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How to Get Some Space Away from Grandchildren?

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 10 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Grandchildren Grandparents Setting

Q.My daughter and her family live a short distance away from us. During the school year it's fine, but during the summer they want to be at our house "all the time".

My husband and I are retired, but not that old. We love the kids, but really don't want them here every day. When one of them calls to ask if she can come over we hesitantly say yes, but many times would prefer to say 'no'. I really don't know how to address this problem. We also have a son a bit further away and his children want to be here all the time as well.

I should feel honoured that they all want to be here, but it's very exhausting for us. I deal with daily headaches and have a lot of backpain. I love my grandchildren, but really don't know how to handle them wanting to be here all the time. Do you have suggestions to help me?

(J.A, 20 April 2009)

A.

Your question made me smile. It is clear that you and your husband love your grandchildren and have earned their admiration, but as a grandparent myself, I certainly understand the exhaustion factor! Too much of a good thing (even beloved grandkids) is, well, too much.

I have a few suggestions but please be forewarned, none are guaranteed to work.

You may want to try scheduling time with the grandchildren in advance, which can help to minimize some of the unsolicited visits. If the kids know that they have plans to be with you tomorrow, they may be less inclined to call you and invite themselves over today. This would allow you to set boundaries for the visits without making them seem like boundaries. For example, you can call over the weekend to ask if the grandchildren would like to join you for an outing on Tuesday and a cookie baking session on Friday. You will have made it clear that you wish to spend a certain amount of time with the children without having specifically said that they are not invited to stop by on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. If you make a practice of planning time with them, they’ll soon learn to look forward to your time together and will busy themselves with other activities between visits.

If this approach doesn’t work, you may want to talk with your daughter and son and ask for their help in scheduling time with their children. In order to avoid hurt feelings, be sure to express your love for the grandchildren and your desire to maintain close and loving connections with them. Your grown children should be able to understand that while you adore the kids, you are not as young as you once were and may tire more easily than in years past. Additionally, as they grow, children should be taught that good manners dictate that they wait for invitations to other people’s homes, rather than initiating them.

Finally, if all else fails, you and your husband may simply have to make yourselves unavailable at times. Maybe you could establish a habit of going out to lunch together a few days a week, enrol in a class, or volunteer in your community. Once the children realize that their grandparents have interests and ambitions outside of spending time with them, they’ll expect to visit less often.

I sense that you feel a bit guilty for not wanting to spend your every minute entertaining your grandchildren, but you needn’t be ashamed of your desire to set healthy limits. You’ve raised your children and have earned the right to some time, free of child-rearing responsibilities. So enjoy your grandchildren and shower them with love, but do it on your terms.

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