Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Raising a family without family nearby...

(49 Posts)
wholesomemum Wed 22-Jan-14 09:24:06

I grew up with a terrific large, strong family who all over the course of 20 years dispersed all over the country/world. Pockets of them still exist but tbh my main longing has been too move back to the place of my roots to raise my own family. I am sick of not having roots is the long and short of it. My folks are typical boomers who are not living for rt heir family and who don't neccessarily care as bout belonging to any roots or being around to help with grandchildren. But we have been near them so far. Our plan is tho move back to our roots (where hardly any family now are) and I was wondering how it is done...raising kids with little fas,oily. Our situation must be fairly common, yes?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 22-Jan-14 09:27:30

I not only live far from my home town and family, I've also been a lone parent from DS's birth. You're lucky because you presumably have a partner/husband to share the workload. How I have managed is a combination of having a good circle of supportive friends and also paying childminders & babysitters as necessary,

NCISaddict Wed 22-Jan-14 10:18:14

I never lived near my family and never really thought of it as difficult. I paid babysitters from when they were quite small or swapped with friends.
I did have my parents to stay if I wanted to go away for a weekend with DH but otherwise just got on with it. I never thought it was particularly hard.

Contrarian78 Wed 22-Jan-14 10:20:22

Why not write your own story.

My wife's parents moved a couple of years before we married, so consequently weren't on hand to help with children. We found it tough (my parents helped out but were still working) but we managed. What it did mean though was that we were able to move to another part of the country without feeling we were giving too much up. We've put down roots and are starting a new chapter. I'm not knocking that sense of belonging, but it's perfectly possible to put down new roots elsewhere and build up that network.

My parents have since followed us, so it feels like it's a new settlement. I'd tell your parents the same thing my wife has told hers (also boomers): "It's fine that you want to do your own thing, and it's fine that you've carved out your own life, but please don't think that when you're old and infirm, you're going to turn up on our doorstep"

It sounds cold, but for us, part of the quid pro quo is that parents help you when you need it, and you help them when they need it. My parents have seen the writing on the wall, my wife's parents...........

MasterFlea Wed 22-Jan-14 10:23:33

I emigrated so have none of my family in the country. My DHs family live over 200 miles away. We see his parents once a month and try to take turns doing the traveling.

The dc love the family that they see. My family skype infrequently so the dc don't really know them.

If we really needed help, I'm sure somebody (from his family) would make the trip but we haven't tested it.
We get together for birthdays and holidays. It works for us. We decided to have children so see raising them as our responsibility alone.

millymolls Wed 22-Jan-14 10:24:28

Neither myself nor DH has family close by (our parents are about 3 hours drive), and siblings spread over the country. We feel very settled where we are and i dont feel our children miss out. We visit family regularly and they come to stay with us.
With regard baby sitting and stuff we have bulit a network of friends, and parents of our childrens friends. The only difficult bit really is when one of the children are ill and need to be picked up early from school (we both work FT) and that can be a bit of a juggle as we can't pick up the phone to a family member and ask them to help out.
I consider my roots to be where my immediate family is (DH and DC) and tbh its what you make of it - any place can be home if you make friends, and make an effort to integrate into that community/village/town
What will you achieve by moving back to an area where your family will no longer be? What does that get for you that you can;t have where you are now?

NCISaddict Wed 22-Jan-14 10:25:51

I never made helping my parents in their old age conditional on them helping me with my children. You're right that does sound cold, not pleasant at all.

Rooble Wed 22-Jan-14 10:29:30

Gosh, Contrarian, that does sound quite harsh.... But weirdly I found myself thinking v similar things this weekend. My parents (also boomers) always far too busy to help (usually holidaying) unless booked several months in advance. They mentioned something about being looked after in old age and it nearly made me blow my top. I'm the only child left in the UK, and DH and I between us have 7 parents/step-parents who are expecting support in their dotage and it's just so bloody presumptuous.
Anyway, OP, the way you make it work is by paying babysitters and sharing with friends. It's quite doable.

Rooble Wed 22-Jan-14 10:34:00

NCIS - we've never thought it was conditional either. It's just that when you ask for help and are continuously turned down AND when your DCs really want to see grandparents but you can only schedule a visit months down the line because they're so busy (which is good in many ways), it's fairly galling when they laugh about how you'll look after them in old age. (Frankly, I don't doubt we will).

dotty2 Wed 22-Jan-14 10:38:20

My main advice is not to make yourself resentful by comparing yourself to friends with family nearby. Your situation will be different, and you have to just accept it. I mostly do and then every now and again I let myself get jealous, which does me no good at all. As other people have said, cultivate friends you can swap sitting with and don't be afraid to ask people who might not offer (I was really stumped once for a tea-time appointment that none of my friends with children could do, so I asked an older friend who had never offered but was really happy to do it as a one off).

