How to keep the grandparents in check...

(59 Posts)
MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:09:35 the nicest possible way?. My DD is 2. She is my parents first and only grandchild and my PIL's second of 2. We are so lucky, because they both adore DD and thoroughly spoil her. However, at Christmas, I wish they would just back off a bit. I think the problem is that when DH and I were little, neither family had much money. However, both sets of grandparents are better off than we are now and want to spend a fortune on DD. I am grateful, but it is overwhelming and ends up treading on the stuff that we do. An example would be the 'Advent Calender', last year we bought DD a lovely wooden calender that we could fill with our own treats. I managed (just) to convince my own mum not to buy DD a chocolate calender, but MIL bought one and gave it to DD even though I asked her not to. It is only a small thing, but it is annoying. DD doesn't need two, and we want the wooden one to be special. The same happened with the stocking, we bought her a lovely, personalized one, hoping to start a tradition, we told everyone about it, but she ended up with 5!! All of them personalized with her name. All of them filled with the same type of stockingy presents that we had already bought. This year, as with the two previous years, we are going to PILs on Christmas morning for breakfast and my parents in the afternoon for dinner and, if the two previous years are anything to go by, DD is going to have huge piles of presents at both houses that dwarf what 'Santa' has bought her. MIL also insists that 'Santa' has bought the gifts at her house too which I find annoying. I just want them all to follow our lead a bit more, and I want to be able to tell them they are getting carried away and treading on things that we are doing but without hurting their feelings. They do mean well, but we are the parents. I have already tried suggesting that DD goes to stay overnight with each set of grandparents and they can do special things together rather than just buy her loads of stuff. It seems to fall of deaf ears though. What do I do?

MamaBear17 Mon 30-Sep-13 17:38:14

Both sets of grandparent just get carried away. MIL wants to treat DD as though she is her own. It is very kindly meant, she was the same with me when dh and I got together and, when we married, asked me to consider her as a sort of second mum. I love her to bits, but find her hard to talk too because she isn't good at listening to things she doesn't want to hear. She doesn't mean any harm, just can't see that she is treading on our toes. If im honest, i do think she finds it hard not being 'the mum'. That is why I wanted advice on how to talk to them because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but at the same time, in fed up of feeling pushed out. She seemed fine when we chatted on Sunday, hopefully it will all work out. Next year we are hoping to have Christmas at home so hopefully it will be easier.

CMOTDibbler Mon 30-Sep-13 12:27:14

If they don't want to give money, but want to spend more, how about asking for a season ticket to the zoo/National trust membership / Merlin passes or something else that you can all get pleasure out of all year

Oceansurf Mon 30-Sep-13 12:22:23

oh, just read one of your updates..what the hell is your MIL doing buying Christmas Eve pyjamas??!! That really is stepping over the mark imo. That's what you do for your own kids. That in itself would piss me right off.

Oceansurf Mon 30-Sep-13 12:19:56

I think you should do Christmas Eve/Christmas Day in your own house for starters. Then it's your traditions, your day. Both sets of parents had their time - with you and your husband.

Then you could do the alternating thing on Boxing Day. However, you need to put your foot down about the presents definitely. I don't think you should pussy foot around. Just ask them directly. I'm sure most reasonable people would rather keep the parents happy too. If they'd really rather spend that much on them, then surely they could put that ££ amount in an account instead?

FWIW we're staying at home this Christmas for precisely this reason. As a family ourselves now, I don't see why we should be traipsing around at Christmas.

SugarHut Mon 30-Sep-13 12:12:39

This will never change, it's what grandparents do. My mother even had nursery curtains made whilst I was mid doing his nursery (my scheme was blues and creams, she disliked) she waited for me to leave the house, went in armed with curtains, poles, huge glass finials and I returned to these fucking things (green, brown, cream vintage sketched animals) hanging proudly in his room. She "accidentally" left the invoice for them behind, (4 digits) so I would be silently guilt tripped into leaving them there and not hoiking them down, as she knew I would usually do. I then had to redecorate my blue walls to match HER curtains.

Don't get me started on Christmas.

But, it's not a first world problem. It can be overbearing, and they can tread on our toes, and they can infuriate us. They will always see their way as having the best intentions, and feel snubbed when we try and explain that sincerely they are lovely but being an utter pain in the arse.

My advice, after 5yrs of it, just live with it. No, you shouldn't have to, but realistically, the underlying friction you cause if you try and say something, no matter how right you may be, will be way worse than the situation now.

