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To wonder how necessary the support network is

(65 Posts)
friendswithacat Tue 10-Jan-17 19:37:23

Please note I'm not being an arsehole here but if we could try to avoid the 'well I have two parents, a brother, a sister and all my grandparents are still alive but they all live at least an hour away!' comments as I could do with hearing from people in comparable situations.

So with that disclaimer - anyone else raising children with NO support from extended family (dead or abroad really) and how do you find it?

Do you not miss what you've never had?

Or is it hard?

eurochick Tue 10-Jan-17 19:42:08

It depends what you mean by support. I have family around and we see them, but I don't use them for advice and there have been no offers of babysitting in the 2.5 years we've had a child.

SEsofty Tue 10-Jan-17 19:46:53

What do you mean by support?
Practical,eg babysitting, whether regular or emergency. Cooking meals.

Or emotional eg to discuss challenges and issues with.

Lots of people don't have either of these.

However, it is really important to have a supportive partner

friendswithacat Tue 10-Jan-17 19:47:57

Well, I did make it pretty clear, I think wink

Dead or abroad, really smile

Allthewaves Tue 10-Jan-17 19:50:32

We specifically moved near one set of grandparents when we decided to have kids (we were oceans apart). They were great after first but after that nothing much. Fortunately fil retired and mil is in trying to keep him busy so now he's suddenly free for babysitting, school stuff, holiday childcare. I wouldn't have though made any difference but it reduces the stress hugely. To have the extra pair of hands and back up when needed

Allthewaves Tue 10-Jan-17 19:52:16

Though god love my mum she flew in when dc1 was in hospital for an extended period and same later in with dc2 as she looked after dc1,3

BackforGood Tue 10-Jan-17 19:52:49

Agree it depends what you mean by support.
When my dc were little, my parents both died. dh's parents had never babysat, or helped out taking them to things, etc. I had my sister living nearby, but she had 3 littlies of her own so practically not much she could help with.
You get on with the life you have IME. We had friends and built up support networks.
Unlike a lot of MNers, I talk to people, I trust people, I help them out when I can and ask for help when I need it. I don't keep count and sometimes have had to accept help I can't offer back, and at other times I've given help I will never get back from that family. It's the way of the world in my world, despite being alien to so many posters on here who seem to want to 'count' favours and only help people if they will give you something back "trade" if you like.
Yes it's hard sometimes, but isn't all child rearing at times? I always was aware there were people coping with a lot more than I had to, and, you just deal with what life gives you the best way you can.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 10-Jan-17 19:55:39

My parents live in the US and thankfully inlaws 400 miles away. We made great friends through ante natal classes and have found support there. We also found good teen babysitters livibg nearby when kids were younger and just accepted that we had to pay babysitters in circumstances whether other friends got "free childcare" from relatives.

Indeed a friend is going to stay here in a couple of weeks to 'look after' 15 year old son while husband and I go away for his birthday.

It is sometimes hard but friends are family you chose for yourself! In these circumstances you gind real friends.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 10-Jan-17 19:56:27

*find real friends

LoupGarou Tue 10-Jan-17 20:09:03

We live abroad in an extremely inaccessible location and have recently gone nc with the last four family members we were in contact with.
We do have plenty of friends here, and our tiny remote community is amazing, pretty much how a family should be. Where we lived previously we knew nobody. I was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemo etc there. I preferred it as I like to lick my wounds in private so to speak. DH and I supported each other, and as we've lived all over the world in inaccessible locations we have become pretty good at it.

I sometimes miss the idea of family, but both mine and DHs actual families bore no resemblance to that. Mostly I am just immensely relieved that we have managed to evict them from our lives and that our DS won't have to go through what DH and I went through. It was also very freeing, in that I learnt that I really do have the right to choose who is a part of my life, and not just put up with abuse because they're family.

