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to be grumpy about having to host dh's friends with kids

(44 Posts)
Rhubarbgarden Sat 22-Oct-11 13:12:01

Dh is going to a stag do for an old uni friend in a few weeks time. He asked me if some friends of his, a couple in Northern Ireland, could stay at ours that weekend as they don't have much money and London hotel prices are beyond them. Fine, I said, no problem. But now it has turned out that the couple intend to bring their two children, aged 4 and 7, and that the wife isn't going to the stag do, and she had suggested we go Christmas shopping while the boys go on the stag thing.

Now, I've never met this couple. They didn't come to our wedding two years ago because they couldn't afford it. The last time dh saw them was years ago when the group of friends went over to NI to stay with this couple and I wasn't invited because dh's ex was (which is all water under the bridge, but worth mentioning to illustrate that these are hardly close friends of dh's). We have a 16 month old and I'm pregnant with dc2. Christmas shopping on Oxford Street (presumably where she wants to go) would be pretty pants for dd, and not exactly my idea of fun. I don't know these children, but if they are of the variety that get up at 6am and run around in an excited state all day then go to bed late, the prospect of hosting them simply fills me with dread. I don't have much energy at the moment with being first trimester and I'm finding dd exhausting as it is. I've never been around older children much, so I find interacting with them doesn't come naturally and is hard work.

Obviously it would be mean to say no to this couple, as we have the space, and if we don't host them they probably won't be able to come, so I've said ok. But I can't help feeling grumpy about it, and dh clearly thinks I'm being mean and antisocial.

QueenOfMuppets Sat 22-Oct-11 13:34:57

Christmas shopping on Oxford St was always a TOTALLY magical part of Christmas for me as a child; seeing the fairy tale windows in sefridges, catching the bus along the street to see the lights, visiting Father Christmas AND a trip to Hamley's with a bit of spending money thrown in! I live away from London now but I'm looking forward to it being a regular xmas treat with my DC's in years to come (am expecting No 1)...

I'd have been older than your DD but my much younger baby bro always came along and had a magical day with the rest of us. If her DC's are going too presumably no-one will want to spend the day trailing round doing 'boring' Christmas shopping....

AnyPhantomFucker Sat 22-Oct-11 13:38:53

I would let them stay, but let this woman go off Xmas shopping by herself (not leaving her kids behind for you to look after of course...)

then have a quiet take away dinner and a couple of drinks

you never know...you might make a new friend

if not, you did a good thing, just make sure that you don't get dumped on

it should be easy enough to do...if things are "suggested" just say "no, that doesn't work for me"

zipzap Sat 22-Oct-11 14:27:18

Does she know that you're pregnant?

I'd just say that it sounds a lovely idea if she and her kids want to go but that you know you're not up to it at the moment and let alone dragging dc around as you know what a nightmare she's like for doing things like that. But that they can go and have a lovely time and you'll have a take away when they come back.

Then they get their trip to see the shops lights and you only need to entertain her in the evening.

Fwiw, I know the feeling. Sil and family are coming over from the rural depths of Ireland and have tried to invite themselves to stay on boxing day so that they can hit the sales (we live close to a great shopping area). However we are seeing all dh's side of the family on Xmas eve for mil's birthday and we usually see my family on boxing day. We missed out last year due to the snow so some of them I haven't seen since the year before and I'd love to see them. (whereas seeing dh's family is always a scary chore as there are so many of them and I always feel very out of place and uncomfortable). Sil was hoping that by asking early she'd get in before we had any other arrangements; don't think she was expecting that I'd say sorry but I want to see what my family arrangements are. And dh hasn't found out yet when she is going back to know if they have to come on boxing day or could come a day or two later. It's going to be tricky if the only day that everyone can do is boxing day though as we're going to have to choose one or the other so someone's going to get upset...

BarkisIsWillin Sat 22-Oct-11 14:50:29

If she's not familiar with London she may be reluctant to go without you but just arm her with loads of directions/suggestions/maps/timetables - you can have these ready in advance, maybe email or text her beforehand to find out where she would like to go. Hopefully you'll get some rest during the day yourself and you'll be ready to entertain them for the evening when they come back exhausted - dvd for kids, food (take away if you're not up to cooking).

fedupofnamechanging Sat 22-Oct-11 15:01:23

Could you get your mum/sister/auntie to baby sit your 16 month old and you could go shopping with this lady. You would be able to go at your own pace and wouldn't have the stress of being responsible for any dc. She would be looking after her own dc and you could just mooch around the shops with her for a bit.

