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To expect my MIL not to leave my under-10s home alone??

(33 Posts)
weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 01:38:56

I posted this in 'Relationships' earlier, but didn't get a lot of responses so I thought I would grit my teeth and post here!


So we have spent the weekend with MIL who is not the easiest and can be very inconsistent. But it was actually pretty good, she was doing well (and therefore so was I, as I hadn't got cross all weekend!!)

This morning we went to her church. Dh and I stayed behind afterwards to talk to a few of his old friends, and MIL took the kids home to hers. When we got home we discovered she had walked to the corner shop 5 minutes away with our ds(7) and left the girls at her house (9 and 5). When we arrived our daughters were in the house alone with food on the cooker top and in the oven.

To aggravate it, dd2 has a problem with her hip which means that despite the fact she is as mobile as the next child, she is not allowed to hop, jump, skip, run etc. When I got in both girls were bouncing on the sofa. This activity for dd2 could lead to a break, a dislocation or an operation later in the year to repair damaged bone. She tries very hard to live by her restrictive rules, but sometimes forgets, especially when unsupervised. I thought MIL might have understood this - she used to be a nursery teacher for children with special needs, mainly mobility/physical!

It was not even as if (though it would not have made any difference about how wrong I think it is) it was for something essential, it was for icecream.

I'm shock. Dh agrees that it should be him to speak to her about it. We have had no time to do it today as just as we realised what had happened his brother and family arrived and then not long after lunch we had to leave to come home (booked on a ferry).

Am I right to be shocked or am I over-reacting?

AitchTwoOh Mon 10-Aug-09 01:46:15

i'd be shocked and cross, but there is a part of me that thinks 'ah, fuckit, you're going home soon'. you now know that you can't leave your kids with her, that's all.

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 01:48:35

That is an initial reaction of mine ....

however they are already "booked" to go for a week in the October hols. The fallout of cancelling that is huge - though I am prepared to do so if she can't guarantee our children will be safe!

MIL is only 62. Its not like she's a doddering old thing ....

AitchTwoOh Mon 10-Aug-09 01:53:03

your children are going on their own? oh balls, that is hard.

i'd be cross if it was my children, but at least dd's condition means that you have 'good reason' to bring it up.

but i don't know if i'd let them stay on their own, it's too much responsibility for the nine year old. i was eldest of four, must've been 14 before my mum would pop out and leave me in charge.

honeybehappy Mon 10-Aug-09 01:54:44

I wouldnt let them go in october, cant you go with them?

She may olny be 62 bu who in their right mind leaves a 9 and 5 year old aloe to go to the shop for bloody icecream?

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 01:57:39

The October thing is hard - dh and I have flights booked - its our 15th Wedding anniversary and MIL offered to have them so we could have a break on our own - its something we have wanted to do for a long time.

She's always been reliable abotu safety up to now.

Really don't know what to do. Dh is going to run it by his brother about how to broach it with her ......

honeybehappy Mon 10-Aug-09 02:03:44

I couldnt go away if i thought my DC were not in safe hands, do you think having all 3 is too much for her? Is there anybody else that could help out?

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 02:05:40

I know - I don't know what to do.

Consensus seems to be IANBU to be shocked by this.

DH is livid.

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 08:26:40

I hardly slept - worried about dh talking to her about it, worried that somehow I will be to blame (it is usually my fault in her eyes).

I can't go on holiday in October and leave the kids where they are not safe - she wont' do this again, but goodness knows what else she might do - I just don't know!

Am I over-reacting?

MIAonline Mon 10-Aug-09 08:37:20

YANBU to be shocked, but I think you are over reacting a little bit to what happens in October (btw I would be too!)

You just need DH to be very clear in what he is saying and make it clear that they need and you require close supervision. They must not be left alone.

I don't think you need to cancel your trip, unless she turns stroppy and doesn't see why you are both upset. If you raise it with her, depending on the person she is, she may be extra vigilent on her trip with them.

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 08:51:07

I probably am overreacting about the holiday.

Maybe 3 children is too many for her to manage? But there is no other option for October as my parents are away and we don't have anyone else we could ask to look after them Fri evening - Sunday lunchtime the next week as it is such a long time (we are going to Venezuela!)

Until this weekend I would never have assumed it would be a problem - now I am just all unsure?

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 09:02:16

Last shameless bump before I leave this and get on!!

IsItMeOr Mon 10-Aug-09 09:04:21

Oh heck. I can understand why you're worried. But (clutching at straws?!) is it possible that MIL didn't realise that DD2 needed to be supervised to check she didn't do the things she shouldn't? I mean, have you explicitly told her that? And remember, you must have found that out for yourself somehow too - presumably by catching her doing something she shouldn't have done when left unsupervised? So MIL has in one way only done what you are likely to have done.

Three children is a lot for one person who is not used to it to manage. Even if MIL had 3 or more children herself, it will have been some time ago. But if you can talk to her about the safety issue - including whether you are happy for her to leave any of them in the house alone - then can you be confident that they will all be safe and well when you return from your trip? If you leave them with her, you have to accept that you will be trusting her judgement as you couldn't possibly give her detailed instructions on everything that may come up.

cocolepew Mon 10-Aug-09 09:07:53

Wait and see what happens when DH speaks to her. She wll blame you grin. My MIL was stopped from seeing my DDs after telling me she "could have them in the car and over the boarder before you'd know" shock hmm. I hope you can still manage your trip.

katiestar Mon 10-Aug-09 09:33:38

when my eldest 2 were 9 and 6 I started leaving them for 15 minutes or so , but they were very sensible and mature.I wouldn't have worried about the food in the oven ,but stuff cooking on the hobis different could boil over or be aciidentally knocked off.
TBH I would be annoyed with my girls for jumping on someone elses sofa and with the 9 year old for encouraging the 5 yr old to do something she wasn't allowed to do.
But the answer is just tell your MIL, when you take the DC , that they are still too immature to be left alone in the house particularly considering the 5 yr old's hip.In 3 months time she she won't relate it to the incident.

