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Local Mum seems overly keen to push our children together/ share lifts etc....I'm not keen

(93 Posts)
whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 10:18:21

Background: Have known this family for 3-4 years. Kids at school with mine (DS + her DS in same class).
My DS is not particularly friendly with her kids, but gets along with them OK if need be.

They have recently moved closer to us, and we are now more obviously on their 'school run' route.

The mum has recently started barraging me/DS with invitations for tea, parties, a sleepover etc. I feel slightly uncomfortable, as I feel like it's part of a 'plan' of hers to 'groom' us for future childcare/ lifts.
So far I've found excuses for us/DS not to go, or reasons (often genuine) why we can't pick up her kids etc. I had kind of hoped she'd get the message?
BUT she just keeps banging on, offering alternative dates, other lift shares etc etc.

I feel like I don't want to accept ANY of her invitations for fear of 'opening the floodgates' IYSWIM?

Thing is, she works full time, and she is always farming her children off to various people's houses after school... I work from home, and we have a good routine whereby my kids do their homework, and then play pretty quietishly while I finish things off for the day. Her kids are loud, boisterous and obviously don't understand out family situation (e.g. on one rare occasion when I helped her out in an 'emergency' her 8 year old burst into my office (depite having been told by my two not to) waving a lightsabre and shrieking, while I was on the phone to a client sad )

DS isn't bothered either way. I just don't know whether I should just keep saying 'no thanks' or be more blunt and say 'sorry, but I don't want to become part of your childcare plan' shock

WWYD?

Katisha Tue 13-Oct-09 10:25:36

Does she not have any actual childcare in place for after school?
Is there an afterschool club or anything?

whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 10:26:07

Sorry, other thing I should say is that it's quite a small class (20) so I don't really want to create on-going bad feeling - it's too small a community.

GentleOtter Tue 13-Oct-09 10:28:59

Go with your gut instinct.

We were in exactly the same situation and ended up looking after a child almost every weekend.

You will have to be firm and keep your distance, politely but firmly.

stillstanding Tue 13-Oct-09 10:29:59

At the moment she is just inviting your DCs to teas/parties etc which is rather nice of her really. If I were her I suspect I would be starting to think that you were being a bit offish if you kept refusing. I would accept one or two of these invitations but not the whole sweep of them and deal with childcare requests when they come up. Saying no to everything could seem rather churlish, no?

Pumpkinbummum Tue 13-Oct-09 10:30:01

Just say "I actually work from home and its not really suitable"

whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 10:31:09

Katisha - I think she works flexi-time until 4 pm or something, and her kids do an afterschool club each day for an hour. Thing is she is always manic/rushing/late and phoning other mums to help her out.

I DO sympathise (I have been in the same situation) and I wouldn't mind if it really was just occasionally, but she's the sort of person who, if your 'give an inch, will take a mile'. Our after school routine works fine for us. I have a younger child who is tired and needs to wind down after school. When I have to bring her children they are loud, boisterous and it makes us all stressed.

Katisha Tue 13-Oct-09 10:32:38

Yes go to one or two tea invitations but when the childcare emergencies start up then say you are not in a position to do that. Don't feel you have to justify/explain that any further.

If there is an after-school club you could point her in that direction. FWIW I work full-time and mine go to a childminder for two hours after school - you can't just avoid paying unfortunately!

Katisha Tue 13-Oct-09 10:32:58

Sorry x-post

Lilymaid Tue 13-Oct-09 10:33:25

Be blunt(ish) - why should you suffer because of her child care problems. Tell her that you work from home, that "working from home" means just that and that you have a schedule by which your children work quietly at home until your work has ended and only play after that time.

Katisha Tue 13-Oct-09 10:34:21

But it sounds liek she should change her childcare arrangements to something that lets her be at work a bit longer - ie after-school childminder.
QUite how you broach that I don't know!

hatwoman Tue 13-Oct-09 10:35:19

I think you just have to gently explain the next time she starts trying to make an arrangement eg. "It's nice of you to offer but the thing is it's difficult for us to do things like this during the week while I'm working...I can't take time off to have kids round for tea, apart from occassionally (slip that in so that you aren't embarrassed next time you do have someone round...)...etc"

the other approach might be to bring things more into the open...if you feel some regular reciprocal help could work for you (and might make the boundaries clear) then you could just come out with a suggestion: you could suggest one day a week, or one day a fortnight when you swap, but, in doing so, make it clear that this is your limit - which could stop constant invites and negotiations. but this depends a bit on her character and your determination to lay out and stick to limits - (and now they've clarified that you are allowed to have such reciprocal arrnagements neitehr of you will be illegal childminders...!)

whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 10:36:11

Stillstanding "At the moment she is just inviting your DCs to teas/parties etc which is rather nice of her really."

I know from what I've written that seems true, the problem is that in reality it comes across as more calculating. She will be insistent about bringing DS back from school one day, or about taking him to a party at a weekend. She will say that her DS 'really wants to share a lift with him' hmm but then, rather suspiciously, the next week she will suddenly have an emergency and will ask me to collect her kids/ drop them off somewhere, and I'll feel obliged!

I know in one sense she is trying to 'build up credits' but I hate it - it all seems so sneaky.