I wouldn't fancy taking a toddler out shopping on Oxford street, but if you could go without your dc, you might have a good time and make a new friend.

You've agreed to let them stay, so you have to be a gracious host. Don't get suckered into staying home with her kids though while she goes shopping. You are pg and need to go at your own pace and not have the stress of responsibility for someone else's kids.

I feel for this woman a bit - she will essentially be in a stranger's home with her dc to entertain. She barely knows you and is probably anxious too. But, she could turn out to be a really close friend.

TheQueenOfDeDead Sat 22-Oct-11 15:11:44

I think you're being a bit unreasonable.

Either let the woman go shopping on her own (as AF says taking her own DC's)

or depending on what part of London you are in how about Christmas shopping in Bluewater or similar: great lights and trees, very "christmassy" and lots of places to sit and rest if you get exhausted.

A lot of 4 & 7 year olds are pretty self sufficient in that they may well get up at 6am but if you show them how to switch CBBC on they wont disturb you until 8 or 9am they are starving grin

The fact that you are pregnant is a great excuse if you really can't get along with her you can feign exhaustion and take yourself off to bed but she might turn out to be a great friend.

sillymillyb Sat 22-Oct-11 15:40:18

Yup, I'd do as others have suggested. Maybe send her an email before hand saying how much you are looking forward to meeting her and asking her what she would like to do while she is in London. Explain that as you are pregnant you are looking forward to the opportunity to rest during the day while she is enjoying the sites and does she fancy a take away / film etc that evening when she gets back from her day trip? I would just be really positive and bubbly so she doesn't see it as a snub, then if you change your mind you could always say your not as tired as you anticipated and would love to come along if she didn't mind.

WhoIsThatMaskedWoman Sat 22-Oct-11 15:46:20

I also would not fancy Oxford Street with a toddler, because it's far from pushchair friendly (though the lights are wonderful). Westfield (either one) might be easier, though still hyper-crowded.

I agree with those who say you should make them welcome, be friendly, but skip the shopping trip.

Gigondas Sat 22-Oct-11 15:50:36

I like sillymillyb idea- I think yanbu not to want a Xmas shopping trip when pregnant with 16 m old in tow (Oxford street is hell on earth at Xmas ESP if they start shutting tube due to over crowding). No need not to entertain them but I don't see why day can't be free.

Rhubarbgarden Sat 22-Oct-11 18:27:13

Thanks everyone. I can't leave dd with anyone Karma because family are all too distant, disinterested or dead, and I wouldn't want to park her with other mum friends as weekends are precious times for them all with husbands who work long hours. I think not going shopping with her is the right solution though. I will have to find an excuse that doesn't involve telling her I'm pregnant though - it will be just before my 12 week scan and I'd rather keep the lid on things till I know all is well. Sigh. I just feel like I've been railroaded into this and I'm feeling so crappy/nauseous/exhausted at the moment that the last thing I need is to have to clear out the spare rooms and entertain people!

Zipzap - Christmas always ends up a diplomatic nightmare doesn't it? What a tiresome situation for you.

betterwhenthesunshines Sat 22-Oct-11 18:36:28

I'm sure you can think of an excuse not to go shopping with her - it's not a barrel oflaughs with a toddler anyhow. Maybe something along the lines of "your DC are older so they'll have more fun if they can go at their own pace and don't have to go at toddler timetable?"

Then maybe think of some alternatives for her to do:
shopping is one ( Oxford street / Hamleys) but maybe not if they are short of money. Myabe she just suggested shopping as she doesn't know what else is around?
What about the Science / Natural History museum? (FREE)
London Eye / free stuff on at the South Bank?
London bus tour + Transport mueum in Covent Garden (NOT FREE!)
Tate Modern has good family activities for this age group (FREE)

and then try to enjoy an evening together - let the children have a secret 'midnight' feast with torches all camping in one room. As others suggest you may surprise yourself by finding a new friend.

WhoIsThatMaskedWoman Sat 22-Oct-11 18:47:39

I'd tell her you're pg actually, she has children so she'll understand about fears and morning sickness and if the worst happens the fact that a woman living in a different country knows will honestly not make it any worse, it's not like telling your workmates. And she's not a friend of your family, so there's no danger of a "you didn't tell me first" tantrum.

