How to add spoiler tags, edit posts, add images etc. How to - a user's guide to the new version of Boards
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

Grandparents - Level of Involvement/Help

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 19 MilkMusic

    Hi just curious to hear what kind of level of involvement other people's parents have had in helping them with newborns/babies (if any)?



  • None offered, but tbf we didn't expect much to begin with.

  • double post

  • A bit but not on a daily basis here, if I am honest. Although my kids are a bit older now (7,5,3). They visit most weeks, held them as babies, do the odd babysitting night or afternoon and that's it really.We didn't want them involved in weekly childcare arrangements as we felt we would prefer if they were there for emergency backup, we would be really stuck if they were not available for any reason, we wanted to be able to call them at weekends for nights out and not feel bad they had also minded kids during the week, and we preferred them to be grandparents rather than childcare.Also I knew too many people who had all the grandparents involved in their weekly childcare for child 1, but then the second/third child came along and it was too much for grandparents, and they had to start looking for alternatives.Those were just our preferences now - obviously mightn't suit everyone.

  • Mother in law was absolutely brilliant in helping out with all her grandchildren, ours included. She's now mid 90s in a nursing home and all the grandkids love her to bits and are regular visitors. I do myself as well, she gave us a ton of help over the years and is a real linchpin to the family. My dad helped out as much as he could but was in a different part of the country. My mum not so much.

  • My parents have never babysat (or offered to babysit) my son, not even once. In-laws are more helpful and amenable but living in another part of the country.

  • Advertisement

  • Thanks for your comments. My retired MIL has visited 5 times since the birth (baby is 5 months), staying an hour or two each time helping with housework, watching baby etc (each time at our request, never offering first and sometimes reluctantly). My SIL has 'babysat' once for an hour which she continues to remind us of. Apart from that we have had no help - no grandfathers, other grandmother ill.. Maybe this is typical nowadays. I think our expectations for help were far too high in the beginning. We are beginning to accept that we can only rely on each other.

  • My parents have been brilliant. We relocated to near them late last year and are about to start building a house. We are both currently WFH so they are taking our two after creche / ecce. Even when we lived in Dublin, when number 1 came along my mam came up every single week and stayed a night midweek so the little man wouldn't be in the child minders 5 days a week, this was completely her own choice and not something we ever would have asked. Would be lost without them tbh. They are both relatively young (mam just turned 65 and dad was 68 a wee while ago) and both in good health relatively speaking so. Our two are the only grandkids currently and tbh are likely to be the only two so that probably plays a part.

  • From talking to many people, I find people's expectations can vary vastly on this. It's a bit of a double edged sword.

    Some people love getting lots of help from grandparents others resent it, and in the early days can feel like the grandmother is trying to take over or interfering.

    Your MIL may be wary of stepping on your toes. Its also harder, being your MIL and not your own mum.

    If you want more help, ask for it.

  • It's a tough one. I can count on one hand the number of times that me and OH have been out together (i.e. at night when we've had a babysitter) in the past three years. And with #2 on the way soon, it's even less likely to happen! Part of that is obviously due to Covid but a lot of it isn't. We used to look enviously on as our friends with kids had loads of help from family and went out together regularly, but have resigned ourselves to (as you said), relying on ourselves. Unfortunately it's not as easy as just 'asking for help' in some cases. Maybe it'll get better as the kids will get older and more manageable for my parents but I'm not counting on it.

  • Advertisement

  • I didn't expect any help or assistance from Grandparents and any I had was welcome.

    The multi-generational family is IMO a great way to raise children and care for our elders. Do you cook, clean and change nappies for your parents? Provide them room and board or benefit in kind for their babysitting and chores? If you do, then you are being short changed, if you don't? Why not? Move them in and lock down that obligation to tend your baby and support the family with indentured labour.

    Look the above is a little tongue in cheek but the simple truth is. It's your baby, it's your problem and if you need help? Be it for a break or just advice and a few minutes free time to catch up on the laundry? Ask for it, but be very much aware that noone has an obligation to give it to you.

