To have this conversation with my MIL?

(75 Posts)
MtnBikeChick Tue 19-Aug-14 20:24:48

My MIL lives a fair distance from us, so she has to fly (1.5 hours) to visit. She is late 60s, but in good health - only just stopped working, etc. She comes to visit us for "weekends" - they typically run from 10am on Thursday to Monday night (not a weekend in my book...). Anyway, she is a nice person BUT she is hugely unhelpful. To the point where she leaves the dinner table with dirty dishes on it, or if she clears a plate or two she leaves them sitting on the counter above the (empty) dishwasher. She asks me to do laundry for her within a few hours of arriving. She brings masses of liggage and spends ages 'sorting her room out' and getting ready in the morning. She is OK with the kids - but her attention span for playing is about 15mins. She likes cuddling babies, but that is about it. She never just pitches in and sees a job that needs doing and does it. She wants to be looked after. Last time she came I had a 9 week old (and a 3 year old) and my husband was away for 2 nights. She sat drinking wine doing the crossword whilst I ran away doing the manic post-7pm-bedtime tidy, cooked dinner, did laundry, emptied dishwasher. She likes to sit on her ipad, too. I can't leave the kids with her because she doesn't really want that responsibility (I have asked her in the past and the answer hasn't been positive). Next time she visits, I really want to just be upfront with her when she arrives and ask her to be more helpful. I know that deep down I would love her to be like my Mum who is VERY helpful but not interfering...but that isn't realistic! I just want her to pitch in a bit - empty the dishwasher if it is finished (I have asked her to do this once in the past, and she said she didn't know where things went so she left it all on the counter. How about looking in a cupboard?!!!). I think I need to just be honest and say I am working, I have two small children, my husband works long hours and travels a lot and I would really appreciate it if she saw a job that needed doing, she just did it. I have told her many times I am not precious about my home or my things or doing things 'my' way - I would rather just be helped, I don't care how people do things!!! Am I being unreasonable to feel like this?

wheresthelight Tue 19-Aug-14 20:29:11

You are not unreasonable to expect her assistance but Ireally ewould make your dh have the conversation as it won't end well if you have ot out with her!

Good luck

yellowdinosauragain Tue 19-Aug-14 20:29:44

Yanbu. Rather than having a big chat though how about starting with showing her where the washing machine is when she gives you her laundry, the kettle when she asks for a drink, where crockery etc is when you ask her to empty the dishwasher etc. So guiding her rather than confronting her with it all. Might work better? And if it doesn't be upfront as you'd planned and tell her you need her to pitch in.

ForalltheSaints Tue 19-Aug-14 20:31:31

I agree with the idea of the dh having the conversation. Assuming he is not a coward.

SorryForTheTypos Tue 19-Aug-14 20:34:30

You've already done everything I'd suggest: asking her directly to do something, telling her you're not precious about how things are done.

My half bind nan insists on washing dishes in our house - we rarely have washing up liquid as we use a dish washer so she'll squirt something/anything from the under sink cupboard into the water, then "washes" the plates and outs them away still mucky. I'll say to her over and over "nan, sit down, relax" or "nan, you're actually making my dishwasher less efficient" but other than physically manhandle her, I have to suck it up really. So you could have it worse...

Montegomongoose Tue 19-Aug-14 20:34:36

She wants to be looked after

How is that unreasonable? She's your guest. I wouldn't be too impressed if my hostess expected me to know when to empty the dishwasher or to read her mind that I was supposed to clear the table.

Is this your expectation of everyone you invite to stay? Do many people come to your house twice?

Why not get a cleaner and/or nanny then you can relax and enjoy her company?

YABU and a very ungracious hostess. Maybe go to hers until your kids are older and you can cope?

Cheeky76890 Tue 19-Aug-14 20:34:42

I'd probably direct her more

'Let me show you how the dish washer is loaded, would you mind passing me those plates'

'Ill change nappies and could you chop the carrots and mushrooms. They are all on the side ready for you'

Would you mind emptying the dishwasher? Here, I'll show you where everything goes so you know for next time'

hoobypickypicky Tue 19-Aug-14 20:35:19

YADNBU! She doesn't have an obligation to offer childcare (not that you're asking her for it) and ok she is a guest so it's reasonable for you to cook for her but she's bloody rude not to even clear her plate or to offer to help wash up. FGS even if you know the host will say no, do sit down, I'll do it, you still offer, don't you? Well, you and I would!

As I see it you have 3 choices. Inwardly seethe and let it carry on (not an option), tell DH that he needs to be off work when his mother visits so he can wait on her while you care for the family and do what you need to or be specific.

So, the first one's out. The second might be OTT though I'd do it! The third's a plan though. So, it's "MIL can you please set the table while I cook? Could you pop the dishes in the washer while I bath the children please? If you could feed the cat and the budgie while I pick up DC's toys please that'd be great! Of course, the washing machine's over there, if they're whites they need to go on a number 4 wash. Just pop them in, the powder's under the sink and I'll go and make the beds".

She's acting like a child and making excuses like a child so treat her like it and give her simple but helpful specific tasks and instructions.

If she persists you could always say that you're too busy next time she wants to visit, what with having 2 DC and a job and a house to run and see if she offers to make the visit possible by suggesting ways in which she could help.

Cheeky76890 Tue 19-Aug-14 20:36:46

MIL 'Please can you wash my clothes'

You 'help yourself, the detergents under the sink and if you get stick working the machine, I can tell you what to do'

hoobypickypicky Tue 19-Aug-14 20:38:04

"Why not get a cleaner and/or nanny then you can relax and enjoy her company?