RogerMelly Sat 22-Oct-11 18:50:01

I think she seems like a nice lady, has thought it through and most probably feels like she is taking advantage
it's so hard when you don't have the money for stuff and if you act offish she is going to be so much more aware of that

but great for you for putting them up but your dp should have explained they had a whole family, but it isn't unreasonable of them to have kids is it?

squeakyfreakytoy Sat 22-Oct-11 18:50:54

I wouldn't want to park her with other mum friends as weekends are precious times for them all with husbands who work long hours

As it is only for a few hours, you could ask and offer to return the favour for them one weekend before christmas too, as most parents would love one afternoon child free to go and do their shopping.

RogerMelly Sat 22-Oct-11 18:51:24

god you can tell her you are pregnant if you need to, are you wore out is that the problem? (rather than the whole scenario?)

northerngirl41 Sat 22-Oct-11 19:07:47

You know it's highly likely that getting a rare opportunity to be in London with her kids they'll want to go off and do sightseeing type things... You know, see where the queen lives, go to London Eye, the aquarium etc. and be quite happy just to use your house as a base and entertain themselves. Could you have "some work to do" or "a family commitment" or "wait in for a delivery" but hand them a set of keys, an A-Z and a travelcard and leave them to it? You never know, if they are doing something suitable, they might even take DD off your hands and you can have an afternoon snooze?

Rhubarbgarden Sat 22-Oct-11 19:40:42

I don't want to tell her I'm pg because then that whole group of friends will know, and it will seep out to other friends loosely connected to that group who will be affronted that they weren't told first, being closer friends etc etc.

Museums would be a far better idea, far more fun for dd than being strapped into a pushchair all afternoon and more up my street. I think I shall suggest something like that and if she really wants to shop I will bow out using dd as my excuse. No midnight feasts though! The kids will be sleeping in the room next to dd and she's a light sleeper. They'll be told they have to be quiet as mice!

RogerMelly - I didn't make it clear in my op, but they asked dh if they could stay with us, it wasn't my dh doing the offering, so I doubt she feels like she's taking advantage or she wouldn't have put us on the spot like this. I do think it's a bit cheeky to be honest, but then if we go somewhere we can afford to just stay in a hotel. I guess if you're strapped for cash and you know someone's got spare rooms they seem like fair game. I really sound mean don't I? Before I had dd, I'd have had anyone to stay with open arms. Life just feels different now.

AnyPhantomFucker Sat 22-Oct-11 19:49:34

RG, I do get you

You are not a hotel

But DH has agreed now, yes ?

So some good advice on this thread

and maybe a word to DH, that he stops agreeing to people you barely know coming to stay at your B+B house smile

BsshBossh Sat 22-Oct-11 20:03:42

Oh God, I understand you, OP. When my DD was your toddler's age I hated having guests over as DD was also a light sleeper (though she did sleep very well - 12 hours... Just easily disturbed). So I never relaxed. Now DD is older (3) she sleeps much more deeply and so I love entertaining and hosting. No problems at all.

However, you see, to have no choice now. You've had some great comments and ideas here. I would take it as it comes and hope that you end up with a good friend - who knows!

Rhubarbgarden Sat 22-Oct-11 20:26:29

You are right. There is good advice/ideas here. I need to just suck it up and get on with it. And to be fair, my own friends do tend to treat this place as a B&B and that's always fine - but they are single and use us a base, there is never much impact on us (and often willing babysitting thrown in). I don't think dh sees the difference. Ok time to stop grumbling and get that spare linen in the wash. Thanks all.

AnyPhantomFucker Sat 22-Oct-11 20:29:49

speak to your DH, and change your status as free B+B

he obviously doesn't feel the impact like you do x

mynewpassion Sat 22-Oct-11 20:37:12

I agree with APF. You should do it across the board: your friends and his friends as free BnB.

If he is ok with your friends staying over, then he would think its ok with you to have his friends stay over once in a while.

zipzap Sun 23-Oct-11 00:03:52

Oops thought I'd posted this earlier.

On a separate practical note, for breakfast, I have two young dc and whenever I need an easy breakfast for them I get a bag of brioches rolls from the supermarket - the ones with chocolate in the middle a bit like a pain au chocolat.

I get the ones which are from a French company - they are in lots of supermarkets and have lots of White, yellow and blue. On their packaging. The advantage they have over the supermarket own ones is the buns are individually packaged. Fab in these situations - along with some portioned sized cartons of fruit juice and the kids can help themselves to breakfast with minimal input from you, just leave it all out on the table before you go to bed and tell them that as a special treat they can help themselves to this picnic breakfast - maybe leave out some fruit to go with it or other stuff you have around that would work for a no input picnic breakfast.

ChaoticAngelofSamhain Sun 23-Oct-11 00:04:40

I agree with APF too. Also, maybe your DH should get the linen in the wash as it's his friends this time.

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