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fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:03:42

APOLOGIES for the long post.... thanks for patience.

Both DH's and my families are overseas, except for DH's sister, her husband and their 3 children ages 13, 10 and 4. They both don't work and live off a generous allowance from SIL's MIL which includes 4 bedroom house in prime postcode, private school fees, full time live in cook/nanny, multiple long haul holidays a year etc. Whereas DH and I have 2 kids under 5, no outside childcare, living on half our former household income: we have the same qualifications and used to have the same job and salary, but I had to give up work after DC2 as childcare costs are equal to my salary. You may think this is a situation creating a lot of envy on my part but I can honestly say that I am quite contented to leave others be as long as we are left to get on with our lives in peace.

SIL and husband have several nights out during the week - movies, restaurants, concerts etc., and they host dinner parties regularly for their social group. All 3 of her children sleep with the nanny. We don't use babysitters ourselves so don't see anyone in the evenings, and our only free time are weekends as a family after housework and errands. SIL likes to arrange meetings on weekends and especially Sundays when her live-in has her off day. She texts or phones every week and it is always difficult to turn her down. We don't do very much socially ourselves and after housework and childcare, we simply don't have much free time left as a family. It has been a long term strain on our time and relationship whenever she suggests meeting up and we have to say no. So far we have managed to keep it to every other weekend. Put in perspective we see our close friends only once or twice a year.

When we do meet it's the whole day at their place - we would arrive an hour before lunch, as requested, "to let the kids play", and often find the adults still in bed. We would then mind their kids for a hour or so before SIL or her husband eventually comes downstairs. And only then they start prepping lunch, or driving to the supermarket, leaving all 3 kids with us, which also means we often eat at 2 or 3pm. We have always brought something to complement their meals but recently I have started to bring a full mains and sides so that the children can start eating nearer their usual lunchtime.

She has been making more requests than usual in recent months and in the last 5 weeks we have seen her family 4 weekends. We only didn't go that 5th time as DH had to work. DH took a day off yesterday (Monday) which was planned months ago so we could go away to a B&B for a long weekend holiday Sat-Mon as a family. DH told SIL about our holiday on the Friday before our holiday, and she asked if she could join us. DH said "ok whatever you like".

I was very upset when I found out. DH said he couldn't say anything else to her as he feels that his sister is always very keen on meeting us, and we are the ones saying no to her all the time. He then added how she has said that it's only because she wants the cousins to play together, that she was only thinking for the children, and lastly that she would like her children to be closer to their uncle.

To DH his sister sounds like she lives for her children, and DH buys that wholesale - but I am not so convinced. She doesn't do the morning school runs, they have home tutors, and all 3 children have after school activities 4 out of 5 days. She has intentionally planned trips, day-outs, and birthday parties for her older children excluding her youngest child and had left him with us instead. It seems that she can't cope with the youngest whenever the nanny is on her day-off.

DH is the 3rd child and SIL is the oldest. I feel that he has been under her thumb all his life but I don't want myself and my family to be under hers. I believe him when he says he doesn't want to see her as much as she wants to see us, but his preferred solution is whichever that is least work for him, which is to skip the negotiation and to just do whatever she wants to do. She can be described as persistent while he is passive. I do realise that a lot of this issue could be focused on how my DH manages her, but short of sucessfully getting him to do that - how can I approach this without appearing like I am coming in between him and his sister? Or is this actually reasonable between siblings, and I should be trying to get used to it seeing as I married him and his sister by proxy? What can/should I do? DH and I don't quarrel much and actually have quite a good relationship but this particular issue accounts for 90% of all our major fights. Grateful for any advice. Thank you all in advance.

ppolly Tue 28-Jul-15 22:14:44

Do you actually like SIL? Does you DH? Do the cousins get on? Weekends are family time - as in immediate family - and while there needs to be compromise, anything more than every other weekend does sound a lot. Is your DH afraid of not standing up to your sil and just wants to do anything for a quiet life?

fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:21:02

Thank you PPolly. The older cousins are not really interested in my children due to their age gap, and when they do play together it can be quite inappropriate for example violent computer games or toys meant for much older kids. Their youngest is around the same age as ours but has a more aggressive personality. I personally don't dislike my SIL but I can't spend all my free time with her whereas DH feels bad whenver he has to turn her down. I don't feel good either having to tell him to turn her down! Should I risk saying something to her directly?

liquidrevolution Tue 28-Jul-15 22:21:50

Keep the kids at home and send DH on his own?