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jan-14 10:40:18

We did this. We made lots of lovely friends in the same position as the DC were born and we became each others support network. We and the DC are still close 14+ years on.

We also joined a babysitting circle and on the occasions that DM/PIL visited, they were happy to babysit while we went out. The IL's also have the DC to stay for a few days once a year.

In addition to this, I worked part-time (3 days) for 11 years, and was lucky to land a job (a bit of a career step down, but I love it) nearby so ensuring that I could be on hand if there was a problem with the DC.

Twinkle1984 Wed 22-Jan-14 10:40:36

IMO it is undoubtedly easier to raise a family with other family closeby. It is entirely manageable to do it by yourself but unless you have an unlimited supply of friends who like to babysit, it will be fairly expensive using sitters. My SIL has both sets of parents closeby and this enables her to have a FT job as the GPs so the child minding before and after school. If I went back to work I'd need a nanny which would cost about 35k I believe. A night out to the cinema and a bite to eat ends up costing us 100 as the babysitter is 8 per hour! We hardly ever go out.

Ragwort Wed 22-Jan-14 10:47:55

We never had family or even close friends nearby when we had our child - we had moved across the country just six months before he arrived. But I didn't find it hard to make lovely new friends - in many ways because I had to - I couldn't rely on family or existing friends so I did all the usual things like getting involved in the local community, joining clubs etc etc and made a great new circle of friends.

Of course it is possible - just approach it with a positive attitude. smile

I used to do a bit of 'babysitting & childminding' swaps with other parents so that kept the cost down.

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jan-14 10:48:08

My DC went to nursery 8-6 (or a bit less) 3 days a week , then breakfast club/afterschool club 3 days a week. It didn't cost a fortune.

Chocotrekkie Wed 22-Jan-14 10:48:14

We have no family close. I've been in hospital for the past 3 weeks (emergency) and its been tough. My mum is 150 miles away and made a half hearted offer to come down (she didn't).
Fil offered to come down and would have in a second but his wife is pretty unwell herself but they would have come but not been a lot of use tbh.

My oh luckily works for a fab company - he was able to work from home when the dc's were still off school. He could also start late (after school run) without putting it through the timesheeets.

Another thing is friends. One good way is offering help. So when you meet a mum at play group/ wherever and they are struggling offer to have their little one for an hour while they catch up on sleep/housework/hair cut etc. Chances are they won't accept but things like this bond people.

We have a few people who have been fantastic the past few weeks. I will make them a cake (when I can get off the sofa) and I will have their kids when I am up to it.

My mum on the other hand calls every couple of days to tell me about my nieces cold/chest infection. Barely asks about how I am never mind the fact I could have died twice. If we had been living closer she might have helped if it fitted around her favourite grandchildren.

alarkthatcouldpray Wed 22-Jan-14 10:48:59

What twinkle and dotty said.

Although I wish my DPs were closer today - I am going to be doing a school run later with a vomiting miserable febrile toddler. Psyching myself up for scrubbing out the car/car seat/seatbelts again. <sigh>

I didn't have any family close by when my kids were little, and XDH didn't have much in the way of family at all. Mum came to stay for a few weeks a year and was brilliant but we didn't have anyone 'on tap'. It was fine, we managed.

Now I've settled down in a lovely town and have become part of the community. If I need help in a hurry I've got friends to call on, and we also have two pubs we are regulars at, and get involved in local events and charities.

And for Contrarian: my parents brought me up, educated me and taught me the important stuff like how to be responsible and independent and happy. If they want help in their old age they will be getting it from me.

crescentmoon Wed 22-Jan-14 11:15:15

there was a study last year that found women who lived near their mothers also were more likely to have children, excuse daily heil link. certainly in my case i would have had more children and a big family if i lived near my family, but because im so far away from any of them, i decided i couldnt go for that on our own.

PottedPlant Wed 22-Jan-14 15:05:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wholesomemum Thu 23-Jan-14 09:08:49

