I shouldn’t have to babysit just because I’m retired

I never really thought that babysitting duties might be a requirement of having children. I always regarded it as something

I never really thought that babysitting duties might be a requirement of having children. I always regarded it as something for special occasions. In my day we stayed at home and looked after our own kids when they were young. These days the mums either have to or want to work, and sometimes babysitting is too expensive for both the mum and dad to maintain jobs.

I did not expect the assortment of requests and when first asked to babysit it was a special occasion and I did not mind. I found three kids for some days was, however, exhausting. Both my husband and I are not fit people, and the running around and lifting of kids did take its toll.

What I did not expect was the barrage of requests and comments that came over the next year. I think I have heard them all….”she does not work so why can’t she babysit”, “you are missing out on your grandchildren”, “what is your program like this week mum”, “dad can babysit and he is enjoying his grandkids” “you should really live near us”, “ you can move in downstairs mum”, “ are you free on a Friday”. For a start dad was too busy working when his children were around so is he making up for a missed opportunity in earlier years.

Personally, I have spent 32 years bringing up five children and do not want to devote my senior years to babysitting on a regular basis. I don’t mind babysitting for special occasions, and as much as I dearly love my grandchildren, I do not really want to do anything more. I do not consider it a duty that must be done. I consider babysitting a pleasure when able to be done at leisure.

Also, I have six grandchildren and work full time and am quite tired when I get home from my own routine. I find babysitting three kids all at once for some days, quite exhausting. Although I do not advertise the matter, my health is not what it use to be. So I live slightly out of reach, about 100kms away. I find this is close enough to see the children but not close enough to be accused of being selfish.

Do you think your kids see you as a free babysitting service?  Do you have an arrangement with your kids that works for everyone?  We would love to hear it down below.

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  1. Tracey  

    Some grandparents would love the opportunity to see their grandkids and babysit from time to time. Sadly though due to marriage breakups or death, this isnt possible. It is a privilege to be a grandparent, dont abuse it. So many people have been denied this opportunity.

    • Carmel Woods  

      Hi Tracey,
      Yes there are two sides to the story. Sounds like you would love to see your grandchildren more then you do, and most people can sympathize with your circumstances. And I agree it is a great privilege to be a grandparent, BUT as Gill says you should not be expected to look after the grandchildren all the time especially when your health comes into play.I am sure people do not abuse the privilege, but sometimes you have to take a stand.

  2. Carmel Woods  

    I am not married and have never had children so my point of view may be a lot different from the grandmothers out there. I have contempoaries who are grandmothers and of course like Gill love their grandchildren and always seem to be at the beck and call of their children. They feel obligated to always say yes when asked to babysit. Some even complain about it but do nothing, can’t they at least say “No” once in a while. While it is probably a hard thing to say to your children the line has to be drawn somewhere. The emotional blackmail that is being used is disgraceful. Can you sit down with your children and lay out your thoughts as you have here, let them know that you aren’t getting any younger and retirement is for you and your husband to enjoy after bringing up your children. What is is with the generation that thinks that their parents are there for their exclusive use, you have a life to as well and it does not and should not have to revolve around your grandchildren.

  3. Am I missing something. “I shouldn’t have to babysit just because I am retired?” Then the author goes on to say later “I work fulltime”. Lives 100 klms away also. Just how much babysitting is she asked to do?

    • Thanks Yvonne for pointing that out as I am confused also. I live in new Zealand and unless your Adult Son/daughter or their partners are Professionals it is the norm here that both parents NEED to work just to cover the basics of life.Our daughter has shared custody of our 3 grandsons and when she was working (off on Sickness benefit at present) we looked after the boys after school till she finished work and also some of the School Holidays..As she was not entitled to subsidised after school care it was going to cost her NZ$150 a week for 3 kids in after school care.My husband and i are both retired and happily help out as if we didn’t she would not have enough food money for our grandchildren BUT she does know that we “have a life” and go on Holidays and she has to find alternative care some School Holidays.We have had 2 big overseas trips and planning a 3rd since doing this.Friends we know where one is retired and one works part-time (65 and 68 years old) look after their darling little grand daughter 4 days a week as the baby was a “real surprise” and there is a 14 years gap. Baby’s mother is the main breadwinner in the family.They are only doing this till the little girl is 3 and off to Kindy but are happy to know she is well loved and with family not in day-care (which is too expensive).Their daughter does pay them to have baby and that helps pay for their groceries so it is a “win win” situation.Yes we all have ideas about how our Retirements are going to be like but when your family needs you your family needs you.The key is communication and compromise. Maybe for working parents the child can go 1/2 day at Kindy then Nana and Grandad have only 1/2 a day babysitting.BUT make it very clear that they need to also have an alternative care plan also as you are entitled to have holidays and time off like any “worker”.Unfortunately there is nothing to be gained by comparing “our days” with the situations now that young families face. I feel extremely sad for those Mums that can not afford to stay home with their babies/children due to the horrific rents etc they are now forced to pay