JerseySpud Mon 30-Sep-13 09:44:02

My parents are a bit like that so now i send them DD1's list and they ask what to get DD2 and its all from santa smile

derektheladyhamster Mon 30-Sep-13 07:57:16

It has taken years! But the boys are now 13 and 10 and for the last few years it's calmed down grin mainly because they now have granddaughters aged 6 and 4

turkey does your DH tell them it ends up in a charity shop? Or are they only concerned with the "wow" factor at present opening time? It's a bit sad really.

turkeyboots Mon 30-Sep-13 06:48:48

I have this problem with the in-laws too. Compounded by the fact they are divorced so end up with 2 giant piles from them, plus what Santa brings and my parents (also divorced) and other relatives.

MiL now has 4 grandchildren and has maintained the volume of presents by getting cheap tat which breaks on first use. FiL swears he'll buy one thing but doesn't tell sMiL who goes mad at Christmas every year and buys everyone at least 10 gifts each. Nothing thoughtful or considerate though.

It's deeply frustrating and DH speaks to them about it every year. And gets ignored, or told (in September) that they've bought everything already. I do a huge charity shop run in early Jan every year which feels sad.

NellysKnickers Mon 30-Sep-13 06:32:44

I just let them get on with it. Last year DCs had 5 Advent Calendars between them, they had one each, DH and I scoffed the rest. As for the presenst just put some away once opened and swap toys around now and again. It's not worth upsetting the GPs over it, it really isn't.

wannaBe Mon 30-Sep-13 06:31:57

life's too short to get upset about an advent calendar.

at two kids really don't care about tradition, and by the time they're four they'll be wanting all the marketed ones in the shops and wooden ones will seem boring to them. Those types of traditions are more about the parents than the children.

As for the excessive buying of Christmas presents, I would be more inclined to berate the commercialisation that is Christmas and point out to the parents that it shouldn't be about competitive giving.

cupcake78 Mon 30-Sep-13 06:06:48

We have this but have worked out that we can direct them into larger presents and they then limit the rest because they only have so much cash. I exchange clothes I don't like. Mil tends to go mad on the sale rails and most things are the wrong size/ season or I think too grown up.

Suggestions for presents are outside climbing frames/ playhouses, trips to Lego land, help decorate child's bedroom. Help with storage units for toys! The vito now is if you buy a massive/loads of stuff it has to come with a storage solution or it goes back to their house. That of course is another solution to it. Get mil to keep some of the toys at theirs for when you go there.

This may sound crass but the more expensive the better as it leaves less to be spent of tuns of toys that just get dusty.

The principle of the advent calendar would piss me off as mil went against what you said. This IMO is not acceptable!

To give you some hope the older your child gets the more expensive the toys get and the smaller they are grin

There is always regifting for children's parties and some shops will let you take stuff back. You can't stop them but you can direct them.

It's taken me 6 years to get it to this point.

MrsHoratioNelson Mon 30-Sep-13 05:42:30

Agree with those saying that its particularly mean of them to trample stockings - on one of the fun privileges that parents get to counteract all the drudgery. I would be hopping about this. The least they can do is stick to the traditions that you and DH have decided on.

Chottie Mon 30-Sep-13 05:29:48

I am a GM with one GS and it is his first Christmas and I will be talking to DD before buying a single thing.

Why not ask them to put money in a savings account and get little presents if they insist?

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 20:00:30

I spoke to mil and she agreed to 2 or 3presents plus clothes and stocking. She also agreed not to get an advent calendar either. She has bought xmas eve pjs, but I have asked her to keep them for Christmas day night and she was fine. I told her that i found it overwhelming last year and she said 'thats as it should be' but I stood my ground. It was okay in the end, im just hoping she sticks to it. Will have the chat with my own mum too. I find it easier to talk to my own mum so it shouldn't be a problem. Thanks all x

ringaringarosy Sun 29-Sep-13 19:27:34

shes only two so you can nip this in the bud far as them buying stuff im not sure what you can do,i have 5 and my mil has 20 grandchildren in total so thats not an issue for us,my mum spends a lot on them and buys them stuff i probably wouldnt choose but as they are getting older she asks me directly what i think they would like.

Its the other stuff that bothers me,the answer is easy,TELL THEM!thats what i did,mil told my lot that santa had bought their presents and i just said "oh no they know that you buy the presents" (we dont really do santa or anything the kids know its just a story so your response would be different,like santa only buys the presents at our house")

LadyFlumpalot Sun 29-Sep-13 13:53:17

Xmas day is also DSs birthday so he gets a massive pile of gifts. His first Xmas/birthday my mum and MIL were being all secretive about what they had bought him.

My mum lives 5 minutes away and MIL lives 100 odd miles away. PIL couldn't come visit on Xmas day and were coming on the 27th instead. My mum came over on Xmas day.

Anyway, it turned out that they had both bought him the same... but because my mums had already been opened, assembled and played with, the one from MIL had to be the one to be exchanged (she wouldn't entertain the idea of leaving it at hers for DS to play with there).

