Grandparents OR Babysitters??

This is something that has been brought to my attention since I had kids.  When does it become to much for grandparents to babysit or watch their grandchild? 

I had never given this a second thought until I had kids and my mother brought it up to me.  If I had somewhere to go and didn’t want to bring the kids, I would just phone Grandma.  If my daycare lady phoned in sick during the work week, I would phone Grandma.

WELL, did my eyes ever get opened up.  I was told by my mother that she was NOT a built in babysitter just because she was Grandma.  I did not at any time ever intend for her to feel this way but she did.  So I stopped everything totally.  Now we only go there as a family to visit.  The only time the kids will go over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house is IF they phone and invite them over.  I did not realize I was doing this or making my parents feel this way.  So now I’m very cautious as to how much I ask my in laws to babysit.  I don’t want to make them feel this way.

Has anyone else experienced this??  Have you ever been told from your parents or in laws that they are GRANDPARENTS ONLY????

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20 Responses to Grandparents OR Babysitters??

  1. TiredMom says:

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about this lately because growing up I was ALWAYS at my grandparents house. As often as I could be and my grandparents seemed to love it. We went on vacations with them and had a blast. I wanted that same experience for my kids. I feel like my children have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to grandparents. My parents are in their 40s and they NEVER keep the kids. My oldest is going to be 9 in June and I can count the number of times my mom has watched my kids on one hand. My parents have never invited my kids over to stay with out my kids bringing it up and even then 99% of the time the answer is no. I feel like my kids are missing out on a valuable experience in life. My grandparents were the best.. I wish my kids had that.

  2. Joy says:

    This is really tough Lisa. Darn you!!! LOL!!

    I’ll start from when my boys were little. My parents both worked so they weren’t an option to sit when we worked. If one of the kids got sick, one of us had to stay home. My mother in law didn’t drive so I would have had to take the kids there and who wants to do that to a sick child? When I first started working for the schools, I only worked 2-3 hours a day so usually my husband would come and sit with them if they got sick.

    My kids did stay overnight once in a while but not very often. They did lots of things with them but really only stayed over for bowling banquets or something special. Usually my mom would come and stay the night or we got a teenager that we knew.

    For me, now that I’m a grandparent. I feel that being a grandma is different than being a “babysitter.” I would hate to be the babysitter. In order for that, I’d really have to step in and discipline and I don’t want to do that.

    I have stepped in at the last minute if something unexpected happens but to be honest, I’m not happy about it. First of all, I’m the kind of person who will get up 2 hours before I have to leave my house. I’m very slow to wake up and need that coffee and quiet time so I plan for it. If I get woken up and have to be out of my house RIGHT NOW, no, I’m not fond of that but have done it and will do it in an emergency. It the kids are sick, I don’t really like that either as I feel kids need their parents when they are sick and I really do feel it’s up to the parents to take are of them when they are. I’m okay with doing it if the daycare lady is going to be closed and I have notice. It really all depends on the circumstance.

    The thing I feel is I’ve raised my kids. I’ve already tended to runny noses and changing plans. I didn’t rely on my parents to step in like that. If the kids want to go out once in a while, I will baby-sit but I think that’s completely different than taking care of them when they go to work. For one thing, I’m not as young as I was and a full day wears me out. It has nothing to do with not loving them because I adore them.

    This is what I feel. When I have the grandkids, I want to give them ice cream and let them jump on the bed. I want to spoil them silly and let them stay up past bedtime. I don’t want to “have” to take care of them and then dread it. I hope everyone knows what I mean. You can’t be responsible for them and not make them mind and I would hate to do that on an ongoing basis. I don’t want them to remember the time I yelled at them for not coming when I called them. I want them to remember that they had fun with me and I let them sneak a kit-kat bar.

  3. Liza says:

    I sometimes used to get the feeling that we were dumped onto our grandparents. We were always there on weekends. I had fun most of the time but there were times I wanted to do things with my friends but my parent’s ‘had to’ go out. I loved my grandparents a lot but I feel as an adult, it was to much for them. I would never do it to my parents or my in laws.

    Once in a while is one thing, everyone wins that way but not all the time and certainly not when we are going to work.

  4. SKL says:

    I think this is a very individual thing, but I would definitely start out with the assumption that the grandparent does not want to be the backup babysitter, unless he/she states otherwise. I’ve spoken to a fair number of people whose parents/inlaws are pretty clear about not being a babysitting service.

