The Spoiling Switch that Flicks With the Grandparents

kids spending time with grandparents who spoil

It is a worldwide thing.  A phenomenon.  An epidemic.  Grandparents who spoil their grandchildren. It exists through all parts of the world and is discussed amongst parents all over the world at bbq’s, dinner parties and restaurants.  The switch that flicks when our very own parents move from the parent into grandparent phase.  It has been discussed at several of these locations throughout my circle of friends and we all nod in agreeance and talk about how we were all brought up the same way.  McDonald’s was an occasional treat, sweets and lollies weren’t kept in the cupboards and were only from a party, toys were only really bought at birthdays and Christmas and it didn’t mean the whole bloody shop and toys were recycled to the Smith Family or the Salvation Army and not everything single item was to be kept.  Not every outing meant the purchase of something or a treat.

I am not sure whether when the announcement of granddaughter or grandson is made that something warm and fuzzy happens to cause a chemical imbalance in the grandparent’s brain where the once fairly strict parent is filled with guilt and worry that they did the wrong thing and perhaps should have spoilt us rotten as kids.  The switch flicks and from that moment they must undo all their past wrong doings, even though they know you turned out perfectly okay not expecting toys and money to grow on trees and still have all your teeth intact. It seems that once this chemical imbalance occurs their job to make sure that the future grandchild is never, ever without.

Now before I go on, I am an extremely grateful mother for both sets of grandparents in my life and my children’s’ life. I am blessed that they are attentive grandparents that help look after my kids when we are at work and love and care for them wholeheartedly.  For that, I am very thankful and fully believe in the role of grandparents in my children’s lives.  But the spoil switch, I am afraid was flicked at the birth announcement and seems to have stayed flicked.  I think it has even rusted or had Blu-tack shoved in it or something because I don’t think there is any way to switch it back.

I appreciate if you have grandparents that visit once a year,  the spoiling would be out of control but that is almost accepted.  There is the need to spoil when they live so far away.  They don’t get to do it regularly, I get it.  In my circle of friends, most of us have parents that look after our kids at least once a week or more and this means that the spoiling is a regular occurrence.  There is always something new or flashy or yummy that just simply arrives when the grandparents do.a large pile of presents grandparents who spoil

I have many friends who were brought up in regular households with both parents working, busting to make ends meet and toys and treats and the likes were not regular occurrences.  As children, we have grown up with these codes and tried to ingrain them into our own children.  We can’t have everything we want, treats are there to be special and not all the time.  And don’t you remember the old “money doesn’t grow on trees you know”?

If I sound ungrateful well so be it but I do find it really hard when days that a grandparent is coming over for a visit or to mind the children and that particular morning the children have been real right ratbags (or little shits as I commonly refer to them).  You’ve spent the morning threatening to remove play stations, iPads, special toys and then it hits critical mass and the items are removed for the given period of time.  One hour later and in walks grandparents and the old “I just got the kids a little something”.  It really does my head in.  Disciplining the kids becomes hard and I don’t mind being the bad guy.  I am the bad guy and always will be.  That’s my job.  But it makes me feel like I am suddenly the wicked witch of the west.

I feel that if toys and treats and bits and pieces are handed out all the time it makes birthdays and Christmas less special.  Gifts are meant to be special and thoughtful and I have seen my kids on many occasions open one present and just chuck it aside waiting for the next one.  They don’t care what’s inside, they just want numbers.  Multitudes of presents flowing through the door.

