I was shocked when my mum asked me this. But am I being unreasonable?
My mum is the happiest grandmother. She has nine grandkids in total and is always showering them with gifts, foods, hugs and kisses. But ever since I’ve returned to work I’ve noticed a certain cooling in her attitude towards me.
She’s been looking after my youngest two a couple of days a week while I work. It’s the only way I can afford to work. They attend preschool three days a week and it’s really expensive.
At first she really enjoyed it. She said it gave her special time with them. She’d always insist we stay for dinner before going home. It was such a joy to see how much she was enjoying them.
Lately though, she’s been shoving us out the door as soon as I arrive. I think it might be taking its toll.
I asked her if she was okay and she said she was fine and then said, “But I really think you should pay me to look after the kids”. I was gobsmacked. She offered to look after them in the first place, before I made the decision to return to fulltime work. To be honest, I would never have expected her to say no to helping me 2 days a week and probably didn’t ask her properly.
She helped look after my sister's kids before they started school so I just assumed she'd be there for mine.
I asked her why she wanted to be paid and she said she feels she does just as good a job at looking after them as their preschool does, maybe even better. Plus by looking after them, she is enabling me to earn money.
I read somewhere that grandparents cover around 40% of childcare needs in Australia, to the value of around $20 million each and every year. Still, I don't know of anyone else who pays their parents to help look after their children.
If I look at it without emotion, she is right about everything. But I am really hurt that she has asked to be paid.
I don't think I'm going to be able to leave my children with her anymore. It's just too awkward. I'd feel weird paying her and I'd be hurt if she expected to be paid. Plus, if I was going to pay anyone to look after my children it may as well be the preschool because at least I get a rebate.
I would be upset if she said she was too tired to help me two days a week but it would upset me much less than her asking to be paid.
Do I have a right to be upset or am I being unreasonable? Should I have offered in the first place?