gleeful grandiva

creative living for big and little kids

BABYSITTING BATTLEGROUND – how much is too much?

HOW MUCH BABYSITTING IS TOO MUCH?

 

babysitting picture

When my mother was pregnant with my sister her mother said: “you know I love you more than life itself, but don’t ever ask me to babysit”. Mum never asked and Granny never babysat, even when I came along eight years later and Granny was living with us. I have very fond memories of her though.

When I was pregnant with my oldest my Mum said she would take the kids from time to time but it would be babysitting on her terms so she could enjoy being a grandmother to the fullest.

Every so often she would take one of the three boys for a weekend where she would spoil them rotten and treat them like little kings. They loved it and I loved it for them.

I was lucky enough we could afford to cater to my wish to be a stay at home mum so we didn’t need babysitting so I could work.

Sadly today many families no longer have that option as it takes two wages for most to survive with any chance of achieving even their smallest goals.

When my own little family began to grow (three grandbabies in less than three years and a new one born last month) I told my kids I would give each family a babysitting day per week.

With three sons, that’s three days (two at the moment as one son is yet to have kids) totally devoted to the grandkids.

I plan crafts and outings and have turned our home into a fantasy land for them. Those two days are just for the kids so I plan nothing else and I’m happy I have the freedom to do that.

babysitting picture

Plenty of time for messing around.

If I was babysitting more often on a regular basis I would have to try cleaning (I’m already picturing myself pulling my hair out – I already did that stuff with my kids!) and shopping and all the other stuff we need to do with them around.

We would lose some of the quality we have now. Of course, we do babysit more. When the kids want to go out we’ll take the babies –sometimes all together.

There were quite a few weekends not so long ago when we’d have all three goddesses for a sleepover before the oldest was even three years old. Three under three – I didn’t even have to deal with that with my own kids!

But we love it – sleepovers are great. We even had one little goddess for a whole week when her parents were away and her two cousins on a five-night sleepover recently.

Much as I love them though I know I wouldn’t want to be responsible for them more often than we are.

As it is, caring for the grandkids seems like a more daunting responsibility than caring for my own was.

Not sure if that’s because I move a bit slower now and worry I can’t get to them in time to save them from an accident or because there are so many people to answer for if I get it wrong.

Whatever, I have nothing but admiration for grandparents who take the kids five days a week.

Those who have full-time care of their grandkids are absolute heroes!

I have a friend whose grandchildren live with her. She said she felt really ripped off because she couldn’t spoil them the way grandparents should.

She was responsible for disciplining them and was once again in the position of feeling like the family nagger in order to get things done.

AUSTRALIAN GRANDPARENTS LOOK AFTER NEARLY ONE MILLION CHILDREN

With the necessity of both parents working and the enormous cost of child care, babysitting demands on grandparents are tremendous.

Australian grandparents regularly look after nearly one million children (about a quarter of all kids under 12) according to the most recent figures.

According to a Council of the Ageing report in 2012 grandparents were saving New South Wales families almost $90 million a year in childcare costs.

Grandparents were spending an average of 12 hours a week on childcare duties – some had even given up their jobs to do this.

Others put their retirement plans on hold.

While there are studies that suggest grandparents who babysit end up being more active and have enhanced levels of health and wellbeing (according to a report in the Journal of Gerontology) I for one am totally exhausted after my dedicated grandkid days.

And I count myself as one of the lucky ones who can choose. Some grandparents are full-time carers, others during full-time work hours and there are others whose hearts ache because they live far from their grandchildren and barely get to see them.

I know other grandparents who have taken it upon themselves to pay for their grandchildren’s schooling, music, swimming, whatever.

I worked for a man years ago who came out of retirement so he could pay for his grandson to go to a really expensive private school. When did all this become our responsibility? Did I miss something in the fine print?

Another grandmother I know zips around dropping off and picking up grandchildren, babysitting the babies, buying schools clothes and necessities for them while also trying to fulfil her work commitments. She is exhausted and feels unappreciated and exploited by her children but cannot give up on the incredible love and feelings of protectiveness she has for her grandchildren.

