MIL always asking me if I have sorted the kids out for school

(80 Posts)
bengal38 Sun 10-Feb-13 22:38:32

My son is 12 and my daughter is 9. Every night my MIL phones to ask if I have sorted them out for school. I ask her why and she says just asking.

bengal38 Sun 10-Feb-13 22:39:32

I do end up getting upset by this. How should I respond next time?

Ponderingonaquandry Sun 10-Feb-13 22:39:51

My mum does this. Drives me mad

Not sure why you've posted this in aibu though

HollyBerryBush Sun 10-Feb-13 22:40:01

Conversation opener?

RubyGates Sun 10-Feb-13 22:40:27

Pre-emt her, ring her up and ask her if she's got FIL sorted out for work.

what does your husband think about his mum upsetting you?

GregBishopsBottomBitch Sun 10-Feb-13 22:41:01

That would annoy me too, its like she doesnt trust you or think your responsible enough, or she can just be bloody nosy.

mablemurple Sun 10-Feb-13 22:41:45

what would she say if you replied "no"?

quoteunquote Sun 10-Feb-13 22:42:38

hand the phone to the children, "Grandma wants to discuss your organisational skills"

use her to nag the children.

FrothyDragon Sun 10-Feb-13 22:43:03

My DM does this as a conversation opener. Maybe next time you can beat her to it. "Kids are all set for school tomorrow", just when you think it's coming up.

SanityClause Sun 10-Feb-13 22:43:11

Every night? Wow!

My MIL always asks me about my cleaner, every time she comes to stay, but that's only about twice a year.

defineme Sun 10-Feb-13 22:43:52

Can't you just say 'yes thanks'?-is it not just her conversaional equivalent of 'How are you?'
Or is this the tip of the iceberg and she's very critical?

Jinsei Sun 10-Feb-13 22:44:01

Wow, that would drive me mad!!

I'd ask her what she's going to do about it if I haven't got them sorted. And then politely point out that they are old enough to sort out themselves!

How weird. Does she have any other conversation or does she just ring to ask the one question?

anywinewilldo Sun 10-Feb-13 22:45:36

Don't answer the phone?

HeathRobinson Sun 10-Feb-13 22:46:46

Say no.

TomArchersSausage Sun 10-Feb-13 22:46:48

Blimey that'd drive me bonkers. She'd have to leave a message, I couldn't have the same convo every night.

Sounds like she's got into the habit of ringing and just says it for something to say.

TanteRose Sun 10-Feb-13 22:46:53

Don't answer the phone

Or just tell her "You know, MIL, there is no need to call every night - I've got it sorted, thanks"

Snazzynewyear Sun 10-Feb-13 22:47:39

Agree, don't answer the phone or get your DH to answer it and field the question.

snice Sun 10-Feb-13 22:48:47

just shout 'Oh God! I knew there was something....' and slam the phone back down

Mil collects ds from school once a week. If he has a letter in his bag she leaves it on the side, fine. She then rings to tell me what it says "ds needs a pound for charity and own clothes on Friday"
A) I read the letter
B) you handed ds over to your son, his father. Why are you telling me rather than him?

MammaTJ Sun 10-Feb-13 22:49:14

I would have to ask exactly what she thinks needs sorting.

magimedi Sun 10-Feb-13 22:49:27

I do end up getting upset by this. How should I respond next time?

If you are feeling bold tell her to fuck off & that it is none of her business.

If not ask her why it bothers her every day.

Or get your DH/DP to answer the phone.

Or don't pick up the phone.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Sun 10-Feb-13 22:49:33

That sounds very odd..... Is there more history to this.....?

"Add message | Report | Message poster mablemurple Sun 10-Feb-13 22:41:45
what would she say if you replied "no"?

Or even better, "who?"

Floggingmolly Sun 10-Feb-13 22:51:18

Is it her way of checking if you're too busy to talk? <grasps straws>

MerylStrop Sun 10-Feb-13 22:51:22

She's just trying to connect with you
It is not a criticism
I expect she is a lonely person trying to find some common ground
No need to be upset
(though I can understand why you would find it irritating)

That is what answering machines are for.

Must get a new one grin

olgaga Sun 10-Feb-13 22:52:12

Can't you just set your phone to ring a couple of times then go straight over to answerphone?

