I am used as a bed and breakfast by my family.

Has anyone else had this problem.

Since my beloved husband died nearly 4 years ago I am finding that our children are making the death of their dad an excuse to leave our grandchildren with me. They say it is to keep me company, but In reality it is so they can go out on the town and enjoy themselves. It is happening more and more since our youngest son remarried and our eldest son got divorced. They bring them on the Friday evening and collect them on a Sunday teatime. There are three of them aged under 12 years of age. I feed them, play games with them, take them out for a meal, and see they get a shower then the same thing again over the next two days. I am 75 years old and shattered.

I love my grandchildren, but I also want to go out with my family for a meal etc. I don’t get invited to their homes, they always want to visit me in my own home so I am making meals and coffees then am left with the clearing up.

Today they were on holiday so our son and daughter-in-law dropped our grandsons off at 8 am this morning and collected them at 3 pm. I gave them their breakfast, dinner and baked a cake with them. I heard one of the boys ask his dad where they were now going and his dad told him they were all going out for a meal. Was I invited, no.

I was told a few weeks ago I was putting on a birthday party for our two grandsons, which I didn’t mind too much, as they were moving into their new home. All our daughter-in-laws family were coming, our son and his girlfriend etc. All in all there were 17 people. I spent over £300 on food and then there were drinks gin, vodka, prossecco plus all the soft drinks and nibbles.

Not one of them brought a bottle of anything or a bunch of flowers. It is now a week later and I have not received a thank you card from anyone. I did it all on my own, I trimmed up and purchased the food from M & S. Most of the family stayed overnight so after they all went home the day after, I had to strip the beds, wash all the sheets and remake them. The boys had spilled juice on the bedding, our daughter-in-law had changed their new baby on the bedspread and marked it and I also had about eight bath towels to wash after they all got showered.

Like I say, I am 75 years old and am feeling as if I am only here to be their slave and to be honest, it is getting to the stage, I don’t want to see them anymore. My husband would be so annoyed that I am being used this way.

To be honest, I am totally fed up.

Sheila x

Dear Sheila, you really must put a stop to this now. Not my business but it sounds as if you are going to make yourself ill for these selfish people. I know a bit about families and how their support diminishes but this is ridiculous, if you don’ t mind some plain speaking. In future I would make sure that my calendar is full (even if you make some it up). Suggest to them that they ask the daughter-in-law’s parents because you are not well enough to keep doing this. It will be interesting to see what response they get. Look after yourself. Eileen xxx

I totally understand how you feel Sheila. My lot only stayed for a few days last week but it has taken me almost until now to clear up and get the house back the way I like it to be. It was absolute chaos and I am now exhausted from all the food shopping and preparation, bed making, playing with the grand-children and then clearing up afterwards. I love them all dearly but, like you, I feel used. Not even a bunch of flowers or a ‘thank you Mum’. I’m not included in their plans for an outing and if I’m honest with myself, they have little time for me.

I don’t know what the answer is - I suppose we fear that if we refuse to have them, we won’t see them at all and I couldn’t bear that, so we just keep doing it. It’s a very difficult situation and I feel so sad that it has come to this.

Ann x

Dear Eileen, Thank you for your plain speaking, because that is what I need. I have made up some dates on my calendar over the next two months. The problem is our grandson’s other grandparents still have their partners and live abroad for eleven months of the year. Our sons second wife’s parents are not our grandchildren’s blood relatives so they never look after them. Our granddaughters other grandparents also still have their partners and every time a school holiday comes up, they book a holiday so they don’t have to childmind, so it is always me that has to do it.

I love my grandchildren to bits, I really do and they love me, but it is also when their parents also stay over, and come in at 2 in the morning after a night out that causes most of the problems. Since the new baby arrived 10 weeks ago I seem to spend most of my time looking after our grandsons, I feel as if they are putting their new baby before my son’s own children.

It is the excuse, ‘oh, it is company for you’ that annoys me. The truth of the matter is so they can have time to themselves.

The other day our eldest, divorced son sent me a text (as always) never a ‘phone call and said he was bringing my granddaughter to night and they were both staying over, I texted back and said that I had had our grandson’s all day and I was shattered. He texted back, ‘it is night time I am asking you to look after her not during the day’ so there are bed’s spare.’ That is all I get, just a snappy text back.

He will come in about 2 am tomorrow morning, go to bed, then 10 am get up for breakfast then go and get a shower, he never cleans up after himself, then will take our granddaughter and go. I will not have more than two words out of him.

Like I say it has got worse since our eldest son got divorced, and since our youngest son had their new baby and I cannot see it improving.

