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To feel annoyed about my mum and childcare

(58 Posts)
Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 02:09:47

I'm a single parent and the in-laws live on the other side of the world.

I have 2 small children (aged 3 and 1)
I work part time, 2 days a week. My mother looks after the 3 year old when I work and the baby goes to day care. On the 2 days that my mother keeps my 3 year old, she also attends nursery for 2.5 hours, I'm never home later than 5pm.

I am massively grateful to my mother for her help. Without it my daughter could not attend the nursery at all as she would have nobody to drop her off at 9.30am and pick her up at 12. We live in a rural area, there are no daycares (I bring the baby into one in another town where I work)

There is one registered childminder in my area and a very small number of neighbours / friends of the family who I would be willing to trust with my kids. But here's the rub- my mother does not want me to approach anyone else for childcare or babysitting. She very much wants everyone to think that she is supergran and is very tied up with me and my children. She frequently uses us/them as an implicit reason why she can't help out with her disabled sister or why she can't attend any event she doesn't want to attend.

She is also disparaging of any of the people I would ask. She herself would trust nobody with them. She was a stay-at- home mum herself and had just 4 trusted individuals that she would have left us with on rare occasions.

She only agrees very begrudgingly if I ask her to help at all outside the 2 half days she does (which she volunteered to do). Or sometimes just doesn't answer me at all.
Or replies to my question with more questions and doesn't actually say yes. That's fine, that's her right, I get it, she doesn't have to help me at all. But the problem is she is very cross if I even suggest asking anyone else. She thinks I'm doing it to spite her or show her up. Ideally, going forward, I would like to be able to get out 1 or maybe even 2 times a month - a trip to the cinema or a lunch date with a friend. She has never yet had both kids actually, I've never left the baby when her once. I asked once and she was again so unenthusiastic/ non committal that I didn't bother. The baby in particular is very easy.

I guess as I write this I realise I need to just get some other help and be done with it. But I know she will be raging because, and this is key, it makes her look bad. The image she likes to portray is homely, kid-loving, helpful, put-upon mum and granny (martyr). She likes people to imagine that I lean on her really heavily.

Where we live in rural Ireland there is very much a culture of grannies doing childcare and it's like she wants to out- granny the other grannies, but only in theory.

AIBU to feel annoyed?

Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 02:14:39

I forgot to say I have 100% custody of the children and their father does not see them.

MrsStrowman Fri 07-Dec-18 02:23:19

You've answered your own question and you seen reasonable in that you don't expect anything from her she volunteered these two half days and your grateful for that. You have every right to seek additional childcare elsewhere, or would be didn't if she was saying oh no I'll have them I really want to and you were insisting on going elsewhere is see why she might be hurt, but she doesn't want to do more than she is and you don't expect her to but you might need more than two half days a week, and there's nothing wrong with that coming from elsewhere!

MrsStrowman Fri 07-Dec-18 02:24:12

*you seem
*You're grateful

OliveSeaTurtle Fri 07-Dec-18 02:25:30

That's great that she helps out for 2 days, I wouldn't call them 'half days' because I imagine she has to get up pretty early to drop the child off at 9.30, get them back at 12 and then have them until you return at 5.30.

Nothing to be upset/annoyed about. Sounds frustrating for her to blame looking after her grandchildren as a reason to get out of social events she doesn't want to go to. But this is a small irritance can be overlooked when she helps out twice a week. My MIL has never helped out, even when asked in an emergency once.

I would explain to her, that you are going to have 2 afternoons to yourself a month. You're very happy to get outside help or someone you have chosen that you trust to look after both children for these 2 afternoons. If she would prefer to have them because she wants to see them for the extra 2 days a month on top, then she's welcome too. But otherwise you're happy to ask someone else you trust.

If she accepts the offer and has them but makes a big fuss, just explain that it's not working out and then just hire someone else for the extra 2 afternoons a month?

It's really none of her business who you employ to look after your children on the other days, if you trust them then that's enough!

Perfectly1mperfect Fri 07-Dec-18 02:26:02

If you need or want to go out at times when she will not have them, then she is totally unreasonable to expect you to not ask someone else.