When you do finally speak to her, after about 10 days, just say "Sorry I didn't get back to you, I've been so busy getting the kids ready for school".

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Feb-13 22:53:01

My Mum does it and I know it's because my standards are not as high as hers. I don't polish shoes daily...sometimes I just wipe them and shock, horror I hardly EVERY iron things. Just hang them up out of the dryer.

I work from home...I'm busy....I'm not multiple armed!

almostanotherday Sun 10-Feb-13 22:53:44

Snice grin

hang on

the kids are 12 and 9, so MIL has been ringing nightly since the oldest started reception? You poor thing, this is YEARS of double checking on you.

McNewPants2013 Sun 10-Feb-13 22:55:14

I would say no I'm having a vodka and the kids can sort themselves out in the morning.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Sun 10-Feb-13 23:00:33

Is she ringing to ask or is she asking when she rings? If she's ringing to ask just tell her to stop it, if she's asking when she rings maybe i's her way of finding out if you are 'free' to talk, but anyone ringing me every night would get short shrift unless it was totally necessary (ie elderly person who I wanted to check was OK on a daily basis). Don't get me wrong, if a friend is going through a bad patch or whatever they're free to ring anytime - day or night (and do!) as often and for as long as they like - but calls just for the sake of habit would drive me barmy!

Apileofballyhoo Sun 10-Feb-13 23:01:27

What happens after you reply? Does she say 'right then, that's great, I'll phone you again tomorrow night to check'? Or do you go on to have a chat/she asks to speak to your DH?

snice Sun 10-Feb-13 23:05:08

isnt it just the (rather dull) opening conversational gambit from someone who doesn't have much common ground with you other than the (grand)children?

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 10-Feb-13 23:05:33

The only suitable answer to that question I under these circumstances is

"Nope I've decided not to send them tomorrow as my dealer is round tomorrow and there now old enough to start running his stash"

DoJo Sun 10-Feb-13 23:10:36

Is it just her way of checking that you aren't in the middle of something? My mum always used to ask (pre baby) if we had eaten and now asks if the baby is in bed as an opening gambit, but it's just so she can ascertain how long might be appropriate for a phone call rather than because she doesn't think I'd eat/put him to bed without her reminding me.

IncrediblePhatTheInnkeepersCat Sun 10-Feb-13 23:26:52

My mum still tries to tell me what to pack when I take my guides camping. I have to remind her that I wrote the fricking kit list!

What sort of tone of voice does she use when she asks?

valiumredhead Mon 11-Feb-13 07:55:01

She's making conversation, just tell you have and save getting upset for something that matters.

ChaoticisasChaoticdoes Mon 11-Feb-13 08:53:47

Tell her you were too busy shagging her son but you're going to do it right now. Then put the phone down grin

freddiemercuryismine Mon 11-Feb-13 08:55:15

Tell her that's your DP's job, you don't get them ready for school and hand the phone to him.

Yama Mon 11-Feb-13 09:00:05

The phone rings every night? Think I'd have to disconnect the phone.

Pagwatch Mon 11-Feb-13 09:04:21

Every time my mum phones me she says

'I have phoned at the wrong time haven't I. You are busy arn't you?'

So the first five minutes of every conversation is convincing her that actually it is fine and I can chat. It drives me batty. But it's a sort of nervous habit (although why I have no idea) so I don't take it personally.

Is it a checking up on you thing - is she judgy/hostile ? Or does she think she is acknowledging your attention to the children, as sort of sympathy/solidarity thing?
I think that would affect my reaction. Although I would have started answering with 'no. They were bloody annoying so I have killed them' by now.

Saski Mon 11-Feb-13 09:08:50

That's madness.

My mother in law used to pack her own diaper bag when my kids were babies, which drove me mad. She would attempt to press a diaper into my hand whenever I had to change one, and I would say: you know, I have one right here in my own diaper bag. I felt totally undermined and it made me feel incredibly aggressive towards her.

Saski Mon 11-Feb-13 09:10:51

Oops posted too soon. I would be incredibly pissed off at the implication that the only thing standing between your kids and a day of inadequate school prep is her!

socharlottet Mon 11-Feb-13 09:11:49

have they got a history of going to school without the right stuff?

FruOla Mon 11-Feb-13 09:14:48

If it's just an opening gambit, then it seems a bit harmless - albeit irritating.

