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To not know what to do about this situation with my sister and her kids?

(57 Posts)
emeraldgirl1 Sat 13-Apr-13 23:36:39

I don't know what to do and would love some dispassionate advice.

I have a newborn DD (4weeks) , my first.

I have always adored my sister's 3 children, 6, 4 and 2, though they are what I would have in the past called 'spirited' in the extreme.

They came to visit day and for the third time in a row since DD arrived their visit was hell on earth. They woke her in her pram, they fought and screamed at each other, the eldest broke a newborn toy that was a gift, they chased each other round and round the kitchen where I was feeding DD for 20 mins, and a nice piece of furniture was damaged by them 'surfing on it' in the other room, I had no idea til I went in later. My sister cannot (never has been able to) control them. When I asked in desperation if they might 'prefer' to watch a DVD rather than chase each other round the kitchen my sister said they had been sitting for ages and needed to burn off some energy..l

I had told her I have only had a few hours sleep these past few nights. I am exhausted and struggling a bit. Their visit today made me stressed beyond belief and DD took hours to settle afterwards. She is a very poor sleeper and had just dropped off half an hour before my two year old nephew woke her. I don't blame him, he wanted to see the baby but my sister did nothing to stop him wobbling the pram. I tred to stop him but my sister is very defensive and reacts very badly indeed to any notion that she isn't exercising any control at all. I told him No three times but didn't know what else to do when he ignored me again and again, also I thought my sister was keeping an eye on him but she evidently wasn't!!

I have always struggled with my sister even when I am not zombie like from lack of sleep, she is a very difficult personality. In addition this is not a simple situation, she is very isolated and I can't simply shut the door on her and her children. I have spent a long time being a very hands on aunt and the trouble is that now my priority has to be DD. I have long known that my nieces and nephew are impossible to handle but I always tried to help in the past and now I just can't sit and watch while they run riot and disturb my newborn baby.

My sister has suggested a holiday together later in the summer, I had tentatively said yes but after today I cannot even begin to face the prospect.

I also feel bad about the fact that right now I cannot face having them come over again, the house is a tip and I am a nervous wreck, they literally just screamed and ran riot for four hours while my sister sat at the table drinking tea and occasionally asking them to play nicely.

What advice can anyone offer as to how to handle this situation? AibU to think that it would have been the right thing to get them to be a bit calmer around a newborn? Not to wake her in her pram etc.

I know I should have said more but I just don't know where to begin.

My brother has already pretty much cut her off because he finds her so impossible, I don't want to do anything of the sort but I feel I have let DD down today by not protecting her better.

I am finding new motherhood pretty hard going (obv!) and this is getting me really stressed.

MonstersInception Sat 13-Apr-13 23:42:51

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emeraldgirl1 Sat 13-Apr-13 23:45:05

DH had to work today...
Neutral ground is a very good suggestion... Thank you MonstersInception...

emeraldgirl1 Sat 13-Apr-13 23:46:45

I should add that DH is great and v supportive, he has always found the children impossible though and was worried how things would work when we had one of our own.

FranKatzenjammer Sat 13-Apr-13 23:47:06

Could you and your DD visit your sister at her place instead? That way, her children might be a bit more settled, they wouldnt be able to smash up your stuff, and you could leave when you wanted to.

poopnscoop Sat 13-Apr-13 23:47:45

Neutral ground for sure. Not your home, which is your (and your baby's) haven... not till they learn to behave. Have you told her re the damage her kids caused? Aside from them disturbing your baby.

Irritates me highly when parents don't parent.

FaceLikeAPickledYonion Sat 13-Apr-13 23:49:37

Offer to meet at an indoor soft play next time perhaps?

coppertop Sat 13-Apr-13 23:50:52

Tell your sister that now you've had time to think it over, you've changed your mind about the holiday. If you can't tell her the real reason, tell her that it's your first summer as a new family and that you will be going on holiday as/with your new family unit/staying home this year (whichever option you prefer).

That will at least relieve you of some of your stress.

Definitely meet on more neutral ground, eg local park or soft play centre.

emeraldgirl1 Sat 13-Apr-13 23:53:49

Thanks v much, great advice!!
Going there is better, I should be more geared up for that again at some point...
It does feel like home is a haven right now and poor DD looked so unhappy about all the noise and commotion sad I felt I had failed her

emeraldgirl1 Sat 13-Apr-13 23:55:54

Poopnscoop I did tell her re the damage but it is water off a duck bck in a way... She is sort of embarrassed but doesn't express it and just gets defensive or laughs it off as kids being kids

joanofarchitrave Sat 13-Apr-13 23:56:01

Could you stick to speaking to your sister on the phone for the next eight weeks? This period is SO extreme - but thank goodness, the parent of a three month old is in a different world from the parent of a month old. Also it will be summer.

Then I would meet your sister and her children exclusively in parks/nature reserves/National Trust places/mountains/beaches.

Incidentally, as a parent, it is OK to say what happens to your child.

MoonlightandRoses Sat 13-Apr-13 23:57:03

Well firstly - congratulations!

Secondly, yes, that is quite a tough situation. You say that you've been quite involved in your nephews/nieces lives up to now. Quite apart from the 'spirited' aspect, it's possible that they are deliberately playing up because they are jealous of the new arrival.

Hard as it may be, you may just have to continue to take the lead and do a bit more parenting in your own house with the older ones though. If they are misbehaving, tell them to stop and the consequences of not stopping (and then carry out the consequence). If they need 'to let off steam' then they can run around outside (whatever the weather).

