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How long should my foreign inlaws stay when our first baby arrives?

(54 Posts)
Bunnylion Tue 09-Apr-13 08:44:51

Im due tips summer and my foreign inlaws will be flying in from a long way away soon after to see the baby.

They are nice people but as I have only got to know them in infrequent short bursts, I find their visits (even when I don't have a baby) quite stressful. I am getting very anxious about the baby visit.

I'm quite a quiet person who enjoys my own company and when they are here it's... intense - they just don't stop talking, they also constantly micro managing how I look after my house and my DH and they always seem to be over my shoulder whem I'm doing anything. I find it very draining.

I saw them once during my pregnancy and they wouldn't keep their hands off my belly, so I can only imagine how much time I'll get to cuddle my baby when they come over once it's arrived.

They are planning to visit after my DH has used up his paternity leave, so it'll just be me, baby and them - 24h/day.

They have said they want to come for 2 weeks but MIL wants to stay on for a month or longer.

I have a history of depression and am at mid risk of postnatal. If I do develop it and am having a tough time early on, I'm so worried that their visit will not only drive me insane but be quite damaging to my early bonding weeks with my baby.

I also have my own mum who I want to spend a lot of precious time with during these early weeks, and it could be more difficult to talk to her if there are always other people in the room. My mum is currently going through chemo and this time will be precious.

But I know that they should and would love to spend as much time as possible with their first grandchild, I just don't know the best way to plan it all without driving myself to dispair.

Any experience or advice would be greatly appreciated!

StitchAteMySleep Tue 09-Apr-13 08:49:27

You need to talk to your DH and put your foot down. He needs to make arrangements for them to stay elsewhere and make it clear to them that you will be seeing them on your terms. They can go sight seeing etc..., they do not need to be there the whole time.

HazleNutt Tue 09-Apr-13 08:54:51

A month shock

No way would I agree to this. I know how you feel, my ILs are lovely, really, but a few days is the most I can manage. If it's a really long flight, a week max and even then I would make sure they know that you will have a newborn, who will be your first priority and you cannot be the perfect host. And that it's your baby, so they will only get to cuddle it when you want. They have plenty of time to see the baby when it's a bit bigger, not like it's the last chance.

WishIdbeenatigermum Tue 09-Apr-13 08:54:58

From what you've posted it doesn't sound like a good idea at all.
However if it's going to be impossible to flatly refuse them, think about what you can do to manage their expectations now.
How far are they coming from? Within Europe I think it's reasonable to say 10 days only- that would almost even up the time DH is at home v. the time you're alone with them. Is there any chance they could stay elsewhere for part of the stay- nearby relatives to give you a break half way through?
Other options could be a trip to them when the baby is a little older and an apology but no, no visit when the baby's tiny.

Bunnylion Tue 09-Apr-13 09:16:05

Thanks for the quick replies.

They are coming over from America.

They don't have a lot of money (especially after the flights) and as we have a spare room I think asking them to stay in a hotel might not be possible but I will look into local bnbs.

We plan to go there for Christmas with the baby.

BumbleBee2011 Tue 09-Apr-13 09:21:51

Hi OP - it's tricky, is there any chance they/DH could adopt a flexible approach to the visit? Something like, yes plan to stay for a fortnight but be prepared to leave earlier if we ask you nicely.

However, putting my optimistic hat on it might be that they are suddenly really helpful, and having someone else to stay over could mean an extra pair of hands for the night shift. My MIL is quite a neat freak so probably would've done all the cleaning if she'd come to stay with us (PILs live 30 mins away so they'd come for short visits, where she'd go into the kitchen and tidy and clean the counter - by then I was just happy for the help!) Could be a bonus? In some cultures women get help from a female relative who comes to stay for the first 40 days, maybe try as a family to take the best from that idea as they are meant to be there to support the mother and therefore help bonding, rather than interfere with it.

Good luck!

WishIdbeenatigermum Tue 09-Apr-13 09:26:42

How disastrous do you think it'll be to say no then? It sounds like really hard work and if you're anxious already, not a good idea. If you had older dcs I'd say, go for it, use the extra pair of hands to spend time with your Mum, but I really can't see any benefit and a lot of potential for real stress.
How about saying, wait until the baby is born, Mum's ill and we don't want to commit yet- perhaps suggest a visit later in the year, or you going out early at Christmas- travelling with a few month old is a cinch and you'll appreciate the change of scene and extra help then.