But you could say to her "DH and I have decided to save ourselves the bother of getting them sorted out for school every night - we're sending them to boarding school". grin

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 09:17:56

My FIL always used to start any phone conversation with "How's the car?"

No idea why- we just used to mouth it at each other and suppress giggles.

I think she is projecting her own anxieties onto you. My dad does this too and he has mild OCD

yaimee Mon 11-Feb-13 09:21:01

Hmmm think maybe she just wants someone to talk to? Doesn't know what to say? Wants to feel involved.
On the other hand, my DM asks me every day if I've brushed my sons teeth angry

ThePathanKhansAmnesiac Mon 11-Feb-13 09:32:21

Seeker grin.

Annunziata Mon 11-Feb-13 09:36:13

Doesn't it just mean "have you got time to talk"? My MIL phones every night (for past 24 fecking years) to check DH has had his dinner.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 09:38:49

I always wanted to say "oh, it's been a bit down today, but I've bought it a new air freshener and given the windscreen a polish,so it's feeling a bit better now..."

CremeEggThief Mon 11-Feb-13 09:40:19

YANBU. How annoying!

valiumredhead Mon 11-Feb-13 09:40:36

Seeker I have noticed dh ALWAYS starts a conversation with my mum with " Nice shoes MIL" grin

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 09:46:27

How would she take it if you said something along the lines of, "look, MiL, I know you are probably just trying to show a friendly interest, but please understand that I am finding it very irritating to be asked this every day. I am a competent adult and I am perfectly capable of taking care of my children without constant reminders. If you want to call for a chat, that's fine, but this feels like you are checking up on me."

(I've had to say something similar to my mother once or twice)

valiumredhead Mon 11-Feb-13 09:49:36

Dear God, that is SO rude exe I would never dream of saying that to anyone let alone my MIL shock

Floggingmolly Mon 11-Feb-13 09:53:51

It's a conversational opening, exex, some people's conversation runs along very predictable lines. I doubt she really wants to know, or would welcome the news that she's both boring and predictable.

WhichIsBest Mon 11-Feb-13 09:56:04

It just sounds to me like she has got into a habit, in her way of starting conversation, or checking in. I wouldn't get offended by it myself.

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 09:56:37

Really? How is it rude? Just honest, no personal insults or anything.

Pagwatch Mon 11-Feb-13 09:57:10

Blimey exexpat, I couldn't say that unless I really truly believed she was trying to be rude. It's pretty hostile.
If I felt I was about to explode I might just ask
'have you noticed you always ask if I have it the dc ready for school. Is there a reason for that - did you find that job a nightmare or are you checking I've time to chat?'

valiumredhead Mon 11-Feb-13 09:57:45

There is a fine line between honesty and rudeness - especially with someone who is clearly just trying to talk.

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 09:59:35

I just think that if a family member is doing something on a daily basis that seriously irritates you (enough to post somewhere like MN for advice on how to deal with it) then a bit of honesty is better than fuming about it. But then my family aren't huffy, offence-taking sorts, and judging by what I read on here, some people's families are - which is why I asked, 'how would she take it if...'.

VonHerrBurton Mon 11-Feb-13 10:01:39

"im glad you asked mil. Actually if you don't mind going to Tesco for me - I need ham, carrots, bread and some yoghurt. Oh, there's a pile of uniform to iron as well when you get here, im snowed under. So nice of you to offer - see you soon love you' ;)

Arithmeticulous Mon 11-Feb-13 10:06:11

What does she do in the school holidays?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 10:08:00

Its probably just a habitual opening...don't get upset, just reply yes/no/they sort themselves out and then ask her how she is or something. Or just say 'oh hello, how's things'.

You've less than 10 years to go before she'll have to find a new opener!

Unless she's double checking your answers, it sounds to me like she's lonely and using the only common ground she can think of for a chat. If the question itself bothers you I would suggest thinking up a single line reply and repeating it every evening, e.g.. "they get themselves sorted now". Might take a while, but she'll think of a different opener eventually. The other option is to feed her your own opener, e.g. "hello MIL, did you manage to get any washing done with today's rain/did you manage to get into town and get XYZ, etc.

That said a phone call every night would drive me mad and I would have to find a way to politely reduce that. Perhaps you could say, "I'm too busy to talk tonight I'm afraid, can I call you back tomorrow evening?" and gradually get her down to every other night? Then maybe work on getting it down to a chat every Tuesday and Friday evening or whenever.

