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Can't stop mother bringing stuff and it's making me crazy

(157 Posts)
Mumindenial Thu 02-Jun-16 22:24:40

My mother cannot visit us without bringing toys, clothes and/or food. My OD is 4 1/2 and my YD has just turned 2. She always has toys - substantial ones like Barbie dolls as well as cheap tat, fancy dresses or socks or underwear, and really random food like packs of croissants, biscuits, chocolate, fruit, even meat.

She has been doing this for years and I have tried every approach to ask her to stop, or at least ask me first. The worst thing is, she will show my girls whatever she has brought, then say "ask mummy if you can have this", therefore making me the bad guy if I say no, especially if it's sweets or a toy.

She even leaves things around the house for us to find, e.g. There was a random minion figure (really small, as if from a kinder egg) by the bed in the spare room. She regularly sneaks food into the fridge, which I find days after she's been and it either goes to waste, or forces me to waste other food I already had. One time she hung a very tacky plastic bath toy bag over the side of my bathtub. The other week she left a few of those food saver clips into my kitchen drawer (I have loads and loads already).

It is beyond frustrating and I have explained that it's unacceptable for a number of reasons, including: we don't have room for all the stuff she brings, the house is filling up with crap, DDs have got to a point where they expect something when people walk through the door, which I can't stand, it forces me to be the bad guy, it disrespects me as a parent as she's goes directly against my wishes. I feel that she does it to be liked, but it obviously pisses me off so I don't understand why she does it.

She comes to visit every week, so it's a real problem.

AIBU? Should I just shut up and accept, or am I right to stand my ground and continue to object? I am absolutely incapable of keeping a poker face or lying, even if it's to be nice. So the former would be a challenge...

MammaTJ Thu 02-Jun-16 22:27:11

Well, the only thing I can suggest is asking her if she wants your DDs to associate her with love, or with gifts!

That might bring her in to line, but I somehow doubt it! Worth a try anyway!

TheClacksAreDown Thu 02-Jun-16 22:28:30

Stand your ground. She starts to come empty handed or she doesn't come at all for a while

OTheHugeManatee Thu 02-Jun-16 22:28:51

You might have to get tough. Start binning the tat she brings in front of her.

Arfarfanarf Thu 02-Jun-16 22:29:43

I would tell her to pack it in.
A nice gesture is not actually nice if you know you are doing something that the recipient doesnt want and which actually causes them hassle. It's not nice. It's selfish.

So with that in mind i would have no trouble saying no thanks. Taking stuff to the charity shop. Having a 'one in one out' rule with the kids. Or putting stuff in the bin.
There is something controlling and oddly aggressive about forcing 'kindness' on people regardless how they feel.

witsender Thu 02-Jun-16 22:30:05

My mum only lives round the corner but brings something every day we see her, which is a lot. The thought is there, but we try to live a fairly minimalist lifestyle and live in a deliberately compact house. We don't want or need random odds and ends! I would so much rather she didn't spend the money, should could give it to us if it made her feel better! grin

backtowork2015 Thu 02-Jun-16 22:31:44

Same here, watching with interest. Only headway I have made is insisting on fruit only as a food gift. ...but now I get a lot of fruit. I know I sound ungrateful, but I really don't want spoilt children. I remember my dm's disapproval of the 'spoilt children ' in my school when I was a child and cannot understand why she's turned into that person as a gp

witsender Thu 02-Jun-16 22:31:48

She knows this btw. But still does it! It does DH's head in, especially now the kids are home educated so she is forever bringing non age appropriate bits and books round, which I know are a demonstration that she doesn't trust that they are learning now.

That and half the books are replicas of subjects we already have!

Mumindenial Thu 02-Jun-16 22:36:15

MammaTJ, I don't think she sees a difference between the 2!

Ok will continue to stand my ground, or ambush her at the door demanding to see the contents of her bags before she comes in!

It gets me so cross even my eldest knows to stay quiet when I'm arguing with my mother over what she's brought.

WhereYouLeftIt Thu 02-Jun-16 22:36:50

"My mother cannot visit us without bringing toys, clothes and/or food."
I would refuse to let her visit until she got a grip. It might sound like overkill, but you say she's been doing this for years and you've repeatedly asked her to stop; and she hasn't. If you want to give her a chance, you could tell her three strikes and she's out. She brings anything or secretes anything around your house on a visit - that's one strike. Three strikes, she's not allowed to visit.

Yes there will be tears (and not just from your daughters) but it sounds like you have to draw a line. A very broad and deep line. There's absolutely no god reason for her to do this.

TwirlsInTwirlsOutAgain Thu 02-Jun-16 22:41:38

I hear you. It might sound like a lovely thing to be doing, but if you're on the receiving end and it's ALL the time and you've expressed please don't bring so much stuff and it's still getting ignored, it starts to get to you.
It's like you're constantly being undermined and like your feelings don't matter and that you're still just a child.
It's hard, but you have to get tough.
The worst thing is, she will show my girls whatever she has brought, then say "ask mummy if you can have this", therefore making me the bad guy if I say no, especially if it's sweets or a toy.
This. This type of thing really pisses me off, and have been on the receiving end of myself. If you say no, you end up being the bad guy as she's gone via the kids first so you look like a big old meanie.
I've learnt just saying " aw thank you, we'll save them for later" saves tears from the smalls as they know they still have them and I haven't outright said no, and the grandparent stays happy as I haven't said "no, keep it."

fakenamefornow Thu 02-Jun-16 22:42:45

I could have written this myself and, no, I haven't found a solution either.