I imagine he will change his mid after a few weeks. Once a month is more than enough, particulalry as they take the piss so much.

She sounds awful and I am sorry that you are being suffocated like this. My own in laws would arrange something every spare minute we had if they could but I nipped it in the bud early on by sending DH on his own. I now have DD and I sometimes keep her with me as well. I work full time and its the only free time I have with her!

TheRealAmyLee Tue 28-Jul-15 22:24:46

Every weekend sounds incredibly excessive to me. I wouldn't want that much of my family weekends cut into tbh. I love my brother dearly but wouldn't want to see him all day every sunday.

It does come accross in your post as well like she is using you as "backup" as she simply can't cope without the nanny. I find the thing about asking you to come over at a specific time then still being in bed incredibly rude, especially if this is a regular thing.

You and your DH need to sit down discuss this properly and set rules in place for how often you are BOTH comfortable with going over then stick to them. Hope you can work it out.

Could you organise things for some of the weekend days - for you and your family - so dh can say honestly that you already have things arranged, when his sister rings up?

RandomMess Tue 28-Jul-15 22:28:08

When she does phone up to arrange you do a "no that doesn't work for us we're next free on xyz for tea at 5pm" which is in a few weeks time.

I'd be pissed off that I was being used as childcare - how rude to not be up and then leave you every time whilst they go out!

Happy36 Tue 28-Jul-15 22:28:16

Is it possible that your sister-in-law has a form of depression?

I can see it from your point of view and your husband's. It is a tricky situation. As others have said, perhaps your husband could take your children to see her sometimes (and then he may start to understand where you're coming from).

littlepeas Tue 28-Jul-15 22:30:44

It sounds to me that she is unable to cope with her dc without any additional help and on her nanny's day off you and your dh become the additional help.

WorraLiberty Tue 28-Jul-15 22:30:54

Should I risk saying something to her directly?


I was mentally screaming 'just speak to her yourself' all the way through your opening post.

I'm not sure what this 'risk' is? But if you mean you risk upsetting her, then there's nothing you can do about that is there?

You and your DH have your own lives to lead with your own family. She shouldn't be your first priority and she needs to realise that.

Shelby2010 Tue 28-Jul-15 22:32:42

Well for a start off, only agree to go after lunch. Then you can have family time in the morning and avoid being used as childcare while they have a lie in. The next time she asks tell her that you & DH have some DIY (or something?!) to do, but agree that it's lovely for the cousins to spend time together so you'll drop your kids off at 2pm for a couple of hours....

The other thing you could try is to send DH over with the kids & use the time to get your errands/shopping done. Then you can have more time to spend as a family on Saturday & DH might get fed up with minding 5 children.

MomOfTwoGirls2 Tue 28-Jul-15 22:33:28

I would also push back the time and visit her after lunch, and make the visits shorter as well as less frequent.
And for sure, send DH alone or with DC at least some of the time.

fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:33:58

Thanks Liquid & RealAmyLee. I have sent DH once on his own before and he came back saying he felt, in his exact words, "exploited" (as free babysitter). I have suggested once a month is more than enough, not including all the birthdays Christmas, holidays and other events - but SIL says to DH that he/we are her only family. DH is very struck by her rationale "letting the cousins play together", as if everything SIL is doing is child-centered/benign, but maybe I am a cynical person, I just don't believe her 100%. How do I put this across without sounding as if I want to deprive my children of opportunities to play with their cousins?

