To Expect inlaws to be more willing and accommodating?

(58 Posts)
Galaxymum Mon 19-Aug-13 15:46:02

My mum died last summer, and my dad died before I had DD, I have no siblings and she is an only child. So basically I have no close family to babysit or take her out. DH works quite long hours and I work part time from home - works brilliantly during school term but I am very cautious on her going off to places as she has Aspergers and is quite anxious and needs security.

Anyway before the school hols my in laws said they would be happy to take her out a few times - so I was stupidly thinking this would accommodate me to work and also she would go out with them on a day we hadn't anything planned with friends. So she has been to their house (not out) twice and that will be it. First week I was told "We'll pick her up Monday or Tuesday" - and she had something booked those days so didn't go. Once the next week as I rearranged another activity to accommodate them.

And once last week - this week they rang and said that Tuesday was best for them. But we have a day out planned with her friends. Soooooo thinking they'd accommodate her as we go away Saturday and then she is back at school, I made suggestions. "Oh no we're busy" was basically the answer.

I feel very frustrated and angry that they are frankly too busy to see their grandchild. Not just that they don't ask if I NEED some babysitting time so I can work but seem like they are too busy to see my DD who is only 7.

Then yesterday we got a summons to tea on Friday - come at 4 o'clock as my DH's brother and family are coming down to visit for first time this year. So we all have to fit in - DH was basically expected to finish work early and be accommodating though we go away Saturday morning.

Tee2072 Mon 19-Aug-13 15:47:58

They are grandparents, not personal assistants or nannies.

If you need childcare, pay someone.

DropYourSword Mon 19-Aug-13 15:50:40

Do they work / volunteer or have other commitments in their lives which mean they have to plan when they can spend time with her?

fluckered Mon 19-Aug-13 15:51:12

like Tee said. you should be thankful to be honest. if you want your kids minded/entertained, pay or specifically ask. I don't have family where I live. you are going to hear a lot of these answers i'm afraid.

CaptainSweatPants Mon 19-Aug-13 15:54:17

Get Dh to tell them Friday is impossible as you're packing

curlew Mon 19-Aug-13 15:54:46

So by "willing and accommodating" you mean "fit in with what I want and change this plans accordingly"?

Yorkieaddict Mon 19-Aug-13 15:55:39

YABU to expect them to provide childcare when you need it, but I can see why you are frustrated. It would be nice if they were willing to try and help you out, especially as you don't have help from anywhere else. I feel for you!

Chottie Mon 19-Aug-13 15:56:48

I am a GM and I am so proud and thrilled when I am asked to look after my DDs PFB. I don't understand the OP PiLs, I would never, ever be too busy to see my GC.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 19-Aug-13 15:59:11

I think yabu sorry.

They're not unpaid child care. Your work arrangements are not their problem. Why should they have your dd except when it is convenient for them realistically speaking? If they are healthy enoigh to enjoy a busy social life, good for them frankly. They have done their child raising.

runningonwillpower Mon 19-Aug-13 16:00:36

I think that it's easy to forget that grandparents have no duty of care. They've done their bit the first time round.

Of course it's nice if they are involved but that doesn't always work out either - there are regular threads on MN about over-involved grandparents.

It's a hard one. It's nice if grandparents help but I don't think that you can expect them to always be available at your convenience. Their offer of help is just that - help when it fits in with their, entirely reasonable, plans for themselves and their own lifestyle.

In this case, it's not just the grandparents who are too busy to see their grandchild. Sometimes, she is too busy to see them.

Perhaps a bit of forward planning?

Thurlow Mon 19-Aug-13 16:00:42

I can see why this is frustrating. But have you actually explained to them that them looking after your DD at a certain time would be a massive help to you?

In the bigger picture, YABU. They are grandparents, not childcare.

