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Keep it in the family?

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The pro's and cons of your family looking after the children.

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      16.05.2010 12:48
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      Great help but maybe at a price!!

      When my eldest was born (she is now a teenager) both myself and my wife knew that it was going to be difficult to look after her full time, as we both had jobs. I worked full time in an office Self Employed, and she worked full time in an office as a Civil Servant.

      Being our first child, my wife was very keen to spend a lot of time with her and she gave up working full time, and reduced her hours to just 4 days a week. The money,although a factor, was not a major issue. It was more that she wanted to keep her job, so she had some independence. She also enjoyed working with her colleagues.

      So after we arranged for her to have extended maternity leave (12 months in total)it was time for Granny Stebiz to help out with the child minding. Granny had offered her time, and as it was her first grand child it was something she was really looking forward to. To be honest it seemed like a good idea. My wife and myself didn't really want to put her in nursery all the time, and it was something to keep her Mum occupied with, as she didn't work. She was about 50 at the time.

      As the months went on things went quite well. I could see my daughter when I popped home for dinner. I'd give Granny some money in the week to pay for travel etc., so she wasn't stuck in the house, and could get out and about. One slight annoyance was coming home of an evening and finding that my Mum in Law was still there at 7.30pm or later,when I really just wanted time alone with my wife and child. Also being unsure who was responsible to change a nappy, or feed the baby,when I had just walked through the door, and Granny still felt she was on duty.

      After 12 months or so we decided (not because of Granny) but to integrate her into Nursery, for a day a week, and then 2 days a week. We felt this would help with her development and mixing with other children. It was around then that another little Stebiz, was announced.

      After another 8 months, Granny took a break for a bit, as my wife took another holiday (sorry maternity leave lol) for 12 months.

      So to bring you upto scratch by the time my middle daughter was born, my eldest was in nursery 3 days a week, and at home with my wife the other 2 days.My Mother in Law was on a break,and my wife on maternity leave. This suited all of us. But we knew it wasn't going to last,past my wifes 12 months maternity leave.

      When the maternity leave was over my wife decided to cut her hours further, and reduced her days to 3 days. So my MIL was required again for 3 days. My eldest was now in nursery for 3 days, and I would drop her off and collect. So we were much back to the way we had been.

      I must say at this time, that although the thought of having my Mother in Law around so often was quite annoying at times, she really did us a big favour, and although we would have managed without her, she really did take a weight off our shoulders. The only complaint I could have is a bit of interference, and too much in my face all the time. Something my wife felt reluctant to take up with her. I remember one one occasion coming home from work early and wanting to have some time sitting in the garden. Oh no.'Glad to see you home, I can get to the bingo now'. On another occasion 'Can you drop me off here, and then take me there'. I know that there had to be give and take, and never complained.I mean after all,she could have been sitting in her own house.

      When my youngest was born 5 years ago. My wife kept to her normal hours and had another long holiday (oops I keep saying that), and then it was time to sort out child caring arranging. By this stage both my other children were at school, and I made arrangements (I was no longer Self Employed) to drop them off, but couldn't pick them up. Granny stebiz came to the rescue again.

      However I must say that now Granny was 14 years older, and not as nimble as she once was (if she ever was). She also had a small part time job, which we all had to accommodate. Personally I would have prefered to pay for the eldest two to go to after school club, and my youngest to go to nursery, but my wife would have none of it. So each time I came home from work, the same old stuff from years ago occurred. Drop me off here. Drop me off there. Waiting for her to go home. Little bits of disquiet. She also took my little boy to see friends in nursing homes, which although may sound nice, I disagreed with. I was also quite obsessed with keeping the child clean, and seeing it crawl around the carpet or outside, picking stuff up and eating it, I just couldn't accept. I must also be fair here, in saying that my patience was running low. My job was stressful. I had 3 children to bring up. A wife who was also trying to do her job, and a MIL who sometimes interfered too much.

      After 12 months of this it was too much. Disaster struck. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Work stopped. I pretty well hid myself away.I was on some quite heavy medication. Life to me was just not worth living anymore. If it wasn't down to my family, I know I'd have done something very silly. My wife took a bit of time off to look after the children. Mother in Law was made 'redundant' again.

      I made a decision, I wasn't going to go back to work. I was going to stay at home with my little lad, and start up my Self Employment business again. It took a few months, before I could start. I started by doing a few hours a day, and gradually reduced the medication. I had my little boy with me who was (and is) a joy. I then spent the next couple of years looking after him at home, with him also having a couple of days in nursery.