Another occasion I find it tough is with the food treats.  Just this week I was in Darling Harbour with my son playing in the water park with a few hundred other children.  6 sets of grandparents all came with McDonald’s for all the kids.  I thought about it and I know McDonald’s is easy but what happened to the good old peanut butter sandwiches that were carried in the old freezer bag that was soggy and mushed up?  Followed up with “you get what you get and you don’t get upset?”  None of that was happening.

grandparents who spoil a little girl with an icecreamWe as a family eat very well during the week.  The kids know that if during the week they eat all their vegetables for dinner each night that on the weekend on some weekends they can have pizza or we sometimes go out for dinner and they order fish and chips.  The weekend is always a bit more relaxed.  You know the drill.  They get a few bits and pieces here and there.  So when we as parents give treats on the weekends and then on top of that the kids get treats during the week from the grandparents it adds up to a whole shit load of treats.  You hear me?  It is just constant junk and sugar.  In this day and age, there is so many preservatives and sugars etc in just ordinary everyday food that we just don’t need anymore.  I’m not about to move to the middle of nowhere and start subsistence farming but at least we can try to make an effort.  The kids don’t need treats all the time.  I don’t mind occasionally, it is the every week business.

These kids have it sorted too.  The grandparents are so wrapped.  Wrapped around their chubby little cute fingers knowing that if they bat their eyelids and smile sweetly, tell grandma she is the favourite and they love her more, she will succumb and buy the toy car or the ice cream.  They just know.  And the grandparents get a faint memory of the time they didn’t buy us the ice cream and when we were kids and threw ourselves onto the floor and they just kept walking.  They picture it and the fear washes over their face that they must have traumatised us for life.  The damage was done because of that ice cream and so they reach into the freezer and so ‘alright dear, just on this occasion’.  And I am so sure there is also an ‘it can be our little secret’ added in there for good measure.

Now I will stand to make note that weekends that the kids stay at the grandparents’ house is different.  I appreciate that grandmas house is a special haven of delicacies and treats.  I can accept that.  We know when the kids come home they will be exhausted and had enough McDonalds and bakery treats and new toys and the likes for at least 6 months.  I accept that and know that it is a special time and they will always remember grandmas’ house for that.   Maybe you think that is ridiculous but I always remember it was a treat to go to my grandmas’ house.  She had a tv in her bedroom and when I woke up in the morning she had one of those nifty stable tables and she would bring me in toast and a cup of fresh orange juice and I was allowed to watch cartoons in bed.  That was just heaven for me and something that only happened at grandmas’ house.  Who the hell else was going to make you breakfast in bed?

So if the switch could just be flicked at grandmas house it would be okay.  To be fair to the grandparents, I actually think they can’t control it.  Like I said, I really do think a chemical is released into their brain that washes away any memory of how they raised us or the constant bitching they did of their parents about the same thing.

And I know what you are all thinking.  Just watch when the announcement is made with my own kids.  The chemicals will hit and I will turn out the same way. I probably will, I hope not but maybe I’ll get the guilts about several times I have left them on the floor of aisle 6 or told them they are more than welcome to pack a bag and find another nicer family that will treat them better and give them ice cream every night for dinner.

It’s in writing now too, and it’s on the internet.  They’ll find it and wave it in my face when they find me at McDonald’s buying happy meals for their kids.

And I know my mum is reading this, I am sure the phone is about to ring.  Love ya mum.

Do your parents or partners parents do this?  How do you try and control the amount of things that come home or are given every time you see them?

Mama mondays

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  • Reply Jacq 01/02/2017 at 1:15 pm

    My parents spoil my child rotten but since they live in another country, I just let them do it. Haha! But sometimes I remind them too not to do it too much but it can hardly be helped. hahaha!


    • Reply In The Lyons Den 01/02/2017 at 10:11 pm

      That is totally fair enough when they live far away! Imagine mine if they didn’t see them every week!!!!

  • Reply Lucy | Leaning In 30/01/2017 at 10:09 pm

    Oh, the spoiling switch! I ask the grandparents very nicely to PLEASE not buy anything. It’s not just the spoiling, its the accumulation of stuff. I can’t deal with all the unnecessary stuff! Fantastic post.

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 30/01/2017 at 11:40 pm

      The stuff!! Oh my goodness. I knew I wasn’t alone!! Try explaining it isn’t necessary is like telling them not to visit!!! I don’t know how we stop it!