Thanks everyone. It's interesting that many of you are having the same experience especially with Boomers. Did any of you see the film Away We Go with Maya Rudolph in it? It's a B movie if I'm honest but it depicts exactly this predicament. Maya Rudolph's Pkarents area dead. Her Hubby's parents are typical Boomers so seven they announce they're pregnant his folks go, "That's nice honey! We're off on a two year cruise! See you in a coupla years!" So they decide to go on a trip all over the US to visit other young families theory know to figure out how to raise their kid. There is a great small role for Maggie Gyllenhaal who is the most ridiculous version of a Contact parenter...so funny. Then...well, sorry to spoil it but in the end they have a fight and end up outside asleep on one of those trampolines that every family seems to have now...they wake up in thge middle of the night and realise all they need is the common sense and the love they have foir each other. Then they drive to where Maya grew up and it's uninhabited...a bit run down but thge perfect family home. And you're left knowing thery're going to live there. It really made me cry when I first watched it as for me being part of this rootless generation has been stressful, especially given the context I grew up in which was practically like being a Kardashian...albeit slightly more sensible...so I realised I don't have tho change my original upbringing plans...I can go back to my roots and raise my kids in the friendly Northern community that I love and understand. It's a closer drive to thge major pockets of my FAM (except Boomer parents who are evasive if best about any plans they have but I know they're planning on being miles from mine sand all my sibs growing families)...so I have just decided to get on with living my values minus the Boom factor. And yes tho agree with some oif you...they reckon they are rich enough not tho need me to care for them in old age but you can bet the polish nurses won't look half as cushdy as their darling daughter in as room not full of people verging on dimensia will be far more appealing and a plusher option in the end. And they wouldn't be Boomers if they didn't take the best of everything now, would they? I just try remind myself that I love them and that someone else has got to be the as adults now. The mess they've left us with speaks four itself, doesn't it?!

susiefen Thu 23-Jan-14 10:34:44

Maybe it would be better to have the conversation about what help you can expect from your parents before you have the children, so that you know the score and don't resent it further down the line. I'm not sure you can automatically expect the help and it will get more difficult as people have to work until they are much older, meaning that there won't be the same number of GPs who are retired and able to offer support.
It's sad that people see it as a quid pro quo - your parents could argue they have done their bit in bringing you up already - but besides that, your relationship and support you take/give from/to your parents ideally is unconditional

Echocave Thu 23-Jan-14 12:27:32

I think you have to accept that if there are daily ups and downs eg illness, work problems etc, you will have to pay for cover/help from babysitters, after school nanny etc. this can be tricky at short notice and you have to be very organised. My mother died before I had children, my father lives nearby but children are still very young and he is hopeless with young kids (won't change nappies, is not necessarily aware of danger because he doesn't understand what children are capable of understanding) and dh's family live a long way away. My kids aren't even at the tricky school pick ups stage yet and we already have to be organised (and tbh, budget accordingly).

NCISaddict Thu 23-Jan-14 12:54:51

I think people are going to have to be prepared to care for their children themselves or pay for help with the increasing trend for people to have their families later in life. By the time a couple of generations have done this, grandparents will be too elderly to be reasonably expected to provide childcare.
Perhaps that was why I had little expectation of round the clock help, my parents were in their 40's when they had me and were in their 70's when I had children. It never crossed my mind to be upset they didn't live nearby or, god forbid, had social lives of their own.
Plus on reading the criticisms people make on here about the interactions between grandparents and children I'm not surprised many don't want to babysit. I would imagine they're terrified of getting things wrong.

THERhubarb Thu 23-Jan-14 13:09:02

Well in my experience, raising a family without the support of your own family is pretty tough.

I have no-one nearby I can call on for a cuppa and a chat.
If I'm working and the kids are off, it's a nightmare to sort out childcare.
I have to do all the appointments (dentist, orthodontist, doctors, etc) as dh works long hours.
If I have an appointment and the kids are off, I have to take them with me.
I can never be late for the school run as there is no-one else to collect them for me.
The children don't have aunts, uncles or cousins to visit.
Dh and I hardly get any time together as paid babysitters are expensive.

We live 200 miles from family. Yes I have one good friend here who will help when she can, but she has 4 children of her own and 2 of them are pre-schoolers.

It's the little things I miss, like when the school invites grandparents in and mine don't have anyone.
Or when they come home saying that their friends always have family around and why can't ours come.
I know the children have missed not having their grandparents around and to be honest, I miss not having a mum.

I don't have any contact with my mother, one sister and one brother at all, so I can't even tell my mum how they are doing at school. To be fair she wouldn't be interested and I would never have let her look after them because I don't trust my stepfather.

The kids do have a close relationship with my dh's family and always have a good time there. They are very close to their cousins and it breaks my heart to take them away again. We see them as often as we can but it's always us going to see them and never the other way around.

It's not so much the place you live in you see, that makes the difference but the people. You might have roots in a particular place but if you go back and realise it's all changed and the people you knew have all moved on, then no matter how far back your roots go, you are going to feel isolated and lonely without family and friends around you.

It's not that easy makes new friends. I consider myself quite sociable, easy going and will talk to anyone but most people have made friends during ante-natal classes or pre-school and are already in pre-established groups.

Personally, based on bitter experience, I would advise that you move to where you have family you get on with and friends you can turn to because parenting is bloody difficult and you need all the support you can get.
Trust me, one of my biggest regrets is not moving closer to friends.

CookieDoughKid Thu 23-Jan-14 13:20:25

My friends are more family than family tbh. Especially on my dh side.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now