If your sister objects, then you may need to be blunt about it and state 'your children are your priority, and my child is mine, if I feel they are overstepping the mark with my child I will pull them up on it'. Sometimes, by putting the onus on your perception, it makes it easier for it to be accepted - you are not frustrated by her poor parenting, but concerned for your own, if that makes sense?
(Or you could claim to need the practice for when DD's older? wink).

VodkaJelly Sat 13-Apr-13 23:58:00

Four hours?? Your sister was there for four hours? Start by limiting her time at your house. 30 minutes is more than enough.

poopnscoop Sun 14-Apr-13 00:01:21

That's an awful attitude.. and so she shouldn't be surprised if she doesn't get an invite to yours for a play date again. It is frustrating when a parent is in denial about their child's behaviour (which is enabled by themselves more often than not).

I would leave going to soft play centers with them for a while till your baby is older too.. it's (imho) too loud and busy for a newborn. Keep to nature/her house/indoor neutral ground.

ENormaSnob Sun 14-Apr-13 00:35:01


I would be apoplectic tbh.

Your sister is being a selfish twat.

Fluffymonster Sun 14-Apr-13 00:54:18

Another vote for neutral ground - but she would have to actually keep an eye on her kids while out, not just leave it to you to control them. Her place is an option too.

Maybe also arrange to meet sometimes, when older ones are not around (when at nursery/school) - so you lessen the potential for chaos as it were.

CautionaryWhale Sun 14-Apr-13 01:03:17

Yep what everyone else has said...

Meet in the park
Meet in Wacky Warehouse or somewhere similar
Go to hers
Say no to holiday
At park/ballpit/her house keep it to 2 hours tops

brew xx

WafflyVersatile Sun 14-Apr-13 01:08:55

Your sister may not be any good at getting them to behave but from now on you could have 'your house, your rules'. If/when your sister gets defensive say that it's not a comment on her parenting just that everyone runs their house run differently and these are the rules at your house. Give them time outs or whatever.

saffronwblue Sun 14-Apr-13 01:10:14

Congratulations on your DD! Your sister and her kids sound very difficult. It is natural that you feel protective of your home as a haven. Your life has changed now so you can quickly set some ground rules. Next time she proposes visiting you, if you are not up to it, just text back - sorry we had a bad night and am not up to a visit today.
YY to meeting elsewhere. Then if you and DD are hating it you can just leave.

middleeasternpromise Sun 14-Apr-13 01:44:13

Had an SIL like this - you would have thought she was watching a film of her children through sound proof glass when they visited. Just sat back, never told them off, never pre-empted anything - just waited till they smashed stuff and then said can I offer you some money for that? Equally sensitive about anyone saying anything about her management of the children or the childrens behaviour. Fast forward several years - one child is so secretive hard to know what she is up to - the other is causing mayhem between SIL and partner, shes had to take up all sorts of behavioural support which is a lot harder work trying to put the boundaries into a teenager when they were never there before. Tip-toeing round yr sister will not do her or her kids any favours. You also can no longer afford to do it unless you want to see your child raised the same way or totally distressed by the fact she isnt and has to put up with their unruliness.

emeraldgirl1 Sun 14-Apr-13 03:29:49

Thanks again everyone. Really appreciate the advice.
Middleeasternpromise... I worry about the future for them tbh, if this carries on they are going to be nightmare teenagers and not very happy adults, I am used to (in fact keen on) boisterous behaviour from kids and this is not the same thing, they are totally out of control. You feel like you will have a nervous breakdown if you have ten more mins of it!!

Eskino Sun 14-Apr-13 03:57:00

Wow, my sil has ONE boisterous dd and I won't entertain them round at ours if I can help it. You need to meet somewhere you have an escape route from.

Don't feel bad about limiting your meetings with her and her kids while your baby is so tiny. You and she need to have calm and peace for the present. If you need an excuse, read up on "The Fourth Trimester" if nothing else, its a good excuse to spend time in with your newborn.

When your dd is older she'll be more equipped to deal with the stress but right now she needs you to be handling and shielding her from such situations.

Chottie Sun 14-Apr-13 04:19:42

Congratulations on the arrival of your DD....

Just to say that I agree with everyone else, meet at S house or neutral space, love the suggestion about text message and bad night and also the 'get out of holiday' ideas.

These first few weeks are so precious with your new DD. Think about yourself too flowers

Springdiva Sun 14-Apr-13 06:51:31

Your sister must be in denial about her DCs behaviour to ignore it like that.
You say she is isolated, wonder why which makes me wonder if she needs some help or support with her childrearing, is there anything in the area with advice on bringing up children. It would be nice for her to meet others with the problem and will be a shame for the DCs if nothing changes.

Difficult for you to bring this up but the other option seems to be to stop visits, which you will feel bad about too.

The good thing is that in a few years they will come to your house and slump on the sofa with their phones/ gameplayers and the charging round will be behind them.

emeraldgirl1 Sun 14-Apr-13 06:53:03

Reading fourth trimester stuff now as I feed DD! Great excuse for a cuddle if nothing else!
I think I need to take a tougher line from now on with my sister, it's tough too as our mum has a tendency to become hysterical when she feels family events are being denied to her, she wants all her children and grandchildren in one place for things like Christmas and birthdays and my sister always seizes such occasions as it gives het a bit of a break from being alone with her kids... I don't want to be having to refuse to go to family events (as my brother does) because we can't cope with the yelling and rioting! I used to do it and DH used to reluctantly tolerate it but I can't put DD in that environment just yet... Or ever...

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