  • Reply Sahar 29/01/2017 at 11:42 am

    Such a great post and what great comments! We are lucky–we have two sets of grandparents who are IN LOVE with our little one and we know they would COMPLETELY go NUTS if we let them–but they also respect us and our parenting decisions. I feel bad for them sometimes–I know that there are things they want to do and buy that we really don’t want them to. Thankfully it seems like a happy medium is being reached–we are letting go of some things we didn’t want because they are not that big of a deal, and they are letting go of the things that we REALLY don’t want (mostly the extreme-spoilage stuff!) We’re really lucky 🙂

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 30/01/2017 at 11:23 am

      Oh that’s so great and so nice they take on board with your decisions too. I can imagine the want to spoil is hard as even as a parent I want to spoil the kids! Glad you have a happy medium!!

  • Reply Jess 28/01/2017 at 9:51 am

    Ha! We just had a two week holiday with my parents, my husband and I left the kids for one night and came back to our one year old who now not only knows the word “choc” but knows how delicious it is…how did that happen? I cringe at all the junk and toys my children get from their grandies and I tell myself I won’t be the same but I probably will be!
    The food is the thing that shits me the most, but the more I say anything the more they just sneak it to them! It does my head in but what can you do?!

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 28/01/2017 at 10:31 am

      I know!! We had a talk and now it’s all done in secret!! That is more annoying to me too. I get they want to spoil them it’s just when it’s so constant. Exactly what can you do!! Hoping we won’t quite be the same!!! 😀😀

  • Reply jiselle 26/01/2017 at 2:52 am

    oh my I see this is international! yes my parents and in laws do it to the extent where I don’t recognize my mother sometimes! like is this MY mother! but I believe they are simply leaving the parenting to us and allowing us to be the rule makers and enforcers. I asked some years back that they not buy as much toys for my girls, I believe I was totally ignored since toys are still coming in quantities. for Christmas my 4 year old got 4 sets of play dough and multiple toys from not just her grandparents but her aunts and uncles! like really!

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 28/01/2017 at 8:02 am

      Yep sounds just like mine! Yes that is true it is up to us to make the rules and I think they like that but it definitely is hard when they don’t listen to requests. Thanks for making me feel like I am not alone!

  • Reply Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama 25/01/2017 at 4:55 am

    Oh my gosh this is SUCH a struggle for us. My mom watches my kids 3 1/2 days a week, and every time she comes up, they have new toys and clothes. Our house is overrun with stuff, no matter how many times I ask my mom to reign in her giving impulse. I have no answers—except my husband recently suggested 2 rules: It’s fine if you buy them stuff IF you keep it at the grandparents’ house, and if you buy them something to bring to our house, you MUST pick out something to give away.

    Good luck with your mom! I’ll need it for mine too. 😉

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 25/01/2017 at 6:30 am

      Oh it’s tough isn’t it! They are really good rules I think! I like the keep it at nanas house. We recently gave a bunch away because that’s just it you accumulate too much and they never use it. Good luck, I hope those rules work with your mum!

  • Reply Lisa Sell 25/01/2017 at 2:04 am

    I’m sure many parents and grandparents will be nodding their heads reading this! I guess being a grandparent you’re one step detached from actually bringing up the child yourself. I’ve heard my parents say that all rules change once you become a grandparent!

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 25/01/2017 at 6:27 am

      It’s true that they are that more detached! The rules definitely do change!!

  • Reply Crystal 25/01/2017 at 12:49 am

    It’s almost like a unwritten rule that grandparents are to spoil the grandchildren. While I’m grateful for what my parents are able to do for them, it’s tough sometimes having to set the ground rules and say NO.

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 25/01/2017 at 6:19 am

      It is tough saying no to your parents! It can be a really awkward conversation. It’s definitely a tough one!

