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Family childcare issue - is my dad being inconsiderate or am I?

(51 Posts)
Glittertrauma Wed 13-Jun-18 09:39:15

Hello MN-ers

I’d really appreciate opinions on a family childcare issue.

I have a 2-year-old DS, and I’m 8 months pregnant. I work full time, and so does DH. We are lucky enough to have some family help with childcare – my Dad and Stepmother look after him on a Monday, Tuesday he goes to MIL with his cousins, Wed-Fri he’s at a local nursery.

I have never asked, or pressured my Dad to help with the childcare – it was something he volunteered to do almost as soon as DS was born. I’ve always made it very clear how grateful I am for his help, and I have said it's not a problem if he ever needs to go away on a Monday (he’s retired, as is my Stepmother and they go away a lot).

The trouble is that they are away such a lot its begun to be an issue. Since January, they must have averaged 1-2 weeks away on a Monday every month. Often they don’t give very much notice as they do a lot of last-minute flights abroad or trips in their camper van, and they don’t seem to understand that this causes a huge issue for us. Both DH and I are required to book in leave in the good advance notice of when we want to take it.

This week my Dad has announced they are going away week after next for 2 weeks.  DH works on a client appointment basis and struggles to cancel. It's my last two weeks before maternity leave with my second baby so I could really do without taking an additional two Mondays off as I have a lot to finish and handover.

I feel they are being quite inconsiderate at this point and have said as much to my Dad. I don’t really understand why they couldn’t have gone away a week later, when I’m off on mat leave, or just cut things a day short so they don’t miss two Mondays in a row  (they are away in the UK in campervan so can leave when they like, its not like they’ve got to catch specific flights…)

Really don’t want to be ungrateful, but them being away as many/more Mondays than they have had him makes our lives incredibly difficult. It would be less hassle to put him in the nursery an extra day at this point, and then we wouldn’t be left scrabbling around frantically trying to make alternative arrangements.

I have suggested this, but my Dad is upset at the thought of not getting to see his DGS as much. They live an hour;’s drive away, so if he didn’t do Mondays they would probably see him a lot less. But its honestly getting more hassle than its worth at this point.

AIBU or should my Dad be more considerate? I feel that he’s lost touch a little with the practicalities of working life since retiring, as he doesn’t seem to realise the hassle this costs us.

titsbumfannythelot Wed 13-Jun-18 09:43:08

It might be best to sort alternate childcare arrangements to preserve your relationship with your dad.

Maybe he had forgotten how much hard work children are when he offered?

mickeysminnie Wed 13-Jun-18 09:45:26

Just book child into nursery.

Nanny0gg Wed 13-Jun-18 09:47:19

I think you should change it if they can't (or won't) give you more notice. As your DC get older you won't want to use your leave for odd days here and there,.
Just make sure they can come and visit once a month so they don't lose touch.

They could still look after them here and there anyway - weekends are good!

nuttyknitter Wed 13-Jun-18 09:48:18

Your Dad can't have it both ways. Either he makes a commitment or you book a nursery and he sees your DC less often. I look after my DC regularly and always organise holidays etc around times that I know I'm not needed.

user1493413286 Wed 13-Jun-18 09:48:49

I do think he’s being a bit unfair and has forgotten that if he’s not there it leaves you with a problem. If he offered to have him on a Monday then he needs to be aware that there needs to be a commitment within that.
I’m guessing it won’t be an issue while you’re on maternity leave but if he still wants to look after either child when you go back to work you need to agree with him about him giving you notice and vaguely how often he’ll be away otherwise you’ll be getting childcare

NataliaOsipova Wed 13-Jun-18 09:51:20

He means well - but he probably hasn't fully thought through the nature of the commitment, to be honest. I think you need to talk it through- kindly but honestly - and say that it's basically every Monday (bar one or two holidays/emergencies) or none. You're not being unreasonable. It's a different matter if, say, you're at home and you have a standing arrangement that he comes to help out on a Monday because you aren't then left scrabbling for cover if he can't. But if you're doing it to cover working, then you need something more reliable.

Canwejustrelaxnow Wed 13-Jun-18 09:51:31

The arrangement no longer works and I think you need to find paid care for Mondays. Our parents and in laws are retired and holiday constantly. If you work then you need water tight childcare. It seems that they don't really get this, but it is for you to rearrange.

Di11y Wed 13-Jun-18 09:52:43

In retrospect it sounds like childcare mid week from your parents and nursery on a Monday would have been a better arrangement.

Assuming it's a moot point as your starting mat leave soon so you can be more flexible.

I'd book him into nursery for those two Mondays and try to appreciate the money you've saved and the relationships you've enabled.

Ellendegeneres Wed 13-Jun-18 09:54:06

Book ds a nursery spot for your dads spot. It’s not worth the hassle- if he wants to spend time with ds, maybe say once a month he can take ds out of nursery for that day but relying on someone unreliable isn’t ok- for you or your ds.