It’s a given any of us would drop everything to do what is necessary if it were an emergency – these are the children of our children and so very, very precious.

babysitting picture

However, I believe some grandparents are being emotionally blackmailed into taking on the responsibility of raising the grandkids, but without the freedom to make the rules suit them.

MAKING TIME FOR YOUR OWN NEEDS IS IMPORTANT

There’s a certain amount of pressure these days on grandparents to prove how dedicated they are to the role and one sure way to do this is never miss a chance to babysit. It’s important though to remember to take time out for yourself for several reasons.

  • We owe it to ourselves to start ticking off bucket list items while we’re young and fit enough to accomplish that
  • When we are happy with the amount of time we spend with the grandkids we are having happier and more engaged times with them
  • If we forget to make time for ourselves we can become run down and sick and of no use to anyone
  • An example of living a happy and fulfilled life with time to achieve our own personal goals may well be one of the best gifts we can give our children and grandchildren.

How Much Babysitting is Too Much?

I’ve noticed my sons show so much more respect and interest in me when I’m accomplishing new things for myself.

They have even told me it inspires them to do more to ensure they don’t get stuck in a rut. I certainly want our beautiful little goddesses to look up to me this way.

On occasion (quite rare) that we say no to babysitting the kids are impressed we have a life outside of theirs. Amazingly they always find someone else to step in and do the babysitting so it’s win, win.

So how much babysitting is too much? Well, it obviously depends on the family circumstance but if you find yourself sacrificing freedom and feel unhappy about it then you are probably doing too much. For those who feel there is no choice, there are a few good resources below.

How much do you babysit?

Wishing you the freedom to choose and a gleeful week, Tamuria.

 

www.raisinggrandchildren.net.au

www.seniors.gov.au

NSW Family Support Services

COTA (NSW) Information Service

 

 

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16 Comments

  1. Helane

    This is a great blog and I’m sure it will bring in more subscribers! So well thought out and interesting. I love you a bushel and a peck, xo

  2. Your opening reminded me a lot of what my estranged mother said. Unfortunately for my children she never wanted to be a grandmother so we never had to deal with this (my 18 year old does not even remember his grandma and she is still alive) . I know when I am a grandma (my youngest is graduating high school 2016), I will be ready to be a grandma but not a caretaker just as you write.
    I am glad that my thinking about being a grandma and not a caretaker is okay
    Renee Fuller recently posted…Create a Gold LeafMy Profile

    • Yes Renee, it’s definitely OK to be a grandma and not a caretaker. That way you can enjoy it to the fullest. Your mother is missing out on so much and that’s really sad – for her and your kids. When it’s your turn I’m sure you’ll have as much fun as I am. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  3. Enjoyed reading your adventures in babysitting, Tami. I don’t have grandchildren but those I know who do, do set boundaries. My cousin has two sons and they each have two children so she makes time for each of them separately, generally one day a week. Part of the reason she is as available as she is, is because she sees how quickly they change and even one week away from seeing them and big changes are missed.

    She is also a physiotherapist, so has a very full life and actually is a specialist in early childhood development. I also know that in certain ethic groups, it is “expected” that the grandmother will be babysitting full-time so their child can go back to work. My mother only has one grandchild (my daughter) and she loved to babysit, so that was never a question, although I stayed home for the first 20 months, even though I hadn’t anticipated that when I was pregnant.

    The stat you shared is quite staggering as far as how much money grandparents are saving their children by babysitting. Perhaps for many younger families, if the parents didn’t babysit, they wouldn’t be able to afford kids and go back to work. Interesting topic, as it seems it is very personal and that each family and each situation is very individual as to “how much is too much.” And of course, you are doing it perfectly for yourself, as both your sons and your grandkids are benefitting from your boundaries and also from all the interests you pursue in your own life!
    Beverley Golden recently posted…You Should Take Fun More Seriously!My Profile

    • Thank you Beverley. I understand where your cousin is coming from – they change so quickly! When I miss a week, for whatever reason, I am shocked at how much they’ve grown and learned in that time. It is true that certain ethnic groups expect the grandmother to babysit full time, so I guess it’s a huge issue for cultures that are only now having to adjust to the different demands and expectations of grandparenting as more mothers return to the workforce sooner.