Was that what you meant?

unlucky83 Tue 10-Jan-17 20:24:02

I think it is essential! It doesn't have to be family but you definitely need something.
I don't have family around (in Uk but hours away) and had just relocated here with DP so we didn't know anyone/have any friends here. DP's family are in another country.
I thought it wasn't too bad - we coped well -just the three of us. Then I was taken into hospital as an emergency on a Saturday. (I have a health condition that could prove fatal.) They wanted to keep me in for a few days for tests.
DP at the time had his own restaurant -if he took time off he had to close it and cancel all the bookings - at short notice, on a fully booked Sat night.
DD (18 months) obviously couldn't stay with me - and there was no room for her at the restaurant . When I asked the hospital what I could do they said they would have to get social services involved and have DD short term fostered -if they could find a place for her ...
As I was pretty sure I was actually ok (long story... ) I signed myself out of hospital for a 3 hours to look after DD until DP got home and then I went back . (He closed the next day until my mum could get here.)
Before I left the registrar gave me a really severe talking to - really went to town -put the fear of god into me. Strongly advised me not to go - said you know if X happens even here we might not be able to save you - at home you have absolutely no chance etc...
And when I was at home I started thinking 'what if I am wrong? the GP wasn't overreacting? What if I die in agony in front of DD - will she remember? Would it affect her for life? What if she hurts herself cos there is no-one to look after her? etc etc etc.
As it was I was right and it was an overreaction...but it played on my mind for ages afterwards - used to have panic attacks about dying in front of DD.
By the time I had DD2 I had parent friends - I had made an effort to get to know people and to offer favours where I could. I knew in a a situation like that I had someone they knew who would look after them for me. Or if I was late for school pick up - my car broke down or whatever. I had a support network.
Where I live is close to a University and we have lots of people who don't have family locally. We have a fantastic babies and toddlers group - I strongly support it even now and encourage people to go. It is a fantastic opportunity to get to know people locally and form a support network - I wished I'd known about it when I had DD1...

Squaredivided Tue 10-Jan-17 20:37:32

It has its pluses and minuses. We are abroad, but close enough to visit (and be visited) by family a few times a year which is nice.

The downsides: we don't have babysitters on tap which means a lot of work on our part finding people, getting DC used to them and added expense. I'm a SAHM and normally this is fine, but when everything goes wrong (e.g. when you're all ill or just having a hard time) you do really miss not being able to just drop DC off with the GP's for a little time to recuperate. Obviously it's also hard on the GP's as they don't have as close a relationship as everyone would like.

On the plus side: you're not living on top of family so don't have to deal with some of the annoying situations that can arise. We are reminded of this benefit every time we visit wink!

Having a support network of some kind is key, be it partner, friends, co-workers, other mums, or even a virtual one is really important though. It's very easy to become isolated and very hard to undo it.

HardofCleaning Tue 10-Jan-17 20:40:07

I used to live abroad so had no support network (apart from occasional visits). It was mainly fine, the only issue was when one of us was sick. Obviously you get by because you have to but I would have loved to have a relative that could come to my rescue when I'm puking constantly and trying to placate a toddler with a temperature.

blinkineckmum Tue 10-Jan-17 20:44:28

My family is not abroad, but all too far away and too busy to ever help. We haven't had a night out or lie in together in 3 years but we have each other. 2dc and happy.

SheepyFun Tue 10-Jan-17 20:47:52

I'm with unlucky83 - if your family don't live nearby, you do want to have some sort of support network. I've also had the emergency dash to hospital, in my case for DH who by this point couldn't recall what medications he'd taken when, and was suspected of having meningitis (thankfully he didn't). I really didn't want to take a baby with me to A&E for an unknown length of time, but really felt he needed me there - I haven't always accompanied him to A&E. I was very grateful we had friends who could get to us quickly (within 10 minutes) and help.

helpimitchy Tue 10-Jan-17 20:47:56

We're doing it with two dcs who are of secondary school age now. We've managed okay as neither of us want to go out much and I'm happy to stay in if dh does need to go somewhere or do a hobby or something.

I think we'd struggle if either of us was in hospital or ill for an extended period.

I'm relieved that they're no longer little as I used to worry we'd be unable to manage if anything bad happened.

Fadingmemory Tue 10-Jan-17 20:52:48

I had no one after my divorce. I managed and the experience made me very self reliant. Fifteen years on I still am - children now all adults though and away from home.

flumpybear Tue 10-Jan-17 21:41:05

Yes my parents are dead, my brother is useless with kids and won't look after them, in laws rarely home (an hour away). We rely mainly on nursery, now they're both at school we just get on with it ...

