck of a lot - but in a way that doesn't negatively impact their health.

bearleftmonkeyright Fri 19-Jul-13 22:49:18

You've muddled two aibu. You are clearly upset that your mum does not childmind for you.. I don't think yabu but you need to talk to her. You do seem quite judgy about how she spends her time and difficulty accepting the fact that she isn't well. The wider issue of volunteering on benefits I think should have been left out of your op.

dashoflime Fri 19-Jul-13 22:50:17

Agree with beyondthepale Volunteering is much less stress than work. I can completely see that someone suffering from anxiety may manage a volunteer role but not be able to do paid work.

Also agree that GP don't have to help out with childcare although I can see how its disapointing for you.

The guilt tripping was out of order. She shouldn't have done that.

kotinka Fri 19-Jul-13 22:50:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Doesn't exactly sound like she is living it up on her benefits either.

MrsDeVere Fri 19-Jul-13 22:52:29

I find it odd that you cannot see how volunteering is less stressful for someone with MH issues than working in paid employment.

It doesn't take a genius to work it out.

How is she getting 28k a year? That would be over the benefits cap.
Unless she is getting high rate DLA which is VERY hard to get for MH reasons.

If you dislike your mother so much why do you want her to provide you with free childcare?

Perhaps she feels uncomfortable working as your unpaid childminder as you make no secret of what you think of her.

If you have evidence that she is claiming benefits fraudulently stop bitching about it and report her.


Kleptronic Fri 19-Jul-13 22:53:21

Kewf. Don't diss the volunteers. This is about you and your mother.

bearleftmonkeyright Fri 19-Jul-13 22:54:07

The word slurring, is she on medication? Wonder if that could account for the difficultied she is having committing to a permanent job.

chateauferret Fri 19-Jul-13 22:55:22

You can work in the widest sense of the word but getting paid employment and holding it down are harder than just 'working'. YABU.

ImNotBloody14 Fri 19-Jul-13 22:56:12

Can i just ask how baby 2 on the aay is affecting childcare costs? confused

ArgyMargy Fri 19-Jul-13 22:57:14

£28k? I doubt it. And she doesn't owe you childcare. Leave her alone.

expatinscotland Fri 19-Jul-13 22:57:20

What boggles my brain is whoever is starting all these vile threads tonight.

Amitolamummy Fri 19-Jul-13 22:58:59

I think voluntary work is great for people who plan to work again or do not need to work, but if I was in a position to have an opinion on this I would be a bit peeved. I don't have anyone to help with childcare and it's very difficult, so if I did have a family member who refused to help due to ill health but was able to volunteer I think I would also be questioning things. Maybe she finds childcare too stressful, but I guess it would be better to tell you that. It does sound like you need to talk.
I think a lot of these responses are very harsh. Wondering if there is more to this about the way she is or your relationship

Remotecontrolduck Fri 19-Jul-13 23:00:22

Well yes theoretically that's true, they can, but often employers simply don't want to employ anyone with health issues or someone who hasn't been in 'proper' employment for a while. Not a lot they can do about that really. She says she doesn't want to work but you don't really know what's gone on, it could be a front and she's been rejected countless times and feels crap, as anyone would.

Volunteering will give a reference, build confidence, give a sense of worth and importance. And it is a valuable thing to be doing.

If you think she's taking the piss with the benefits, report her and she'll have them taken away. I doubt she's getting anywhere near what you're saying she is though.

Remotecontrolduck Fri 19-Jul-13 23:01:28

And you chose to have the kids, you pay for the child minder I'm afraid.

PoodleFlavouredFreddos Fri 19-Jul-13 23:02:19

I am on disability benefits. I have mental health problems and physical health issues. I get quite a lot of money every week and it makes my skin crawl. I feel as if I should be living hand to mouth, because there are people that work who have less than I do. I hate it.

I am working toward doing volunteer work as a step to work.

I want to work in care, so I am looking to volunteer with adults with special needs - high pressure, busy, around people. I can see why people would be hmm I really can, so I am going to try and explain this.

