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In laws coming to stay- advice needed!

(33 Posts)
jasper Sat 08-Dec-01 03:02:22

My husband's parents are probably going to move in with us for a few days just before Christmas as they are moving house and their new place won't be ready.
They are really nice. His dad is slightly odd and does not say much. His mum is more chatty and adores our two kids. My dh is very quiet and even though it is his parents it is always left up to me to do the talking.
I am a bit worried about it. Like most people I am really used to my own selfish ways! Once our kids are in bed at about 7pm my husband and I slob around and barely communicate, which suits us fine. The idea of making conversation in the evenings fills me with horror! ( spotted this same attitude on the au pairs thread!)
Any tips for a harmonious few days? Thanks

bossykate Sat 08-Dec-01 08:57:52

hi jasper

How about getting them to babysit so you and dh could go out somewhere nice? If too tired in the evening to fancy going out (I know that feeling all too well) then maybe the two of you could go somewhere during the day instead? That way you will spend less time with them, have more time with your dh and have ready made conversation pieces when you get home.

HTH.

ChanelNo5 Sat 08-Dec-01 10:31:36

Jasper - Hopefully, as they will be your guests they will realise that they must fit in with your ways. My PIL are staying with us at the moment and though basically ok, MIL does have an annoying tendency to keep talking to you when you're trying to watch TV or read the paper. I get around this by saying that I'm going to tidy my bedroom and then go and watch tv up there, sneaky eh! If they are really driving you mad, why not escape onto Mumsnet for awhile (another one of my tricks!)

jessi Sat 08-Dec-01 14:55:13

Jasper,definitely try and get an evening out while they are staying with you. Also board games or cards are a winner as you don't have to talk much. I tend to always have very important letters to write when they come to stay and end up on the computer for ages! Also ask them to take the kids to the park etc so you can have a break during the day. I always find that having lots of things to do outside the home is good, because at least if you've all been out and shared an activity, then you have something to talk about later on! Channelno5, my MIL does that incessant chattering too, I've given up ever trying to read a newspaper while she's here!

Faith Mon 10-Dec-01 12:26:22

Jasper, if your MIL (and /or PIL) likes cooking (and the results are edible!) get her creating! Mincepies, cookies, muffins, stock the freezer etc. Or being creative with decorations, flowers etc. It's a good time of year, as there is always tons to do, and they'll probably enjoy getting stuck in.

Janus Tue 11-Dec-01 11:07:56

I'd agree that a game like Pictionary can help you all have fun without too much effort! Opening a bottle or two of wine may help even more!
If you need to escape then you can always say you need to walk your children and disappear anywhere for a couple of hours.
Also, try and get things out on video and then you can all watch and enjoy and the pressure is taken off you to 'entertain', perhaps you can ask people here of suitable films to watch with in-laws, ie not too much sex for you to get embarrassed watching!

jasper Wed 12-Dec-01 05:56:58

Excellent suggestions, you have all reassured me and I am almost looking forward to it.
Faith, re. cooking...one of the problems is we have just had to rip out our cooker to prepare the floor for the alterations to the kitchen so only have a single ring and a microwave in the meantime! However my fil is very handy, he can help dh with the diy and mil and I can play with the kids ( her very favourite activity.)If I need to vent I will come to mumsnet!

Bron Wed 12-Dec-01 09:45:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bee Wed 12-Dec-01 12:04:45

With my parents-in-law I always look for something (however small) that they know about that I don't and then spend time picking their brains. Doing gardening plans is always a good one - even if I never get round to actually doing much in the garden. I quite like getting new ideas, it gets us outdoors which means the children can let off a bit of steam, and it really blows the cobwebs away.

I find my own father easier, but if stuck I ask for advice on meding things, wiring up new cables and so on -and if I am lucky he event does it all for me!

pamina Wed 12-Dec-01 21:26:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chelle Wed 12-Dec-01 22:53:42

Don't worry Bron, it hasn't nvery hot in most places yet! We didn't even really have a spring this year but have had a few warmer days. This week (where I live in rural NSW) has been very nice with days up to about 23 degrees Celsius and nights down to around 8 degrees.