YABU and a very ungracious hostess. Maybe go to hers until your kids are older and you can cope?"


Sorry, I didn't see where the OP indicated that she could afford a cleaner or a nanny in order to accommodate a guest! Yes, a host's job is to be welcoming and accommodating but a guest's job is to be a polite one and not to make the host's life difficult or unhappy. It's a two way thing!

MrsAmaretto Tue 19-Aug-14 20:38:17

Do we share a mil????

Try Yellowdinosauragain's method this time & if it doesn't work get your husband to speak to her.

I tried Yellow's method & it didn't work. My dh agreed that she could only stay if he was home to do her visit (he works on an oil rig). She was a bit put out & hasn't stayed since but all is very polite. It's bloody wonderful.

bopoityboo3 Tue 19-Aug-14 20:39:58

How often does she come for these 'weekends'? You should definitely talk to her about it. I'm assuming she sees these weekends as a holiday like my mil does talk to her about what she can do to make things easier for you and highlight that you're not running an all enclusive holiday resort.

gertiegusset Tue 19-Aug-14 20:40:08

Even as a guest I would never stay with anyone and not expect to and offer loads to help out, especially if I was staying with family.
I can't imagine sitting down supping my chilled vino collapse while DiL saw to everything, especially if she had a new baby and a toddler.

gertiegusset Tue 19-Aug-14 20:41:24

Yes, I thought that too hoobypicky.

Monte imo if you stay with a family with a 9 week old and a toddler, you pitch in. At the very least, you don't make extra work for them by expecting to be waited on.

I'm sure the op would love to have a cleaner and nanny on hand so she can relax, but it's possible that she (like most of the population) can't afford it.

drudgetrudy Tue 19-Aug-14 20:42:49

"Why not get a cleaner and a nanny" -whahahahaha!

I agree with guiding her a bit and asking her to do specific jobs-she may feel slightly uncomfortable in someone elses kitchen etc.
If she turns out just to be lazy/inconsiderate invite her less.

Just seeing jobs and doing them can feel like taking over a bit-ask for the help you need

hoobypickypicky Tue 19-Aug-14 20:48:45

Hmmph! I've got a real bee in my bonnet about the OP being called ungracious!

We visit my parents for weekends. Their home is "mine", where I was raised. We all pitch in and my parents no longer work and their only DC is me! I wouldn't dream of dumping my plate on the side and sitting back to watch my mum or dad clean up after me or expect them to do my washing. If I ask whether I may wash a couple of t shirts or undies mum will always tell me to leave them by the washer and she'll do it but I always double check that she's sure, can I put them in with anything else waiting while she's busy etc. We strip our beds upon leaving (and would wash the linen if she let us!), bring our towels down, do the washing up, help chop veg for dinner and do all we can to make our stay easy for mum and dad and not make them feel like servants.

My mum would be horrified if I went to my MILs and did any different too! She'd tell me off and I'm almost certainly older than the OP and nearer to her MIL's age!

OneSkinnyChip Tue 19-Aug-14 20:51:56

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand because of your situation (young kids) I think she should pitch in more but in general terms I don't expect guests to lift a hand when they are in my home. In return I don't do much clearing up when I stay with them.

Occasionally I read threads on here and think maybe people bitch about me like that - but I only stay with people who stay with us in return IYSWIM and I insist on them relaxing when they are here smile

I definitely wouldn't have her staying when your DH is away - that's just madness!

escorpion Tue 19-Aug-14 20:52:40

I feel you OP. My Mum is like this when she comes to see me. It is draining and I don´t even have kids yet. When they come to visit you and spend most of the time on the ipad it´s just plain rude. And how hard would it be to wash the odd plate or cup up? I don´t mind looking after people but expecting me to be your servant is just taking the piss!

Er, Monte did we read the same op?

Mil turns up, brings her washing for op to do, expects to be looked after but actually does fuck all. Her visits appear to entail far more "looking after" than any normal guest. So in addition to everything else, including looking after 2 small children, the op is expected to shoulder the extra hassle of mil as well (who sounds like an entitled bitch btw)?

And op is expected to just "get a cleaner and enjoy her company" ? hmm

Yep, this really is aibu at it's very best hmm

maddening Tue 19-Aug-14 20:55:56

She 's not a formal guest though - if you stay with family you generally help out - and tbh good friends I would help without thinking and new friends I would offer if I wasn't sure whether they prefer help. Surely it's good manners?

Haffdonga Tue 19-Aug-14 20:59:04

Tell her what help you need! I find it extremely difficult as a guest in other people's houses to just 'pitch in' and see what needs to be done because I'm shy and feel cringey about taking over in someone else's home but I'm always delighted to be asked to help with a specific task.

Please ask her and don't expect her to read your mind. At least then if she says no you'll know she's lazy and entitled. wink

paxtecum Tue 19-Aug-14 21:02:02

Monte: goodness, what are you on about?

Of course MIL is being a pain.

EvilHerbivore Tue 19-Aug-14 21:02:12

Why not get a cleaner and/or nanny then you can relax and enjoy her company? YABU and a very ungracious hostess

OP you could get a maid too for the laundry and perhaps a personal chef so you don't have to cook dinner and it would be terribly bad manners not to have a personal masseuse on hand to ease your MIL stress....FFS what planet are people on?!

StillStayingClassySanDiego Tue 19-Aug-14 21:04:06

Monte one of the dafter responses; get a cleaner or a Nanny grin.

Did you read the same thread as me?

OP, dh needs to have this chat about her bringing washing and expecting to be looked after. Sure, be a gracious host but a guest should offer to pitch in.

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