In order to go back to work, which i desperately desperately want I need to take small simple steps.

If I volunteer two days a week I can spend the other days hiding in my house, 'acting out' my panic - it is a tip from my psychotherapist - i give myself time to feel awful and not be able to get dressed/function. Then when I need to function, I have the mental and emotional reserves to do so.

I struggle a lot with having to do things perfectly, I have OCD and anxiety disorder, as well as depression and an eating disorder. In a volunteer role It is more 'okay' not to be perfect straight away because I am not getting paid and there are 'proper' people to defer to. If I make a mistake I literally can't cope, I tried to go back to work too soon & was in such a state I slept for 1 hour in 5 days, I was harming myself & feeling suicidal. So I was signed off by my GP & am back on benefits.

This is hard to explain and rationalize, because I know most people can easily do things i find really really hard.

I have spent the last ten years involved with intensive mental health services, and have been in and out of hospital. Two years ago I spent and entire year living in one room in my parents house, too depressed to wash or get up & my anxiety meant leaving that one room was impossible for nearly six months.

I have worked really really hard to get to the point where I can go out in public, occasionally alone & not come home with a bag full of tablets to overdose with, or having to resort to self harming in public toilets because I can't get through the day without it.

I have worked really really hard to control my eating disorder so that I can function like most people and seem 'normal'.

I am now nearing a point where I can do volunteer work - and I have been studying for a Masters degree which has meant I have had to go out & go to seminars once a fortnight and be around people. That was my step to volunteering, the step after volunteering is a job - which I would love more than anything.

But doin ten hous of volunteer work is going to be hard work. It is a massive achievement for me - I have come far - and then people seem to think I should get a job immediately and I feel so inadequate and awful. It is a horrible feeling, knowing you are trying so so hard & yet people still judge you and look down on you.

I have no friends, I have no social life, I don't even have my own house anymore, my mental health problems have ruined every goal I have ever aimed for - I wrote my undergraduate dissertation while on a section in hospital. So even that 'achievment' has been marred. I am doing a Masters not for the qualification but because I feel safer in academia then in the 'real' world and it was a way of at least getting out the house once a fortnight for seminars.

I don't know if this has come out right, but I hope you can see it from my point of view. I want a bloody job, but at the moment even volunteer work is hard, really really terrifying - and I am going to o it anyway. but then people judge me & think I should be better, stronger and less worthless.

I can't begin to tell you how awful I feel or being on benefits. I don't spend it all by the way, my DP has to buy me stuff like new shoes or food behind my back because I hate spending it.

I'll watch this thread. I don't mind questions, but please be kind. I feel a bit iffy even writing this, but I wanted to ive a view from someone who is there.

I am sure that volunteering at a sanctuary, where you can work at times that suit you, is a lot less stressful than looking after someonelses children, on what I assume is a regular basis with no/little flexibility.

ParsingFancy Fri 19-Jul-13 23:03:43

ESA (formerly Incapacity Benefit) is up to 106.50 a week.

So the maximum on ESA would be £5,538 pa (possibly a little more if she's protected in transfer from Incapacity Benefit, but actually probably less than that, if you've described her capability correctly).

She's incredibly unlikely to be getting any DLA on what you've described. But even if she were getting the highest rates of both care and mobility, the maximum total would be 6988.80 pa.

So I'm calling bullshit on the £28K pa benefits. She might have had private insurance, but she certainly won't get that amount on benefits.

Monty27 Fri 19-Jul-13 23:03:51

Perhaps you're not sympathic towards her op.

Perhaps that enhances whatever condition she has.

You sound selfish quite frankly.


katykuns Fri 19-Jul-13 23:05:29

My Mum doesn't have mental health problems and I don't expect her to look after my children.
and you fail to see why she can't work when she volunteers but how much pressure did you put on her to be childcare?
I also think her daily routine sounds utterly miserable and wouldn't be surprised if her mental problems extend past her agoraphobia, , what with the slurred speech and massive amount of sleeping.