She was not a happy MIL, not at all. Now I insist that both sets of grandparents actually communicate with each other.

DontmindifIdo Sun 29-Sep-13 13:47:16

ooh partial success! I just took the bull by the horns and had a word.

My dad called, it's his birthday next week and I'd sent him a message asking if he had anything he wanted. Apparently he's got a list of books he wants, but mentioned I should only get him one or two (as much as he loves buying shed loads of stuff for other people, he doesn't like to recieve much stuff!). I said I'd get a few of them and put the others to one side for Christmas. He then said "I suppose [DS] is old enough this year to have a list for Father Christmas, you'll have to let us know what's on it so we can get him something." I then said that it might be better this year if he only gets one or two gifts from each person - and if they wanted to spend the same, I could give suggestions of slightly more expensive items, or put money in DS's savings. I pointed out that as it's also DS's birthday at Christmas, he often gets all his gifts on Christmas day, I reelled off the list of people who'll buy a gift for DS, and pointed out that even if close family (just both sets of grandparents, DH's and my siblings, DS's godmother and my godmother) only bought DS one gift each for Christmas and one for Birthday, that's still 20 parcels to open before he even gets anything from DH and I or his stocking from 'Father Christmas'.

Dad actually said that he'd noticed last year that DS seemed to get bored of opening pressies last christmas by tea time when he was handed a loads of birthday pressies from my brother. (!!!) I said that yes, DS seems to get overwhelmed by it all and I'd rather they just get him one or two gifts, if they want to get him more things, they could put somethings to one side and give him a gift in January (ok, still not reducing the amount of crap in my house, but at least staggering it a bit to help DS actually have time to play with his toys, rather than every time he starts to play with something, being handed another parcel to open).

We've left it that he'll talk to Mum about reducing the sheer quantity of things, and they won't get anythign until I send a list of ideas, also that DVDs and books might be good "little extra" gifts - but that giving them to me to give him between Christmas and New Year on rainy days when pre-school is closed rather than on Christmas day might be a better idea.

Oh and as DD will only be 6 months old and she already has lots of DS's old toys, they've agreed to get her clothes for Christmas.

Now, does anyone think this will actually happen???!?!?!

mummybare Sun 29-Sep-13 13:19:10

I find the whole thing really, really stressful. We have to be careful with our cash because I've been on maternity leave and for other reasons but we're not badly off. I feel like we're seen as being poor or tight and actually I think we have a healthy attitude vs the obscene profligacy.

Wow, are you me? This is only DD's second Christmas (first grandchild both sides), but the excess has always stressed me out, and it seems to get worse each year. I just want to spend time celebrating with family without this pressure to reciprocate when people have bought a ridiculous amount of stuff that we neither need nor want. It really does upset me actually, but I have no idea what to do about it, I'm afraid. Requests to keep things low key seem to fall on deaf ears.

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 13:03:16

Right. Going to the inlaws for Sunday dinner and will attempt the chat again. Wish me luck!

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 12:58:48

In keeping up with this on my touch screen phone and i think i just accident reported a post! I tried to press the back button so hopefully it stopped it. So sorry, I think it was yours K8. In not sure how to un-report it! Please ignore me mumsnet HQ

K8Middleton Sun 29-Sep-13 12:52:45

x-posted with DontmindifIdo who has said it better than me.

K8Middleton Sun 29-Sep-13 12:51:13

You imply that it is easily resolved, which suggests the issue is not a valid one. Did you miss the bits where OP says she's already discussed it? Or all the other posts on this thread? Annoying is an understatement in some cases. When you spend the whole of Christmas Eve on tenterhooks because you know that grandma is going to whip out new Christmas PJs (even though she knows you have already bought some) and the pile of Christmas presents is bigger than the Christmas tree (despite multiple conversations and agreement that presents will be limited) and you spend the whole of Christmas Day and Boxing Day managing the tantrums of over excited children who have just had a present orgy and have barely looked at anything and don't want to interact with other people but just have more stuff... it does really make it hard to have a happy, family time.

Your suggestion that it is easily resolved by a round-table discussion is to minimise the situation which implies the op (and the rest of us!) have not tried hard enough to resolve the situation. In some cases it cannot be resolved, only tolerated.

DontmindifIdo Sun 29-Sep-13 12:45:51

Crutchlow - while I can see how this might seem ab unimportant problem compared to yours, that doesn't stop it being a problem - rather like saying yes, your broken leg is worse than my stubbed toe, but knowing you have a broken leg does not make my stubbed toe stop hurting.

OP - I'll join with you in having "the chat" - going to be firm with my parents this week which they will ignore and make me seeth at Christmas, because their attempts to be number one grandparents is apparently more important than me and DH being happy at Christmas

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