  • Reply Simone 24/01/2017 at 9:25 pm

    Ha ha ha… My bug bear is letting kids graze all day. I have to say I have worked hard at getting my mil on board. She does spoil them a little but not as much as she would like. I am a tough little daughter in law but we have worked it out well.

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 24/01/2017 at 10:55 pm

      They think I’m nasty and tough! We have had to work hard too. I agree about the grazing. I’m glad you have worked out something! 😀

  • Reply Fi Morrison 24/01/2017 at 8:41 am

    Our son is a bit young at the moment, but definite potential from both sets of grandparents – and lots of awkward conversations from us about expectations I think. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 24/01/2017 at 2:03 pm

      Yes it is hard having those conversations especially with the inlaws! But it had to be had. It got bad at one stage!!

  • Reply Selena, The Rambler 24/01/2017 at 8:14 am

    I think I’m lucky that she has grandparents that don’t completely overdo it. They all love her something fierce. In fairness, I think my mom spoils her granddaughters because she was a single mom when we were younger and couldn’t give us everything she felt we needed. Now, in a better place, married to my wonderful stepdad, this is like her Do-over. =) Coming over from Mama Monday Pin Party.

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 24/01/2017 at 8:24 am

      That is fair enough! I know some parents who were single parents and feel the same way. It is nice to spoil them but it is the overdoing that gets me! And as you say it is out of love!

  • Reply Sam Stone 23/01/2017 at 9:31 pm

    This is my life. My parents have totally thrown out the rule book with my kids! It is really quite hysterical.

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 23/01/2017 at 11:32 pm

      Oh it can be so annoying but definitely funny in some ways! I really hope I don’t do the oh well it isn’t my child!!

  • Reply Helen K 23/01/2017 at 9:55 am

    My kids are a little older than yours and we had a talk with my parents. They could see the point (plus, they were starting to see the assumptions and the taking for granted by my two – and they agreed that it wasn’t a good thing). They don’t buy them things all the time now (and often it’s books or educational games), and I can turn a blind eye to the weekly maccas because it’s now fries only. They are also a lot more focused than I am in getting the kids to help with helping – hanging out and bringing in washing, getting dinner, gardening, etc – they allocate more time so my kids aren’t rushed and it doesn’t turn into an argument. Maybe if you discussed it with them, leaving some aspects but asking them to pull back on some others?

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 23/01/2017 at 12:20 pm

      That is definitely a good idea, we chatted a while ago but I think we could definitely have a constructive conversation. Helping out is such a great thing to be teaching them too! My kids get to the point where the first thing they do is ask what’s in the bag before even saying hello! I think a bit of negotiation is a great idea. Thank you!!

  • Reply Agent Spitback 23/01/2017 at 8:55 am

    I can do relate to what you have written. It is true that there must be a switch which stays perfectly switched on. It is hard to deal with the aftermath and so I do set certain non negotiables. Overall I would not know what to do without them.

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 23/01/2017 at 9:04 am

      I am the same! I am not ungrateful but the aftermath is definitely hard and trying to teach the kids they don’t just get stuff all the time. I have heard well I’ll ask nana for it then and that is annoying! I’ve tried negotiating but sometimes it works and other times it’s ignored!

  • Reply Amy 23/01/2017 at 5:05 am

    Yes my parents do 🙂 we see them very regularly, most days, and whenever we leave there is the little bag of treats that come sneaking into the car with us. Chocolates, juice bottles, chippies, despite the girls knowing I don’t want them eat in the car. But to be honest I’ve learned to love it. I cherish the time we have with them, and I’m really grateful for all the help they give us, so I just decide to let it slide 😉 I’ve decided it’s not worth my energy to stress about it x

    • Reply In The Lyons Den 23/01/2017 at 7:18 am

      You are right and perhaps that is what I should do!! Sometimes it is hard though and I feel between us and them it’s just so constant! And my kids just get so much stuff!! But I do agree it is important to cherish the time also xxx

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