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To be put out by last minute childcare requests? (Moved Thread)

(23 Posts)
Mcakes Thu 03-Jan-13 11:47:44


My Mum has recently retired and has bought a house near her two sets of Grandchildren. I have helped her out with half the house costs and we are doing it up as a bolt hole for her where she can see more of the grandkids as well as (hopefully) letting the house for holidays to get her a little income.

We got the keys just before Christmas and a few incidents have confirmed that my brother and his wife (two kids age 3 and 5) have quite a different idea to my Mum and me about how much childcare we are willing and able to do (I don't have any kids). They seem to expect that we will just drop any plans at any time to look after the kids and we hardly get a thanks - more the feeling that we should say thanks for the chance to do it. My brother works full time and my sister in law works part time. When they're both working, the kids usually go to school/preschool or are looked after by her parents.

In contrast, my sister (three kids age 5, 7 and 10) has a more realistic view, she arranges dates in advance, knows she can always call on us in an emergency and is excited and grateful for the possibility of extra help.

I am worried that we are being seen by my brother and his wife as a source of 'free childcare on tap' when we are here. We have both been asked to look after the kids at very short notice (the night before) for whole days, including giving them dinner and bringing them back just before bedtime. These days have not been emergencies, just lack of planning on their parents part and an attitude that 'Mum or Auntie love the kids and will jump at the chance to have them all day!'

We do love the kids and do enjoy their company but resent being expected to drop all plans at literally the last minute and give free childcare for 10 hours or more!

I know that we have created this situation by not being clear about our expectations but, on the up side, it is still early days and I would really appreciate any advice on how to broach the subject now to avoid resentment and misunderstandings growing in the future.

A little more info - my sister in law's parents already live nearby and look after the kids ALOT for no money and little thanks. (they are not well off and have privately confided that they do resent this a little). It seems they have set a precedent for expectations on childcare and my Mum and I need to be clear from the beginning that we are going to do things differently.

My brother and his wife are pretty well off and could afford to pay for childcare when needed.

Am looking after my nephew this afternoon (they phoned to ask last night) and want to say something when I drop him off this evening.

Do you think it sounds reasonable for me to say that last minute arrangements are not really on and to set a time commitment I'd be happy with (e.g. one day a week when I'm in the cottage) and that it's important to me that this is arranged in advance wherever possible. Also to say that of course I am here to help at the last minute in a genuine emergency. I will encourage my Mum to have the same conversation.

Any ideas or advice gratefully received!

teacherandguideleader Thu 03-Jan-13 11:52:00

Not sure I would mention 'emergencies' - it would be very easy for them to say someone had let them down and could you watch the child.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 03-Jan-13 11:52:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sleeplessinsuburbia Thu 03-Jan-13 11:55:24

Depends how they ask, if its text just text back, sorry, can't tomorrow. Without any explanations. If they press you say you're having a relaxing day.
I would then start offering when it suits eg: we can mind the children next wed from 4pm (or whatever- bevery specific) and only do it when you offer.
Do something now or your resentment will grow.

DontmindifIdo Thu 03-Jan-13 11:56:57

Well, I'd start by saying "no" a few times, or more "oh what a pity you didn't give us more notice, we have plans now so can't help." then yes, perfectly reasonable to say you need notice, so far you haven't said its a problem or that you've had to cancel things so they might not realise its a problem. (ESP if her family is fine with last minute arrangements or would say if they couldn't do it)

Crinkle77 Thu 03-Jan-13 11:57:39

Do you work OP?

Icelollycraving Thu 03-Jan-13 11:58:13

I think you need to be honest & say that perhaps they need more booked days of childcare. Tell them that you enjoying seeing them as a family but you can't commit to looking after their children regularly and perhaps the grandparents find it a struggle on a regular basis.
Their reaction may depend on whether they are being disorganised & not considering the implications on others or if they actually don't consider you to have other things to do.

FloweryDrawers Thu 03-Jan-13 12:05:46

You need to change their expectations now, before it sets in. Rather offering boundaries and reasons in advance, which they can then make excuses to get around (such as the "emergency" above), it might be best to just say "No, sorry, we can't" on the days when you feel put upon. No explanations as to why, just that you have other plans. A couple of times of ending up in a fix because of that - THEIR fault, not yours btw! - will teach them to have different expectations of you.

If other people can't be assertive and choose to just be quietly resentful rather than refusing, or saying something, that doesn't mean that you need to do the same amount that they do.