  4. Dianna Warner  

    I love watching my grandchildren ! I have them 2 days a week and I am retired. I have plenty of time to do other things that are important to me. Have you ever wondered why there are so many people sitting in nursing homes and no one visits them ? I wonder if they felt helping their children and babysitting their grandchildren was a “chore” and their family now feels visiting them is also a “chore” ?? I believe as long as your children are not taking advantage of you, spend time with your grand children. Build a relationship with them. Some day you will be glad you did.

  5. Nancy  

    Just politely say”No” and tell them you are busy. Being asked is one thing,the assumption you have nothing better to do than save them childcare fees is quite another and all too common with this generation.

  6. sue Sheahan  

    Tracey, you say, being a Grandparent is a privilege and dont abuse it. Well, I am a Greatgrandparent and I would say that having a Parent that will babysit occasionally is a privilege ,so dont abuse it

  7. Kathy  

    I am 70 and tutor at home still. I am so lucky. My great grand daughter gets to stay with me from Wednesday morning until Saturday . Mum and Dad are working and Mum has MS. I love this 21 month girl to bits and wouldn’t have it any other way.I miss her so much when she is not here.

  8. Kris  

    I was a mum for many years and was able to care for my children and then go back to work but I can count on two hands the amount of time the grandparents babysat. That is not to say they didn’t see them regularly but I figured if I was silly enough to have children I was silly enough to take care of them. Today my children are grown but they make an effort to visit the grandparents and catch up when they can. I love that.

    My sister, however, was another story. She gave birth to an autistic son and I felt that my mum looking after Scott was a much better use of her time (when she could). If it helped my sister get some time to herself then it was worth it.

    So many of my friends have retired and have allocated days to babysit mainly due to the high cost of childcare. They are dying for the time when the grandkids start going to school. Go figure.

  9. joanna galea  

    I enjoy baby sitting my grand children. My grandsons (my son’s boys) are now 13 and 11. They grew up sooo quick. I am just in the house when they are on school holidays so they are not alone. My son has never abused the fact I am retired. I have told him that when he and his sister were young I had to work and could not enjoy my own kids so please let me enjoy my grandsons and he does. My grand daughter is three and a half. What a joy to babysit her. My only regret that she will soon go to school and grow up too quick. Love baby sitting my grand children.

  10. Judy  

    We enjoy doing some babysitting on a non regular basis. We don’t want to be locked into regular days per week so our children can work. And our children are very considerate and thoughtful in that regard. I think it’s very exhausting looking after children and as we age it definitely takes its toll. The other issue that is ALWAYS in my mind…is that we’re not as quick thinking as we used to be due to our age and the responsibility of always thinking ahead and keeping children safe at all times weighs heavily on my mind. I’d be devastated if something happened to a grandchild because I was tired, temporarily distracted or just not quick enough. It’s different when the children are your own…but your grandchildren belong to someone else.

  11. Julia Robertson  

    I am a mum, that would love to be a nana. (2adult children)
    However sadly, it’s not going to happen.
    I went back to being a nanny…. I just love my family days.
    I have been very fortunate that I have been “adopted” into families, who do not have grandparents close or readily available.
    I even have grandparents that will ring me up & ask if I will go & be granny for the day…. they pay me.
    Enjoy them whilst you can & be happy you have them.
    There are many that wish they had the blessing that you have.
    No one should feel obliged to babysit if for what ever reason they wish not to do so.
    If you are able why not suggest you pay the daycare or for a nanny on a regular basis.

  12. Bluedog  

    I would love to be in that position as I won’t be having grandchildren. Don’t complain some people would love to exchange places with you

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