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Do you live with your mum (and/or dad)?

(20 Posts)
charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 25-Mar-14 10:21:08


This thread is carrying on from one I posted last night on here ("how to deal with passive mum")

I just wanted to start a fresh one to find out if anyone else on here lives with their parent(s) and how they all get along, who does what in the house, what makes each other tick, advice on how best to make things run smoothly and keep everyone happy etc etc!

In short, my mum is a long time divorced from my dad and always found living on her own hard and so she was pleased as punch when she found out I was pregnant and did everything she could to get us to move in. That was over 2 years ago.

Living together is mutually beneficial - she couldn't afford her place without us and we would struggle to pay for a place of our own.

Things are basically great, no real complaints. However my mum's behaviour over the last week suggests that maybe she finds us living with her hard sometimes. I guess everyone needs their own space sometimes (it didn't help that we had the in laws staying last weekend, I think she finds it overbearing).

I find it really upsetting to see her unhappy, and I am not sure what to do to make it better.

She is naturally introvert and shy, and would never ever say what was really bugging her.

Myself and DP do the dinners for us all almost every night (sometimes she decides to pass on dinner and will have something she makes herself, in her room). We do the lions share of the cleaning and tidying (her job is the hoovering). I try and keep my DS away from her room as much as I can but he loves his nana screams and cries to be let in. She loves having him there but I can see it gets too much sometimes.

We try and take DS out at weekends so she has time to herself.

DS's other grandparents live 200 miles away so I think more trips up there should be in order, so she can get a bit of head space.

Any thoughts you would like to share would be most welcome smile

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 25-Mar-14 12:28:02

anyone? Bump!

Wigsy Tue 25-Mar-14 14:33:01

I'm similar to your mum in terms of personality: I'm an introvert and quite shy. I also want to help people out wherever I can, and I can imagine doing something similar to what she has done in terms of inviting you to the house.

I am also similar in that if a situation isn't working out, for me, ie I'm finding it crowded, I will find it really hard to say so. Especially if the invitation came from me. I will feel like the problem in the situation - even when it's my house - and I will feel guilty for not being able to rub along happily with everyone all the time.

You're probably reading the situation perfectly. Introverts need time and space alone to think and process things. I also expect you're right that the in-laws' visit last weekend might have been a bit much and she needs a break to wind down.

Let her know you love her, and make sure she knows when she's going to get her time/space to herself. If she has a guaranteed x hours with the house to herself on x day, she can look forward to it and enjoy it far more than a surprise day alone, or a day to herself that could end at any time - ie one where she doesn't know what time you'll be back.

Also, the housework made me wonder. I have never had a cleaner because housework feels quite territorial: I like to feel in charge of my own space. Do you think she feels that because you're (very helpfully) doing the lion's share of the housework, it feels a bit more like your house than it does hers?

I really sympathise with both sides. I think you sound incredibly lovely and conscientious. I am very like your mother to share a house with, and I worry about how difficult i must be to live with when the dynamic isn't quite right.

For what it's worth, I was happiest when I lived in a big shared house in my 20s and everyone had their own thing to get on with. It was a good, independent vibe, and no one looked to anyone else for entertainment or help. There was company when one wanted it, and solitude when one needed it. It was perfect. This isn't so easily achievable in a busy family setup, especially with a little child who looks to everyone for love and attention, but I expect the small step of letting her know 1. she is loved, and 2. when and for how long to expect peace and quiet, will help her feel better.

I hope others have something more helpful to say to you. It sounds as though you can work things out with just a few tweaks.

Wigsy Tue 25-Mar-14 14:49:30

(Some other thoughts:

If you do take DC to see other grandparents, or come up with a regular routine whereby you go out and give her space at the weekends, avoid saying "We're going to go out to give you some space" because she might feel bad, like she's made you go out. Just say you're going out to do [whatever] and you'll be back at [fixed time]. That way you have an independent plan that isn't motivated by tiptoeing around her, and she knows she gets some time alone that she can relax into.

