THE last two months have been a real struggle for grandparents who are missing being able to hug their grandkids.
But what if you’ve been enjoying the time to yourself?
Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith, 80, recently admitted to being a bad granny, revealing she has missed attending events and even birthdays over the years as she has always been the “hard-working main breadwinner”.
The grandmother of four, whose husband John Playfair has three grandkids as well, said: “The problem is society’s expectations haven’t kept up with reality, leaving us with a guilty conscience at not fitting the stereotypical gran.
“Plenty of grannies I know are secretly a bit resentful at being expected to do so much.”
With lockdown easing, some grannies are in no rush to take on babysitting duties again.
Here, we speak to three of them.
‘I need to have life of my own’
FINANCE MANAGER Sapna Suchak is a working grandmother of two. She lives with husband Kishore, 66, in Pinner, Harrow, while her daughter Nima, 37, and grandkids Dhani, 13, and Abhi, 11, are 100 miles away in Leicester. Sapna, 66, says:
“Lockdown has massively taken the pressure off trying to fit the grandkids into my busy life.
“When my children were young, I worked full-time, so they went straight into nursery at the age of two.
“I am very career-driven and I am proud to admit that.
“Now, if Nima needs me to look after the grandchildren she has to book in advance.
I am not a grandma who is there every day picking up the kids from school.
“And I am not able to travel all that way.
“I need to have a life of my own.
“I play badminton every week, go to keep fit and I have lots of friends.
“My weekend is spent cleaning and cooking and I often visit friends’ homes for food, or I go to a health club for a pamper. It is what I enjoy.
“My job is also very busy and I don’t finish until 7pm, then I cook and go to bed.
“I love my grandchildren but I make it clear that I don’t want to be very hands on with them – unless there is an emergency.
“I have once or twice forgotten events like when Dhani won a rugby trophy and I rely on Facebook for birthday reminders.
“I see them once every three months on average – unless there is a special occasion.
“My daughter will nag me about working too hard as well at my age.
“But it is in my nature.
“I am enjoying the break during this lockdown.
“We have been doing video calls instead.
“I know my daughter understands how busy I am but I can still feel guilty so lockdown has 7 eased that pressure.”
Nima says: “My mum and I live 100 miles apart, and she’s still working full-time, so we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like.
“Her job allows her to enjoy the finer things in life, and I’m very proud of all that she has achieved.
“I can count on my mum to help me if needed, and she also loves to buy the children treats and experiences.”
‘It’s time for my kids to be parents now’
MODEL and businesswoman Sharon Dooley, 45, is grandmother to Mason, two, and one-year-old Tagdh. With seven children herself, aged from 26 to eight, including daughter Mercedes, 26, Sharon, from Galway, Ireland, makes sure she is a gran on her terms. She says:
“With lockdown, I haven’t had to run after my young kids on school runs, and the grandkids are safely a Zoom call away.
“I am actually enjoying only having to speak to them virtually.
“I married my husband when I was 19, and I began having children near enough straight away.
“I spent my entire twenties and thirties being a full-time mum.
“At that age my friends were going out and having fun, or getting their career on track.
“I was wiping my children’s bums and doing the school run.
“I had devoted my entire life at that age to my children.
“And now I am a grandparent, which I love being, but I make it clear that I make the rules when I want to see them.
“I have no idea what time of day they were born, how much they weigh and I don’t know if Tagdh has started walking yet.
“It’s not because I am selfish, it’s because I have decided it’s my time to shine and my kids to be parents.
“My youngest Amber is eight and she keeps me pretty busy.
“My hands are full with my younger kids, let alone the grandkids.
“I like asking Mercedes to look after my younger kids and she has always done it.
“I know that may sound hypocritical, but I need the help and she says yes most times.
“I see her having a child as a bonus because now she’s more available to me rather than out working.
“Cheeky of me I know, but Mercedes appreciates I need to live my life now.
“My business runs events all over the country for plus-size women – I also do my fair share of modelling as well.
“I have decided it’s time to show the world the new me and achieve goals I couldn’t when I was younger.
“I love the grandkids but even now with virtual calls I make it clear I will not be virtually living with them.”
Mercedes says: “Mum always puts her business and modelling before my kids.
“It can be annoying as I could do with the help – but the quality time I had with my mum when I was younger is all worth it.
“I am proud of my mum.
“My friends have said she is selfish and not there for my kids but I just laugh it off.
“I love that she is not the typical fussing granny type and why should she be?”
‘I won’t drop everything to babysit’
PSYCHIATRIC nurse Lyn Clay, 60, is proud to be an unconventional grandmother. Single Lyn, from Deal, Kent, has three children, including Melanie, 43, and five grandchildren aged from 14 to four. She says:
“Since lockdown I have actually been enjoying long walks on the beach, reading books and gardening. Of course I miss seeing my children and grandchildren, but we talk on the phone and video call when we can.
“I don’t understand grandparents whose lives completely revolve around their grandchildren.
“I love them all to bits, but I think setting them a good example of how to live a fulfilled life is more important than being there for every school play or sporting event.
“As a mum I was very hands on with my children, I was always having gossip with them and they could talk to me about anything.
“But I was strict in making sure they were independent.
“My children don’t have the expectation I will be looking after their kids, but I think there is with other grandparents and that’s a shame.
“Before lockdown you would rarely find me in the UK.
“I would be in places like India and Thailand with friends.
“I am single and have a good social life, lots of friends and a job I love.
“I am certainly not going to swap all that to spend all my spare time changing nappies, wiping noses and going on school runs.
“I’ve had my time doing that.
“As a result of that I have missed a few milestones with the grandkids.
“I try my hardest to attend their plays and sports events but I have missed a few because I have been away travelling.
“I’ve never been the sort of grandmother to sit around knitting jumpers or dropping everything to babysit.
“They love to hear my stories and are always telling me they tell their friends about me.
“I think lockdown is a good opportunity to not sulk about missing the grandkids but to take some time out and learn a new skill or enjoy a hobby.”
MELANIE SAYS: “I’m proud that my mum isn’t a typical grandmother.
“She is a free spirit – strong, independent and enjoys life and I think that makes her a good role model for my kids.
“They think she’s cool and fun anyway.”
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