ZibbidooZibbidooZibbidoo Wed 13-Jun-18 09:55:49

Why don’t you swap your dad and MIL so she does monday and he does Tuesday?

NoirBlanc Wed 13-Jun-18 09:56:03

YANBU - yes, your dad is being inconsiderate expecting to keep to a regular arrangements and then frequently opting out at short notice - it is clearly unsustainable in the long term.

I would definitely make other childcare arrangements for a Monday and then ask your dad and stepmum to have him on a more adhoc way that suits both of your lifestyles better.

Sunshinegirl82 Wed 13-Jun-18 09:56:44

That is a bit inconsiderate of him. I agree that he can't have it all ways. I assume the problem will sort of resolve itself when you're on mat leave but when you make arrangements post leave I'd remember this and go for paid childcare. You can keep your Dad for the occasional day/night of babysitting so you can get out! We do this and it works really well.

As an aside have you checked nursery can't have him for the extra days? DS's nursery will accommodate the occasional extra day if they can.

Mari50 Wed 13-Jun-18 09:57:30

Basically you need to put DC into childcare on a Monday and if your dad wants to see them more he will need to make his own arrangements. But you can’t have unreliable childcare. I’ve been in a similar situation and it was a nightmare.

Cornettoninja Wed 13-Jun-18 09:57:40

I think it's a case of thanking him for his help up to now but you need firmer arrangements and will be looking at more nursery hours - especially since his free hours will be on the horizon soon.

He clearly doesn't 'get' it but it's worth trying to explain again especially since taking time off to cover childcare leaves you with much less annual leave for family holidays etc.

Zaphodsotherhead Wed 13-Jun-18 09:59:02

Maybe he's worrying about how much work it's going to be to have two children to look after, and is trying to 'gracefully withdraw' (ie, force you to find alternative childcare, but then he can have the higher moral ground - 'I was perfectly happy to give you childcare, you chose to put them into nursery on a Monday' - that kind of thing).

MargaretCavendish Wed 13-Jun-18 09:59:12

Why don’t you swap your dad and MIL so she does monday and he does Tuesday?

OP says that MIL has her DS and his cousins on one day, so presumably swapping would mean her giving up an extra day of her week which she (very reasonably) might not be up for.

spotspot Wed 13-Jun-18 09:59:53

I would make firm childcare arrangements for a Monday - either swap with MIL or have an extra nursery day.

If the extra nursery day, then your dad can presumably just have him on the Mondays he is free. Yes it "wastes" the nursery fee for that day but it's a sunk cost as you'd be paying it anyway if you dad wasn't having him at all.

Ginger1982 Wed 13-Jun-18 10:01:04

Were you intending the arrangement to continue whilst you're on mat leave? It's probably a good time to have a chat and just say it isn't working for you now.

CheeseyToast Wed 13-Jun-18 10:01:45

Golly, it's just like trying to rely on a teenager!

Sunnymeg Wed 13-Jun-18 10:01:51

I would just be grateful for the help they have given in the past and make alternative arrangements. My parents made it clear from the early days of my pregnancy that they wouldn't look after DS. He was my baby and my responsibility. It may be that your Dad has found it very restrictive, having to look after DC 1 and can only see this becoming more of an issue once DC2 arrives.

ErictheGuineaPig Wed 13-Jun-18 10:04:44

I don't understand and I expect he doesn't either. You say that you knew he goes away a lot and told him this wouldn't be a problem if he ever wanted to do that on a Monday. He has taken you completely at your word. You gave him the impression that Mondays are flexible. In hindsight you should have made it clear that it would be a commitment he'd need to stick to. I think it was unfair to call him inconsiderate. You should have told him that such a flexible arrangement wasn't working as well as you thought it would and asked if he wanted to make a firm commitment to every Monday.

Tambien Wed 13-Jun-18 10:14:11

Err.... i think it’s quite obvious that the ‘you can still go away’ has to be a reasonable amount of ‘going away’ with reasonnable warning to het organised.
Surely, he will have noticed how difficult it can be for the OP by now to organise some time off?? Or maybe he hasn’t as she was on ML??

I agree about the nursery in Monday’s.
What we did with my PIL is that they would come and pick dc up on some days (when it suited them) when they wanted some time with them.
It meant we sometimes paid when dc wasn’t at nursery but it gave us some peace of mind.

MargaretCavendish Wed 13-Jun-18 10:18:49

I have said it's not a problem if he ever needs to go away on a Monday (he’s retired, as is my Stepmother and they go away a lot).

I - and I think most people - would have understood this as 'dont feel you can never go away' (expecting maybe a few times a year), not 'it is fine for you to be away literally half the time'. I just can't imagine how he thinks childcare works that him being away so often would be fine.

ErictheGuineaPig Wed 13-Jun-18 10:19:10

But what is reasonable and what kind of notice? This kind of stuff needs clear communication. Some people have very flexible jobs and some don't. My DH can get time off at very short notice, I need weeks worth of notice. My parents probably wouldn't know any of that unless I made a point of telling them.

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