MrsDeVere Fri 19-Jul-13 23:07:00

I have never expected anyone to look after my children for free.
I have never had any family help and I wouldn't expect it either!

Bloody hell. MN is crap tonight. All this shite about benefits yet the most entitled people are the ones starting the thread.

My mum won't look after my children for free, she is insisting on having her own life, stamp stamp whinge whinge.

I work, I can manage a couple of days. Maybe three in a while. But it has taken me years to get back to this point and if I am honest I would much rather hide away.
I have just had three months off because it all got way too much for me.
But I am lucky that I am qualified enough to earn enough working part time.

If I had to hold down a full time job I wouldn't cope at all.

OP I can understand you being bitter at having a mother with MH issues, that must have been hard growing up, but she is ill. If she had something physically wrong with her would you be starting this thread?
Does it take a wheelchair or a stick to make someone 'properly' ill?

imademarion Fri 19-Jul-13 23:08:12

When asked she just gets very aggressive or starts slurring her words. Same with any type of confrontation or suggestion she's doing anything wrong.

She sounds a bit of a silly-arse TBH.

I'd be pleased my kids escaped being exposed to this type of behaviour and just chalk it up to experience.

Best of luck, horrid to be let down by someone you should be able to rely on.

No wonder Mental Health is still a taboo subject.

WestieMamma Fri 19-Jul-13 23:11:06


I'm autistic and have been in and out of work my whole life. I can't hold a job down. The stress builds and builds and then I crash and become so ill that I can't even take care of my basic needs. The last time was 6 years ago and the crash was so massive that I still haven't recovered enough to return to work. I have however continued to volunteer with the same organisation that I've been volunteering with since I was 15 (ie for 30 years). Volunteering is more like a hobby and therefore theraputic. I have the advantage of not being on benefits though so get to avoid all the judgment.

DevonCiderPunk Fri 19-Jul-13 23:11:29

Round of applause for PoodleFlavouredFreddos

Sleepshmeep Fri 19-Jul-13 23:11:43

Very simply, volunteering can be a great building bridge for people recovering from an illness, in a supported environment to build confidence and skills. Lots provide training and expenses and pave the way for better employment opportunities.

Cannot believe I have had to spell that out.

joanofarchitrave Fri 19-Jul-13 23:12:31

I'm really hoping that dh might be able to volunteer in a few weeks' time. He's been ill all his adult life, worked full time until about eight years ago, part-time until four years ago or so, and since then has been unable to work. He does do quite a lot when he is well, housework, dog walking (our dog, our house) and is around for our son after school. He is some months or years away from even a few hours' regular paid work. I would be frozen with horror if he suddenly got a job as a childcare worker even a couple of days a week, he is incapable of doing this, and a cursory glance at his sickness record would stop most employers putting him top of the list. A voluntary job might allow him to continue contributing, while being able to take time out if he has to.

Why do you even want someone who shows vivid signs of mental and emotional distress at any confrontation or stress to look after your children?? You appear to think she is making the symptoms up and that work would 'sort her out'. Really? Do you know what the ESA/Work Capability Assessment process is like? We pulled out of it after the first round and appeal, despite dh being awarded full benefit, because it caused a horrible relapse for months on end. If your mother has been awarded this benefit, then rest assured she is not fit to work and you should be heartily glad she's not working, frankly.

Poodle and all others in that situation, just wanted to say how brave you are for doing what you are doing, and not just giving up.

bimbabirba Fri 19-Jul-13 23:19:33

She probably comes across to you as "difficult" because she has MH problems. She probably can't help herself and it is very sad that your insight into someone so close to you doesn't go far enough.
To answer your question, I've worked in the same role (doing exactly the same things) on both voluntary and paid basis and the difference was staggering. When I was a volunteer, I used to be thanked at the end of each day by the duty supervisor, no one raised an eyebrow if I was 15 minutes late because of heavy traffic, I could take my own time to do things or simply refuse to do certain things I didn't like, I could take holidays whenever and however long I wanted, etc.
A lot of people with MH problems struggle to hold down a job because of the stress involved. Doing the same job asa volunteer in immensely less stressful.