To rub salt into my wounds, about an hour after they left this afternoon, they sent me a photo of them all having a meal out. I am good enough to provide childminding and bed and breakfast but not good enough to invite out for a meal or to their homes.

This is going to end up by me telling them all to stay away for ever. I would rather live alone and live the rest of my life the way I need to rather than be someone they text when they want something.

Sorry for the rant, I just don’t know what the outcome will be.

Love Sheila xx

Hello AnnC, I am so sorry, but to be honest, I am glad I am not the only one having to deal with this. No flowers or a thank you for me either. I also am not included in their outings and like you, I feel as if my family has little time for me.

One of the problems is my home, it is very large, with large gardens and all completely gated in so it is ideal for children to stay over and play out as they cannot get out and no-one can get in.

I have just left Eileen a message and told her that to rub salt into my wounds they sent me a photo of them having their meal out after they collected my grandchildren this afternoon. Is it so hard to say, ‘mum, would you like to come with us.’ Even at birthdays when we have a family meal, I am sat with our three grandchildren and am nursing the baby whilst the adults talk, then they wonder why I have no idea what is happening in their lives. They will say later, ‘I told you about it’, I say, no, you didn’t’.

I go to all my hospital appointments on my own, pay for my gardening and any DIY work to be done, my family has never done a thing for me since my husband died nearly four years ago. Before they never did either, even though their dad was seriously ill for the last three years of his life, I did it all.

One bad day of rain and the flat roof extension was leaking slightly so I climbed out of the bedroom window onto the flat roof and started to use the special paint to cover the tiny hole the birds had made. I was 74 years old, last year. I was without a landing light for nearly 8 weeks as they hadn’t time to change the bulb for me, in the end, I told them they were not leaving until it was done. I had been going up and downstairs with a torch as I could not see, this was before they altered the clocks.

That is what I have to put up with. Their excuse, they are too busy. When I think of what their dad did for them when they both got married, putting in lights, decorating, giving them money for things for their new homes I could weep.

Like you, if we say something, they could stop us seeing our grandchildren so we plod on.

Love Sheila

Dear Sheila, this is a dreadful situation and I can see how difficult it is for you to find a solution. As if you haven’t enough to cope with already. They know only too well that you don’t want to fall out with them and are playing on that. Sorry to sound harsh but the only thing you can do is to tell them all that, as much as you love them and their children, you are no longer well enough to look after them. And stick to it, even though it may cause bad feeling. What the devil gets into our grown up children. I have two sons living close, a daughter 60 miles away and another daughter in Australia. Their children are mostly grown up so I don’t have the problem of child minding. At nearly 87, I couldn’t do it anyway. But their support has diminished and it would take hours to write down all the hurt I have felt over the past couple of months.

As you probably know, it is only ten months since I lost my husband after being married to him for 66 years so why do they think I can get over it in such a short time.

Anyway, Sheila, it’s easy for me to dish out advice to you but I hope you will be able to sort this out without too much hard feeling. 75 isn’t old by today’s standards but it still brings with it some health issues, including fatigue. Good luck. Eileen xx

I know Sheila, I really do. A few weeks ago, I was shocked when my daughter asked if I would like to go on holiday with them this summer - my husband only died in January so it is my first summer in 40 years without him - and I gladly accepted. Last week, my daughter and son-in-law went to great lengths while they were here to spell out to me that this was a one off and I could not expect to be invited on a regular basis. I had never thought I would! They are planning to go to Florida next year and actually said to me ‘Just to be clear, we are going on our own. You’re not coming’. I now wish I could get out of the holiday as I am absolutely dreading it - I would rather stay in my own home and not have a holiday at all. It should be a chance to be together since my wonderful husband left us but now I am dreading it. How has it come to this? My husband would be horrified.

Ann x

Isn’t it terrible to feel like a spare part, someone who is there out of pity. Before my husband died, and even when I was his 24/7 carer, I still also childminded our grandsons and granddaughter. They didn’t stay overnight as it was difficult, because if Peter started being ill and I had to call for the ambulance, it would be frightening for the children.

I really think, since our youngest son got married again and has a new baby, that my new daughter-in-law really does not want to play a big part in the lives of our grandsons, even though they only have them every two weeks. Our son takes them out by himself. She is lovely with them, but as she says, they are not her sons. They are only 6 and 8, not teenagers and they are so easy to love. She knew exactly what she was taking on when she met my son, but she is 10 years younger than him with a child of her own now.

I sometimes think that our son asks me to look after the boys to give his new wife some leeway, but it is not right, they are his children and the new baby is their brother so when they go out they should go out as a family, not just our son taking the boys out on his own.