    My experience is all over the place. As a kid, I was never babysat by my dad’s mom. She was a widow, worked, and had a young, widowed, emotionally unstable daughter and autistic grandchild who lived with her much of the time. And, she was about 60 when I was born. My mom wouldn’t dream of asking her to babysit, and she didn’t offer, and I totally understand that. She was very loving and that was the important thing.

    My other granny would have us over her house (individually) for a week sometimes, and when my younger brother was a baby, she babysat him during the school day (we four older kids took over when school was out), and she babysat the lot of us during the summers. She charged for the service, though.

    My mom told me for years that she would be happy to babysit for me once I had babies. Well, she meant when the babies were tiny. They were 12mos and 9mos when they joined our family, and she has health issues. I would not ask her to babysit my two tots unless there was no other reasonable option – at which point she probably would do it without grudging. She loves the girls like anything, but it’s no small thing to ask a 63-year-old recovering cancer patient to care for two one-year-olds. My dad, on the other hand, has literally begged to babysit my kids. I have taken him up on the offer once so far, and plan to do so in the future. I wouldn’t do it all the time, because like Joy said, he raised his kids and it’s my job to raise mine. It is more to give my kids an opportunity to bond with my dad.

  5. woowooteacup says:

    I think this is a situation that depends upon the grandparents involved. My parents don’t want the task, but my husband’s parents watched our kids often and loved doing it. Now that the kids are older and don’t need someone to watch them, their grandparents miss them and want them to come over for visits, which we try to do every other week or so.

  6. jimsmuse says:

    I do think that a big part of this issue is not just the temperament but the actual age of the grandparents involved. Both of my parents were the “baby of the family” and had older siblings — all four of my grandparents were retired or nearly so by the time I was born. They were not necessarily up for the task of running after toddlers and doing long “stints” of babysitting, but loved to have my younger sister and I come visit for a few hours or for the day just to spoil us.

    My parents, however, are both extremely active dynamic people and have stepped up more than once to babysit for my son in an “emergency” situation, even for a few days if necessary, although of course they’d much rather hang out with him and just have “Grandma and Grandpa time”. I’ve never abused that privilege, but I am certainly glad that when my son was much younger and I was a newly-single mom that I had someone I knew I trusted unconditionally if I needed someone to step in and babysit.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hmmmm…ok…the irony here is that I’m writing this comment from a hotel room because I’m at a conference for work…my husband got sent away for his job for a couple days and my inlaws are with the kids…so yes…definitely some irony there…

    BUT…it’s the first time we’ve ever had them take the kids overnight before. We will usually rearrange our own work schedule or call a friend before we call the grandparents. It’s nothing against either set of grandparents, it’s just that my inlaws still work and have their own jobs to deal with, plus they live an hour away. My parents are in their mid-70’s, live even farther away and have made it clear that they ‘don’t chase kids.’ When my kids are older they’ll be happy to keep them overnight.

    We really try not to take advantage. Although sometimes I think we try too hard, because they do sometimes ask us if we ever need help watching the kids.

    I think we also feel guilty because we already send them to daycare during the day. To shuffle them off again during the evening seems wrong.


  8. sengdroma says:

    This is something my parents would love us to do. We moved in with them for 6 months before emigrating to Canada and they grew so close to our eldest (only grandchild back then), before that we lived 3 hrs away and so only saw them a few times a year. Well they were and still are devastated that we have been soooo “cruel” to have taken Callum away from them.

    They pine for that closeness and although I believe that the strain can be too much for some grandparents, it is also all too easy to take grandchildren for granted by their grand parents.

    Mine cannot understand why a grandparent would moan about looking after their grandchild (other than the jokey moan that we all tend to do as humans), as they would give their right arm to have the grandchildren all the time.

  9. trish says:

    My mother helped me a LOT when my son was younger because I was a single mother, but there was also always the understanding that she would not change any of her plans to babysit. I was actually glad she did this because it helped not build resentment about helping me out. If she had somewhere to go, I was glad she said so and I could make other arrangements.

    I finally made it over to comment, sorry it took me so long! It’s been a crazy month!

  10. Joy says:

    Oh Trish, I’m happier than I can say that you came to visit. Without your advice, I wouldn’t have dared to start my blog and now, I’m having a blast. You made me very happy today 🙂

    I sure hope you come back. Thanks so much.

  11. amberfireinus says:

    You know, I have this issue with a couple of my girlfriends. Their kids use them for babysitters without consideration. It makes me so angry.

    But then I stop and think about it. Who is really at fault here? Is it the kids? Or is it my girlfriends who allow themselves to be treated in this manner?