      All my children are now at school. I can drop them off. I can pick them up. I am there for all of them, to help with their problems, and homework. This is something that personally my MIL couldn't offer. There may however be other grandparents who could.

      Well I'm really sorry to have dribbled on about all of this, but it is something I have enjoyed writing, and I hope you have enjoyed reading. It doesn't really give you an answer as to whether to let your family get involved in looking after your children. Personally I will remain very grateful to my Mother in Law. She helped lots. There was lots I didn't agree with, and felt pretty fed up with, but her intentions to help was always there. She loved (and still does) the kids with all her heart.

      I was also really glad to have the opportunity to look after my youngest child. I think in hindsight if this would have happened in reverse order, my career would have taken a change, a lot earlier, and I probably would have had a lot more involvement myself in bringing up the other two. But better late than never, is my final thoughts on the matter.

      Thanks for reading.

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        06.11.2001 00:40
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        I think coming from a large family ive never really considered leaving my children with anyone other than family. The first time I left any of my children with strangers was when they started nursery. I dont think i would feel comfortable leaving them with someone i didnt know, and I think I would be more happy knowing they are with family such as my sister or mom, someone who loves them just as much as i do. They have grown up, (I say grown up, the older two are 11 and 7yrs old), into very outgoing little girls. They are very easy going and have loads of friends, so I feel I have done the best thing in not having sitters for them. But I guess im just lucky in the fact that I have family who dont mind having them when need be, and best of all it comes free!!!

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        21.08.2001 04:24
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        When I became pregnant with my daughter, who is now nearly 2, I was determined to return to work, at least part-time. I enjoyed my job and I knew I would need some mental stimulation in order to cope with my time at home with the baby. Besides, being the main wage earner in our family made it financially necessary for me to do so. Thankfully, my parents-in-law supported my decision and agreed to look after my daughter while I was at work. Everything seemed fine, or so I thought..... I went back to work for 2 1/2 days a week. After a few weeks of this child care arrangement, I realised that things were not always going to be smooth running. My in-laws, although a parents of 3 themselves, had completely different ideas about bringing up a child than I had. By the time my maternity leave had finished, I had my daughter in a routine. I would put her in her cot at regular times during the day, when I knew she was tired and she would go to sleep, with the minimum of fuss. This often meant a couple of minutes of crying before she would drop off. My mother-in-law refused to do this because she could not bear to hear Holly crying. Instead they would either swaddle her in a blanket and rock her to sleep, singing or take her for a walk in the pram. Would you believe, both they still do this today and she is approaching 2 years old. Also, they did not want their house ‘cluttered up’ with baby equipment, so a cot, even a travel cot, was out of the question. She was left to sleep in the pram, or on a settee with cushions surrounding it. This led to her routine being interrupted every week and even her night time sleep pattern changing. The next problem I had was the pram. My pram wasn’t what they was used to. It was a Graco Travel System, which I found to be perfect, due to the combination of car seat and pram rolled into one. Both set of grandparents commented on the fact that the baby should be lying flat and not in a car seat position. The
        y also found the pram too draughty (well don’t take her out in high winds then!). And the most frequent criticism was that the baby was facing away from you and not towards you as was the case in "their day". Because of all of this grief, I managed to acquire a second hand more traditional pram. This I thought would solve the problem temporarily until my daughter could sit up, but 2 years later she still uses the old pram and wants me to buy rain covers and other accessories for it. Third problem, food. I like to give my daughter a healthy diet, but I find my in-laws feeding her cakes and biscuits throughout the day. I supply them with food for all her meals but often return to find it untouched. Milk is my daughters favourite thing of all time and she asks for it in a bottle constantly. She does not eat properly and the health visitor has suggested I should reduce the amount of milk she had and give it to her in a beaker. They do not like this idea and insist on giving her as much milk as she wants in a bottle. The say I should ignore the health visitor. I could go on about the problems I have faced all day, but I won’t bore you further. I am about to consider sending my daughter to a local nursery for half of my working week once she is two. I think she will benefit from spending time with other children her age. I am grateful for the sacrifice my in-laws have made in spending a lot of their retirement looking after my daughter, because it has been a sacrifice. I can also say that I am never worried about her safety, as I may well have been if she was in another child care environment and that is a big bonus. I know she is loved and well cared for and so does she. She is never unhappy to be left there. I do think though, that too much family intervention can be damaging and could lead to family arguments, particularly if you confront these differences too bluntly. I have learnt over the last 21 months to comment when I fee
        l it is absolutely necessary but to ignore minor differences wherever possible. This way, the situation has remained fairly harmonious.