Vivacia Mon 19-Aug-13 16:01:19

I don't think they are being unreasonable, they're just at a different stage of life to you. I think you and your partner should ask them if they could provide regular childcare.

chesterberry Mon 19-Aug-13 16:03:04

YABU. She has been to their house twice over the holidays and twice more they have offered to have your DD which you have declined because you already had other things planned. You are unwilling to cancel your plans so that DD can see them and yet you expect them to cancel their plans for the days they are too busy so that they can see her because you 'NEED some babysitting time.' If you need someone to babysit get a babysitter, whilst it is great if Grandparents do offer to babysit that is not their role and it's not your right to get free childcare from them or their responsibility to offer.

From their point of view it might seem like you could be more willing and accommodating and change some of your plans so that your DD can see them on the days they have told you suit them. When they said they would take your DD out they probably offered because they wanted to spend time with her, not because it would allow you to work (which seems to be why you think they offered?) and perhaps they assumed that they would be able to take her out on days when they didn't have anything else planned?

I'm sorry but you can't complain that they are only willing to see her on the days they are not busy and that they won't cancel their plans to suit you when by your own admission you only want them to see DD on days when she doesn't have other things planned and it suits you and don't seem to take into consideration whether it suits you. In fact to be honest it sounds like you are being quite entitled and have an expectation that they will provide childcare for your DD because it suits you. Perhaps they could be a little more accommodating but surely that works both ways and you need to be willing to be more flexible too. I also don't know why, if you keep finding that the days your DD is free they're busy and vice versa, you aren't trying to organise days to meet up more than a week in advance, before your diaries are filled up?

wowfudge Mon 19-Aug-13 16:03:19

Galaxymum - I think you need to communicate better what you would (ideally) like from them; sounds as though you are expecting something you have not conveyed to them and are expecting them to mind read. However frustrating it is for you, maybe you actually need to say "we have something planned on X day, would you be able to have DS on Y day so I can get some work done". That said, if they are not available, you need to take it on the chin and not get annoyed with them. If you want childcare, you may have to pay for it.

Squitten Mon 19-Aug-13 16:05:20

Well you don't have to do anything so your DH can just tell them no. If he won't do that, your problem is with HIM.

As for childcare, they aren't obliged to do anything for you! It sounds like they are indeed busy. Why is it necessary for them to rearrange their lives to suit you but you don't feel obliged to cancel your friends to go and see them?

If you need childcare while working, then pay someone to do it!

Whereisegg Mon 19-Aug-13 16:08:24

It seems like they have tried though, but you have already made plans so I'm not sure what you want them to do really?

If it was made clear to them you needed help to be able to work, you should have been updating them as to days you needed help regularly, not expecting them to sit by the phone not making any other plans.

I really think you could have avoided this situation by ringing weekly and saying "dd is seeing friends on a/b/c, could she come to you on d/e this week please?"

LittleBearPad Mon 19-Aug-13 16:13:23

Sorry I think YABU.

If you wants them to spend time with DD in order to allow you to work perhaps you should have been more organised at the beginning of the holidays. They aren't childminders and equally I don't think you can moan that dd only went to their house, not out.

As for Friday, is it feasible or not with your travel plans - if not then don't go but tea won't take long.

Trills Mon 19-Aug-13 16:18:10

I would never, ever be too busy to see my GC.

Some people have other things in their lives than their grandchildren. Sometimes people have plans.

BrokenSunglasses Mon 19-Aug-13 16:21:21


You and your dd have been busy at times they have wanted to see her as well, they are not the only ones who don't want to drop plans to fit it in.

You say they have had her twice, so it's not like they haven't seen her at all, but they do have lives outside of being grandparents as well. Sadly for you, they can't be expected to take on the role of two sets of grandparents because of what has happened to your parents.

I don't think they are doing anything at all wrong by not asking if you need them to babysit. It's your job to ask for help when you need it. I also don't think they are doing anything wrong by expecting you to do whatever you can to see close family that are not in the area frequently. I have family spread out over the country. When any of them are are significantly closer than they usually are because they're visiting, I would expect to make the effort to see them.

ArtexMonkey Mon 19-Aug-13 16:39:02

You often get mners being all 'yabu, grandparents aren't free childcare' on threads like these, presumably because a lot of posters live a long way from their own families and never get free babysitting/child free time courtesy of grandparents, and so don't see why anyone else should either. Yes, gps have done their own bit, but they did their own bit back in a time when people tended to live nearer their extended families and there was an expectation that people in a family would put themselves out for one another from time to time.