Bathsheba Mon 10-Aug-09 09:48:41

Hi Weegiemum...

I'm sorry, I'm not addressing your problem here at all, but are you going to Marguerita in Venezuela - we had the MOST amazing holiday there...

You MUST do the Angel Falls trip - its a true "once in a lifetime" thing...

Email me if you like - candy @

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 10:31:16

Bathsheba - no we are going to visit friends in Caracas. They are charity workers doing some fabulous work we want to see there - yes, we are crazy!

Angel falls attracts me a LOT though - I'm a Geog teacher and it sounds SO good!

I think WRT the MIL situation that if I want to leave my kids alone, that would be one thing. But it is not up to her!!

I have left my 9yo once when she had a sprained ankle and I needed to shop - the supermarket is 10 mins away but I let a neighbour know so that if dd1 had any trouble she could go next door, and dd1 had my mobile number written down.

The thing I am most worried about is leaving dd1 with dd2. Yes, she should not have been jumping on the sofa, but dd1 was not egging her on. She was at the loo, in fact.

MIL knows everything about dd2's hip condition - exactly what should happen/not happen, the problems there have been with it, the trouble we have keeping dd2 sitting down all the time. MIL is used to children with Special Needs.

Since she retired 2 years ago all of a suddenly she seems to have got very ineffectual, though. I am worried.

And isn't it illegal to leave a 9yo in charge of a 5yo?

AitchTwoOh Mon 10-Aug-09 11:08:00

i like katiestar's suggestion of leaving it until nearer the time to speak to her. and bribe the nine-year-old with thoughts of lovely venezuelan toys to go bananas if grandma so much as thinks of leaving her in charge.

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 17:11:11

I'm back to this .... sorry!

Lets leave out the fact she is supposed to have the kids again sometime.

Did she really do something wrong leaving my 9yo in charge of my 5yo in the house with the cooker on for no good reason whatsoever?

I think she did and I am getting pretty angry about it all. My children, who I had entrusted to her care, were left in the house alone, illegally.

Dh is thinking of calling her tonight to say we were not happy with it, but not sure what to say.

wonderingwondering Mon 10-Aug-09 17:19:12

Just be straight we you speak to her - your firm view is that 5 and 9 are too young to be left alone, there's absolutely no need for it, and there are special circumstances in that the five year old needs close supervision. If she won't accept that, explain that it is placing an unfair burden on the nine year old - she can't be left in charge of herself in a situation with hot food etc, let alone with a vulnerable younger child.

I suspect your MIL will be mortified. She's probably forgotten how young they are - it is easily done. But if she's not willing to see your point of view, I'm afraid I'd cancel the trip on October. You can't leave them if you have any doubts about her ability to look after them. Maybe she finds them too much? People can lose their confidence very quickly when they retire.

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 17:22:19

If they are too much for her, I would far rather she just told us so.

We have given her plenty opportunity to do so.

But she says it is fine and has looked after all 3 of them plus their 2yo cousin (though not sure if ours are supervised while small cousin does stuff .....)

I just feel like I don't trust her any more.

Up to dh mainly how to approach it as she is his mother - at least he agrees with that!

charis Mon 10-Aug-09 17:28:28

She probably didn't think anything of it. Don't make a big deal about it, just tell her that they are not to be left alone in the house again until they are all 11 (or whatever age you decide). She is a grown woman and will be able to follow such simple instructions easily. Enjoy your holiday.

wonderingwondering Mon 10-Aug-09 17:30:43

I know it's DH' mother, but often I find myself dealing with the child-related issues with my MIL. It's more of a 'mum to mum' thing, which some women of her generation prefer! Depends on the individual.

But there's no need to make it confrontational, just call her up and say you understand they were left alone, you don't do that with them, you've thought about it and you really don't think they are old enough. If she argues the point, you can be a bit firmer, outlining the five year old' condition and the pressure on the nine yr old, but most reasonable people would listen to that sort of approach.

She seems to think a lot of them, you've all got their best interests at heart. And I'm very envious of the anniversary trip! smile

weegiemum Mon 10-Aug-09 17:31:18

So would you all happily leave your 9 year old in charge of your 5 year old with health problems while you went to the shop to get icecream and leave the cooker on at the same time?

I just can't imagine me doing that!!

MyPetSnail Mon 10-Aug-09 17:40:46

YANBU - at all! When my DD was six she stayed over the night at her five year old friends house, and when she came back she said her friends Mum had gone to the petrol station to get milk or something and left them in the house on their own! The petrol station wasn't that far away, but my DD felt really uncomfortable with it, and I was fuming.

To take that decision about my DD was totally unacceptable to me, if anything had happened in the house while she was gone it would have been my DD who would have felt guilty and responsible, and who was she to do that to my DD??

It's difficult with MIL's (isn't it always wink) Is there a way you could bring it up in a roundabout way without making an issue of it specifically? Like in a general conversation about your DD's hip problem and how difficult it is to never leave her without close supervision?

Good luck, and I hope you manage to sort something out to make you feel better about going on holiday - lucky bleeder envy

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