We never had any help from family, and just had to manage, like most other parents do. Even in emergencies. If I couldn't get to a doctor's appointment because childcare had let me down, I changed it. If my dds were too sick for nursery, I didn't go to work and made up the time afterwards. Car broke down? Tough. I'm not saying that your family should get NO help, but I tend to be quite impatient with parents (assuming no endemic health/social/etc. problem) who constantly expect family to help them and act like they couldn't manage without it.

susanann Thu 03-Jan-13 12:34:25

This sounds so like my step sister! My mum has their brat all the time and rarely say no. I never used to ask my mum as often as they do. My kids are grown up now but it still annoys me. I think they take her for granted, they also can afford to pay for childcare. grrr!

LadySybilPussPolham Thu 03-Jan-13 12:43:26

susanan brat?? Nice way to talk about a child!

CloudsAndTrees Thu 03-Jan-13 12:49:42

I would create a list of reasons to be able to say no so that next time I was asked at short notice, I'd have an excuse ready. I'd prefer to do that and make them think twice at the time they are actually asking for help instead of having the confrontation.

I'd worry that even after the conversation, they would still ask last minute and then justify it to themselves somehow as being reasonable each time.

What your Mum does is up to her, but I think that you should agree with her that the children aren't to come over unless you are both in agreement if you're living there together. So if she wants to have the children over and you don't, then it doesn't happen until a time that you both agree on.

DeWe Thu 03-Jan-13 14:53:48

I find generally in that sort of situation, a couple of times when you say "sorry, I can't, if I'd known earlier..." helps reduce down the last minute requests.
I wouldn't say "just having a relaxing time" as that makes you sound like you're just doing it to be irritating them. But maybe a few friends who you might be with... and maybe getting your landline phone so it shows the number of the person who's calling, so you know when to ignore the phone occasionally might help.

DontmindifIdo Thu 03-Jan-13 14:58:46

yep, "plans" sounds better - few people will ask what plans are, if you are asked, you can say "oh, we're meeting a friend" - being vague is fine.

Justforlaughs Thu 03-Jan-13 15:01:33

I'm also in the "just say no" a few times camp. You don't need to make up excuses or say why, just that tonight isn't convenient. Maybe point out that you had to change your plans this time and that you would appreciate more notice next time. I wouldn't mention emergencies either, no family member is going to refuse to change plans in a genuine emergency (not inconvenient one) so it shoudl go without saying.

TheProvincialLady Thu 03-Jan-13 15:05:44

"I'm afraid I just don't want to look after your children this often, or for this long, or without reaosnable notice. We love seeing them but it's too much for us to be responsible for them for whole days."

BabysPointlessPocket Thu 03-Jan-13 15:10:21

Crinkle, whether op works or not is irrelevant. They are being selfish and irresponsible about their dc's care.

rogersmellyonthetelly Thu 03-Jan-13 16:54:26

You need to stop this ASAP. I would speak to them and say that while you don't mind looking after kids short term in an emergency (that's like accident/illness etc, not just they are off to cinema and someone has let them down) or a prearranged time, you can't commit to childcare at short notice for non emergency as you have your own lives to lead.

SantasENormaSnob Thu 03-Jan-13 17:03:15

Start saying no.

MrsMcEnroe Thu 03-Jan-13 17:05:42

Just start saying No!

SarahWarahWoo Thu 03-Jan-13 17:34:24

You need to sort this as the resentment will build and a falling out might result in you not seeing the children, just a simple, "I need more notice" or give them an idea of when is good for you, then if they ask for childcare and it isn't convienient it makes it easier to say no

3smellysocks Thu 03-Jan-13 17:44:30

can you just say 'it would really help if you could give more notice - a week or two ideally. It's tricky changing our arrangements at last min'.

susanann Fri 04-Jan-13 18:29:02

Ladysybil you dont know the child, I do!

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 05-Jan-13 00:47:02

I asked my PIL to once look after my DS (he was 2yo) while DH and I went into town for a couple of hours.

They were always saying they never saw the DS
They lived 8 hours away but never made the journey to us.It was always me driving to them
I was pg at the time
My FIL was at home ,looking after my nephew who was a year or so older than DS.
they looked after their 2 grandsons (brothers) 3 days a week

My FIL said he was Too Busy to look after DS.
So I thought Fuck You and took DS with us in his buggy.

I never again asked them to look after my DC.

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