    Babies take a lot of work, I do hope you find a way to manage that load better. It's also very true that it takes a village to raise a child, sometimes that village is found outside our families and sometimes it's even paid for.

  • I know a lot of MILs, my own mother included, don't like to 'overstep ' when it's their sons children, it is somehow different if the grandchildren are their daughters kids.

    My mother absolutely loves to be asked to help out, but feels like she can't offer too much, in case she is overbearing....

  • I did alot of babysitting for my siblings but it was after they got out of nappies, could tell me what was wrong with them, usually in bed before parents left etc basically zero work other than making sure house didn't burn down.

    Now my siblings live in different parts of the country so they don't babysit for me. My BIL has minded the youngest once for a couple of hours while we took the eldest to hospital.

    My mam (only grandparent alive and able) has minded the eldest alot as back up when he was too sick for creche, but when number 2 arrived I took a career break so she has only minded both twice for a couple of hours as something cropped up and I was stuck.

    They are my kids my responsibility. Yeah it would be nice if the BIL minded them at night for us to go out for dinner but he's always busy....such is life. I'm sure if he has his own kids he'll want a babysitter but that will be a hard no from me....such is life

  • This seems to vary hugely, and I don't think you can ever rely on it or expect it. It's a bonus for many if they get help.

    My parents are not great and to be honest we have to prod them to even visit or to be around for us to visit them as there have been lots of other grandchildren before ours. They have never minded the kids or given us a break at busy times but again I don't expect them to.

    My wife's parents are 1.5 hours away and have visited us once in three years and we are expected to visit them once a month which can be tough going with a one and two year old and another on the way. They are not old but the expectation seems to be that we are there to help them rather than the other way around, which may be fair enough, given all they have sacrificed in the past.

    So far we have just accepted this but with a third due and all of them three or under, we would love to know that if the sh*t hit the fan we have someone to rely on, but the reality is we would probably look to friends in such a situation.

    I did my share of minding and favours for siblings but being the youngest the favour never got returned, which again is probably to be expected.

    At the end of the day, they are our kids and it's our responsibility to mind them and we don't get too excited about the lack of support.

  • I definitely wouldn't expect anyone to take him overnight at 5 months .Of course our baby is 100% our responsibility and no one elses. It's just the lack of interest, reluctance to visit and give a little bit of help is just a bit disappointing. MIL is healthy, retired and in mid 60s. She lives in the same county. There are no other grandchildren or commitments.

  • Some parents operate on the mantra "I reared my children and I'm done"

    Also with covid etc people have had different reactions, so there might be something to there.

    Also some people don't really "do" newborns and prefer when kids are that bit older.

    There's not much you can do other than maybe invite over for Sunday lunch or say you're heading to xyz and would she like to join you...try to build the relationship that way.

  • It's the lack of interest so really I suppose?I understand that.I suppose all you can do is invite them to visit, just to build a relationship with the child.But equally, Covid may be having an effect there too, and also maybe they aren't sure of where they stand in a way too...not wanting to stand on toes or anything

  • It really depends I think. I have a friend who stays with her mother for a night every so often without her kids and they’d have dinner, a chat and a drink. The kids stay home with Dad for the night (two and five respectivally). The granny has no interest in small kids really. She would call into them for tea as well but not stay long.

    My mother in law loves babies and smallies but isn’t so good with teenagers.

    I think each to their own. Everyone is different.

  • My parents live in a different country and would love to be more involved then they are. My parents in law are great. They visited every few weeks in the first 8 months. Since then they have taken my daughter for a weekend every 6 weeks or so.

    My brother lives close by and calls by every week, and babysits when we need. He has a great relationship with my daughter. My daughter hasn't seen my sister in law in about 2 year. She lives an hour away.

    So its dependent on the person really, everyone is different. Its also completely dependent on what you expected. You seem to have expected that they would be highly involved. Personally i find newborns pretty boring and feel more in the way than anything when i visit friends with babies.