I mention this because I feel bad in crowded situations that I can't be a 24/7 fun-fun extravert. I feel like I'm the problem. If people go out "to give me space" I feel I've pushed them out and I feel even worse. Make sure your reason for going out has nothing to do with giving her a break.)

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 25-Mar-14 15:00:14

Hi Wigsy,

Thank you so so much for your reply. It is a massively helpful insight into how my mum may think. Like you suggest, I am sure she feels guilty for feeling like this. She is such an easy person to live with, and that's why its so obvious when there is something wrong.

I think you have a point about the cleaning (and cooking too) - maybe she feels like we have taken over. I am happy to let her take on more cleaning, believe you me! grin But I will try not to make it obvious.

I am glad you posted your second post - I didn't think of this. I probably would have said something like "we're going out so now you can have some chill out time!" which of course is going to make her feel worse. I didn't think of this either. So thank you. I will make sure she knows when she will be having the house to herself and for how long. I may start to bring my toddler out after I finish work just so she can come into a quiet home once in a while instead of being bombarded on arrival every evening!! I have a few local friends with toddlers that I can visit - or we can just go for a walk (the excuse being that fresh air gets DS to sleep well in the night, and I need the exercise - which is true)

Its very interesting to hear the view of an introverted and shy person, you sound so much like my mum (who is a wonderful, giving, caring person) and its really helpful to hear what and how she may be thinking.

LokiTheCynicalCat Tue 25-Mar-14 16:24:16

Between the two of you I think you've got a good handle on how your mum feels and is acting.

I am also an introvert. I love having people to stay and to visit but I do find it very wearing and I need alone time. I am currently at home with toddler DS and he has just started doing 2 days a week in nursery which is saving my sanity. DH and I agreed on it before we had children and I am thankful that he hasn't changed his mind now. It's a big expense but I really value the peace and quiet for two set days a week, especially from a clingy small person who won't leave me alone! I use it to shop, gym, do housework that isn't completely undone within seconds, drink tea and have a biscuit without having to fend off grabby hands...

DH who mixes with other adults at work all day doesn't really get the need to be alone, and while he's really happy on his own I often have to tell him that what I really want isn't his company, it is to be alone with my book tonight once DS is in bed!

Do you ever go away for a weekend and leave her the house to herself? Could you plan to visit friends or relatives somewhere that she wouldn't feel expected to join (and therefore wouldn't feel rejected if you failed to invite her)? I have had a weekend alone at home once since my 17mo DS arrived and it was bliss. It's great to have a stretch of time to recharge, not that I would want it every week, but urban legend has it that there is a country song titled "How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?"... there's truth in that!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 25-Mar-14 16:37:08

Loki - you sound like me! When I think about it maybe I have elements of being an introvert too although on the surface I am an extrovert. My DS is 19mo, my DP took him to visit his grandparents a month ago and myself and my mum had the house to ourselves - the first time sine DS was born - it was bliss!! I also have to gently tell my DP that I would rather sit on my own with a book some nights.

I totally understand how my mum feels. I have to work out ways to help her feel better / more happy in her own home. SO:

1) plan time away, and on a regular basis so she knows its coming: be it an afternoon on a weekend, or an evening during the week. Plan trips to other grandparents house for weekends. We already have 3 trips planned from now to June so that is good. She will have something to look forward to! (although she was just saying how lonely she will be when we go on holiday for 2 weeks!!)

2) cut back on the cooking all the meals and doing all the cleaning so she feels like her home hasn't been taken over

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep my DS from being so demanding of his nana? They are so great together, but my mum will ALWAYS pick him up and spoils him all the time, so of course he always wants his nana, not mean old mum who won't give in to his piece of "choc choc". As soon as he wakes up he wants to go straight in to nana. I try and distract him and keep him in another room, and it works sometimes, but mostly he cries until he gets a cuddle from nana!!

Wigsy Wed 26-Mar-14 10:49:41

Having just read your other thread, about her staying in her room during the in-laws' visit, I'm wondering how she gets on with the in-laws. Is there a chance that during their previous visit, something was said or done to upset her?

