DEAR ABBY: I had to respond to "Tired in Tennessee," who was advised by a marriage counselor that she and her husband needed time for themselves, but complained that her mother never offered to baby-sit their two small sons.
My wife and I have three children, five years apart in age. We solved the problem by finding friends in the neighborhood who have children of similar ages. We take their kids for a week, and they reciprocate while my wife and I go on vacation. Taking care of six children isn't all that difficult. In some ways it's easier because each child has a playmate living in the house. The kids like it because they are not with strangers. I hope this helps. -- BEEN THERE IN OREGON
DEAR BEEN THERE: It's a sensible suggestion, and I'm sure it will be welcomed by more parents than "Tired in Tennessee." Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Why would anyone want Grandma to take responsibility for two young children if she isn't thrilled about it? My mother-in-law isn't speaking to me because I won't permit her to have my baby in her home. She has an unfenced pool, an explosive husband, and a proven inability to exercise good judgment. Bottom line: Don't expect what isn't offered.
In the meantime, paid help is the best help if you want to call the shots. Also, many nice resorts offer excellent kids' programs and bonded baby sitters for evenings out. You'll meet lots of other parents like yourselves making use of them. -- REALISTIC IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR REALISTIC: You're right; a paid professional is better than a reluctant relative.