Does you DH speak to her much? Does she have other family/friends to talk to? Does she have a good relationship and contact with her GC?

Pagwatch Mon 11-Feb-13 10:14:31

I am not a huffy offence taking sort but in all honesty I would think you were pretty rude because your comment includes assumptions about the calls being tight lipped judgements and nagging which may not be what is going on at all.

What if the mils reaction was then 'oh god. I just used to find the lunch boxes/pe kit/homework book gathering so stressful, I was just trying to sympathise and make sure you were not snowed under. Do you really see me like that -judging you and nagging? I can't believe it. I thought we got on......'

Why not just ask? Why be brusque and accusatory?

Just asking. Not being accusatory grin

BollyGood Mon 11-Feb-13 10:15:41

Is she a bit lonely OP or needing to feel useful? PIL can be really odd. My FIL tells me when our oven needs cleaning?? And on several occasions he has moved my pans when i am cooking to the back hob ring, my children are nowhere near the cooker when i am making dinner. We are very safety conscious and more than adequate parents of 3 well behaved children! I used to get really offended now I just ignore him. The funny thing is he doesn't tell his other son and my SIL to do things for fear of upsetting them yet they are messy, kids always late for school, house a tip among other things. But that seems to be okay with him !! Obviously I have never said anything about that out loud and never would.

EyesCrossedLegsAkimbo Mon 11-Feb-13 10:15:41

Just tell your DH to answer the phone every single night. He'll soon get sick of it and get her to stop.

BollyGood Mon 11-Feb-13 10:16:51

Caller ID!

valiumredhead Mon 11-Feb-13 10:19:26

The other way it reads is that she is asking you OP IF you have time to chat and if you've done the bags/packed lunches because if you haven't she'll ring later.

Googol Mon 11-Feb-13 10:36:51

exe I didn't find your comment rude.

My mother used to put this sort of stuff on me all the time, then she would tell my family that I couldn't cope without her help, that I was such a burden to her, that I imposed on her life but she had to do it to help me.

She is a full blown narcissist though. grin

I would use a comment like exe wrote every once in a while to try to establish some boundaries and get her to back the fuck off. She's be all upset, she was only doing it because she cares, I was so sensitive and misunderstood her. Typical emotional abusive crap.

So it depends on how your MIL is with you OP. If you're not sure try the nice approach first and see how she reacts but as she's been doing this for years then I suspect you may need firmer boundaries with her or use one of the amusing comments suggested (I like the drug running one) to anticipate her comment.

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 10:37:49

Pag - the OP said she'd already asked why the MiL kept asking, and didn't get all the 'oh, it was a nightmare for me...' stuff, so she's asking how to take it from there.

I suppose my response is in the context of my relationship with my mother - I've always been fiercely independent (and she's known me for 45 years so she knows that), while she has tendencies towards being anxious, overprotective etc which have got worse as she has got older, and also since I was widowed and moved back to the UK.

We have a good relationship, speak every day and so on, but sometimes she slips into old habits, and when she has asked about/reminded me to do something I am perfectly capable of doing without interference for the 5th/10th/umpteenth time, I have to remind her, fairly bluntly, to back off a bit.

Works for us, but I can see that it might come across as excessively brusque in the context of other people's family dynamics.

Pagwatch Mon 11-Feb-13 10:39:10

Fair enough exexpat.
smile

exexpat Mon 11-Feb-13 13:47:39

Thanks, Pagwatch.

I think we all read & respond to posts on here through the filter of our own experience (and can't convey tone); I saw the OP as something very like the kind of thing my mother would say, which would annoy me, and I would pull her up on it. But of course we know nothing about the characters of the OP and her MiL, if there's history of this sort of thing being an issue etc etc.

Pagwatch Mon 11-Feb-13 14:24:21

Yes, I do see what you mean.
With my mother I tend to gently get out of her what is going on because the problem is usually miss communication rather than anything and she would be bothered if she thought I could assume her intentions were mean spirited.
She usually gets in a tiss trying to do the right thing iyswim.

Narked Mon 11-Feb-13 14:31:31

She phones you every day???

Kbear Mon 11-Feb-13 14:38:25

How about saying "when I have smoked this fag and drunk my Strongbow, it's next on my list"...

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