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to ask for suggestions for the best way to work this out with MIL?

(26 Posts)
emeraldgirl1 Wed 24-Apr-13 16:55:46

First off, I have a great MIL. She is not an interferer or a bosser-about and we get on very well indeed, always have.

I have a DD, now a few weeks old, and MIL is keen to help out, especially when I go back to work. Obviously I am hugely grateful for her offer and would love for her to give us whatever time she can and would like to; having family look after DD when possible would be wonderful.

BUT there is a difficulty which is that MIL is SO keen not to be a bossy MIL or granny that she is very very backwards about coming forwards IYSWIM. She is very nervous indeed about holding the baby, changing or feeding her, all of which will be vital if she is going to do some caring/babysitting! She comes over a lot but mostly just ends up keeping me company at the kitchen table which is lovely but not very practical when I have huge amounts of general baby stuff to be doing eg washing, sterilising, sleeping whenever possible More often than not we just end up sitting for hours over tea. Tea that she is too anxious even to make in case she gets it wrong!! Honestly watching her make a pot of tea is painful as she hesitates about everything and it takes three times as long as it should. I would leap up and just do it myself but obviously that would make her even more nervy!

I have tried already to encourage her to think that she can do more (btw I know she WANTS to really help, this is not me trying to turn her into a skivvy, not that I would do that anyway!) by suggesting that she give DD a little feed from a bottle while I am doing a bit of ironing etc... she did this for five mins and then handed her back in a panic saying she was sure she was doing it all wrong. I tried to show her how to work the steriliser but she went on and on about how she was sure she would get it wrong and it would be dangerous.

It is like the absolute opposite of an interfering MIL and I really would like to change this! I know she would too but she is so scared and reticent that I don't really know where to begin apart from doing what I have already done which hasn't been very successful.

Any advice on how to encourage her a bit more? I did just try handing her the baby one day for a cuddle but she was very nervous and so didn't hold her firmly enough, leading to squirming, which made her even more nervous and so DD was handed back again...

I am not the greatest at giving instructions/direction so obviously a lot of this is down to me being a bit rubbish but I am so keen to make headway on this front so any advice would be much appreciated!

DH is pushing and pushing for us to use her for babysitting one night soon as he would love for us to get a quick meal out or something and he doesn't seem to realise how nervous I would be about leaving DD with MIL under the current circumstances. Of course she had kids of her own but that was years ago and obviously I understand that she is nervous! But I can't relax until she is quite a bit more confident and she won't get confident unless she does a bit more...

magimedi Wed 24-Apr-13 16:58:18

I think if she did babysit, maybe just for a short time first time, it would give her the confidence she needs.

Could you just pop out to the shops for half an hour or so next time she's round, having passed over DD for MIL to feed? Am sure she'll manage.

starfield Wed 24-Apr-13 17:02:46

Throw her in at the deep end and get out of the way.

Abigail9580 Wed 24-Apr-13 17:05:53

Ah bless her! It's so lovely to read about a MIL that someone likes for a change!!
My mum was similar to this when I had my DS. But I guess it was slightly easier to deal with as I could be honest (maybe a little brutally!). Anyway I just left my mum on her own with DS just for half an hour (I made a trip to the post office!) so she kinda had to cope. I made sure DS wouldn't need feeding/changing etc so all she had to do was cuddle. This gave her confidence, then I left her with him for a little longer each time. It seemed to work well. Hope that helps.

FoofFighter Wed 24-Apr-13 17:14:10

Hand baby over and go for a bath? I agree she needs throwing in at the deep end.

emeraldgirl1 Wed 24-Apr-13 17:18:42

Good advice, deep end it is! I will find something urgent that suddenly needs doing and will take about half an hour... Then I will probably lurk unseen around the corner and gibber in panic myself!

fertilityFTW Wed 24-Apr-13 17:20:26

Agreed with the other posters - the nerves probably have to do with doing things right in your eyes, as opposed to doing things right. Plus she's raised kids before. Just leave her to it for a bit and I'll expect she'll pick up on confidence (though still look to you for approval!).

FattyMcChubster Wed 24-Apr-13 17:27:08

I'm soooo envy you've got this mil, I'd love one like that!
Bless her, she'll be fine when she gets into it. I'm betting she feels nervous because you're there and she'll cope fine when it comes down to it.
Enjoy having some lovely help!

ginslinger Wed 24-Apr-13 17:30:37

Ask her to take the baby out or just go to the shops for half-an-hour and it will all be fine. I must admit to always checking everything with my DIL before doing anything because of the amount of times I've read about interfering hmm MILs

exoticfruits Wed 24-Apr-13 17:30:45

She has been reading MN about MILs and now is a nervous wreck! grin
There are plenty of people who would be upset if she made tea in their kitchen, used common sense and did jobs without being asked or tried to hold the baby unasked.
I would throw her in at the deep end-hand her the baby and go and put washing out, post a letter etc.