It could have been direct or indirect. If you're a sensitive soul it's easy to get upset by either. It could be anything: a remark by one of them, or an indication that they're better grandparents than she is, for some real or imagined reason. Either way some reassurance might be needed.

If there were anything about the in-laws that she found difficult, do you think she would feel able to tell you, or would she feel that was rocking the boat?

I may be way off the mark here but I'm just imagining what would cause me to retreat and be so unwilling/afraid to play hostess to people in my house. I wonder if you could find out if they're the only visitors to make her hide away.

Wigsy Wed 26-Mar-14 10:56:02

Also, about the demands of your DS: is this something she wants? It is lovely to feel loved and wanted by a sweet little toddler.

If it is something you really feel she finds a bit tiring or full-on, I think your idea of taking him out for when she gets home is a good one. If you've been living in a busy house, and you like your own space, the feeling of coming home to find it empty a couple of afternoons a week is incredible.

I think on the whole you have a pretty amazing and happy, genuinely loving family, from what you write. I mean that in an admiring way. I hope you can get to the bottom of what's troubling your mum.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Wed 26-Mar-14 11:51:45

Hi wigsy thank you for your post

Yes, you are right about the in laws. It is well known that mil can be rude, abrupt and overbearing. We all know this and we try and deal with it every time they visit. I could start a whole new thread about her!!! But we usually work together in dealing with her. This time around I just think my mum couldn't be arsed, if I'm honest. And I don't blame her. It is more than possible mil has said something hurtful to her or about me, and rather than confront her, my mum has just hidden away.

Next time they visit I'm going to insist on a b and b. Although mil usually visits on her own, which makes it very awkward to ask her to stay in a hotel. There would be no other reason to ask her to stay in a hotel other than we don't want her there, iyswim? I wonder if you have any suggestions on how to deal with this frankly shit situation?!

In regards to ds, I believe she is genuinely delighted with him and loves that he loves her so much. They are so great together. But I think he's age is catching up with her and she gets tired more easily these days (she would absolutely kill me if she knew I said that haha)

The past 2 evenings she has stayed out till after his bedtime. Met a mate for coffee one evening and late night shopping last night. I can see she needs some space. I will make sure we are out boycott a couple of evenings a week, although not use how it'll work, as ds bedtime routine begins at around 6. I guess it won't matter if we mix it up a bit. Variety is the spice of life and all!

Thank you for your really lovely comments too xx

LokiTheCynicalCat Wed 26-Mar-14 12:44:13

Hi Charlie. In terms of stopping DS running to nana all the time, have you thought about a baby gate? We live in a very open-plan ground floor flat so no need for stairs, but we still put one in to block off the front part of the flat so that the cats would have somewhere to hide without having to shut them in a room. And DS still can roam semi-freely where I can keep an eye on him but we can store dangerous items out of reach.

Can you close off a corridor, an upstairs or just few rooms so that DS can't reach your mum's door to bang on it?

By the way, I've always heard that being an introvert isn't related to how sociable you are. It just means that while you might really enjoy others' company you recharge by being alone, whereas an extrovert needs to be around people to relax and they boost their energy by socialising, not drain it!

Wigsy Wed 26-Mar-14 14:01:12

In terms of coaxing MIL into a B&B: does she usually stay in a spare room? You can always be 'redecorating' the spare room, or it could spring a 'leak' in the ceiling. All you have to do is put a bucket of murky water in there and point a water-pistol at the ceiling above it for five seconds to make it look real. Some plumbing problems persist for years and are mysteriously hard to fix.

Wigsy Wed 26-Mar-14 14:02:19

Or the bed could get 'woodworm'. That would be terrible.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Wed 26-Mar-14 14:14:44

Haha wigsy that made me laugh.

She stays in our room, we don't have a spare room. I then sleep in with my mum or my son, and other half on the sofa.

It's a weird situation. Although my other half is aware of what she is like, he doesn't know to what extent her attitude affects both my mum and myself. Mil is in her late 70s so everyone does everything they can to accommodate her and to not upset her basically. I dread even suggesting to my partner that she stay in a hotel. (I guess I'm more like my mum than I care to admit!!!!)

