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Weird MIL. Weird and a bit ignorant. What shall I do?

(54 Posts)
InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:21:02

It’s not much really - MIL babysat DS for the 1st time this week - he’s 15 months old. Have long-standing issues with in-laws and their complete lack of interest (which I have posted about a few times) and their apparent favouritism towards DH’s niece over our DS.

Anyway, on Thursday she DID babysit for us, which was a massive break-through. She came over at 5:30pm, and was there until around 10.30-ish.

DS - very good sleeper. Always goes to bed around 7:30pm, very rarely wakes up in the night (can count on fingers of one hand) - absolutely loves his sleep, and would just take himself off to bed if he could.

She came in at 5:30 (we were going out at 6 - not a social event - it was a professional thing) and I was making DS’s dinner. DS was in his playpen next to me. MIL walked in - didn’t even acknowledge DS - didn’t even LOOK at him - she walked straight past him, and proceeded to take off her wellies, her trousers (!) her coat, put new trousers on, slippers, folded all her clothes up and put them on a radiator. The whole time, she was talking AT me about some woman that she works with and her son who has just passed his driving test. DS started shouting for a bit of attention, but she was standing (with her back to him) between us. I was scrambling some eggs, and I literally couldn’t get a word in edgeways, so I manoeuvred round her and picked him up and returned to the hob. She was still talking the whole time, still didn’t acknowledge DS.
I put him down, as his tea was ready, and she said “shall I put him in his chair for you?” - so I said “that would be lovely” - she did, and then went and sat down in the corner of the room. I fed him, and the WHOLE TIME, she was just banging on about someone else at work, and someone’s milk and bread and how someone else was going to see Kings of Leon. I basically ignored her, and tended to my son, but she didn’t seem to notice.

Anyway - we HAD to go out. I ran through bedtime routine etc with her, got everything ready. Told her that if he DID whimper a bit, just to leave him as he settles himself, and only to go in to him if he cries, Told her that singing and rubbing his tummy helps, and that if he does shout out or cry, just go in and have a sing and maybe switch his lullaby on. I also told her not to take him out of his cot, as he does settle well, and is better just left

We went out, and got back in at 10:20pm - DS still wide awake on her knee. Asked her what happened. She said that he didn’t want to go to bed at 7:30, so she’d kept him downstairs until 8.30pm. Then she took him up to his cot. He didn’t go to sleep, so she stood watching him, and he wouldn’t settle (!) I asked her if she’d sang to him and she said “no, I have a horrible voice” - so she brought him downstairs.
I asked if he’d cried, but she said “No, he didn’t cry once all night - he just wanted to be awake”

Apparently, she took him upstairs 6 times!! Each time, he wouldn’t settle (while she was standing over the cot looking at him)she brought him downstairs and played with him.
When we got in, she was chasing him round the room!!

We thanked her confused and she left - we took him to bed and he went straight to sleep.

Now, last night - for the first time, we had problems with him settling to sleep. It took him over 2 hours to settle. I know that this is normal for many babies and parents - but this is SO out of normal for DS. He also woke twice in the night, got up really early this morning (normally it’s about 8-ish) and is now really tired

I know that I have it easy with DS and his sleeping, and I know that anything can disrupt and change things, and am ready for that to happen - BUT I would rather it be prevented if it can easily be prevented, IYSWIM, We’ve even been on holiday with DS, and he still stuck to his routine, - we’ve stayed out late with him - nothing has ever shaken him before

MIL and FIL are having him again next week (2nd time ever) and I really want to say something to them, but DH says I should just leave it. The trouble is, it’s the night before I start back at work after my maternity leave. I can’t believe the disruption from just one night of (really quite weird behaviour IMO) from MIL, and I know they are doing us a favour next week (again it’s a work thing) but I feel as though I should try and hammer it home, lay it down straight and ask them to abide by our routine and dealing with DS. If he cries, obviously I will trust their judgement to soothe him, but I feel I should tell them how disruptive it has been by her reacting to him like this

For the record, DS has stayed with my Mum and Dad with no problems, and I have had a friend babysit AND my sister with no problems, so it’s not that he doesn’t settle well with other people. It just seems to be this weird way that MIL has with him (ie ignoring everything we said to her, stimulating him late into the night, keeping him up so he’s over-tired, not really bonding with him, standing over him and wondering why he refuses to sleep, and then bloody bringing him up and down stairs 6 times)

I know, I know - she did us a favour and is doing us a favour next week (but we do LOTS of favours for them too - had their dog for 2 weeks when they went away, driving Mil to work for a week and home again when her car was in the garage etc) - but do think she acted quite strangely, and I really want to say something for next week, as I really don’t want him to start having disrupted sleep just when I go back to work, if it can be helped.

Am I right in thinking this is a bit odd, and what shall I do?


LessonsinL Sat 04-Dec-10 10:23:49

Sounds to me like she was deliberately doing a bad job. Trust your instincts on this one and don't let her look after your DS again.

borderslass Sat 04-Dec-10 10:26:54

Can you put him to bed before you go out?

