Dilemma: now I'm retired I'm expected to babysit

Katharine Whitehorn / 15 September 2016

A reader wants to enjoy her retirement while she still has her health, but is finding her daughter-in-law expects her to babysit.

Dilemma: I don't want to spend my retirement babysitting

I retired over a year ago and looked forward to having time at last to go to exhibitions or go on holiday with friends, but my daughter-in-law seems to assume that I now have all the time in the world to take over the children – two toddlers and an older girl. 

I like them well enough, and enjoy spending some time with them, but I had really looked forward to having my freedom while I still have my health.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

I sympathise: the idea that if you’re old enough to be a gran you have nothing else to interest you is all too prevalent – especially when the mother herself is always pressed for time. 

I think your best bet is to have some kind of schedule: you always have the children on Tuesday afternoon, perhaps; or offer to put them to bed once a week, on an agreed day so that it’s obvious that it is ‘gran’s evening’, not any old evening. 

Of course, you still might be called on if there’s a crisis, but you’d offer to help in that case anyway. It’s just the idea that you’re always available that you want to get rid of – and quite right too.

Read more of Katharine Whitehorn's answers to dilemmas

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