CristinaTheAstonishing Tue 13-Oct-09 10:37:21

Poor woman. You'd better tell her you think she's going to take advantage and that's why you keep refusing all invitations. She can't be that much of a farmer-off if she keeps inviting your DS over for playdates. She's probably reciprocate, you just don't like her enough for that.

whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 10:39:15

I suppose I'm also wondering if I should let DS go to their house if I can't reciprocate?
(And if I'm honest I don't want to reciprocate - after school isn't an option for me, and our weekends are kept for family things)

stillstanding Tue 13-Oct-09 10:40:09

Hmmm, I see what you are saying, whippet. In that case I think hatwoman's approach is really a very good one. Very honest but will achieve exactly what you need.

hatwoman Tue 13-Oct-09 10:45:11

just be honest about not being able to reciprocate during the week. re weekend lifts etc I know what you mean about sneakily building up credits - but is it really such a bad thing? it means you too build up credits, and you too have someone you can call on if a lift would be handy.(and it's better for the environment)

Poledra Tue 13-Oct-09 10:45:45

whippet, I have been in a similar situation when I was on maternity leave last year. DD1 was in Reception, and there was a particular child whose mother often asked DD1 round to play/for tea etc. Then I started getting the phone calls asking me to collect her child from school as she was delayed at work. I'm afraid I started making excuses as to why DD1 could not go round to play, and did not ask the other child over. In addition to not wishing to be taken advantage of, I also did not like her child's wild behaviour and did not see why I should let my DDs learn it too.

I later discovered I was not the first nor the only mother she was doing this to. Not quite sure why she chose me as I was only ever a short-term solution (back to work now grin and paying for my afterschool childcare, thank you very much!).

As to WWYD, well, I just kept refusing invitations (when asked in the playground, said that I had to check the calendar at home before I could say yes or no - my, that calendar was full!) till she backed off. And it's been made easier by our DCs not being in the same class this year. And, thinking about it, I'm not any use to her any more I suppose....

Katisha Tue 13-Oct-09 10:47:23

The whole reciprocal thing is very difficult.
I was never in much of a position to let DSs go anywhere after school as they would be picked up by their childminder. Occasionally a mother would take them off to hers for tea but she understood that I was at work and wouldn't be able to reciprocate.
Another problem with regard to after-school socialising is taht we live in a village and the school is some distance away.

Things have eased now that DSs are 7 and 9 as they have made more friends in the village over the summer and play out on their bikes and around each others houses - it doesn't have to be organised - it just happens. Also happens at weekends which is nice for the DSs. All very casual.

On balance I think the best thing might be to say to this woman something like thanks very much for all teh kind invitations - I feel really bad though and that I cant accept them because I am not in a position to reciprocate - my work pattern doesn't really allow it.

Then that tells her the position without sounding pointed.

Tryharder Tue 13-Oct-09 10:49:34

She sounds friendly and nice. And you er.. don't! Sorry.

Give her a break. She's trying to make friends with you and for your kids to be friends - why not, you live near each other. Why do people always assume ulterior motives?

Why are you so against her???

CristinaTheAstonishing Tue 13-Oct-09 10:53:35

I have to smile when I read how your DCs are so well behaved and it's always ^other6 people's DCs who are wild and ill-mannered. I wonder how it looks like from the other side?

whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 10:55:51

Hatwoman - re the lift sharing thing - we already do that anyway - we have lived here for 10 years and have a network of friends/ neighbours at the same school etc.
I already arrange liftshares with the DC's friends.
It just seems that this woman has decided that because they now live nearer to us that we should automatically want to sharing all this stuff.
Thing is, I have my life/routines sorted, my DS isn't a particular friend of hers, and I suppose she needs us more than we need her IYSWIM.

I really don't want to be mean, but I just feel like she's constantly putting me under pressure to say 'no' to things.

ZZZenAgain Tue 13-Oct-09 10:59:54

you are not obliged to get more involved with this woman and her family, if you don't want to. It's enough to be polite and friendly when you see other dp at the gates etc if that is all you want.

I think what others have said, that you accept an invitation for your dc but say straight away very clearly what your situation is, i.e. you cannot reciprocate because you work from home and your dc have a schedule to follow in that time, etc ete, she will then know where she is.

If she calls up in an emergency, you will have to then be firm and remind her that you had already said it isn't possible since you work from home and you are very sorry, you do hope you can find a solution and err goodbye. It isn't pleasant because it puts you on the spot but you do need to be clear otherwise she will keep inviting you and eventually get miffed.

Maybe arrange something for a month or two in advance so she sees you are not that spontaneous in your situation

CristinaTheAstonishing Tue 13-Oct-09 11:00:55

It all boils down to you not liking her, I think. Same behaviour in someone you like is judged differently. It's OK not to like people, just awkward for you to have to let her know that.

whippet Tue 13-Oct-09 11:07:38

Cristina - you're probably right - they're just very different from us. If my kids were really keen I'd feel that I needed to make more of an effort, but they're not either - they also complain about her children wrecking their stuff and being a pain.

I suppose I have organised my work around needing to be flexible, and now I resent someone else trying to pressurise me into a routine I don't want.

For example she asked me what clubs my kids were doing after school, so she could match her childrens' ones to share lifts.... there had been no discussion between us about even whether this was something I wanted to do shock.

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