BabyHMummy Tue 09-Apr-13 09:39:00

Be honest with them and ur dh Huni. Tell them how you are feeling about it and if there is no way to say no completly then lay down some very strict ground rules.

Explain that with a newborn you would love the help with things like meal and cleaning but you need to be given your own time with baby to bond.

Is there anyway you could compromise.and have them come later...say October time?

Mutley77 Tue 09-Apr-13 10:00:17

I feel your anxiety - I have had so many awkward and difficult conversations with my DH about visits to and from his parents.

I have agreed to visits to them that I've later regretted as not being in the best interests of our children (their visits to us were completely infrequent as they don't like travelling so the onus was generally on us).

Circumstances are slightly different now but they are coming to stay in a couple of weeks and due to me being heavily pregnant and just having emigrated with 2 children - plus being due to make a move into our "permanent" home the week before their visit I have said no they are not staying with us. I know they are short of money and DH is not particularly happy - I do feel guilty but I just can't bear the thought of it and woudl rather cope with the fallout than deal with them staying.

Please put your foot down - my thought would be if they need to stay with you they need to delay the visit at least by a few weeks - and certainly 2 weeks is the max with MIL not staying any longer.

FattyMcChubster Tue 09-Apr-13 10:05:56

Please please be honest and put your foot down, either they visit later in the year or stay in a hotel when they visit. How you feel now will be magnified when baby arrives and you do not need the stress of having people living with you and dealing with a newborn.

BerthaTheBogCleaner Tue 09-Apr-13 10:06:55

Say no. Very few grandparents get to stay with a newborn gc for 2 weeks or a month. The only ones that do, are the ones who are very close to the mother and very very helpful (cleaning and cooking type helpful, not hogging-the-baby-and-nagging). If your PILs lived, say, 3 hours drive away, they'd come for the weekend every 2 or 3 months. And the first time they'd stay in a B&B, given that they're not the type to be listening to you or considering your needs.

Look at what you've written.

stressful anxious intense
don't stop talking
constantly micro managing how I look after my house
always over my shoulder
very draining
wouldn't keep their hands off my belly
history of depression
worried drive me insane
damaging to my early bonding
my mum is currently going through chemo

Tell them that due to your PND risk, your midwife has advised you not to have house guests after the baby is born (I'm sure she will advise you that if you ask her grin). And that if they want to book themselves a UK holiday in a hotel/cottage near to you they will be welcome to come for short visits (as in, a few hours, and not every day).

Newborns are frankly quite boring. They sleep, they cry, they spend hours feeding. Nothing for the GPs to do but housework.

Get them connected on Skype. Get all excited with them about seeing their lovely 4-month-old new grandchild at Christmas. By then it will be able to smile, interact, grab at toys. Way more fun.

Not seeing their gc in the flesh for a couple of months is not going to damage their relationship at all.

shrimponastick Tue 09-Apr-13 10:14:45

I would also try and delay their visit. Sell it to them that baby will be sleeping most of the time as a newborn anyway.

However I hate anyone in my space - a sleepover is one night in my house and then they are out.

After giving birth you will probably be leaky, bleeding, crying, sleeping(hopefully) and just want to be left alone - if you are anything like I was after DS was born. I would not want people I didn't know too well in my house for longer than a couple of hours visit.

littlemonkeychops Tue 09-Apr-13 10:16:16

You must chat to your DH sooner rather than later before definite plans get made.

If you don't know them well 2 weeks is a very very long time, especially with your DH at work. Don't agree to anything you're comfortable with. Maybe your DH is not quite aware what it'll be like with a newborn.

Also, from personal experience lasting damage can be done to family relationships in the early stages, i still resent my ILs for how much they imposed when DD was born and so am very much keeping them at a distance for the birth of DC2, i've found it so hard to forgive and forget. I think because it's such a vulnerable time as a new mum everything gets amplified.

Maybe give them a choice, a shorter visit now, or a longer visit later perhaps when DH has some annual leave? (I won't see my ILs without DH around).

glossyflower Tue 09-Apr-13 10:20:59

I would discuss your concern with DH and be honest.

2 weeks would be my absolute maximum at a push, a month most definitely not!

I would also say that you'd rather them stay in a B&B whilst you establish your newborns routine, This may be the incentive for them to stay for a shorter period if they don't have much money; and also there is other family that need to spend some time with you too. Just because they live abroad they shouldn't monopolise the situation.