WaitingForMe Wed 24-Apr-13 17:46:30

Beta blockers? Seriously, it sounds like she should see her GP if she's challenged by making a cup of tea.

CleverClod Wed 24-Apr-13 17:49:05

She's probably only nervous because you're there and doesn't want to get it wrong in front of you. I agree, throw her in the deep end, she's had kid/s of her own, it'll soon come back to he.

fairylightsinthespring Wed 24-Apr-13 17:55:57

assuming you are relaxed enough to allow her to do things in her own way and not to the letter how you would do it, then I agree, just hand baby over and pop out / to sleep whatever for a bit. She managed to keep your DH alive! My MIL is a little like that, increasingly with age, she frets and worries over SO many things and wants a sheet of instructions when left with the DCs but constant demonstrations of trust, like leaving the DCs with her for whole days and nights has helped! Good luck and congrats on your new little one

whattodoo Wed 24-Apr-13 17:56:40

While you are around, its too easy for her to give the baby back to you.

I agree you should go out for half an hour. Will also show her that you trust her!

storynanny Wed 24-Apr-13 18:15:20

I agree with the others, best she practises with you out at the shops or in the bath. She will probably get back in the swing of things and remember what she did when her son was a baby

redwellybluewelly Wed 24-Apr-13 18:34:15

I think your MIL sounds lovely however your dd is ever so little still and tiny tiny babies do freak people out.

Why not say to her tjat you really value her coning over and getting to know your dd, you have however got a pile of ironing/load of washing to hang out/fridge to clean etc etc, now would she like to help do the chore or hold the baby grin

I would say though that I'm impressed you're doing anything at all with such a small baby, make sure you rest too!

Tanith Wed 24-Apr-13 18:41:43

My mum was/is like this. My sister is much younger than me, so she'd had less of a break since looking after a baby, yet she was terrified the first time she held one of her grandchildren.

She and my sister's MIL were both on their hands and knees, trying to remember how to put a nappy on, while my baby niece giggled up at them smile

She soon got back into the swing of it all and even managed overnight visits shockgrin

HotCrossPun Wed 24-Apr-13 18:50:32

She is a mother as well, so I don't think its that she doesn't know what to do/nervous with the baby.

It sounds like she is nervous that you will approve of what she is doing. She must make tea all the time, but when making it for you she really wants you to like it.

I think if you left the baby with her she would manage fine, she's had one of her own after all!

Keep up with your reassurances and hopefully she will realise that you aren't waiting to pick fault or criticize her.

You both sound lovely. Hopefully you can get this sorted and enjoy having her as a babysitter.

EMS23 Wed 24-Apr-13 18:59:22

My mum can be a bit like your MIL. Then last week my DH was away and I got deathly ill. Thrown in at the deep end and left to her own devices while I spent 3 days in bed and guess what... She was excellent! Just needed me out the way. Obviously she had to come and ask me the odd question about the DC's but she basically got on with it, her way and it was fine.
She's the same when driving, a nightmare driver with passengers but a bit of a Schumacher when on her own!!

Good luck with Operation Deep End!

Shelby2010 Wed 24-Apr-13 19:17:12

Why not ask her to 'help' DH look after the baby for a few hours at the weekend while you go out, on the basis that she knows the baby's routine best. If DH acts a bit helpless, she will probably feel better about being more hands on and less nervous with her son there instead of you.

Jinty64 Wed 24-Apr-13 19:27:34

I have 3 dsc and 3dc's the youngest only 6 but when dsd had to go away for the day and was unable to take her 16 day old baby (breast fed - only once taken milk from a bottle) I wasn't keen to step in. There was no alternative and we got on fine but he seemed so tiny and I was nervous doing little nappies again.

I'm sure MIL will be fine once she has to get on with it.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 24-Apr-13 19:28:00

Give her permission to help. Tell her how much you love her and what a great job you think she did with DH. Then hand her the baby and have a nice bath.

SingleMama Wed 24-Apr-13 21:30:05

I don't want to be the only one to ask this but is she quite frail/ elderly? And is she really nervous making tea? Looking after a baby for a few hours is more nerve wracking than tea making. Are you sure she'll cope?

Iggi101 Wed 24-Apr-13 21:37:40

I agree Singlemama, that was my first thought - is she very elderly, or infirm in any way? Her fears might not be entirely unfounded about how she can look after your dc. I've accepted now that my dcs grandparents are never going to be able to have sole charge of dcs, though they are great at playing with them and generally caring about them.

EggsMichelle Wed 24-Apr-13 21:48:57

I also have a fantastic mil, who will be taking care of DS a lot when I go back to work. At the moment I prep all his feeds in advance when he stays at their's, but will write an instruction sheet for steriliser/feeds/terry nappies if she needs them (I know she is far too excited to see him than listen to me babble on about formula!)

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