Long time lurker, first time poster here.
I’ll try to keep this brief. My wife & I have 3 girls, aged 7,6 & 2.
We have on occasion in the past asked my mother to look after them overnight in our house, while we went on short trips. We did this maybe six times over five years, but haven’t asked her to do so for about two years.
This is because the last two times she was in charge, the two oldest girls, who were 5 & 4 at the time, told us that “Grandma shouted at them” and “Grandma was cross all the time”. I do know that when she comes to visit when we are all in the house, she does spend a lot of time reading books and newspapers, rather than interacting with the kids. I suspect that this is what also goes on when we are away, with the result that the kids play up looking for attention.
They are not bad kids; they’re not perfect, and they do try my patience at times, but in general they are well behaved. However, I think like most kids, if they are not supervised, they will try to push things to the limit.
The current problem is this: my mother is now asking why we don’t ask her to look after the kids anymore. She knows we have been away overnight in the last two years, but we have asked our siblings & friends, rather than ask her. I don’t know what to say to her.
My inclination is to come straight out and say that the girls don’t like to have her look after them because “she is cross” and doesn’t interact properly with them. However, I feel that this could be very hurtful. My mother lives on her own about four hours drive from us, and has no family nearby, so if I phone her up and drop this on her, when the phone call finishes, she will be in the house on her own with all day to think about this.
I am anxious to resolve this in the short term, so it can’t wait for a face to face conversation. I would like to confront the issue, rather than just make an excuse, as if she could change her behaviour, it would be better for the relationship between her and the girls.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could proceed?