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Bored parents

(12 Posts)
CrazyThursday Sun 08-Dec-13 16:45:46

My dad is 65 and stopped working this year. My step mum is 59 and was made redundant this year. They now seem to do absolutely nothing with their time, which I would be fine with if they didn't seem so bored. They look after dd every other week for a couple of days and this honestly feels like the only thing they do. It perks them right up to hang out with her which is lovely to see but I'm getting increasingly frustrated with them... They admit to being bored and demotivated to do anything and being thoroughly fed up, but they don't seem to want to help themselves. I've found loads of groups, clubs, activities, short courses at college etc for them but it just goes in one ear and out the other. A friend of mine's mum has embraced retirement - sees a friend for lunch once a week, volunteers in a charity shop a couple of times a week, goes to the gym, is learning a new language and says she doesn't know how she ever had time to work!!!

On top of this, I'm starting to feel like they are depending on me for somthing to do... they pop round or call almost every day (sometimes at inconvenient times like DD's bedtime) but have nothing to say or talk about. Literally they phone and say "hi, alright?" and then put the onus back on me to fill the conversation. I love seeing them and speaking to them but am almost starting to dread seeing their names come up on my phone.

I don't mean to sound unkind to them, I'm really very fond of them, but I'm fairly pushed for my own time these days (work 4 days, have two other sets of grandparents to share time with, a house to renovate, a DH to spend time with etc etc). I get that they have been good to me over the years and that it must be daunting to be faced with retirement and boredom but I've tried to suggest things they could do to keep busy and active but they won't. I want them to enjoy life, not sit there wasting it and getting really old because their bodies and minds aren't being used, I don't want to see them fed up because they are bored. BUT - I don't want to feel responsible for taking that on...

Anyone been in a similar position?

Retirement and unemployment for both within a short period. Sounds like they are having difficulty in adjusting to the huge changes in their lives. I am in the same age range as your parents (as is my husband). Retirement can bring loss of purpose and self confidence and lead to a feeling that life as we know it is well and truly over!

If your parents have not had other interests in life...apart from work...it will be difficult for them to adjust. It's early days, they might need time to think about what they want from life.

We have always had interests other than work and our (slightly alternative) lifestyle means that we don't suffer some of the trauma that goes with retirement and the problems of aging that some people suffer.

I can see how it might be worrying for you (as well as annoying when they don't seem to have any motivation) and can only suggest that you give them as much support as you can and vent elsewhere when you need to!

I think that people get so caught up in the day to day business of earning a living/raising a family/coping with busy lives that they pay little attention to what will happen when these pressures are removed.

It can feel as though one's whole purpose and role in life has been taken away and that one has no real focus anymore.

Suggestions from you as to how to fill their time will not really help them; change has to come from them, when they are ready.

Of course it's possible that they might never be ready. Did they have interests and hobbies before the big change? If not it will be quite a leap for them to accept that there is more to life than work, family and the daily grind.

CrazyThursday Mon 09-Dec-13 12:43:52

Thank you for the reply cutting it's good to get someone of a similar age's perspective.

Dad's retirement was more a "formality" than a sudden event as such. He went self employed about 9 years ago and was winding down more and more and eventually just stopped accepting work so he was aiming for that for a long time. Likewise with SMum's redundancy - it was on the cards for 2 years before it happened, so she was waiting for it and clinging on until it did. Although saying that I know that the anticipation of something is different from the reality.

Your point about them not having other hobbies other than work and family I guess it's partly what's happened, but given the fact that they've both been slowly winding down anyway means that they would've had time to pick other interests up along the way as it's not like they were working full time and then nothing. I just don't want them to grind to a complete halt y'know?

They don't have much of a routine and their eating habits are bad - they often have a late breakfast and then don't feel hungry at lunch so skip it, and then get hungry at about 4pm have some soup or a roll then and then don't fancy much at dinner. It really infuriates me as they are not fuelling their bodies properly and I know this adds to them feeling sluggish. My dad has done diets before (WW or Slimming World) and really got into it, lost a fair amount of weight and admitted that it was ironic as he was eating way more than before (talking to them about starvation modes and metabolism goes in one ear and out the other).