You may gather that I have little time for this quite harsh 'suck it up' type attitude grin

No we shouldn't presume upon or take the piss out of ageing or infirm grandparents, but if they are hale and hearty and live in striking distance, no it is not this crazy outrageous presumption that families will do reasonable kind favours for one another, and I have never understood why that is the prevailing attitude here, and jealousy and being a bit of a dog in a manger is the only reason I can come up with.

That said, ywbu to not communicate clearly with your mil at the start of the holidays when this initially came up, if you had said 'it would be so kind of you if you could take dd a few times when I need cover to work, I would really appreciate it and it would make the holidays a lot easier for us, thank you' it would have made things a lot clearer, besides giving her the opportunity to address any misunderstanding of her offer on your part.

Nancy66 Mon 19-Aug-13 16:51:22

Gosh, I think you are a bit unreasonable with your expectations.

They have the right to make plans too. It sounds like you just haven't taken the time to organise and co-ordinate properly. If you're the one who needs the childcare then the onus for this falls to you - not them.

They sound like nice people, you just been to plan ahead more.

ChasedByBees Mon 19-Aug-13 16:57:36

They haven't given you a summons - if it's inconvienient, you can say no too. It is hard when you have no support - we don't have anyone geographically close and it's a slog, but your inlaws are not obligated to help (although it would be nice).

MrsOakenshield Mon 19-Aug-13 16:58:54

'so basically I have no close family to babysit or take her out'.

You do know that's not in the job description of close family, don't you? Great if they can, but YABU to expect it of them.

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 19-Aug-13 17:08:20

I know the right thing on mumsnet to say on these threads is that you are being completely unreasonable expecting any help from grandparents but I am on the fence. Generally I am from the it takes a village to raise a child philosophy and I think it is sad that we are becoming so insular with our immediate family. I personally think where possible there is a moral obligation on grandparents to take an interest in their grandchildren. I cannot ever see a situation where I would not be able to help my children out with their children in the future (not fulltime as I work but babysitting). My mother and mother in law fall over themselves to see our children and as a result the children have wonderful relationships with all their grandparents. In your case with a child with additional needs I would see even more reason for them to be involved.

All that said from your op it is clear that they are trying to help out they just are not very flexible with their arrangements which is probably not their fault as they have other commitments. So I am sorry that you are not getting the help you need but maybe their is room for compromise on both sides.

Groovee Mon 19-Aug-13 17:24:13

I think what would have been better was for you to ask for one day a week on the same day, so that would mean they knew they were having her then and you could turn down invitations etc.

They aren't being unreasonable but you are expecting them to have her when YOU want them to have her instead of you communicating the actual needs.

Jovellanos Mon 19-Aug-13 17:27:09

I personally think where possible there is a moral obligation on grandparents to take an interest in their grandchildren.

'Taking an interest' is a long way from 'providing free, on demand childcare so the parents can work'.


Pachacuti Mon 19-Aug-13 17:34:17

When they said "they would be happy to take her out a few times" you should probably have said something like "Oh, that's very kind, DD will be so excited. Can we get a couple of dates that work for you pencilled in now?"

When I was still working MIL would have DCs sometimes over the summer holidays -- I put that in place first based on what worked for her (as she had other commitments and was doing me a favour, even if it was a favour she enjoyed) and then scheduled other activities/days out around that.

In this case by the time you all got round to discussing specifics your DD were busy on the days they were free and they were busy on the days she was free. It's just a useful reminder that you are all busy people and need to arrange things more in advance in future.

longjane Mon 19-Aug-13 17:40:35

These guys were offering free child care for SEN
Do you know how rare that is even you have a load of family?

This is what you should have which is sort out free child care 1st.
Then sort all other plan.
Free child care comes 1st!

Ah we'll you know for the next holiday.