It depends where you are going, of course, as it is a pretty diverse country! If the city your MIL lives in is Sydney or Brisbane it is likely to be hot and humid for Christmas. But if your FIL lives rurally it may well be hot, but should be dry!

Personally I can't imagine Christmas in the cold!!!

Bron Fri 14-Dec-01 09:34:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chelle Mon 17-Dec-01 05:00:50

Bron, shouldn't be too hot for you, then. But you should have lots of nice, sunny weather as Victoria ia a winter rainfall area and it doesn't usually rain that much in summer (except for the occasional storm, which, I might add, are pretty impressive!).

Have a great Christams and enjoy Australia! There's no better way to spend Christmas than on a warm summer's day with the smell of eucalyptus (or the ocean!) on the air!! IMHO, of course

pamina Tue 19-Nov-02 14:13:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prufrock Tue 19-Nov-02 14:50:57

Pamina - you MUST say something. Why not just suggest taht they ahve some "quality time" with dd one evening whilst you and dh go out for a meal. Even if tehy refuse you won't offend and they might jump at the chance. It does seem as if MIL would help but is afraid of interfering, so you have to let her know that you would welcome her help. Easier said than done I know

Marina Tue 19-Nov-02 15:02:54

Oh, goodness, Pamina, Prufrock is right. This must be absolutely exhausting for you right now.
If there is a solution it lies with your dh. Personally I think he should emphasise the fact that you are pregnant again and your mum is being treated for cancer (no matter that you are actually coping fine with all this) and get them to have dinner ready when you get in - or clear up afterwards. I am astounded that such basically nice-sounding folk could be so thoughtless.
And the only way to encourage them to be more proactive with dd is indeed to be physically off the premises - out enjoying a relaxing local dinner for preference - while they find their feet with her. This worked for me with MIL, who was initially not at all interested in looking after ds. She is now a lot more confident and we appreciate the times she takes care of him greatly.
If all else fails, just take to your bed and let dh pick the bones out of it all. Seriously. Don't even go downstairs for 48 hours.

Batters Tue 19-Nov-02 15:44:54

Agree with Marina.

Pamina, obviously you will have to take essential supplies to your bed room for the 48 hours. I suggest the phone (for girly chats only), chocolate, the telly and video and some ER tapes. A sign for the door saying "do not disturb" is also a good idea.

Tillysmummy Tue 19-Nov-02 15:58:20

Pamina what a difficult situation for you. You sound like you're coping admirably in very stressful circumstances. It is totally unfair that they are expecting you to clear up after them. I agree with Marina that it is DP's responsibility to tell them. With regard to helping with DD, I personally wouldn't let my PIL loose on DD because they aren't capable of looking after her on their own but if yours are then I would suggest, as others have already said, some quality time and start with maybe going out in the evening because babysitting her at night is a good ease way into it for them to build up confidence.

I can undestand your MIL's desire not to step on your toes but you should have a chat with her and tell her she's not and you appreciate all the help. Are you close to her ?

So sorry about your mum and this added stress for you. If all else fails get out yourself for a day and night and go and stay with your mum and let dh deal with it

bundle Tue 19-Nov-02 17:58:14

pamina how shocking. I've got a friend who actually ASKED her MIL to do some ironing while they were staying for 5 days (she had just given birth for the second time) and guess what? it never got done. I've seen these PILs when I've visited, they sit down with their books/papers and read while everyone else runs around preparing food, changing nappies etc. they even tutted when a door was left open close to them because the children were running in & out!

megg Tue 19-Nov-02 19:46:32

Do you think you m-i-l is wanting to be asked but is too afraid of stepping on your toes to do anything about it? Have you asked them to do anything? Sounds simple I know but the oldies are funny things aren't they? My dad didn't come down to see us because he hadn't been invited whereas I was thinking he didn't need to be invited just give me some notice (and not stay for too long).

pamina Wed 20-Nov-02 09:09:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chanelno5 Wed 20-Nov-02 11:11:37