  4. Your grandchildren are lucky, Tami, that they have the gift of grandparents. With a career diplomat father, we were never really in India when I was growing up and my parental grandparents were long gone.

    My maternal grandmother was still in the workforce and in a different city but would take a few days off when we visited. Having said that, my cousins from that side of the family had the pleasure of both grandparents babysitting them and their memories are very different to mine of a granny who used to go to office. 😉

    My Mom used to babysit my nephew when my sister and family would come visiting and fortunately, she was in a position to do it with gusto. As age takes its toll, she has slowed down and fortunately, my nephew is older and all he needs now is the tv and some good old popcorn and pepsi plus goodies to eat while his parents are out. 🙂

    Having said that, grandparents do rise to the occasion when required and I salute them.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…De-stressing with MusicMy Profile

    • You are right Vatsala – the grandkids are lucky as they all have two sets of grandparents who are still happily married (that in itself is unusual) and who get on well with each other, making birthdays and other shared events very pleasant. It’s a shame you missed out on the wonderful grandparent-time memories. I had horrible experiences with my father’s parents and my mother’s dad died when I was a baby so it was only Granny for me. Like I said, she never babysat but I felt her love and I adored her. Could be I make it a point to be hands-on to make up for what I didn’t really experience.

  5. rozbeads

    This is an awesome blog. I read it as a grandmother and a past mom who needed the help when my children were young. I loved seeing their relationship and special bonding grow. As a grandmother most of our grandkids live far away so its joint holiday or day long visits.
    I love all & and don’t do as much with them as I thought I would. I have always worked full time and althou retired, still work more than full time.

    • Thank you Roslyn.It’s great you had help when you needed it and that your kids benefited as well. Distance makes it really hard to be actively involved regularly but it sounds like you’re enjoying the times together you have, and that’s the main thing.

  6. Well, I am not a grandma, I am a mama, and I don’t have any support from my daughters grandparents due to death, poor health and geographic restrictions. It makes it hard. Another sad thing is my child does not have the attention that I had from my grandma’s. I was so cherished by them, they taught me so much. I think this is a sad thing in our world…I admire grandparents that get involved, kids need grandparents. Really what is more important watching a movie or hanging out with kids…Grandparents rock!
    Lisa H recently posted…Traveling to England ~My Western HeartMy Profile

    • It’s such a shame – for you and the kids – that you don’t have grandparent help. I bet you’re going to love being a grandma when the time comes. I agree kids need grandparents. My little four-year-old Goddess tells me constantly how much she loves me and it’s so precious to me. When grandparents are able, and want to get involved, it’s happiness all around.

  7. When my daughters were young I was in a very difficult situation: single parent with no child support. If I were to pay a babysitter while I worked, all the money would have gone to the babysitter! I was very fortunate to have a mother who babysat for me all the time.

    • It’s so fortunate you had that help Lisa. No doubt your mum and daughters gained a lot of joy and strength from that as well. Grandparents are particularly important in one parent families as kids need several caring adults involved so they learn about life from different viewpoints.

  8. Delia Rusu

    We’re coming from a culture and family where helping your children with the grandchildren is very common. As a kid, I know my grandparents weren’t close enough to babysit regularly, but what an amazing time we had during summer holidays at their house in the countryside!

    I can see though how things have changed and grandma and grandpa need their time as well. Plus it can be exhausting to babysit 24/7. I’d say everyone should do how they they feel best for their family’s happiness: so grandparents, parents, and little kids are all happy.
    Delia Rusu recently posted…10 reasons you’re not getting comments on your blogMy Profile

    • So right Delia – doing what’s best for everyone’s happiness if you are lucky enough to have the choice.It probably isn’t so much of an issue when there has been a long standing tradition of grandparents helping as they too would have had help when they were young and their expectation re retirement life would be different. For many baby boomers in some cultures, the tradition is just starting, so they not only missed getting that help when their kids were young, but are now also juggling caring for grandkids, parents (as we are living so much longer) and the expectation they should work for more years.Finding a happy balance has never been more challenging.

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