ReallyTired Fri 19-Jul-13 23:20:51


Anxiety is a real and seriously debilating condition. It sounds like your MIL has been through hell.

I don't understand why you would want someone with profound anxiety looking after your children. Do you want someone with the potential to get aggressive to look after your children? Your MIL is medically unfit to babysit.

Your children are your responsiblity. Its up to you to either look after them or pay for proper childcare.

I imagine that doing some voluntary work is part of your mother in law's rehabilation. I think its a really positive step.

NotInGuatemalaNowDrRopata Fri 19-Jul-13 23:20:54

If your kids are anything like mine, I don't blame your mum for choosing the comparative serenity of a wildlife sanctuary.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 19-Jul-13 23:27:51


They are your dc and childcare does cost a lot. Yes thousands of parents pay it, others can't afford to work and pay childcare.
Think yourself lucky that you can afford to work and not on another thread being called names.

Eyesunderarock Fri 19-Jul-13 23:28:25

The difference with an anxiety or depressive illness is in the choice.
Feeling trapped by a situation and unable to leave makes the illness so much worse.
She can drop volunteering in a heartbeat with no repercussions if the pressure is too great. You sound like a very intense person to have a relationship with.

katykuns Fri 19-Jul-13 23:29:26

Welldone Poodle... I suffered with mild depression and anxiety, thankfully I was lucky I had support and felt better when I found work. I have no idea how life would have gone if I hadn't found my feet... but I have the utmost admiration for people fighting to get their lives the way they want/need it.

biological Fri 19-Jul-13 23:30:15

A brave and eloquent post there from PoodleFlavouredFreddos.

Tiptops Fri 19-Jul-13 23:30:17


poodles has written an excellent reply. I can't believe you think there is any comparison between a couple of days of voluntary work and the pressure of a full time job. If your Mum is unwell she has no firm commitment to her volunteer work, is she is unwell in employment she faces losing her job.

Being your babysitter wouldn't be her job even if she was mentally well. The fact she isn't yet you still expect her to meet your childcare needs is appalling.

Eyesunderarock Fri 19-Jul-13 23:30:43

Perhaps you too have taken on more than you can cope with by deciding to have children?

PoodleFlavouredFreddos Fri 19-Jul-13 23:34:00

thank you for the responses based on my post on this thread, it really helps, I was worried I'd get 'try harder' comments or be picked apart, but MN I lovely. smile

internationallove985 Fri 19-Jul-13 23:39:11

Don't sneer at volunteers please. They are doing good by giving back to society. They don't have to work for nothing. A bit of a appreication would not go a miss. x

LimitedEditionLady Fri 19-Jul-13 23:51:14

Volunteering is less pressurised,if a person cant go in then its not going to be treated in the same way as paid employment.At least shes giving something back and not sat about doing nothing so good on her for giving it a go and doing something when she doesnt have to in the slighteset.Its actually advised to some MH patients to volunteer,it is good for them to get out and be around people,keeps them busy and gives them a reason to get in routine and get out as people with anxiety need help to do so.As you said youve just found out (like its a bloody insult to you or is it you shouldve been informed?)shes just started perhaos,she might not cope,if so are you going to diss her for that too?Why cant she do something she enjoys?Whats so bad about that?
Like you said,your problem.You arent making it sound like you mean it though.I have a mother with MH problems and she volunteers but doesnt do childcare for me,she asked,i declined.Shes got an illness,just cos you cant see it like you can see a broken leg doesnt mean its not there.Her life is hers.Stop feeling sorry for yourself and finding a way shes part of your problem.

kotinka Fri 19-Jul-13 23:55:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LimitedEditionLady Fri 19-Jul-13 23:57:50

I hadnt read poodles reply until i scrolled back through.Good on you!You are a good person and I wish you all the best.You should be proud of yourself xxxxx

BiscuitDunker Sat 20-Jul-13 00:02:12

YABU. If you're that bothered by her voluteering and think that she's "fleecing the benefits system" then report her and let them decide if she would be able to cope with having a proper job or if its ok for her to do a couple of days volunteering with animals!