I dunno... It's just frustrating.

onetiredmummy Mon 09-Dec-13 13:28:24

This may be of bugger all use OP, but my dad was in the same position until discovered volunteering at his local marsh/bird reserve/protected habitat type of thing.

He loved it, it combined his walks & birdwatching in one plus he did the physical stuff like clearing brambles & having a huge bonfire. He made new friends & kept fit.

All this from just enjoying a walk.

CrazyThursday Mon 09-Dec-13 13:33:41

Thanks - I'd love for my dad to do something like that. He's such an old grump that he puts barriers up against everything.

I think he also thinks he's not that old yet and that everyone in these clubs and activities are proper old fogies and he's not there yet - little does he realise.

onetiredmummy Mon 09-Dec-13 13:37:25

I know its not ideal & its more work for you, but could you find some local volunteer stuff you think they could manage for a day. Ring the place & arrange a day for them to go then say to parents 'next Tuesday you are helping here all day'.

Its only 8 hours so if they don't like it they don't have to go again.

Other than that can they help you with any renovation stuff?

cozietoesie Mon 09-Dec-13 13:42:46

I was just about to ask that thing. They're at a loose end and you have a house to renovate. Sounds like a potential match to me.

CrazyThursday Mon 09-Dec-13 13:47:46

I nearly did that with one of the courses at the college - just book dad on and tell him he had to be there at that time. I'll have a look about and see what I can find. But part of me feels like I shouldn't have to take on responsibility for finding things for them to do as well... And that if they don't sign up to something/anything themselves then the level of engagement or will to do it is absent from the start.

Also, I'm a bit wary of my stepmum getting offended... She is very nice, but also very sensitive, and previously when I'd found a load of healthy eating recipes I gave them to dad and afterwards, she said "I'm worried you think I'm not looking after your dad properly and that I don't feed him healthy meals"....................

Their own house needs a lot of stuff doing to it (took dad nearly 2 years to re-do their kitchen about 3 years ago) so I know that's part of their problem as well - that they feel overwhelmed by the things they should be doing but don't have the energy to do. DH has offered to just turn up round there over the Christmas break with his tools and say "right, let's crack on with XYZ".

My brother thinks we should get them a dog. In principle I think it could work - they'd have to be more active, it would give them something fun etc etc but it's a lot to thrust upon someone and my dad reckons he doesn't want one (he used to say he wasn't bothered about grandkids until DD came along but now he's besotted, though I appreciate a dog is a whole different kettle of fish). And I'd hate to have to rehome the dog because they wouldn't accept it.....

CrazyThursday Mon 09-Dec-13 13:48:21

Also, I work from home so having them here whilst I'm working might not be ideal!!

TheProvincialLady Mon 09-Dec-13 13:53:30

In the nicest possible way, I think you should mind your own business. I know how I would react if someone half my age was trying to set me up with activities and volunteering. You've said your piece, they know you're a bit worried they're bored and now it's time to let them sort their own life out.

What you CAN do is limit the time you spend providing entertainment for them. If they call and it's not convenient, say so. If they ring and have nothing to say, ask them if there is anything in particular theyvwantvto ask or say and if not say goodbye nicely. Your responsibility is to yourself and your own reactions, not to them

TheProvincialLady Mon 09-Dec-13 13:55:31

And seriously - do not get a dog for a couple who do not want a dog. How disrespectful and also how unkind to the dog, who may well end up ignored or resented and needing re homing.

CrazyThursday Mon 09-Dec-13 14:05:44

provincial thanks, this is pretty much what I'm doing... I know I can't do this for them, hence my frustration, and my OP was asking if anyone had been in a similar situation rather thatn "What can I do for them?". It is hard though, watching people you care about get fed up and bored. And I don't want them to get old(er) before their time.

And as I said, the dog sounds like a great idea in principle... but we (ie my and DB) know its not appropriate in practice so it's highly unlikely it will happen, so don't worry.

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