Duckiesprettycrazy Tue 10-Jan-17 21:53:18

Yes, it is hard and I am envious of people who are lucky enough to have hands on grandparents / siblings to help out with childcare. My mum died before my children were born, my dad lives 4 hours away and spends half the year abroad - I'm lucky to see him for a few hours twice a year. I'm divorced now, exH sees children briefly but regularly (no overnights). FIL died a few years ago and MIL has major health issues. In laws babysat my son once when he was a few months old, and then never again. Life would be a lot easier if I had more help, luckily I have friends to call on if there's an emergency.

butteredbarmbrack Tue 10-Jan-17 22:03:07

We're in London, nearest family are five hours drive, with others in Scotland, N. Ireland, France. Our parents visit couple of times a year and are great when they're here (babysitting for nights out, my parents suggested we book a couple of nights away on one visit, and are planning visits around half term to help with childcare as we're otherwise stuck as we use before/after school; MIL came down to cover two weeks for us in the summer).

It can be tough - we've been lucky with our neighbours who help out in emergencies e.g. our neighbour sat with DD1 when DH had to take me to hospital in labour with DD2, she was ten days early and my parents had arranged to come but not til the following week! Otherwise, we have friends we can swap emergency school pickups with, and basically don't go out as a couple much except when we do have parents visiting. Work for both of us are not bad when we've had to take time or work from home with ill kids, but again have been lucky and that only tends to be one or two days a year.

But it can be hard, lots of juggling in the school holidays in particular, and it would be nice for example to be able to see family just for Sunday lunch when we like.

MoleculeEmoji Tue 10-Jan-17 22:03:39

We have no one. All abroad or too far away. We have three kids and have managed two operations for me with hospital stays. Luckily dh has an understanding employer! We also don't have babysitters as one dc has SEN so we just don't go out. No friends either as dh works a lot so is too busy (but plays golf on the weekends to get some down time) and I lost my friends I had due to dc SEN and I also work three nights. It can be lonely but it can be done! We muddle along and know we will hopefully have 'our' time once dc have grown up. Family don't really visit and we dont go abroad but when we do visit family in another country it is only for a day or two so would be rude to take a night to ourselves to go out. I think the last time we went out as a couple was about five years ago? But dc didn't really cope with the babysitter so that was the end of that!

Oblomova Tue 10-Jan-17 22:04:38

We have no family in the UK at all (all live in our home country) and our friends are mostly scattered around the world - we certainly don't have anyone in the village where we live, other than our four year old's former childminder, who might be possible in an extreme emergency, though she now only does before and after school childcare and works as a TA. Two demanding FT jobs, both involving weekend work and some travel.

We don't know any different, as we've never had it otherwise, but having spent Christmas in our home country surrounded by relatives competing to spend time with DS, it's made me sharply aware of how much easier life would be with a support network.

And I was very frightened a few years ago when DS was a small baby and we lived in London - I collapsed in pain while DH was on a work trip in a city hours away by train, and the geographically closest friend would have taken an hour and a half minimum to get to us. I had to hold on until DH could get home before I could even get to A and E.

PostTruthBreakdown Tue 10-Jan-17 22:05:07

I pretty much qualify (dh parents dead, my dm living but minimal contact) and it is hard, yes. There's no such thing as a break, if both adults are ill while kids aren't at school it's very difficult (and you still have to get to and from school when they are somehow). And there is no free babysitting ever so making work work - and pay - is extraordinarily difficult. That's only going to get worse in the UK. I do get a bit jealous sometimes of those with help and a tad irritated by the 'oh I did it all on my own, only got free babysitting two days a week well that's normal isn't it' kind of crowd.

But you just get on with it don't you, in the smug self-satisfied knowledge that you owe little to anyone and can manage somehow in the face of what to some other people would be quite considerable opposition <cue tuneless rendition of "I did it My Way">

PostTruthBreakdown Tue 10-Jan-17 22:06:47

Just reminded myself that having said both adults, I do have my dh. My hat is off to all single parents out there.

NerrSnerr Tue 10-Jan-17 22:07:19

We have no family support and manage. I made friends at baby groups who I could call on (and will need to when I have baby number 2) but we are very independent and muddle through.

I have friends who don't know how we cope as we can't just ask them to mind our child for a few hours or something but you adjust your lifestyle and expectations.

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