YANBU at all. You sound very grateful for your mum doing what she does. Tell her that, but tell her you need other time without the children and you will be making arrangements for this.

TheSheepofWallSt Fri 07-Dec-18 02:31:38

Totally totally understand this.
My mother is the same- I moved 300 Miles after my separation - at her insistence, because “your family are here to support you”- and I’ve had no help from anyone but her, and what I get from her is unreliable (cancels last minute), always used as ammunition in disagreements, and incredibly half arsed (eg - she’ll offer to have him for the evening, but start texting from 8.30 to Ask when I’m back/ complain about how long he took to settle etc).
BUT- she’ll foam if I ask anyone else.

She’s currently sulking because I’ve told her I’m looking to buy a house 20 miles away in a village with better schools, better quality of life etc. In 2 years.
The alternative is I move back to London, but TBH at the minute Australia is looking like a tolerable proximity to her grin

user139328237 Fri 07-Dec-18 02:34:04

If by friends of the family you really mean her friends YABVU. It is perfectly fine to get other child care sources but it isn't generally appropriate to be asking your parents friends and you asking could genuinely make her look bad.

CoughLaughFart Fri 07-Dec-18 02:45:06

It is perfectly fine to get other child care sources but it isn't generally appropriate to be asking your parents friends and you asking could genuinely make her look bad.

Then she could easily do it more often.

MyShinyWhiteTeeth Fri 07-Dec-18 03:04:05

I get many offers of 'I will pay for my grandchild to do or have this' and then my child is excited about whatever she has been promised.

I mostly never get the money so end up paying myself whilst everyone thinks how generous granny has been.

FrogFairy Fri 07-Dec-18 03:06:25

On a practical note, it would benefit your children to get used to someone else looking after them. If ever emergency chilcdcare was needed, then at least the children would be familiar with a regulgar baby sitter.

Personally, I would not ask neighbours or family friends to provide regular childcare but would prefer a paid babysitter.

Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 07:21:47

Thank you for your responses . The "emergency" thing also occurred to me. If she was ever out of action it would be handy to have someone else anyway.

I will ask at my baby's day care and see if any of them are happy to come out.

My mum will be very interested in knowing how much I'm paying them and yet when I asked her if I could pay her for the days she does, she didn't answer me.... just wandered off. Which didn't exactly make me feel like she was happy with it being free, but again it's like she knew it would sound bad if she was charging me.

Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 07:50:09

I do feel like I'm policing HOW she responds, but it is important to me. I don't really want to sally off leaving my children with someone who is unenthusiastic and begrudging about having them, but it's like this is an important part of the transaction for her.
She doesn't flat out say no, so if I tell her I've organised someone else she'll say "I said I'd do it, didn't I?"

Similarly when I thank her, she is always a bit tight- lipped and very much wants me to know how much of a big deal it was (I know it's a big deal. ) But yet she'll never outright SAY it was hard or that she's tired or doesn't want to do it.

That's one of the reasons I love the day care. Nothing is too much trouble (yes, I know I'm paying for that positive attitude). Whereas with my mum it's the opposite.

QwertyLou Fri 07-Dec-18 08:37:29

You already know the answer- organise another childminder, possibly more than one!

I’d rather pay someone cheerful, then have free childcare from someone begrudging.

I’m a lone parent too, with 100% of the custody and responsibility - I work full time.

I’m very lucky with (and grateful for) my parents who have my 4 yo for a full day (i.e. 24 hours - he sleeps over). We lived with them for 3 years so they adore DS and it’s mutual.

I had him at daycare four days but sensed he needed more 1:1 time with one loving carer. Mum was adamant I not get a nanny for one day (not that she and Dad wanted to do another day - and I didn’t expect it).

But I got one, my son adores her, it works amazingly. Because i’m paying her, I can ask her to do anything (child related!) and she’ll do it, cheerfully (get his hair cut, buy a birthday present for a party he has, help sort his clothes).

Because Mum and Dad are already doing me such a “huge favour” I don’t feel I can ask them for things like that - he just fits in (very happily) with their plans, which is fine.

He loves his time with them, and i’m so grateful. But I was really struggling before his “one day nanny” started.