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          20.02.2001 01:05
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          When I had my daughter I thought it was unfair to expect my parents to baby-sit all the time, so I decided to stay at home and look after her myself. For the first couple of years being the most important in the child’s development, I thought it was only right. What’s the point of having children and then expecting other people to look after them. However, I never knew motherhood would be so demanding and if it wasn’t for the help of my parents, my in-law and my sisters I would have found it very difficult. Babies are so demanding and require 24 hour supervision especially as a baby, the liable to fall over and hurt themselves if you don’t. My parents were very supportive, they would come round and take my daughter for a couple of hours, just to give me enough time to clean the house up. They were really fond of her and enjoyed the time they spent with her. In the evenings if my husband and I ever wanted to go out, there would be so many people willing to look after her. She’s the only one you see, so she gets very spoilt. We’ve never had to pay for baby-sitter, my parents and my husband parents love their grandchild to bits and would be so upset if they ever found out that we had. Families can be a great help, when I am unwell I know that my daughter is being looked after well by my sisters. Sometimes, I wonder what I would have done without them. It certainly helps me, just the hour or so break a day is enough. If you have families, use them. Don’t give them your child to look after 24/7 but the odd hour here and there, and they will be more than happy. I am lucky I have quiet a big family, so thank-fully I am never short for a baby-sitter.

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            20.02.2001 00:47
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            The majority who may read this op, will I suspect fall into two categories..1) Those who have no children yet. 2) Those who have a young family..Because lets face it many of us older folk are only just coming to grips with the new technology, and have yet to discover the delights of being a Dooyooer.. Even so I hope it will be useful to all, and give some insight into the joys and pitfalls of being a grandparent… Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin.. When my eldest daughter and her husband gave us the great news that they were to have a baby I almost burst with excitement.. That was before I began to worry..Would everything go alright for my daughter and the baby? Would she have inherited the medical condition that had brought me so much grief, etc etc etc? In fact I suspect I drove her mad towards the end of her pregnancy, by fussing round like an old mother hen, even insisting I accompany her to see the consultant when the baby was a few days overdue.. But everything was perfectly okay, and Emily Ann duly came into the world with everything where it should be.. Now here I should perhaps explain that I personally detest any interference in how I choose to live my life..Advice I will accept..IF I have asked for it..But let any shove their oar in where it isn’t wanted, and I go off like a sky-rocket!. But as a proud grandmother I found the desire to shove my own oar in where it wasn't wanted, or needed , quite overwhelming. The fact that my daughter was 30 years old, and possessed oodles of common sense, not to mention a caring and practical nature, did not enter the equation.. Looking back to the first few months of Emily’s life. I am surprised my daughter didn’t tell me in no uncertain terms what I could do with my ‘advice’..But bless her she took it all in good part ( probably laughing at me when I wasn’t looking) and I suppose I couldn’t
            have been too bad, for when she went back to work (part-time) I was given the privilege of looking after baby Emily..And I do mean privilege. This is the point where real acrimony can develop, as no two people do everything exactly the same, or even think exactly the same, and it was up to my daughter to make the rules for her child..It was my responsibility to adhere to them whether or not I agreed. And it ain’t easy. .Basically because like most grandparents I was (am) inclined to ‘spoil’ my grandchildren. Not necessarily in the material sense, but more in the 'discipline’ area.. Indeed I found it almost impossible to say NO to Emily, except over matters of safety..And after along talk with my mum and other grandparents I discovered this was a common occurrence.. Moreover my precious little Emily soon learned she could play me off against her Mum..(she was already doing the same with Mum and Dad) with a winsome smile and an I love you Nanny. Imean honestly who could resist I love you Nanny, and Emily does have a particularly winsome smile. Luckily my daughter and I have never fallen out over the children ( Jessica Hannah made her entrance last June) but I can see just how easily we could have..And why so many families become estranged over grandchildren. When I first cared for Emily whilst her Mum was at work, she was only 9 months old, and coming on top of looking after my disabled husband I found it very tiring. Especially as she never had a sleep during the day. A baby simply didn’t fit into my daily routine, and I found doing the shopping in particular very difficult. Between lifting the car seat in and out, putting up a fiddly buggy, being stopped every two minutes by someone wanting to admire the baby, it took me three times as long to complete..But over a period of time I adjusted. And even met new friends who were also looking after grandchildren whilst their parents worked.
            . However it is very easy to forget the child is not yours..Sure they are a part of you, and whilst you are in ‘charge’ you are responsible for their well-being..But it is their parents who retain control over their upbringing… I have learned ALWAYS to check with my daughter, before succumbing to Emily’s blandishments for this treat, or that toy.. I have learned never to countermand any of my daughters edicts over the children, because it is neither fair nor sensible when it is she and her husband who has to pick up the pieces.. Nor is it fair to the children who can only be confused, or hurt if those closest to them begin bickering over them. The close knit family unit is a thing of the past in our culture. Grandparents are often still ar work themselves, or have taken up other pursuits which exclude them as child-minders..Which I think a great pity..For I do not believe any nursery, or registered child-minder, however good or professional can ever offer the same kind of security to a child as the home environment. Having grandchildren has brought more happiness than I could have thought possible..It has also brought purpose back into our lives..I love having them, looking after them,, just loving them.. Being a grandparent/child-minder babysitter is wonderful…I get all the best bits, and when I am tired I can sleep knowing someone else has to get up in the night if the little darlings cry or are unwell…. I get to go to school plays (where I must admit to tears the moment the first little one steps up on to the stage) without having to dash round like a mad thing making costumes. I get to build sandcastles, snowmen, and to watch all those Disney movies again.. For the one thing I can give as a grandparent is TIME. A commodity every working Mum will know is all to often in short supply.