PurpleSwift Tue 28-Jul-15 22:34:58

Just say no. I get why your frustrated but your post you come across as really quite judgements and jealous so backing away would be good for the both of you

ppolly Tue 28-Jul-15 22:39:07

So if your DCs aren't that fussed about going and neither are you and nor is your DH, then why do it just because someone wants you too? Why should your SIL get to dictate what you all do with your weekends? You need to make some firm arrangements of your own for the weekends that you will all enjoy as a family.

fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:39:59

Thank you Worra. I admit I tend to avoid confrontations, which is reason why this has gone on for as long as it has. I have spoken many times to DH about how I feel, hoping he will manage his own sister better, and not let this issue impact our family life as much as it has. But he hasn't done anything/man up to her. If I raise this issue with her I know she will be crying screaming claiming that all she wanted was for the kids to play, she lives for her kids, her kids are her priority (and also their reasons for not working - they say that their children are only young once and their priorities in life are always kids first)... and then my MiL will get involved. My MIL is like her but worse. MIL is not an issue at the moment because she is overseas. Therefore I can't broach this without getting my MIL involved.

fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:41:12

Thank you Purpleswift - I want to say no! But DH can't say no. When I insist DH says I make things difficult for him and we have a huge fight.

magoria Tue 28-Jul-15 22:42:56

You are her free replacement for when her live in has their day off.

Why don't you suggest that you drop of the DC and they can all play together while you and DH have some quality time and see how soon that doesn't happen...

It may open his eyes a little that it is NOT for the DC to play together.

ADishBestEatenCold Tue 28-Jul-15 22:46:06

Does the nanny work on Saturdays, fmama?

If so, tell SIL you have committed to another arrangement for foreseeable Sundays, but you will come across to visit on occasional Saturdays.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Tue 28-Jul-15 22:47:59

The answer is simple. Your dh goes with the kids to his sisters while you stay at home and mumsnet do all the house work. Then you'll still have the other weekend day to do stuff as a family and it will also become much more obvious to your dh that he is the free baby sitter as he'll be alone with all the kids.

Me and dh actually do this - I have a friend who is a single mum so sometimes I take the kiddos around to hers and dh gets stuff done or dh takes the kids swimming while Imget stuff done.

fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:48:50

I gave an objective/factual description of their circumstances so as to explain why they have so much time and energy to spend with us, whereas the time which they are requesting of us constitutes MOST the time we have available- even when it doesn't feel like much to them. A meal together a week doesn't sound like much when you get to do other things during the rest of the week. I might sound jealous but I know I'm not, although envy is something else - and really, who wouldn't be envious of their set-up? But this is not about my envy and really about how to tactfully avoid spending most of our free time with just the one family and especially when it is not of our choice.

coffeeisnectar Tue 28-Jul-15 22:49:41

Start making plans with friends on those days or to do something as a family unit and then just tell sil you cannot make it but maybe the last Sunday of every month would work better for you. Or one of your children could have a birthday party to go to. Or serious d and v. Or Ebola. Anything.

ppolly Tue 28-Jul-15 22:49:51

Think about what you would like to do with your DCs on a Sunday and give your DH the choice of doing with you all it or going over to your SIL. maybe he actually needs to chat to your DCs too about how they want to spend their w/e.

fmama Tue 28-Jul-15 22:52:59

Thank you Mumoftwoyoungkids & ADishbesteatencold - I hope I am not sounding obstinate/resistant to the simple answer you suggested. But I want to spend as much of my weekends with both DH and children, if possible (like I said we are actually quite happy except for this issue) and I don't want to end up having only 1 day with them. A "lunch" at theirs often goes on till 5pm.

We can't meet Saturdays when her nanny is around as her kids have weekend classes (in addition to the 4 out of 5 weekday after school activities).

musicalbingo Tue 28-Jul-15 22:53:50

These two bits jump out at me.

I have sent DH once on his own before and he came back saying he felt, in his exact words, "exploited" (as free babysitter).

DH is very struck by her rationale "letting the cousins play together"

You have your answer here.
Make plans at hers for the next two Sunday's - then be unable to attend.
Be getting your haircut / helping a friend move / feeling poorly/ whatever.
Send him with the kids and don't relent -keep up the pressure. It's his sister and at the minute he seems to be letting it become your problem. You run after the kids, you bring lunch (she's taking the mickey with that!) and to top it off your are driving round to theirs and spending your precious family time doing what suits them.

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