But I will have to broach the subject if it's having this effect on my mum.

Loki thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately there is no way we can block my mum's room due to the lay out of the house. We do have an upstairs, with a stair Gate, we will try to keep him upstairs in his nursery and our bedroom more. Maybe bring some more toys up there to make it more entertaining for him. As it is now, he spends 10 min max upstairs before he remembers nana downstairs and screams blue murder!!

and it defo sounds as though I'm an introvert by your description. Funny as people always assume I'm extrovert! I need head space on my own, and so does my mum. Introverts!!!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 27-Mar-14 12:25:10


Not sure if anyone is even following this thread anymore!! - are you there Wigsy / Loki? smile

Just wanted to say that I think I may have upset my mum last night. She had hold of my DS and I went to take him off her as I thought she might just want to go into her room and chill. She looked very hurt and dejected.

Can't win!!

keely79 Thu 27-Mar-14 12:48:23

We live with my mum at the moment. Have you considered taking her out, just the two of you - no DP, no DS - and properly talking (and more importantly listening) to her. Create a safe space where there's no blame, no accusation, no getting hurt feelings.

Mum and I talk all the time - it's not perfect and there's lots of things that wind her up/me up, but we do find that keeping an open line of communication between us (and other people out of it) really helps.

Perhaps start the conversation along the lines of "we are so happy to be living here with you, it's great that DS is so close to you, but it's really important that you are happy too. Is there anything we could do that would make your life easier in any way?"

If you're both introverts, this may be easier said than done (I come from a family of real talkers - our issue is more that we have no filters) - but if you never ask, you'll never know for sure.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 27-Mar-14 12:59:30

Hi Keely,

Very good idea. I will arrange for my partner to stay in with DS while I treat mum to a wagamamas (her favourite) - will try to do it this week, maybe tomorrow evening.

I know I just need to bite the bullet, but somehow I am scared of what she will say too!!

So do you have any children? Does your DP live there too? I believe its becoming more common these days for young families to live with grandparents. How do you make it work?

keely79 Thu 27-Mar-14 13:16:05

Yes - we have 2 children (4 and 2) - both my DH and I live there (luckily is a big house). What happened is that my Mum wanted to downsize, so we moved into her house and then looked for and bought her somewhere smaller. However, she then wanted to raise some money to do up the new place, so let it out for a short period (6 months) - actually she moves out in 2 weeks. So we have all been living together on and off for a year and a half.

We both work full time and my mother looks after my children when they're not in nursery. My mother comes from a culture in which it is very normal for children to live with their parents which may make it easier for me and her - I think my DH finds it the most difficult.

As I said - we're big talkers - which does help. Yes there are issues and niggling points, but we all try to make sure that things don't escalate and that we take everyone's feelings into consideration. For example, my DH and I are on the messy side, and my Mum is a neat freak, so we got a cleaner in once a week to give the house a thorough going over, and DH and I have made a real effort to confine our most messy sides to our bedroom! In return, Mum bites her lip if the house isn't as clean as she would like (or ends up cleaning it...)

The other coping mechanism has been to keep disagreements/discussions between Mum and I. If she has a problem with something DH has done, she speaks to me. I then raise with him as I see best. My relationship with my mother is unbreakable - not so sure about relationship between Mum and DH so would rather keep it as cordial as possible.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 27-Mar-14 14:20:10

Thanks for sharing, Keely. Always interesting to see how others live, how they deal with day to day life when living together.

In regards to keeping disagreements/discussions between myself and my mum...we do do this in our house but I sometimes get really fed up about it, like why am I the middle man, why don't you just speak to each other about it, kind of thing. And I say it quite a lot to them both too. Maybe I should just accept that I am going to be the one in the middle, and that it probably is for the best

keely79 Fri 28-Mar-14 15:04:50

I think that's just what you have to do. I know what you mean about it getting annoying, but I bite my lip in service of the greater good!

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