  • We are super lucky. My kids are the first grandchildren on both sides. My own parents live a couple of hours away but said that once I returned to work, they'd like to come down and mind the kids on a Monday. Which is amazing. They have since bought a second home 30 minutes away where they spend half the week, and my mum usually comes by on a Tuesday too to help me for a few hours. I'm heavily pregnant on #3 now and they have been taking the older two for a few overnight stays so that I can rest more. Super lucky. They are relatively young though - 64 and 66 - and retired in their late 50s.

    My husband's family live in Wales so we don't see them as often, and they are also older and less fit. They've not visited since before covid but my MIL and her sister used to come over maybe three times a year to stay, and would be so helpful around the house and would get up with the kids while we slept on in the mornings. Pre-covid, we would go over there every 4-8 weeks and stay with them too.

  • Advertisement

  • Have a son who is 2... in laws haven't seen him in nearly a year due to covid... in a different part of the country so had a visit recently...

    poor child was unwell, out of his comfort zone, and surrounded by people he hadn't seen other on video call.... he lashed out a few times over the 3 /4 days when we stopped him doing stupid things or being bold, when we were there... now the inlaws think he is spoiled and we always give him what he wants (we would have much less tantrums if we weren't saying no)...

    I'm in the mind of not involving grandparents any further after that trip

  • Considering the problem was that they didn't have much contact for the last year, I would suggest that more visits would make more sense.

  • My parents have both passed away but their help would have been greatly appreciated had they been around. My wife's parents live abroad so are never around.

    I definitely felt their absence more acutely once I had babies. It makes things more difficult without support structures in place and the tens of thousand of euro a year that we had to pay on childcare hurt our quality of life somewhat and career prospects.

    Lockdowns have been somewhat of a blessing in that regard actually.

  • It's different for everyone.

    My mother minds my brothers kids at the drop of a hat, without being asked. Has seen mine about 10 times in 10 years. And that's us visiting the same county. My OHs parents live the other side of the world, and we live in a different county than my parents/family so the expectation is low anyway. We've never had anyone as a back up, would have been nice back then! But Four kids later, juggled the crap out of it and never had anyone to help has its advantages too.

  • it would seem the logical approach, but not after their reaction.... it's been a struggle enough the last year without adding judgemental inlaws to the mix...

    Other family members were able to make visits, they just didn't, yet we've to bend over backwards to pacify their needs when we visit.. and get sarcy back handed comments on how our child interacts with them and behaves

  • What did you expect?

    You had a baby and you've already got the mil to visit and help with the housework? No wonder she isn't calling. She's done her bit, reared her family!

    Maybe the grandparents just want the traditional grandparents role, nice to see, nice to hold, nice to return.

    Perhaps hire a cleaner for the housework and invite the grandparent around for quality time with the baby, not just visit to do housework.

    I think your expectation of the Mil helping is unrealistic.

  • Some people just aren't into kids. Even if they are grand kids or nieces or nephews.

    I have one sibling who took zero interest in my kids. Kids hardly know them in return. One kid didn't even realize they were family for many years. The sibling can't understand why the kids now take no interest in them. Thinks it's my fault.

  • That is a fair point. I don't think I have ever gone anywhere and been asked to help with housework. It would be a bit odd if that did happen. I am happy to offer on the odd occasion if something needs doing and the parent is clearly busy but further than making some tea or heating up a babies bottle what else would you be asked to do?

  • Yeah I've never done housework for anyone I visited. If the baby is bottle fed I'll feed the baby let the parents get a hot cup of tea/coffee into them.

    Hell would also freeze over before I'd ask anyone to do chores for me, I'd be absolutely mortified.

  • Advertisement

  • We didn't ask for help with household chores. When she came she said she'd only stay as long as she was 'useful' with jobs that needed to be done. That's why she was tidying. I had just had a surgery (which I'd rather not get into) and I was on crutches.