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In laws - extended stay(18 Posts)
I have my in laws coming to stay for just over a month this Christmas (we are expats and live a long way from England). I invited them, and I love them very much. I am looking forward to having them here, however it's a long visit, and I am seeking advice in coping with their stay, so that I don't get stressed out. Basically they take over the house when they are here, but mean well. I struggle to assert myself, as I want them to feel at home, and welcome, and I want them to enjoy visiting us.
I feel it would be better if I have a plan to help me make my likes and dislikes clear, as I know they wouldn't want to upset me - they are just a little socially inept, and are more used to staying with their many daughters, who let them take over. I hate mess and clutter - they are basically hoarders, and they are also very messy. My mil likes to cook, and as I am vegetarian she immediately takes over the kitchen making pork chops etc. I try not to let this bother me (to be honest it does, but they are v traditional and just can't understand the kind of food we eat, so I serve it as a side dish instead, which works ok). I know my DH enjoys the chance to eat his DM's home cooked meals - and it is nice for the children to experience a different style of cooking. It also makes my mil happy, as she feels she is helping out. However she doesn't clean anything up. And uses every pan. I think my father in law does the cleaning at home, unfortunately here it falls to me. I don't want to be cleaning up someone else's mess, especially greasy meat, but I hate mess, so I can't 'just leave it'. Our house is open plan, so I can't get away from it. Any advice for handling this?
The other issue is mess in general. I am the mother of small children and they do create a lot of mess, I am happy to tidy up after them. I don't want to be tidying up after two extra adults. They tend to leave their belongings everywhere, I tidy as I would normally with the kids stuff, and stack all their belongings. They then stay there. What would you do to encourage them to clean up after themselves? They will watch me clean and tidy a table, then put a pile of leaflets, receipts and bits of change on it. Their house doesn't have a bare surface in it, ours is very different. I suspect they feel more comfortable surround by clutter. I understand as I feel uncomfortable in their messy house, however the difference is that I restrain myself from giving it a good tidy!ed
The final issue I tend to have is that my husband (who is honestly the most kind and caring person) will agree with his mum over me. That sounds bad, but it's just him going overboard trying to be welcoming, he doesn't mean to undermine me, but that is how it makes me feel. So imagine they say (just a random example) 'lets go to this restaurant at 7pm', and I say 'no, it's too fancy, that's the kids bedtime so they will be overtired and act up - it will just be stressful.' We would normally then either pick somewhere else, book a sitter, or go earlier. If his parents are saying 7pm, he will just try and persuade me, no compromise. This normally happens in front of them, they suggest a plan and he tries to make it happen. I need a way to assert myself without appearing rude, but in a way that makes it politely clear that the plan isn't suitable.
I known this post is overly long, but I am honestly looking forward to having a big family christmas, I just need some coping strategies to make sure it doesn't go badly. I know I should assert myself more, but I am a people pleaser - so please help me!
Have a word with your husband, he needs to tidy up after his mum or parents and ask him to listen to you. As he doesn't see them so often though I would maybe add a sprinkle of tolerance into the conversation.
He is turning into a little kid and tries to please his parents. He is a grown up man and should take responsibility for his actions.
Does his mum live with him or you?
They are guests and that's OK, but he left home many years ago.
He decided that his mum is more important than you. Have word with him how all of it is making you feel.
If they're standing there watching you tidy up, ask them to help. Give specific directions: "Can you take your things into your room, thanks" or, "If you start the washing up now it should be done by the time I've finished this."
Have a word with your husband about how he dismisses your concerns when his parents are there. Tell him it's unacceptable and makes their visits more stressful, and that he's got to be more supportive of you and his children. And if he starts to do it, point out there and then that he's not being helpful. It'll be weird and unpleasant but he is creating this awkwardness, not you.
And I think it's lovely of you to invite your parents in law to stay, especially when you know how challenging it's going to be for you. Working out problems like this ahead of time is a very positive move, and so much better than stewing on it and letting things get horrible once they're there.
I think trying to get them to clean up through PA/direct requests is going to come across as rude. They are guests and sometimes guests are inconvenient.
You need to talk to your DH about supporting you more. Either he needs to clean more around his parents or he needs to have a conversation with them about their messiness and its impact on you.
The attempts to persuade you to do things you think are unsuitable is different. Say no, that isn't going to work. Speak to your DH and make it clear that you don't want him to try to change your mind constantly - you are saying no for a reason and that is that.
Absolutely tell your dh before they come that he needs to say he will run any plans by you before agreeing, especially if it's a matter of common sense or you simply knowing better about something.
And I would say to him that he needs to step up on the washing up after meat meals since it turns your stomach. If these points could be agreed then maybe you can try to overlook the untidiness as much as possible or sweep it into piles ( Bob, I've put your stuff into this basket so it doesn't get lost in our mess) and smile sweetly.
My parents visit db for an extended holiday most years and no doubt it does cause some tensions especially for SIL who does most of the hosting, though not housework as they have 'help'. Mum and dad always go away for a few days to break it up and enjoy this. Could you possibly suggest this or even give it as a Christmas present?
Well done to you for being so nice. I've heard my SIL bitch about my parents and it makes me sad.
Definitely you need to have a chat with your husband and sort out groundrules before they arrive.