I would honestly not mind childminding at all if I was appreciated. After what I spent and did for our grandson’s party and put them up for the night, I would have loved a card saying thank you for what you did, or a card from our grandsons telling me thank you for their birthday party and presents. I bought them a computer each, as they use them at school now. I always ensured our two sons wrote a thank you card whenever they were given a present. It is only manners after all, but I received nothing.

On their way out this afternoon our son said to me, do you have any food you don’t want. I always get the boys something specialin when they stay, so I just said no, I don’t.

My dad died when my mum was in her early 50’s and from that moment on, we took her on holiday with us and when the children came along we carried on doing it. Our sons cannot remember a holiday without their grandma being with us. She lived 30 years after my dad died so she had a lot of days out and holidays. I took her to Italy on my own for a week once. All I get from our sons is, we went so and so, we went so and so and it hurts, they know I am sitting at home, on my own but no-one cares.

After our youngest son went and took our grandsons with him our divorced son turned up, dropped our granddaughter off and went off straight away. I will see him in the morning for breakfast, then he will leave to drop our granddaughter off at his ex wife’s house, then go to see his girlfriend for the week-end, so I will be spending the weekend alone.

This is now my life. I dread my phone pinging as I know they are texting me for something or another.

I am hoping for a lovely week as I have lots of bushes to plant, thank goodness the schools are open again. Our grandson’s mum is also expecting a baby so she is off work for 12 months, which means I won’t be childminding as much.

The trouble is, if I don’t childmind, I don’t see anyone, it is a vicious circle.

Love

Sheilax

Hi, you sound like a lovely mum and gran, I wish my mum had been like you. She died last October and she used to come and stay with me. She sounds the opposite of you, in fact she would go back home when my son’s school holiday’s began, said it was too much for her. I would have loved her to want to share in things like you do, but I would never have asked her as I know what the answer would be. So, I do think you should be ‘unavailable’ every so often just so your family know that you have other things to do but of course are available other times, keep them on their toes and hopefully make them appreciate you more. Being too available and too useful is never a good thing I have found.

Hello Alicia, thank you so much for your kind words. I do think you are right though, I am definitely too available because I don’t have much of a life now. All my friends still have their husband’s so are enjoying their retirement as it should be. Because I have a large house with gardens and bedrooms, our son’s treat it like a hotel

I will have to start saying no. The last time our oldest son told me he was staying overnight as he was going out with his friends so would be bringing his daughter (my granddaughter) to stay with me, I told him no, because I already had our two grandsons staying over for the week-end, three nights and two days. He said to me, you still have a bedroom spare, so you can sleep with her (my granddaughter) and I will sleep in the small bedroom and the boys (our grandson’s) will have to share a bed.

I am too old to be sleeping with a 12 years old as she tosses and turns all night and I am shattered in the morning and also, I want my privacy. The trouble is, because different people are always sleeping over and using different beds, I am having to change the sheets all the time, if our grandsons sleeps in the double bed, the week after, our son and his girlfriend stay over and sleep in the same bed as our grandson’s slept in, I have to change the sheets which means washing all the time. They get a shower in the evening before going out, leave the bath sheets on the floor, then in the morning, they get another shower and use different bath sheets and leave them on the floor so I have to wash four bath sheets and hand towels every time they stay, not counting the bath towels I use for our grandson’s because I am always told to make sure they get showered before they pick them up.

Two years ago I had a new bathroom put in and had the bath taken out and a large walk in shower installed. I could not get a shower for two weeks but neither of our son’s offered to pick me up so I could get a shower at their houses. I asked them, but they said they were busy and working away, but I still childminded our grandchildren and we had to use a chemical toilet when the plumber was doing the work, it was one I had for my husband when he was ill in case he could not get to the bathroom in time as I had to push him in is wheelchair to the chair-lift then take the wheel-chair upstairs and then push him into the bathroom. It was hard work.

I don’t know what the answer is really, without falling out with them.

Sheilax

I can understand how difficult it must be. My mum even bought a one bedroom flat which made it even more of a problem when I wanted to visit her, I had to stay in the guest room and pay, or if that was unavailable, a hotel. And then she would ask all of the time if I was coming to bring her to my house for a visit! She had loads of other visitors so I dont think she was really bothered if I did or not, she just didnt make it easy. I would think, because you are so useful that the odd time you said you were busy would just make them think a bit. They certainly seem to take you for granted by not inviting you out for the occasional meal. My son is grown up now and I know how self centred they can be, although he doesnt have children so I dont have that problem. Also, as your grandchildren get older, they will be going off with friends etc, so the problem may ease naturally. All that washing is a lot of work, you could always send it back with the grandchildren to be returned, washed, on their next sleepover, lol.