Ask Grainne | Broke Parents & Dollies

Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.


Dear Grainne

I haven’t bought myself clothes in a decade but I just bought our 6-year-old clothes for her doll – is this really motherhood?

How am I so broke? Nope don’t answer that I know why. I have two kids. 

Despite the fact that my husband and I both work we seem to be permanently financially strapped. I love them both to bits, but, going out and dropping cash on drinks or dinner is a distant memory. The new norm is me pleading with the kid’s grandparents to spend time with them so we can run away to a cheap movie night.  New clothes are an indulgent daydream. Self-care – self what? I have a filling that fell out that I am afraid to go to the dentist with in case it turns into something more expensive (but in the meantime, I just shelled out for dental check up’s for both kids that are booked annually).

I knew kids were expensive Grainne, but I just never knew HOW expensive. Between childcare, uniforms, books, camps, school trips, dental, doctor fees, health insurance… Don’t even get me started on toys and the fact that clothes last 4 months on them before they have outgrown them.

I feel like instead of a pre-marital course there should have been a ‘pre-children’ course that included budgeting tips. Does this ever get any cheaper?

Yours broke Mum of two

Dear broke Mum of two.

No, it only gets more expensive! Stop pleading with their grandparents to take them, they have done their duty rearing you. Why you expect them to turn around now in their later years and take on your kids is beyond me. 

Yes, new clothes and self-pampering is long gone, and yes all your cash will go on the kid’s necessities. But on the upside, you now have no money or time to go out so you can reduce your personal spending on nice clothes and make-up.

There is a reason they do not run pre-children courses, they would annihilate the population. Why do you think the marriage bar and ban on contraception was brought in? The Irish state has been trying to force us into motherhood for generations, post great hunger (known as the famine to many) the decrease in population had to be addressed. Women always knew that motherhood would plunge them into poverty but had little choice in the matter.

Now, they take great care not to inform people of the actual cost of childrearing. It used to be said that each child costs €250,000 from birth to post education – if any of us knew that we would not have given birth!  Keeping people in the dark is the only way to ensure there is a birth rate at all.


Dear Grainne

Playing ‘dollies’ with my daughter is like being caught in a hostage situation.

Recently our toddler has been giving me invitations to ‘come play dollies’ with her. At first, I thought this was the cutest thing ever, but, now I’ve realised the truth. Once I say ‘yes’ it becomes a hostage situation.

My Daughter is always the ‘host’. If I try and leave the party for any reason I get sent to the ‘naughty corner’. All attempts from that point onwards to try and leave the game are met with blank refusal and a ‘but you promised you’d play dollies with me’. Pretend tea parties can go on for hours Grainne. Complain too much and she stops serving you ‘invisible’ food and instead gives you a play-doh cake that she tries to make me eat.

I’m just a guy. What exactly is the best way to get out of dolly tea party without offending a 3-year-old host? It is a legit question. Yesterday, after work she trapped me in a particularly long one. I just can’t take the tantrum that followed me telling her I need to go and get changed from my work clothes again (or the evil eye from my partner who came into the room once my daughter started screaming). I mean shouldn’t my wife be stepping in here and telling her ‘Daddy needs to have some time to get changed after work’?

Yours kidnapped Dad

Dear kidnapped Dad,

Your wife has been kidnapped all day, so no it is not her responsibility to rescue you from the clutches of your obviously over-indulged child. Pretend tea parties are a lovely thing, as long as they last for less than 10 minutes and don’t involve putting anything in your mouth. But I wonder, why is this the only joint play. Why does your daughter get to always choose?

You should start a new game called, let’s cook the dinner together or let’s tidy the bedroom together. See how long she wants to play that for!

If alternative games do not work, I’d go for the naughty corner. You stay there to “think” about what you have done for 1 minute per year of age. This means you get to sit in silence for what? 30 to 40 minutes!! This is possibly the only time from wakening to sleeping that you will get the opportunity to sit alone and not be answerable to anyone. Take it, enjoy it. Use it for meditation, or to work out how you got yourself into the position of being ordered about by a toddler.

Ps. If you can possibly make the naughty corner your bedroom, you could change and have a nap while you are there!


About Grainne: Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.

*Disclaimer Grainne is not qualified in any way to answer your problems. She doesn’t do feedback but if you want you can leave a comment below or email her at [email protected] We can almost certainly guarantee you she will NOT get back to you, but, one of her cousins who helps her might. Alternatively, you can stalk them directly on Twitter: @Triona_Campbell or @KearneyRoisin or both.

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