Pennies Sat 04-Dec-10 10:27:27

Let it go. IMO she spent some time with him and may have bonded a bit more with him.

taintedsnow Sat 04-Dec-10 10:27:43

I probably wouldn't let MIL do a nighttime babysitting session again. I can't account for her behaviour. It could be that she thinks she knows better, or that she just wanted a bit of extra time with her GS. Difficult to say.

But she could babysit for you in the day time, couldn't she? Just for a couple of hours maybe, so you and your DH could go shopping or out for lunch or something. She'll get time with your DS and you won't have her influence on his bedtime routine.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:29:28

No, we’re going out at 5. It is a complete one-off (well two-off - last week and next week) and my parents are away, and my sister is coming with me. It’s a work thing, not social, and we really can’t not go.

I hope you’re right, Pennies, and that they’ve bonded. I’m just concerned that it will happen again next week - although his natural love of sleep might win anyway…. hmmm

thighsmadeofcheddar Sat 04-Dec-10 10:31:32

Either put him down first then go out or pay a babysitter to follow your instructions. It's not worth a massive family rift.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:32:12

We’ve asked her to babysit in the day before - not because we’ve needed her to, but because we thought she might want to, and she’s never really wanted to. There is a bit of history here - she really has never shown any interest in him, and the night we brought him home we took him round to meet her, and she went out to the hairdressers - didn’t even stop for a cuddle. That was why we were really pleased that she said she’d babysit, but I just don’t understand why she was so strange with his routine

annielennox Sat 04-Dec-10 10:32:14

If you tell her it was disruptive she may never babysit again! When I have sitters (quite often as work FT) i explain my preferred methods but always end with "but do whatever you need to to keep them happy"; I just want safe happy children when I come back. Sleep routines get disrupted by lots of things not just babysitters and I think we can all waste a lot of energy/get upset over it when it isn't really the end of the world. I would say she is not weird probably just nervous of upsetting her grandson or doing it wrong. If you have had a breakthrough as you say with her being more involved don't squash it at her first attempt to be helpful.

midnightblues Sat 04-Dec-10 10:33:38

This sounds like my mum! She has always made it clear she never wanted to babysit, and when she used to visit she would ignore the baby entirely.

Finally, once she did babysit, she rang me 2 hours after I had gone out to tell me I was needed back home - the baby wouldn't settle and was couging terribly. When I got home, he was smiling sweetly, no coughing and went straight to sleep.

Moral of the story: she never wanted to babysit, and was making it clear that she never wanted to again!

This was 10 years ago btw, and my mum still ignores my ds, and talks at me when she enters my house.

So, I would find a nice, reliable babysitter and don't bother with your mil again, it's just not worth it.

Oh, and her behaviour with your ds was definitely not normal! She was giving you a clear message.

booneymooney Sat 04-Dec-10 10:33:47

When we leave the DC's at MIL's for the night my rules go out the window and it's up to her what she does with them.... i used to be annoyed but now i just think fuck it, the dd's see it as a treat and will love their nights with their nan and thats how it should be. If she lets them stay up till 10pm and gives them chocolate for brekkie once every few months it's really not going to hurt is it??

I can see that it has messed your routine up but a couple of days and it will be back to normal, i bet they had loads of fun chasing eachother round the room {grin] it wuld have much easier for her to put him to bed and relax watching tv but she actually played with him all evening.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:45:04

Thanks for your perspectives. I think I am quite clouded in my views about her, because her behaviour in the past has been so ignorant towards DS. It was actually my FIL who was originally going to babysit DS on Thursday, and MIL turned up and said he couldn’t come. We were very pleased that she was there - but in terms of her having great fun chasing each other round the room, I don’t think so. She actually said “I really wanted to finish my knitting tonight - I hope he’s not going to be like this next week.” and when I asked her what she was knitting, she told me it was a cardigan for her nephew’s soon-to-be-born baby! We’ never had anything from her. But that’s kind of not the point.

I wouldn’t mind if she played by her own rules, gave him choc etc, treated him - I know my Mum does all that behind my back!! grin and I’m not precious. I just really felt as though she completely ignored everything I asked - completely, and almost tried to sabotage me, but I posted on here as I didn’t know if I was reading too much into it.

I don’t think we could get a babysitter. We can’t really afford it, I don’t know anyone local and I’d prefer if it wasn’t a stranger. TBH, we don’t really need much childcare in general, and I really don’t want to create a rift over it, but I just don’t want her to ruin his routine for, what seems to be, the sake of it.

Agh! I am pleased, though, that she came round AND that she’s having him next week for the sake of their relationship in the future. That is definitely a breakthrough!

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:46:58

midnightblues - your post does ring quite close to home. Sorry about your mum. I think it was a message to us too. And next week will probably be the last time!

Baileysandice Sat 04-Dec-10 10:48:00

Sounds to me that the reason your baby wouldn't settle with your MIL was simply that she is almost a stranger to him? Or am I wrong? Babies feel more secure in company of people they see on regular basis. Also in fairness to your MIL she did babysit for you, but again think it comes down to the fact of lack of bond. Bonding between a child and others can take time sometimes.