Hi Pamina - my PILs (or as I affectionately refer to them, the TITs) used to be rather like yours once for probably the same reasons. They're not brilliant now, but that's another story, but after I finally got really fed-up with running about after 6 people whenever they came to stay (and I include dh in that number because for some bizarre reason, whenever the TITs come to stay, he resorts back to being a child, mummy's little boy??) especially after they came to stay to help (ha ha) after I had just given birth to no. 3, and they did NOTHING, I decided to take action! Previously, whenever their laziness had driven me mad, I had taken to my room for a sulk - this never worked. Partly because when I re-emerged post-sulk, they thought I had gone off in a huff and was being a moody cow (you can imagine the comments they would make to each other - "Our poor son, being married to such a moody witch" etc) and also still nothing got done so it was all still waiting for me and I had wasted time in my room when I could have got on with it.

Anyway, my new plan was to tell them, but in the nicest possible way, what I wanted then to do. Obviously I had to pick my jobs carefully, because until fairly recently MIL never changed any nappies (and the first one she did change, she put on backwards and it fell off!) but through this approach, they have gradually got better, and though they've still got a long way to go, aren't too bad now.

I really think that when you've got them to stay for such a long time, in your condition and still working, and with a poorly child, you are entitled to some help and shouldn't be afraid to ask for it. Yes, dh should probably approach them first with them being his parents, but we know in the real world, this usually doesn't happen and it ends up down to you like everything else. I read an article once, that said that you should always start off with a compliment before launching in with what you really want to say to get a more positive response. Why not start off with, "It's so lovely to have you to stay blah blah..... oh, dd would love it if you bathed her tonight, read her a story etc" You've got a good way with words, so I'm sure you'll be able to get your point over in firm, but kind way, then it's over to them but at least you will have tried.

Ah, poor you, and you can't even have a drink (don't worry about that though, I'm taking care of your share for you!!) Bite the bullet and go for it, you'll feel better for getting it off your chest. My PILS are coming to stay in a couple of weeks too, but I'm ready for them

Bozza Wed 20-Nov-02 11:42:15

Snap Chanel - my DH is exactly like that. Its one of the main reasons I am reluctant to go on holiday with my in-laws. For instance, if I ask him to change DS's nappy at my in-laws he will say "can't you do it" which results in my MIL jumping out of her chair and grabbing DS to do it, making me look bad. Whereas at home he would just do it. I haven't put that very well but it really iritates me.

If we go out for a bar meal with them he will sit having adult conversation while I am frantically trying to entertain DS. If we were with my parents or on our own he always pulls his weight.

berries Wed 20-Nov-02 12:08:19

Pamina - sounds just like my PILs (MIL was also a primary school teacher for 40 yrs - strange). Anyway, finally figured out that I frightened them! I'm so used to coping on my own I do get a bit 'set in my ways' (new friends christened me Monica - can't think why). So now I just write out a list of 'suggestions' and ask them if they would like to do any of them. FIl was a right PITA (would expect someone to make his tea, clear table etc etc) but twigged what he likes doing was outside stuff - so now just leave a big list & he gets on with it. Don't mind him reading the paper while I'm running round like a headless chicken if I can at least see a lovely tidy garden. Also, with MIL, I try to give her things that she can do while I'm not around. She gets nervous if she thinks I'm watching her (sound like a right ogre don't I). However, neither of them are keen on taking kids out of the house, particularly in the car. I think they worry about the extra possibilities for accidents which are out of their control, so I try not to include any of that stuff.
Sorry its a long post, but when dd1 was born I wouldn't even let PIL stay at the house, I made dh arrange a hotel for them, as relations were stretched that far. They have now had a few sessions where they have looked after both dds when I was working, although I took over everything when I got home (seems fair to me) and - best of all - they stopped recently for a WHOLE WEEKEND without us. We got to wake up without the kids for the first time in 7 years - BLISS.
OOps - sorry about the long post - bored today. Anyway - hth

pamina Wed 20-Nov-02 13:14:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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