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Too Old to Babysit?
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How old is too old to babysit your grandchildren? I don’t mean an hour or two on a Saturday night, I mean day and night. I never thought I’d struggle taking on my two-, four-, and six-year-old grandkids for five days. I’m a young 64 and love introducing my grandchildren to new things. As I prepared for my trip to San Diego, I looked up fun things to do and printed out maps to a variety of places.

Five long days after I started my baby-sitting stint, I was done and practically cried from relief when I picked up my daughter at the airport.

So how do we tell our children that sometimes babysitting is too stressful or time consuming and we can’t always drop everything to assist them – for a few days or a few hours?

There are a variety of reasons our children ask us to babysit. Money is certainly an issue for young parents – let’s face it, grandparents are cheaper. My daughter pays $15 an hour for her three children – a lot different than the $1 an hour we paid her babysitters.

Set Limits

I’m flattered when my son says, “We wanted to ask you first.” But flattery will only get him so far. The one thing I don’t want to do is resent either of my children for asking me to spend time with my precious grandchildren. Familyeducation.com has some good advice.

“You need to remember to set limits or boundaries, even with your grown children. Even though they have families of their own they are still going to see you as the “mom” and are going to lean on you at times when you might even need to do some leaning. … It is natural to ask. It is unnatural to say yes when you really need to say no. …

“If you do not want to watch the grandkids, say no. If you want to help them out and you enjoy spending time with your grandkids, say yes and mean it. Learn to say what you mean and live with what you say.”1

Grandparents.com offers more boundary-setting tips.2

Of course, there’s a flip side. As I was researching this topic, I found a website dedicated to “How to Say No When Your Mother-in-Law Wants to Babysit.” I guess we grandparents aren’t the only ones with boundary issues.

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://life.familyeducation.com/young-adult/parenting/51079.html#ixzz1Yi8p3SNE
2 http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/expert-advice/new-grandparents/article/grannynannyboundaries.html

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