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              28.01.2001 04:44
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              When my little boy was 6 months old, I had to return to work for financial reasons. If we had had a choice, I wouldn't have gone at all, but I did on a part time basis, 3 days a week. My mother-in-law (to be) generously offered to look after him so that we wouldn't have to pay for childcare fees. It sounded ideal. She is a paedeatric nurse, she knew and loved him and best of all, no more outgoings. At first, everything was fine. Sure, he cried a little when I dropped him off but that was to be expected and I knew he would be loved and cared for until I got back. After a couple of weeks, I noticed one day when I went to collect him that he had a different outfit on than the one I had left him in. When I asked her, she said that "this one was nicer than the one he had on". That started to get my back up a bit. This continued. New outfits, not giving him the lunch I had made for him (just throwing it in the bin), giving him chocolate and other things I had specifically asked her not to do....the list is endless. Then she started saying the night before that she couldn't look after him the following day, due to one reason or another and could I get the day off. Now neither myself or my partner is in a position to do this because of our jobs, and I have lost count of the number of times I have had to call on my mum or my sister at immensely short notice to try and get them to look after him where they have had to take time off work. The last time this happened - only a couple of weeks ago - she told me she was working and I subsequently found out that she had actually gone to have her hair done. But what really topped it all was when I walked in early one day and heard her saying to my son "Come to your mummy". When she looked up and saw me standing there, she tried to quickly correct herself but it made me stop and think of what she is actually telling him when I am not there. Now it
              probably seems like all I am doing is moaning but I am honestly extremely grateful. She has saved us a fortune in Nursery fees and I know that she loves her grandson and vice versa. BUT, what I am saying is please weigh up the consequences first. * Be firm with them (something I admit I am not good at). If you don't want them to do a certain thing, tell them. Sure, you can't control what they do when you're not there, but you would hope that they will respect your wishes. * Ask yourself it is worth saving those extra pounds. At least you know that if they are in a nursery they are getting stimulation and bonding with other children. If they are with a grandparent, all they may be doing is shopping (i know!) * Do ask the grandparent on a regular basis if they are happy with the arrangement still, and buy them little gifts - flowers, chocolates - every so often to show your appreciation. There are very good points to having a grandparent care for your child and also some very bad ones, you just need to work out which is the best for you. What I would say is, if you have to do it, try to keep it on a short term basis only. At least with a nursery you will never have to try and find someone for them at short notice and your child will get a lot out of it. On the other, with a grandparent they have the warmth and love of being the only child there. My child will shortly be going to a nursery while I am working which I am sure will benefit all of us. I won't have the same pressure to try and leave early from work to get home on time, he will have added benefit of mixing with other children and doing loads of things which I am sure will be new and exciting for him and his Nanna will get her time back that she has valuably given up for the last 18mths.

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