You sound like you're more pissed off about having to pay out for childcare because she won't provide you with it for free than anything else tbh. And fwiw,as you must well know,looking after a child is very stressful at times,even more so when it isn't your child so perhaps that's why she's able to work with animals (and that's probably behind the scenes,not with the public/visitors) but can't/won't look after your kid for you....

WafflyVersatile Sat 20-Jul-13 00:52:15

A friend of mine had a breakdown about a year ago. She had to stop work. She rarely leaves the house. When she does she is accompanied by her husband or parents. There is the odd occasion where she really really wants to come to an event. Sometimes she has managed even though she gets very worked up about it and sometimes she just can't face it. On the rate occasion she does go further than 10 minutes walk from her house she is terrified she will see someone from work because she worries that being seen outside will make them come to the conclusion that she's bullshitting.

Being able to go out once every couple of months is not the same as being able to keep a highly stressful and physical job.

Just because you cannot understand someone's condition does not mean it is not real.

ebwy Sat 20-Jul-13 01:34:35

I can't work due to agoraphobia. I did manage to volunteer for several years, 2 afternoons per week, but I could go for a break when I needed to for as long as I needed and as frequently as I needed, could call in at the last min to say that I couldn't get in at all that day, could go home if I needed ... None of which I could reasonably expect an employer to tolerate.

Now I'm in a different area, and am again having to start persuading myself out at all, and then only in company with someone I trust.

differentnameforthis Sat 20-Jul-13 02:24:14

Taking care of animals is SO different from looking after children! Do you know what role she takes? Perhaps she isn't in with the public, there are many jobs that need doing at animal sanctuaries that don't include being in contact with the public.

People volunteer for various reasons, op. I am sorry to say that your post just makes you sound bitter that you have to pay out money (like the rest of us) for childcare. You can't expect your DM to carry you!

differentnameforthis Sat 20-Jul-13 02:27:32

So you're happy for her to 'volunteer' if it takes the form of childcare, but not if it involves working with animals instead?

Spot on!

Bogeyface Sat 20-Jul-13 02:45:49


FanjoForTheMammaries Sat 20-Jul-13 02:46:17

Have never read such a selfish OP


Ericaequites Sat 20-Jul-13 02:46:30

Just because your mother is not in paid work does not mean she should be expected to supply free child are for you.
People on Mumsnet seem to think their immediate family owes them free child care, or don't think family members are competent to care for their children. Neither is the case.
Have a talk with your mum, find out what us going on, and see if and when she might be able to help you.
I have Asperger's, depression, and anxiety. It can be hard to get out of bed some days. I have a full time job.

FanjoForTheMammaries Sat 20-Jul-13 02:48:01

My mum has quite bad anxiety and I changed my working hours to free her from pressure of helping me with childcare.

Cantdoanymore Sat 20-Jul-13 03:49:51

You show spectacular ignorance of mental health issues, OP.
if you show that to your mum, no wonder she won't childmind for you.

lougle Sat 20-Jul-13 06:55:06

Volunteering is not the same as working.

I have a DD with SN. Before she came along I was a nurse. I've lost my registration now. I have to be at my home address at 08.20 and 15.40 each day. No flexibility.

I am a school governor, I help at Dd1's special school, I help at DD2's primary school and I am about to sit on a panel for the Independent admissions appeals service.

I can phone at the last minute and say that I'm not coming in, as I've had to do when DD1 broke her hand, then 4 days after her cast came off, broke her ankle. I can say 'can't be in until 10.45 today...'. I couldn't do that with a job.

Emilythornesbff Sat 20-Jul-13 06:56:54

Well. Tbh I can see why you find that annoying.
But it seems she has issues.
Just hope it's not hereditary.