The only thing I could suggest is when she knocks at the door you send the children to another room so they are not on the doorstep with you. Answer the door and before inviting her in check that she hasn't got anything, if she has, insist she leaves it in the car.

Having said all that, it didn't work for me.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 02-Jun-16 22:48:24

Go to her house instead of her coming to yours.

MakingJudySmile Thu 02-Jun-16 22:48:39

My mums like this - though she brings household type things (as a reason to buy herself a new version I suspect) - I have five cafeties as a result; I don't even make coffee at home.

MakingJudySmile Thu 02-Jun-16 22:49:50

(Sorry I hit post early than I ment to - but I've no answer; my local charity shop gets a lot though)

Querty12345 Thu 02-Jun-16 22:54:31

For toys/sweets that she wants to give to the children just quietly have a word if 'the kids haven't been the best behaved today so I don't think they should be having treats today' or 'they're having lunch in an hour I don't want them to spoil their meal ' something like that?

It might be annoying but I'm sure her heart is in the right place, if she's anything like my mother in law she probably just genuinely worries and wants to make sure everybody is happy and has lots of stuff.

Did she maybe not spoil you enough when you were a child and so maybe she feels like she's making up for it now?

Try not to give her a hard time even though I'm sure it's hard, I'm sure she means well flowers

fakenamefornow Thu 02-Jun-16 23:02:06

I'm sure she means well

I'm not.

I have this and I don't think my mum gives a shit what I think about it, clearly she doesn't, otherwise she'd stop, as she has been asked to do a million times. For my mum it's all about her having a nice shopping experience, she can then unload all the crap on me.

carabos Thu 02-Jun-16 23:03:05

Take her bags from her as she steps over the threshold and dump them straight in the bin. Repeat until she gets the message.

OhGodWhatTheHellNow Thu 02-Jun-16 23:05:12

My MIL does this, I think she has Diogenes Syndrome as their house is rammed with stuff, teetering stacks in every room, and she can't stop herself buying stuff. Even their bed is covered and they sleep on the sofas. It is quite a worry.

The toys have tapered off, thankfully, though I have to take charity shop stuff to another town or it would all come back, but now it is chocolate. We have about a year's supply in the pantry and she turns up with a carrier bag full every visit. The stuff actually goes out of date, and I'm doing my best to reduce the heap! (I think I mentioned once that the dcs liked Freddos...)

If the chocolate stopped it would be something else, we've been through baby milk, nappies, clothes, vegetables, you head off one and it diverts to another, like trying to dam a stream.

I've depressed myself now, she's nearly 70, I can't see her changing.

Good luck with yours.

Arseface Thu 02-Jun-16 23:09:54

I have the same but DM is a huge hoarder and most of her issues are around food so some of her edible 'gifts' are quite literally poison.

Its's tough, I tried setting firm boundaries like checking bags etc but it's just exhausting, miserable and ultimately useless.
Now the children are older - youngest is 3 - it's just easier to teach them not to take food/gifts directly from Grandma.

The occasional fossilised sweetie gets scoffed but for everything else we smile, act grateful and bin.

It is an attempt at control but we are free enough to indulge her illusion.

GraceGildee Thu 02-Jun-16 23:12:58

This is my mother in law too, she is lovely but arrives every time with huge carrier bags full of cheap cake, cheap sandwich meat, sweets and more. I know she just wants to feel like she's helping so I take it but exclaim that it takes us ages to eat it all so she might leave it a bit longer. She's started bringing things like toilet rolls and dishwasher tablets now which I much prefer. It's very hard not to be rude or hurtful but also its important that your children don't take all this for granted. Does she go overboard at Christmas too? Could you phone her the night before a visit and ask her to keep the toys at hers?

Autumnchill Thu 02-Jun-16 23:21:43

I'm not alone!!!

We have this. It's meant with the best intention but it's stuff we either already have or don't want! We now just say no thank you and give her it back and she doesn't take offence. She puts it back in her bag and then tries to give us it a month later. I don't know how many cheese knives we have but there is a limit!

Yours sounds a little more determined though OP so my sympathies!

Purple79b Thu 02-Jun-16 23:24:30

My MIL is exactly the same. I have a house full of tat. She will regularly give us leftover food which I feel obliged to use or else throw out, and I hate waste. No advice, just sympathy sad

Mumindenial Thu 02-Jun-16 23:29:17

Omg and here i was thinking no one can was extreme as my mother! Yes mine also brings random stuff for us. The last thing was a pruning saw. We have no trees.

halighhalighaliehaligh Thu 02-Jun-16 23:32:57

Wouldn't bother me tbh. I have a relative that is similar (but does visit less frequently). I would let them have a croissant or whatever and put the rest away. If it was going to go to waste dh would probably take them to work. Our house gets filled up with plastic rubbish - party bag toys and bits bought with pocket money. I just make sure I have a big clear out before the kids birthdays and Christmas and take the stuff that is no longer played with to the charity shop or offer it to friends with younger kids. Often what I think of as tat and what the kids do isn't the same thing. I actually think it's quite nice that your mum leaves toys around for the kids to find (less nice about the food bag clips but I guess they could come in useful!) Maybe you could explain to the kids that it is just grandma who comes laden with stuff and not to expect it from other people?

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