When You Can’t Rely on Grandparents


Grandparents are the most important members of many parents’ tribe, but what is it like when your children don’t have grandparents you can rely on to support you? 

Recently I had an orientation for a new job at our local YMCA, and I was planning on dropping my toddler off at the gym babysitting center like I usually do when I work out there. To my surprise, it was closed that early afternoon, and I started to panic. When I told the HR rep who was running the orientation about my situation, she said something like, “Can you ask any family to pick her up?” I uncomfortably replied, “She doesn’t have any grandparents in the area.” I ended up having to stressfully try to keep my 14-month-old quiet during orientation with a pile of toys and the screentime I usually try to avoid. As you can imagine, I was so distracted that I was frantically filling out paperwork to keep up with everyone else, and I didn’t hear much of the orientation presentation at all. Oh, how I yearned for help from grandparents at that moment.

I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy when I hear other moms with supportive grandparents talk about how they get one day or even the afternoon off because “the kids are with grandma.” Sometimes I dream about all the errands I could get done or the emails I could catch up on or even the mental rest that I could have if I just had one day a week without the responsibility of having to watch my daughter. 

I don’t have that. I have never been able to drop off my daughter at her grandparents’ house while I run errands, so my girl is with me during every run to the grocery store. Every time I have something I need to get done outside of our home, I have to carefully coordinate those tasks to work around her nap(s). Every time I need to drop off a package at the post office or grab milk from the convenience store, I have to take her out of her car seat just to put her back in a couple of minutes later. Every time she is sick, I have to tell my boss that I won’t be able to instruct my group fitness class that day because the babysitting center doesn’t allow sick kids. Every time my husband and I get invited to something that goes past bedtime, we have to say no.

Not having grandparents that we can rely on is a challenge and a struggle, but we are surviving.

Some things that have helped us are date swapping with other parents who also can’t ask grandparents to watch their kids for a night out and hiring a middle schooler as a “mother’s helper” as a more affordable option to give me a break. We would not be able to overcome this challenge in life without the community of friends that we have intentionally built around us to fill the void. Do I wish my daughter could grow up surrounded by supportive and loving family members regularly? Heck yes, I do! However, instead of dwelling on what I don’t have, I do my best to be thankful for what I do have. This year, I saw a greeting card that has struck me, “Friends are the family you choose.” Let me tell you; I am so grateful for our chosen family.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here