EricNorthpolesChristmas Sat 04-Dec-10 10:51:37

She probably has no confidence in herself and is maybe anxious about him being unhappy, hence standing over him/not letting him cry. Don't be critical - ask her to please leave him to go to sleep etc, be explicit about how to get him to go to sleep, but at the end of the day it's not a big deal.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:53:17

Bailleysandice - I think you’re right about them not really knowing one another (not from lack of trying on our part) and I think that was part of it - but I also think he would have settled had she not been standing next to his cot watching him, and then picking him up and taking him downstairs because he didn’t fall asleep. She made no attempt to sing, rub his tummy, even hum. She didn’t switch his lullabies on because she said she “couldn’t work it out” (it’s one switch! DS can do it!) - so yes, whilst there was an element of her being a stranger to him, I think it was more to do with her behaviour. But I am grateful that she came round. She spent more time with him on Thursday than the rest of the time she’s seen him put together. So it was probably a worthwhile exercise for that reason alone

fel1x Sat 04-Dec-10 10:55:13

If it's a one off then I'd go with the flow tbh.
It's actually quite sweet and reassuring that rather than leave him unsettled she sat him on her knee and gave him some company. I'd much rather that than find out she'd left him to cry!
If you really really can't deal with a broken nights sleep the night after (and I can understand that if it's your first day back at work the next day) then chat to dh and say to him that you will not say anything to mil but he will have to deal with the next nights wakings as you have an important day the next day.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:56:29

Eric - yes, I definitely wouldn’t be critical. I do think I should just re-iterate though.
She does have another grandchild (DH’s niece) who she babysits for 3 times a week, and she stays over twice a week, so I don’t think it’s lack of confidence.

Although, DH’s SIL did once say to me that her DD is a really bad sleeper, and that she was quite envious of me with DS. Her DD is 3, and she sleeps with either her parents in their bed, because she won’t go in her own room, or she sleeps with MIL and FIL when she stays over there, and she won’t go to bed until they do. I hadn’t actually realised that before…. Maybe MIL genuinely is just a bit odd!!!?

RobynLou Sat 04-Dec-10 10:57:58

My parents adore DD, love babysitting, but when she's with them she rarely goes to bed before 10pm (she's 3 and usual bedtime is 7-8pm)
If she goes to them for a whole weekend she's shattered when we get her back, but she's had a lovely time and loves them to bits.
My parents never really had a set bedtime for us when we were kids, and they often don't eat till 9pm, it's just the way they are, occasionally it doesn't hurt - it's all part of the fun of going there for DD, being allowed to stay up late.
They've had her over night since she was 16m and have always been the same, I'd just let her get on with it and enjoy the relationship which will grow between your son and his grandma as he gets bigger.

JessicaRabid Sat 04-Dec-10 10:58:05

My MIL is exactly like this. My DD1 is a brilliant sleeper and no one else has problems as long as they generally stick to what she is used to. It's not too much of a problem because she is pretty much my last choice of babysitter.
I hate it when MIL is staying over, she decides she is putting DD to bed, ignores everything I say, does whatever she wants and then when DD refuses to sleep and is over tired and being a nightmare she buggers off downstairs and leaves me and DH to deal with her!
If shes anything like my MIL she probably just thinks she knows better. If you really need her to babysit accept that she won't listen and will probably upset his routine for a day or two and try as much as posible to get someone else!

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 10:58:17

Fel1x - yes, you’re right. I think posting here has put it into perspective a bit. It is only a one-off, and DS might well be just fine. It might have been anything last night that caused him to be unsettled…
Although, DH can’t deal with night-time wakings. He leaves for work at 3am! It’s gonna be me!
Maybe I could use it as a reason to have a lovely uninterrupted nap on Sunday afternoon, just to prepare…..?

fel1x Sat 04-Dec-10 10:58:39

And maybe she is just nervous of leaving him in the cot awake? She maybe used to cuddle her babies to sleep or something?
I've done similar when babysitting for friends. They've said 'leave him if he cries a bit when he goes to bed, we do and he settles down after ten minutes'
I just can't leave him! I always go and comfort him after s minute or two and keep doing that until he settles. I know it's against their instructions but I really can't do it.

RobynLou Sat 04-Dec-10 10:59:38

and what fel1x said - much better that she stayed with him and kept him happy than left him crying, which is what she was probably scared would happen if she left him alone.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 11:01:05

Jessica - I think you’re right too (everyone is right, except me! Haha - I love AIBU) - I think she probably thinks she knows best. It isn’t a big deal is it, really? And he is 15 months old and this is the 1st time she’s ever had him - it’s not like it’s a regular thing, and I know it won’t be a regular thing in the future. We very rarely need or ask for childcare, so emergencies aside, it’s not something I’ll have to worry about really. I think I’m just a bit hmm as it’s my first day back at work on the Monday, so I’ll have a brand new morning routine of my own to get used to.

InWithTheITCrowd Sat 04-Dec-10 11:01:59

He didn’t cry, though - he didn’t get the chance!
Oh - and she didn’t cuddle. She says “I don’t do cuddles, but I’m happy to play” she is a bit cold!

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