QwertyLou Fri 07-Dec-18 08:43:21

Sorry as if that wasn’t long enough, I have something else!

I know what you mean about how your mum responds.

You want someone to either cheerfully say “oh sorry- can’t do Thursday” OR “yes, i’d love to do Thursday, drop her off at 8.00am?”

Not an ambiguous or passive aggressive non-response somewhere in between, which leaves you second guessing and

CloudPop Fri 07-Dec-18 08:53:15

Have you considered moving away and just making your own arrangements? Your mother's behaviour will drive you mad and will end up affecting your relationship, maybe it would be better just to visit regularly and actually control your own life without this manipulative, passive aggressive nonsense.

Perfectly1mperfect Fri 07-Dec-18 09:07:47


Your mum sounds like a nightmare to deal with. There's a lot that you write that I recognise from my own mum. I'm not in contact with her anymore but on the occasions she looked after our children, she was non commital right up until the morning she was having them ( she seemed to enjoy me stressing about it) and liked to portray the same image as your mum of a helpful, loving, put upon mum but the reality was different. She would tell everyone how much she loved spending time with her grandchildren and how she wanted me, as her daughter, to be able to rely on her as she didn't have that luxury when I was a child. But then I would ask her to have the kids whilst I went to a hospital appointments a month in advance for example, I'd be told 'how can I possibly know what I'm doing this far ahead, ask me closer to the time, how long will you be'etc. If I dared ask her to look after them whilst I went out to go to the cinema or something (which was rare) she was even worse. She begrudged me having any time to myself but pretended to everyone she didn't. She hated it when I would ask my MIL instead and would be 'funny' with me for ages. I feel for you, it's draining. I found that eventually it wasn't worth the hassle and she affected my children negatively with her attitude. Hopefully you can come to an agreement that everyone is happy with.

TheSheepofWallSt Fri 07-Dec-18 09:46:55


Yes this.

I have psychotherapy once a week. On those days I don’t pick my son up from nursery until 6pm. My mother will subtly heap guilt on me for the length of the day for him in childcare- but whenever I’ve asked her to collect him for me, and look after him for 2 hours (she’s free, she could) to shorten his day, there’s always an excuse.
I’ve stopped asking- but she hasn’t stopped the guilt trips.

Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 13:10:33

Qwerty, you really get it! Thanks. It's the begrudging....
And Perfectly...I almost had to check I hadn't written your post when half-asleep. The "remind me closer to the time" thing is a constant. And it means I have to ask her again and again, and never feel I'm actually sorting my childcare out!
I'm mostly glad I don't have my mil in this country but I was thinking last night that a competitive mil down the road would be the only motivation for my mum. She would hate to be outdone.
Thanks everyone. I'll email my day care provider now and hope that there's not a policy against it and that the workers I've built up the most rapport with don't have too busy a social life!

Perfectly1mperfect Fri 07-Dec-18 14:57:31

Glad you have decided to go ahead with finding extra childcare. Hopefully it won't happen but be prepared for your mum to be 'off' with you over it. I think you need to do it though as you can't carry on as you are. Best of luck to you, families can be difficult.

ForgivenessIsDivine Fri 07-Dec-18 17:33:48

Often helpful to think about what support your Mum had when you were growing up, whether she worked and what her relationship with her parents / in laws was. It can be revealing!

myusernamewastakenbyme Fri 07-Dec-18 18:32:12

Just dont tell her....does she know your movements every day of the week? If not then find a sitter...have lunch with a friend and dont tell her.

Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 18:38:10

Thanks. Yes, Forgiveness, she was a sahm to 7 and had no family support really. I definitely think there's hard feelings about that.

Polkadoteyebrow Fri 07-Dec-18 18:39:29

I will try username but yes, she does pretty much know my every do all my neighbours in this village. It's curtain-twitching central!

Hohocabbage Fri 07-Dec-18 18:42:08

She’s hardly supper gran if she doesn’t even have both children! Maybe she is of the view that you don’t need to have any time to yourself at all. You might - heaven forbid! - have dates! My dm was so happy to be left with her dgc, but then I didn’t take advantage and it doesn’t sound like you are either. Is she just pretty miserable about everything?

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