Messandmayhem Sat 20-Jul-13 07:35:04

The volunteering is besides the point. Maybe she just doesn't want to be your childcare. She has finished having her children, she doesn't have to care for kids, and she is under no obligation to look after yours.

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 20-Jul-13 07:37:33

Thank you for responses.

I didn't really want to go into depth details about our personal situation / DMs but possibly without the background, the post would come across in a different light. Let's just say i'm 90% certain my DM does not have many of the issues she is claiming for - certainly not issues with being around people in public. She is very good at putting certain things on in certain situations & various health professionals have agreed. However - I appreciate that without giving any further detail on this (which I'm not) people can see it as just an attack on a poor person with MH issues.

I would like to say a massive well done to Poodle and others similar - I did try to say at the start, this is certainly NOT an attack on those who want to work, are trying to get back into work or would love to but really can't because their issues are too bad. My DM has barely worked a day in her life, through a mix of selective relationships with people who would fully support her & now the benefits. This in itself is also one thing, but she has no wish at all to do so, now or ever, and is actually scornful of people who do work so her volunteering is not a stepping stone or rehabilitation, though I accept it could be therapeutic.

Waffley - you made perhaps the most pertinent point, that just because you don't understand someone's condition doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Excellent point and one I constantly try to remind myself with her, and remind other people who get equally frustrated with her. I have always tried to justify things she does by her conditions but over the past few years have come to the same conclusion as my DH, grandparents & others that a lot of it is fabricated. Which, admittedly, is possibly a MH condition in itself.

Re: the childcare. When I repeatedly said we realise she had no obligation to do childcare for us & it's our problem, I actually wasn't just saying that for effect. We've always known it & at the point we decided to have Baby 2 - which is a complicated situation in itself - we did the maths, worked out childcare would take most of our salary & decided we were ok with that if needs must. We had started arranging childcare, then DM began asking if she could do it as she had nothing else to do. We had serious doubts - due to the MH issues history - but as we also have come to believe she's not as unstable as she claims, we considered it. Obviously the huge cost saving was very tempting too, I won't deny that. We said no to begin with as we didn't feel we could rely on her, but for about four months she continually asked and had tantrums if we said no. So we went through an odd cycle of looking for childcare, every time we found someone she begged us to let her do it instead (in varying combinations of amounts), so we'd cancel. She kept changing her mind on & off and using it to blackmail us, sometimes saying we were making her ill by saying no, sometimes we were making her ill by saying yes. About 6 months ago, I firmly made the decision not to use her to help, and as she lived so far away that was easy to explain. Then out of the blue, she sold her house to an agency, kicked out her partner of many years & bought a flat 5 mins away from all happened incredibly quickly and with a lot of drama, because she insisted she wanted to look after DS. With her around the corner I felt it would be both unfair (on her) and stupid (for us financially) to not at least give it a try. So we turned down our childcare place. Cue lots of on-off mind changing, again not wanting us to find anybody until finally, with 2 months until my DS started school it came to w crunch as explained & we made the final decision, not her, that even if she changes her mind again she's not doing any.

So the bitterness is more to do with a long boiling sense of being messed about by a parental figure, rather than believing she has an obligation to do our childcare. Added to this the many many lies and dramas and it's exhausting. And yes, when she called me up to merrily tell me about her volunteering I did find the whole thing mind boggling.

But I accept - a) our kids have had a lucky escape and b) however much evidence there is to the contrary, on the 5% chance she could have severe MH issues, perhaps volunteering is all she can manage in life & it's better than her being in bed all day, definitely.

Not sure how people took it as me sneering at volunteers - they are an invaluable part of where I work, never mind other places. As I said - every situation is different.

Mia4 Sat 20-Jul-13 10:21:41

I can understand why you'd be confused if she has to interact with the public at the tourist attraction in regards to feeling stressed by person contact but maybe she doesn't even talk to them? As others have mentioned, volunteering can be much less stressful and animals themselves are a well know de-stresser. In fact if she likes cats, having her own cat might help your mother. They certainly helped my anxiety and stress.