Deemail Mon 19-Aug-13 17:43:11


WestieMamma Mon 19-Aug-13 17:44:02

YABU it sounds more like your daughter is too busy to see them. They offered several times but she had other plans. Funny how you expect them to change their plans to accommodate you but aren't prepared to change your plans to accommodate them.

RiffyWammal Mon 19-Aug-13 17:57:13

I don't understand all the 'YABU' replies at all. I would bend over backwards to help out with my granddaughter, and I consider it my moral responsibility to do so - even though I have 'had my kids' hmm and I'm disabled. My parents and MIL did very little to help out and if they did it was all on their terms, and I'm determined to be a better parent and grandparent than them.

My parents and MIL are great for taking the children, but the summer holidays have always been a pain in the past. Lots of clashing dates, rearranging of plans, everything a bit of a PITA.
This year I called them all in June, we went through our diaries and booked some dates that suited them and us and now we have all been able to plan around the dates in the diary. I felt like I was being a bit over-organised when I called, but it has worked brilliantly. My DCs have spent more time with their GPs than usual, the GPs have had time to plan and look forward to having them and I've been able to arrange other activities around the GPs (so the GPs know they have priority on certain dates).
, instead of feeling like they are getting the leavings).
I'd really recommend booking time earlier rather than later if possible - instead of making noises but it never quite coming together.

I'm surprised by how unaccommodating my ILs are, given that they are both retired, live four miles away, and gladly made use of 15-20 hours' childcare (including five meals) per week when DH and SIL were younger. But I have learned not to rely on them and consider any time they spend with DC as a treat for them, not a favour to us.

In the OP's case I think communication, not willingness, is what's lacking.

That is, GMIL did their wraparound care for years so they could both work, so it isn't an alien concept to them.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 19-Aug-13 18:48:06

I think Horry is right.

OP's pil quite obviously do want to see their granddaughter but I think it's unfair to expect them to change their plans for your convenience when it's already been admitted that OP won't change her plans.

I find this whole thing a bit baffling. My own parents will still all be working when I have children (next year or so hopefully) and will be for a good few years thereafter (well over 10).

Procrastinating Mon 19-Aug-13 18:55:33

YANBU but I know that goes against MN orthodoxy. Grandparents these days are mostly shit (except you Riffy).
I hope you said you were 'too busy' for tea on Friday.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 19-Aug-13 19:03:27

YANBU but neither are they.
We have exactly the same thing, my ils are the same. I know where you are coming from, its not the child care aspect but the fact they are your dds extended family. I lost my parents too and sometimes it is hurtful that they have time to visit and don't.
But they do have their own lives that will probably involve lots of health appointments unless they are young and in very good health.
I think with more comunication it would be better for your dd. It wasn't their fault that they only had tuesday free and you were already busy.

DontmindifIdo Mon 19-Aug-13 19:07:17

See, I don't think YABU to expect retired people who are living close by who have offered to have you dd to help out, however, you are massively U to just assume they have no other plans or commitments at short notice.

For next holiday, don't go with a vague "help out some days", what about "could you have dd every other Tuesday over the summer so I can commit to work?" and ask this way back at Easter so it's in everyone's diaries. If they say no or offer a different day, then you can plan around it and will be far easier.

Childcare IME is much easier when it's clearly set out and regimented, as you've found this summer, ad hock arrangements are a working mother's head ache.

mrsravelstein Mon 19-Aug-13 19:08:11

dh's parents are both dead. my parents live locally and will help out with an hour here or an hour there once a week, but that's it. it's not really a case of being reasonable or unreasonable, you have to take what's offered. i am envious of friends who have very actively involved grandparents who take kids overnight/while parents work etc etc, but ho hum.

DontmindifIdo Mon 19-Aug-13 19:13:35

Oh and did mil work outside the home when your dh was at school? Also IME grandparents that had a SAHM don't automatically get it with holiday childcare, esp if you normally work school hours so don't need paid childcare in term time. If they stopped to think about it they might realise you need care of some sort, but if not, then they might need it pointing out- you don't want them just to spend time with dd for dd's sake, you need childcare, and for those days to be a firm commitment (or enough warning to arrange alternative care).

