Is a tired grandma obliged to babysit on family visits?

My children, grown with kids of their own, live far away from me in different parts of country. They visit for family occasions and holidays, bringing the grandkids with them. I love them all and I enjoy having a houseful of people, but there is one thing that is driving me

My children, grown with kids of their own, live far away from me in different parts of country. They visit for family occasions and holidays, bringing the grandkids with them. I love them all and I enjoy having a houseful of people, but there is one thing that is driving me batty: When they are staying with me, my children always plan activities with their hometown friends and then casually leave me with the grandchildren, saying “I’m going out for a while Ma, will you watch the kids?” I’m not as young as I used to be and, frankly, entertaining the children (four of them, all under eight) is exhausting. Plus, I wouldn’t mind leaving the house myself – or going to lunch or a movie with one of my kids, whom I never get to see. I’ve already spoken individually with each child and have explained my problem. It helps temporarily, but they tend to “forget,” and then make plans anyway. Or they accommodate me by inviting their high-school buddies over to the house – and bringing those kids along. I’m wiped out every time. Am I obliged to watch my grandchildren or host the children of my children’s friends?

— Grandma

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