We are grandmas, not designated babysitters! 5



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Sometimes families forget that grandmas are not obligated to become babysitters. If this situation sounds familiar, the following advice could be helpful for you!

Starts At 60 has previously received many comments from readers who are tired of being overburdened as babysitters. In fact, many grandmas out there feel taken advantage of.

As one reader said, “Grandparents love the grandchildren dearly, the parents of said children know this, and it’s so easy to get them to the free childcare thing, isn’t it?”

Whilst another added, “Some children pressure their parents to look after their grandchildren, (there’s) no thought given to their health and they don’t help financially”.

According to Dr Janet Bodle, the best way to ensure you’re not overburdened as the family babysitter is to set clear boundaries with your own children.

“Clear communication is the key to making (any babysitting) arrangement work, especially since we’re all so busy”, Dr Bodle explained.

Dr Bodle has two grandchildren of her own, and ensures that everyone understands her personal diary before she gets lumped with too many babysitting duties.

She emails her son and daughter-in-law an electronic diary on a regular basis. “They’re free to ask me to pitch in at other times, and I’m free to say no”, Dr Bodle explained.

It’s helpful to include your doctor’s appointments, personal engagements and holidays in a shared family diary. Tell your children whether you’d prefer a few days notice, rather than same-day babysitting requests.

Time parameters are also important. If you’re helping with the school run, what time do you expect the grandchildren to be picked up? Politely have these conversations with your family, to set consistent timings.

The power of saying ‘No’ cannot be overstated either. As both women and grandmas, we often commit to many different engagements we don’t necessarily want to do.

As one Starts At 60 reader observed, “some grandparents bring it on themselves. Maybe if they said NO more often their children might learn to respect that they have a life”.

Indeed, research has revealed that over 50s add $1.26 billion to the Australian economy, in unpaid childcare. Whilst we all want to help with the grandkids, these simple tips should ensure we don’t get taken for granted.

Do you often get lumped with family babysitting duties? Or are you happy to take care of the grandchildren whenever?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Happy to do a day a week but ( as I’m not yet 65) and must volunteer 15 hours a week for Newstart payments, it doesn’t leave much time for any more. Why dont the hours babysitting the grandchildren while your children work count towards the volunteer hours. I know some grandparents have the kids all week! Let’s get together grandparents and get these hours counted. Let your local MP know this is not acceptable. We don’t want to be paid per- say just have the babysitting hours counted towards volunteer Newstart.

    1 REPLY
    • That sounds like a good Linda Taylor, although I have no personal knowledge of the requirements of Newstart. Perhaps you should do a change.org petition.

  2. I am not a Grandma but if I had grandchildren I certainly would set boundaries for my grandchildren and if the parents think I am selfish well let them think so. I love children and their innocence but I refuse to be lumped with grandchildren when the parents are the ones being selfish with their many outings with out consideration for grandmas.

  3. 27 years ago my daughters marriage broke up. I reared her 3 children while,she went back to work and uni. I enjoyed as I was very young myself 40.
    When my next daughter asked to be with her when her 1 st was born I said no. We had booked onto a 2 month trip. Everyone thought and said I was dreadful not to council my plans. But and this is a big but, but no asked me if she should get pregnant. I went away enjoyed myself. My daughter coped really well and still does. I have a diary for all engagements my rule first in first served. So you have to book early. And that even goes for pregnancy. I say no very often. I think we are the. First generation to look after our children, their children and their children and our parents. So so no if you want to it is easy.

  4. I gift one day a week to my daughter and husband while they work
    Starts 9am and i care for a 3 yr old boy, collect the 5 year old boy from school 40 km away and then make a big family dinner
    They leave by 8pm having eaten, bathed the boys, made lunches for the next day
    Its a big day and tiring as i deal with autoimmune issues but it is extremely rewarding and my bonds with the boys are very close
    The gratitude from my daughter makes it worthwhile and she surprises me with gufts, pays fuel costs and constantly tells me she appreciates me
    The boys are bonded to me and trust me
    Its time i enjoy despite the fatigue

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