Also does DH have any siblings you PILs could also stay with?

Though I can understand their excitement of new baby in the family but they have to realise this is about you, your DH and new baby not about them so much

Let us know how you get on. Xxx

littlemonkeychops Tue 09-Apr-13 10:24:47

Sorry i mean don't agree to anything you're not comfortable with obviously.

Don't be afraid to speak up for what you can/can't cope with - i went along with a lot of things with DD1 because i felt i should because they were her GPs/great-aunt/whoever and the result was i look back and regret not having mord time to ourselves.

I eventually developed quite bad anxiety and have had counselling and will be dealing with things very differently whdn DC2 arrives. As you already say you might be at risk of pnd please talk to your DH andbe totally honest, he will hopefully want to protect you from any source of anxiety. But do be brutally honest, my DH just thought i got irritated by his parents it was only when i broke down about the anxiety he realised it was serious -so tell him hos you feel.

midori1999 Tue 09-Apr-13 10:25:55

I would say no too. I had my in laws to stay while my DH was working and i had a young baby, even though I kept suggesting they stay another time and it has irreparably damaged my relationship with them. I am now not willing for them to stay here again ever.

It will be better for everyone if they come when the baby is older and your DH there to entertain them.

dinkystinky Tue 09-Apr-13 10:28:06

A month is far too long. 2 weeks sounds the absolute maximum. You need to speak to your DH and lay down ground rules - they should look after themselves and not monopolise your time or the baby. If you want to go out to get some space with the baby, you should be able to do so - and likewise, hopefully they can plan day trips and get out from the house for a few hours each day to give every one space. If you feel things are getting on top of you, then you have to be able to communicate with your DH without him getting offended - if you need space, then that is what you need.

HazleNutt Tue 09-Apr-13 10:47:26

read this thread why having ILs stay for a month is not a good idea when you have a newborn. Yours don't sound anything as bad as the ones described, but there are some intersting points that you probably haven't even considered.


If you want to make a quick drink or snack are you honestly saying you would just do it in front of them cos I couldn't.
If you need to sit on the loo for hours trying to pooh would you like the door being tried occasionally by pil trying to get in.
When you use the downstairs loo do you want to carry your sanitary towel bagged up past them?
If you leak milk or bleed onto your pjs do you want fil watching?
If you want skin to skin whilst watching too gear do you want to go up to bed to do it?
Do you want to sit bolt upright on the sofa rather than lie down?
Do you want to sit with dh gazing at new baby and cooing without mil interjecting every five minutes?

Bunnylion Tue 09-Apr-13 13:43:20

Some very helpful replies - thank you all.

hazel wow, some scary questions! But really help confirm what huge a problem this could potentially become.

They keep saying how for their first DC my MILs mum moved in - but obviously this was her own mum, not her MIL. It's definitely different and not her place. I don't want to offend them but I'll speak to my DH and try and get them to stay elsewhere and for a much shorter time.

They don't know about my previous depressions and often talk about someone else in the family who has ongoing depression as the "mad one", so it's not something I feel comfortable telling them about.

FloppyRhubarb Tue 09-Apr-13 16:01:31

Oh Wow...
My Dad and step mum came to stay with us for two weeks after the birth of my son. They planned on coming for 10 days, heading off to Ireland and staying with my step-mums family for a few weeks and then returning for a week more with us before heading back to Aus.

It was great to have the idea of their support, but the actual fact of having them in the house 24/7 with my son only a few weeks old, trying to get to grips with breast feeding and other changes was in fact a nightmare... In the end they didn't return for the second visit and holidayed in Europe for a while before heading back to Aus...

If I could (or had to) do it again I would set down some rules before they arrived - firstly they wouldn't be staying in our house, but rather at a B&B or hotel close by so that we got family time together the three of us (partner, baby and me) and also gave them some space from us as slightly stressed new parents. (That was the plan to begin with by they scuppered it with some parent/child manipulation and fast talking!)

I would organise some days out in advance - I know this sounds absurd when you have a newborn but it does make dealing with the relies and those same four walls a little easier, even if it is just a trip out to a local cafe for lunch or to take in a few tourist sites you can walk around.

And thirdly I would let them know that I wasn't going to be 'on tap' for them whilst they visited, so they would be needing to treat my house like their own whilst there, which would mean making their own cups of tea, tidying up after themselves and if they could stretch to it, helping me out a little rather than sitting like lumps on the couch waiting to be entertained by me and the new grandchild...

