I often avoid asking my parents for help (Picture: Kat Romero)
I would have loved for us to both go and enjoy the night but instead, I told my fiancé to go without me – I’d stay home to take care of our toddler.
On hearing this, our friends insisted I ask my parents to babysit but I didn’t want to disturb their Friday night.
The truth was they had barely babysat my son since he was born. An afternoon here or a few hours there was the most I’d asked of them. And I had certainly never asked them to take on the daunting challenge of bedtime.
While some people might see this as selfish on their part, I certainly don’t. I truly don’t mind that my parents are not constantly on hand for childcare. In fact, I often avoid asking them for help because I want them to enjoy their golden years.
Growing up, it seemed like my grandparents were always around.
They lived around the corner and would often pick me and my brother up from school, or take us on weekends when our parents needed to run errands.
I can still hear the crinkling sound their duvet cover would make as we’d climb into bed with them in the morning. I can practically taste the buttery croissants we’d devour in the sheets (there were never any rules about breakfast in bed at their house) and smell the inky scent of their morning papers.
It was never just one-off weekend visits either – they looked after us as often as our parents needed, including during the summer and Christmas holidays.
I have such fond memories of browsing the garden centre festive decorations and picking the beans and peas for lunch from their vegetable patch in summer.
I know many people will disagree with me (Picture: Kat Romero)
Of course, just because my grandparents were involved doesn’t mean to say my parents did nothing. To be honest, I don’t know how they did it all.
They weren’t from the generation that took gap years to travel the world, nor were they the 20-somethings living in house shares in London and downing £5 bottles of cheap Tesco wine before a night out at Infernos.
My dad was just 16 when he went into the workforce and only retired in his fifties after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Similarly, my mum worked from her teens until she retired in her early sixties.
They worked as hard as they could in jobs I now know they never loved, just so they could provide for us. And in their spare time, they ferried us to and from various football games, ballet practices, as well as Brownie and Cubs groups.
It’s no wonder they leaned on my grandparents for support.
I don’t expect their lives to revolve around my son (Picture: Kat Romero)
Now, I want my parents to relax and enjoy their lives. I want them to visit the countries they have always dreamed of, tick everything off their bucket lists and even encourage them to spend their savings on making memories.
Seeing them spend weekends away with their best mates or enjoying delicious meals together brings me joy.
Last month, I had to cancel a Christmas party because I asked my mum too late to babysit and she’d already made festive plans. She insisted she could cancel if it was really important to me but I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking. And hearing how much fun she’d had days later brought a real smile to my face.
I know many people will disagree with me. Last month, Los Angeles-based psychologist Leslie Dobson claimed that millennials had been ‘abandoned’ by their boomer parents as they prioritise travel and fun over staying home to babysit.
There have also been a stream of videos going viral on TikTok with many talking about how their parents have set strict boundaries with babysitting, or complaining that their motto is: ‘I’ve already raised my kids.’
To that I say, good for the grandparents!
More from Platform
Platform is the home of Metro.co.uk’s first-person and opinion pieces, devoted to giving a platform to underheard and underrepresented voices in the media.
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Emily Vaughn shares her truly harrowing story of being groomed and trafficked from the age of 14, and how she rebuilt her life after being forced to have sex with over 1,500 men.
When Celia Chartres-Aris was given a brilliant new job, she thought telling them about her disability would be just a formality – but in fact her job offer was withdrawn when she told her new employers about the adjustments they would have to make.
After decades battling a stammer following childhood trauma, things reached a breaking point for Jonathan Blair, who had been so ashamed of his speech impediment that he hadn’t even told his wife about his condition.
I have never had any expectation that my parents would take on childcare, and especially not to the same extent that my grandparents did.
For one thing, my grandparents were in their fifties when I was born, whereas my parents are now in their seventies.
I see the impact a day with my son has on their physical health. Whether it’s my dad barely able to keep his eyes open past 4pm, or my mum suffering in silence with aching arms from having to pick my lump of a toddler up for cuddles.
Not to mention the fact that they live over an hour’s drive away as my fiancé and I chose to live in a part of London that was closer to our friends.
They never complain, of course, and insist time spent with their grandchildren is a joy.
I want my parents to enjoy all life has to offer (Picture: Kat Romero)
I’ve always known this and, if I really needed them, they would drop everything in a second. But that does not mean I expect their lives to revolve around my son.
My parents have already given me everything I need in life and in truth, it wasn’t until I became a mum myself that I realised all the sacrifices they had made for me.
Of course, the cost of childcare is overwhelming. We pay more a month for our son’s nursery than we do our own mortgage.
But I knew those costs going into motherhood and it’s an expenditure that my partner and I know is necessary.
Similarly, when we decided to have a baby, we knew we’d have to miss out on social events. It’s just the price parents pay.
If there’s something we really can’t miss, we’ll happily consider a childminder if my parents aren’t free or have had a busy week and need the rest.
I’m filled with gratitude whenever my parents can help out and I certainly don’t consider it to be the bare minimum.
Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, and there are definitely times when my partner and I feel stretched beyond measure, but ultimately looking after our son is our responsibility.
I want my parents to enjoy all life has to offer. They don’t need to help raise my child.
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Share your views in the comments below.
They’ve had kids, they shouldn’t have to help raise mine.