    I definately want to kick them both up the backsides!

  12. Joy says:

    I just wanted to stress that I love to have my grandchildren. I just don’t think it’s my job to watch them when my kids work. When I can spend good quality time with them, that’s what I like but if I had the responsibility to watch them full time, I wouldn’t enjoy it and it would be nothing more than a job.

    Your right Amber, you let people treat you the way they do.

  13. jason says:

    my brother lives next to mom and dad so they are involved in everyday situations verses us going out there once a month or so. I don’t get all the luxereis of eating dinners as much and spending as much time as I like. I think it’s a lot easier to ask mom or dad when there next door to watch the kids if we wanted run out. I think my parents get taken advantage of at some points. My son is eight and I have asked my mom to watch him twice. I know my mom doesn’t want to feel like a babysitter so I try not to put her in that situation. I ask when theres no other choice. But if I live closer it probably would be different. Sorry mom……..

  14. nikki says:

    Some of my fondest memories were at my grandmas house. It was hardly ever because my mom needed a sitter though. I would either ask to stay the night or she would invite me to. Grandma’s house is where you have fun no strict rules, just common sense ones, get pretty much whatever you. I think once grandma becomes babysitter after awhile those things tend to fade, and it’s not fun anymore, for grandma or child.

  15. Candi says:

    Grandparents as babysitters, let me see were do I begin, As growing up and living with my grandparents, I can say yes my grandparents raised me (babysat). For the first 12 years of my life. I miss her. She did do alot of babysitting all of her life, and that is why I never asked her to watch my children, because she was always watching other family members kids, pretty much everyday. So i think that the whole grandparents and babysitting is ok to a point, but kids are suppose to go the grandparents house to get away from rules. A grandma house is suppose to be fun, but if they are watching the grandbabies daily, it’s not fun anymore. Me as a parent of 3 children, I do call my mom to watch my kids, only to watch them, they do not spend hours and hours there. She would rather not, She would rather me come over to visit with them. As for my mother in law well that is very sad story, she does not give my kids the time or day, i can count on one hand how many times she has had them over, or watched them. So i guess I have mixed feelings on the the whole grandparents and babysitting. My grandma was there for me, and watch me alot, and She taught me to be the STRONG caregiver woman I am today, Thanks Nana. (crying), I miss them days, her wtching me. So it is different from me being a parent, to me growing up. I do admire all the grandparents who are involed in there grandbabies lives. Thank you.

  16. Jennifer says:

    I responded a few days ago but just wanted to add that I think this is a great post! Would you consider posting it on Parents2Parents? I know we have some grandparents there.


  17. Trev says:

    This is a timely blog.

    It looks like our son and his wife are no longer talking to us now. Both our (April) birthdays and Mother’s day ignored. Apparantly, all because we won’t be baysitters for them. We’ve done our bit of child rearing with 3 kids. We don’t mind looking after grandchildren in an emergency or for an occasional visitation, but not on a regular, scheduled basis. We never used grandparents as babysitters. We chose to have children and adjusted our lifestyle to match the responsibility that we took upon ourselves. That meant one income with one parent at home. It was a struggle. Now we hope to have an easier life.
    We’ll see the grandchildren when it suits us. Probably not at all now, but that’s their loss.

    Once upon a time extended families were common. Three or mor generations living together or close by. Those days are gone. When my wife and I become old I wonder if our kids will look after us or just pack us off to a home where their guilty consciences will make them visit us once a month?

  18. Jackie says:

    I am a first time grandparent and I do love babysitting. The only problem is that that is all I do. I don’t get to spend time with my son or his wife or with them as a total family unit. I am there for babysitting and I feel very lonely.

    • Laura says:

      I can certainly relate to the comment above. I am a “single” grandma of two beautiful grandchildren, ages 2 and 5. My daughter and her husband both have very busy careers and try to fit time in for each other as well. I am also working full-time, but love to spend time with the grandkids and help out by babysitting after work sometimes during the week and on the weekends. The real problem is I never get to just hang out and be grandma, or have have a quality conversation with my daughter. I do feel taken for granted at times, but I fear I would never see my grandchildren if I waited for them to make the effort to come and visit (I live 10 miles away). My grandmother was a very special person in my life and I hope I will be special to my grandchildren also.

  19. Joy says:

    Thanks for stopping by Jackie. I like “watching” my grandchildren but I don’t like “babysitting” them and I feel there is a big difference. Do you watch your grandchild while the parents work?

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