I know it sounds ungrateful, but seriously it would have been better for family relations all round if we had put our foot down about the above before they turned up - and they were my side of the family!! So good luck and get your husband on board with this too!

Nordicmom Tue 09-Apr-13 16:13:51

I had my own mom for a week when DS was 1 w old and that was great but wouldn't have wanted to have any guests for longer than that after my emcs ( DH could only stay home for 1 w post birth ). Didn't want my mil to come for an extended visit like this at all since we didn't have a proper guest room and were in a two bed flat (1 a study where guests stayed) so she came for one night per week to help out for the first few months). This was a great help we haven't unfortunately had this time around with dd since mil is unwell .
I'm also a person who needs quiet and my own space and feel like I'll go crazy if I have to entertain people for more than a few days . If u r like this then definitely do not agree to people staying weeks on end let alone a month right after birth which is a trying time anyway . I personally just wanted to be left alone and we only had a few visitors and rest got to meet DS when I felt ready ... Good luck smile!

HazleNutt Tue 09-Apr-13 16:18:35

Bunny I'm expecting DC1 as well, so can't really imagine what it will be like with a newborn, but those questions from more experienced mums seem quite valid. It will be a major, massive change. Having ILs sounds stressful even in normal circumstances, not to mention when you will need all your attention, time and energy for your little baby and yourself.

juneau Tue 09-Apr-13 16:19:49

I have American in-laws. After our first DC was born I limited their visits to two hours! They were close by, at the time, so that was lucky. FGS don't have any guests (unless it's your mum or someone else of your choosing), in the first three months. You will be exhausted, hormonal, trying to get into a routine of feeding/sleeping with your baby, wanting to sleep when the baby sleeps (impossible with house guests unless they are really, really understanding), and you can't be entertaining, making cups of tea, rustling up dinner every night, etc. You need to rest and be waited upon, if anything, so anyone who is not going to do that should be limited to very short visits (no more than two hours and at a convenient time - if such a thing exists - which it really doesn't in the early days).

Nordicmom Tue 09-Apr-13 16:21:45

With DD both of my parents came for 2 w last summer when she was 7 w old but now we have a 3 story house with more space inc several bathrooms and a guest room so we didn't feel like we were on top of each other . DH was at work in the day and DS at school so it was just me , baby and my parents at home and it was lovely actually smile! They were a great help with my dad doing all the school runs, getting us lunch and doing the food shopping daily . They helped in the house making dinners etc , they did almost all feeds and nappies . It was lovely to have all that time just to hang out and talk since I normally only see them a few times a year. I think it also helped that dd wasn't a newborn and was in a routine of sorts and I wasn't struggling with breast feeding etc post birth . Also I'd only want to spend all this time in close quarters with my own parents ....

BlingLoving Tue 09-Apr-13 16:32:46

I think there are a few things here, but that unless your DH comes from a family where he can tell them to sod off, you can only aim to make their visit easier, not try to stop it. I had a similar issue with MIL wanting to come for SIX weeks when DS was born. In the end it was fine, but that was because DH and I came to some very firm guidelines and he was 100% behind me. That made all the difference.

1. See if you can talk them into coming just a touch later. Those first few days are so stresseful and frankly, you don't know exactly when the baby will be. Can DH suggest that rather than come immeidately after, they come when the baby is a few weeks old?

2. Agree boundaries in advance with DH - in our case, that meant that MIL didn't get to go out with DH every evening as she usually does when she visits and DH would not give her lifts all over town.

3. Ensure DH totally understands that he needs to be on your side. So that means if your MIL suggests something for the baby that you're not comfortable with, DH needs to be prepared to jump in. In my case, it was usually around when to feed DS or when to pick him up - MIL was always of the opinion that he could wait a little longer, or cry a little longer. I wasn't. DH backed me. Every time.

4. Mentally prepare yourself to ask for help and to be very clear about it. This may take practice in your head beforehand. I walked around for weeks practising with a friend acting as MIL saying things like, "MIL, please could you make me a cup of tea while I BF DS". Or "MIL, we're not going to cook dinner tonight but if you'd like takeaways, here is a good local Italian menu".

Sorry for such a long post. I just feel very strongly about this. I think for some people they can simply put their foot down and say no, but that's not always possible or even fair to DH and/or PIL so I think it's all about managing expectations and the process when they arrive.

Good luck!

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