YANBU to want more support, most people would love it if possible, but YABU to expect it and be annoyed with your mum. She sounds like she's going through a lot and you sound very focused on yourself and how stress if affecting you rather then accepting that she's having problems and accomadating her.

Emilythornesbff Sat 20-Jul-13 12:12:03

I wouldn't expect anyone to look after their grandchildren to the detriment of their own working or social life. Or to be always taking care of the little ones while the parents kick back. I think ft childcare is a bit much for most grandparents tbh. It's bloody hard work.
but I think I'd be a bit hurt if my DM would rather take care of a bunch of animals than her own grandchildren.

But I think you need to find a way to feel at peace with this or it's going to eat you up.

I volunteer as I'm looking for work and need admin experience to apply for admin jobs (which is what I'd like to do). You can volunteer while on JSA, but there are restrictions to hours etc. My voluntary work stops me getting cabin fever as it gets me out of the house.

I'm also visually impaired so limited in terms of jobs, as I can't drive and so can't travel. Warehouse work (which there's lots of in my area) is also out due to not having full peripheral vision. It's rubbish, quite honestly.

I also volunteer at an ice hockey club at weekends - they give me a good sport to watch, I take tickets on the door each game smile But that's more a hobby to be fair.

As for the OP's situation, I think YABU, but more for the thread title than the content.

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 20-Jul-13 13:01:31

Fair point Lollipop - I should have made the thread title more specific to my DM so it didn't appear to imply I meant everybody

Nottalotta Sat 20-Jul-13 13:32:04

I don't think yabu - its more the specific circumstances of the volunteer role that's the issue isn't it?

hermioneweasley Sat 20-Jul-13 13:35:39

From what you have said she sounds lazy rather than ill, and therefore YANBU

gnittinggnome Sat 20-Jul-13 13:39:18

So essentially you wanted to have a rant that your mother won't help you with the childcare, and have wrapped it up in a host of other issues that also irritate you about your mother.

Other posters have said it far more eloquently than me, but I do think YABU.

Btw, if she were working full time, would you still expect her to help you out with childcare?

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 20-Jul-13 13:58:43

If she were working fulltime how would she possibly be able to help out? She'd be in the same situation time wise as us! And 'expectation' doesn't necessarily come into it as I've explained. It's her that's repeatedly messed us about by wanting to then not wanting to help with it - not to mention all the other people she's messed about along the way.

The childcare is secondary to the issue that I can't understand why she's not capable to be around people or cope with any kind of job (even proof reading from home or doing a quiet back office role) but can spend days in quite a physical role packed with tourists. And, again, that's not to say all people who cannot work must automatically not be able to volunteer either. But in this instance I just don't get it.

Letitsnow9 Sat 20-Jul-13 13:59:59

Yabu, maybe the animals help keep her calm and maybe volunteering will lead to a job. It's better she volunteers doing what she can and when she can than sitting around at home. She's 'giving back'

filee777 Sat 20-Jul-13 14:16:32

Mental health issues are not linear, she could be fine for a few weeks and then need a long break, when you are volunteering this is much easier than when you have been paid and suddenly find yourself with no money and no support while having a break down.

MrsMook Sat 20-Jul-13 14:17:32

My grandmother volunteers at a support centre. She's had her knee replaced in the last year. Being a volunteer, the centre is more flexible about what people can do and when than most employers. At 75 I wouldn't expect her to do a similar paid role- for a start, with the amount of hours she does in that level of role, the pay would be very little. She is also not obliged to do anything extra that she can't cope with that you would be for an employer.

When she was 60 she looked after my brother full time 5 days a week and found it draining. If I did live a convenient distance away, I would have no expectation of her caring for my children as it is more than is reasonable to cope with.

I volunteer- being a Guide leader is compatible with full time caring for two young children. Work isn't at this point in time. I can take my DCs with me, but couldn't to work.

There is a lot of overlap of paid and voluntary work, but there are circumstances where practical reasons mean you can volunteer, but not be able to work.

To say you will do something and then let someone down is unreasonable. (re Childcare)

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