SueDoku Mon 19-Aug-13 19:38:02

What ArtexMonkey said. Next holiday, sit down with them as soon as they show any desire to take DD out, and get some dates in your (and their) diary... That way, neither of you is disappointed.

SantanaLopez Mon 19-Aug-13 19:41:31


You both need to be a little more flexible.

Also, it's mid-August and this is your BIL's first time home this year? I'd expect your DH to be there.

mrsjay Mon 19-Aug-13 19:44:35

surely her grandparents are more important than friends no ? they said when it was ok for them to have her you cant dictate when it suits you if you want them to have her while you work then ask them, but you are not breaking any other arrangements so she can see her grandparents are you it is give and take imo

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Mon 19-Aug-13 19:53:25

YANBU though as Procrastinating says, that isn't the party line on these threads. It would be nice if retired people could be a little more flexible but the lesson from this, as other posts have now said, is to book in specific days with them - that way you know work is covered and they know about keeping those days free. Santana also makes a good point - what share of the summer holiday is being covered by your DH? He also ought to pitch in.

LittleBearPad Mon 19-Aug-13 20:47:42

It would be nice if retired people could be a little more flexible

Why? Aren't they allowed to organise their own lives like we all do?

chocoluvva Mon 19-Aug-13 20:49:59

That's a shame OP and you have my sympathy. It will get easier for you as your DD gets older. smile

cjel Mon 19-Aug-13 21:15:19

Hope SNazzy was joking? retired people are the busiest I know!!!!

maddening Mon 19-Aug-13 22:38:35

Why shouldn't they be able to try and work it so it's more mutually beneficial for both gp and parents though? Fair enough it's free child care but at the same time gps get time that they say they want and the parents get to do something they need time for - surely the gps can get their diaries out and find dates that suit everyone?

My mum at one point offered to do a day a week now she is semi retured but I took voluntary redundancy and we spent lots of days all together - was lovely. Now am back full time and mum said straight out that she didn't want to commit to a day every week so now she helps out in school hols (pre school) which helps us loads and mum picks and chooses which days ahe wants - every one wins and mum and ds have had a fab time.

Mintyy Mon 19-Aug-13 22:41:31

I am sick and tired of seeing all these countless threads on Mumsnet where people "expect" other people, usually grandparents, to look after their children.

emsyj Mon 19-Aug-13 23:02:34

YANBU to feel sad that your ILs seem to you to be unwilling to make time for your DD, however I do agree with a previous poster that you perhaps would be best off trying to fix dates with them well in advance - some people work a diary system and are quite rigid once something is in the diary, perhaps they are like this and it's not a case of your DD being unimportant but rather that some thought and organisation needs to go into it from both sides to make sure that your respective schedules don't clash.

Mintyy that is absolutely true - sometimes I scan AIBU thread titles and every single "AIBU to expect <third party> to..." gets a big fat YABU from me without even opening the thread. It's hugely risky and entitled to expect anything of anyone, even (alas) common courtesy. Learning to expect very little of people is quite liberating.

That said, there exists in law and in general life the concept of Reasonable Expectations - if someone has made you an offer (in this case, caring for DD) then it is reasonable to expect them not to retract that offer or impose significant conditions or barriers to "cashing in" that offer.

cory Mon 19-Aug-13 23:28:32

WestieMamma Mon 19-Aug-13 17:44:02
"YABU it sounds more like your daughter is too busy to see them. They offered several times but she had other plans. Funny how you expect them to change their plans to accommodate you but aren't prepared to change your plans to accommodate them."

This. They offered, you declined because you prioritised your friends over them, they concluded you and your dd weren't that interested.

Considering that there were 2 declined offers and 2 actual visits, it seems to me that they have certainly fulfilled their initial offer of having your dd "a few times" (Horry's Reasonable Expectation).

My parents almost certainly would prioritise me and dc. But it's a two way street- dc and I also prioritise them. If you want GP's to put you first, you and your dd will have to show that you are also putting them first.