If you leave the washing up, what would happen? Would the other three adults realise that it is not going to magically get done... I know it would be difficult because you obviously do like to keep your house nice, but you may have to sit on your hands next time and see what happens.
Thank you all for the supportive comments. I am going to take note. I have a specific example of something that happened today on skype - i feel I should have handled it differently. I Skyped my in laws to talk to them about their visit, booking tickets etc. it all went well, I had some ideas of things we could do and they seemed to love them. However my mil asked if we wanted them to bring a Christmas pudding, I said that would be lovely. She then suggested getting two small ones, one vegetarian one not. I said let's just have one large vegetarian one, the taste won't be any different and it will mean just one pan for steaming not two. She said she would microwave them. I always steam the pudding, so said that. She replied that no, we would be microwaving them. My husband gave me an angry stop this conversation sign, and looked annoyed. He's annoyed as obviously he doesn't want us to argue, however it didn't feel like an argument, just something where we have different ways of doing things. Anyway, I left it, so we will probably have microwaves pudding this year! It's the most stupid example ever, but from previous visits I know this will kind of conversation will happen constantly unless I find a way to assert myself. Any advice?
Stuff like the pudding is small, you should let it go. Plus if they are microwaved it means less washing up!
But you do need to talk to your DH. Why does the cleaning fall to you? Him undermining you to please mummy isn't on at all.
On the pudding, email her and tell her not to bring a vegetarian one, you've sourced one. Let her bring th other one and microwave it and you steam yours.
If you don't want to go to a restaurant at a certain time, how about calmly saying it doesn't work for you and your children and to go ahead without you.
Have a big basket for their clutter and just pop their stuff into it as they go along.
Thanks. Yes I will just let it go, it's only one year. I was just using it as an example of how our conversations usually pan out - basically she gets her own way a lot. I do sound like such a pushover, but i have a successful high powered job, and am at ease bossing around people when at work. But I am very aware of the fact that my in laws don't have to come visit, they have other kids and other grandkids who would love to host them. My sister has a very tough relationship with her in laws and her kids barely know them - I want my kids to know their grandparents.
On the washing up: tell your DH that whilst it's great that he gets to enjoy his Mum's pork chops, while she is there, if she has been cooking meat, he does the clear up. Point out that there will be extra people to clear up after.
On the mess: put it in a basket, and try not to sweat this one. Just remind yourself that it is temporary. It doesn't really matter.
Say you have a veggie Xmas pud. Steam that one. Who cares what she does with the one she eats? Esp if your DH is happy with his Mum microwaving it.
Plans: anticipate as far as poss. You make plans. And if they do want to go fine dining, send them off, happily and with good grace, to have an evening with their son. Once or twice , once if it is disastrous, relax and just give the late night for the kids a go. Christmas, things can happen differently.
I was going to say same as Dilly on their clutter. Implement a system where you have a basket / tub for kids clutter and get a spare for the ILs. Plonk it outside their room every day.
Cultivate your bright and breezy
slightly brittle voice for making plans that suit everyone not just adults and summoning DH / FIL / DCs to come and do washing up whilst you pointedly do a quick tidy round. Cheerfully state that it is impossible for you to relax when the house looks a tip. Tell DH to belt up - your happiness is important too.
The other thing I haven't mentioned is that we were planning on having a very thrifty Christmas this year,keeping the presents low key and having chicken instead of turkey etc. making it all about the experience instead of the party. However my in laws found some cheap flights,so I am changing my plans to make it more like the christmases they are used to. I'm ok with that, but I do still want to stick to a budget, as I have finally cleared all our credit card debt, paid off our car etc, and want to start the new year in credit for once. My in laws are incredibly generous, so I'm not worried about the cost of food or wine when it comes to hosting, luckily.
sparkle I like your turn of phrase. I think I need to be more smiley and make a joke out of it. 'Belt up dh!' Haha
It's not going to change unless you assert your preferences in your own home.
I'm sorry but people who take over like this are not lovely at all. They don't seem to have much respect for you and your preferences.
They sound like bullies.
And your h sounds like a wet blanket agreeing with his mother over you.
It sounds to me like the pair of you revert to being children when your in laws are around.
Do you have dcs? Do they try and take over with them too?
If you are planning dcs then watch out because your parenting preferences will be ignored.
The thing with taking the kids out too late though, I'd just let that happen.
Say to them all in front of your DH 'no 7 pm at posh place is too late, they will act up and be overtired '
When they say o'oh no it'll be fine' say ok, but DH YOU can deal with them' and make sure he does, swan off to the bar, or whatever. Make things Someone Else's Problem.
Your DH is reverting to a child relationship around his parents - it's very common (mine does it when we visit PILs) but not on when he's doing it in the home he's made with his wife! PILs may or may not be bullies but they have been enabled to continue behaving like DH is a child which is why they come across to you as a bully - you are expecting an adult-adult relationship so the whole thing appears oppressive.
They are guests in your home so they get to behave as guests.
It's been my experience that it's best to have an early falling out so the rules are clear, rather than have years of resentment build up and then a bust up so bad no-one ever speaks again. This also helps move things to a more adult-adult expection level.
So from your OP - you could agree that everyone loves MIL's cooking but DH doesn't slob about not cleaning up the rest of the time so why does he do it now? He needs to clean up. Christmas pudding - it's a nice offer but you have it covered and you made a massive one yesterday
even if that is a complete lie.
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