If you send the signals that "you are not terribly important in my overall scheme of things" they won't think you actually care that much about your dd seeing them.

yoniwherethesundontshine Tue 20-Aug-13 00:06:08


I really like the way you phrased :" then it is reasonable to expect them not to retract that offer or impose significant conditions or barriers to "cashing in" that offer.". And I totally agree with you.

I always think a good rule is - do unto others what you would have done to yourself.

In this case I would be thinking about what I would do for my grandchildren.

I have family member's with retinues of nannies and lots of extra house help. They still have their own mother zig zagging at 72 across the world to see/baby sit and spend time with her grandchildren. She is just devoted to them.

I think I would do almost anything for mine, I can't think of anything more important than spend time with them and at the same time help out my own DC.

The problem with these things is though, we do not know how op has spoken to the GP maybe they also think - time with them should be prioritised over time spent with her little friends. Maybe as previously said you didn't make it clear enough to them.

To simply say to you that they are busy though and then summons you to Friday tea tells me they are used to making the rules and other people fall in.

If I were you I would speak to them and profusely apologise for your lack of communication, say you are very sorry, but you will not be able to make Friday either as you are packing and that you thought they would be able to arrange baby sitting along with also helping you out whilst your working, and in the next hols, perhaps you could both speak well in advance to arrange so they do not get let down?

cjel Tue 20-Aug-13 09:09:27

Yoni, that's just crazy. GPs can't be expectd to drop their plans on the whim of a dil. Whatever the plans they have made they are very important to them and may involve letting other people down to accommodate dil. As was suggested above, it she really wanted their help she could have changed a couple of play dates or even the time she worked from home.
I have my dgs in the holidays today and tomorrow in fact, but when I have other things on my d works round me as well.
As for tea on Friday, that is hardly the same as a whole day childminding and they probably see it as a lovely invitation for OP to see her bil as well. What sort of person refuses to go somewhere nice for a happy occasion to 'show' them? A person who won't rearrange a play date and expects in laws to be sitting at home waiting for her next available demand to babysitsad

This thread looks like it is the start of how to have a family feud with very normal reasonable in laws!!!

RiffyWammal Tue 20-Aug-13 10:31:14

I wonder if unhelpful grandparents (not specifically the OP's but the kind who say they've 'had their kids' etc) have considered that their behaviour might come back on them. That one day, they may want their children to help them. And it would serve them right if those children, now their own children are grown and don't need so much attention, were suddenly too busy with their own social lives to do so.

My MIL once remarked that she 'had her own life to live' when we asked for a lift somewhere when we had three small children and no car. Her other constant excuses for not helping us included that she was 'too busy' with her other grandchildren or going shopping. In the end we gave up and resigned ourselves to the fact that she just wasn't interested in our family and we got on with life, paying for childcare and so on.

I am civil with the woman now, and we've never had words, but if the day comes when she wants us to help her as she gets old and infirm, I am afraid I will tell her she can ask the families of her more favoured sons if they would like to repay her for all the help she gave them, as we have our own lives to lead.

chocoluvva Tue 20-Aug-13 11:01:22

I hope I become a granny one day. Life with a baby/little children is difficult IME and I'm sure I'll be delighted to help with my grandchildren.

Like Riffly I know what it's like to have unhelpful ILs - disappointing and hurtful and I know I will offer help if/when they need it, but I'll resent it and will not feel as sympathetic to them I probably would have if they'd been a bit nicer.

If the OP's ILs are busy that's lovely for them but you'd think they would ask the OP when would be most helpful for her.

Thurlow Tue 20-Aug-13 11:21:39

I'm sure a lot of the problem will depend on how GPs are asked - and whether they feel they are treated just as free babysitters. As much as that means they get to see their GC, that's just not nice, only being asked over or to have the kids when babysitting is required.

I still wonder whether the OP has actually explained why she would appreciate help on a particular day, rather than just expecting them to jump to her requests.

Cravey Tue 20-Aug-13 12:28:40

Yabu I can't believe that you expect them to drop everything for your dd when you say so. It sounds as if its all on your terms and never mind of they have plans etc. they are grandparents not bloody childminders.

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