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How to cope with MIL overstepping after new baby

20 replies

Hhhhhgx · 29/03/2021 08:15

Hi, I’m a ftm to 4month old twin girls and will have PIL visiting for a few days following the end of restrictions. It will be the first time that they will meet the babies so I do understand the excitement and feel bad that they haven’t been able to meet them until recently. I also feel a bit mean restricting their visit to a few days when they clearly want to stay for longer, but I don’t think I can cope being around them 24/7 for any more than a long weekend- particularly with how I’m feeling at the moment. The babies are also currently going through the 4 month sleep regression so I don’t really want anyone staying for too long while the girls are so unsettled - we have limited furniture and the set-up that I’ve got for tandem feeding/soothing using the only sofa or chair (rocking chair) is going to have to change with guests as we don’t have anywhere for them to sit. (Both PIL have limited mobility and will need to sit down for long periods of time).

My MIL is a nice person and I do think her heart’s in the right place, but she can be very inconsiderate, has zero boundaries and is very overwhelming. Our relationship was good until I had the babies, however. Since then there have been loads of things which I haven’t got the space to go into here - mainly unsolicited advice ‘wouldn’t it be better if you did this instead of that?’ interfering in parenting decisions (or just my own personal decisions) such as where I live, when I go on maternity leave etc and making condescending comments such as ‘well I hope it all works out’ when ive continued to do things as I had planned. She has been quite pushy about her preferences regarding certain parenting choices and when DH has asked her to back off, tried to claim it was all banter (which I personally find quite manipulative but it all goes over DH’s head).

Then there’s the complete lack of respect for our boundaries. SIL wanted to stay overnight to visit DH for his birthday. I said no this time around as we were in lockdown and babies were still tiny. MIL took it upon herself to suggest SIL comes down anyway as ‘a surprise’ and stands outside while she rings me to get me to open the door, putting us in a position where we then feel obliged to put SIL up for the night as she lives at least 6 hours away. I wouldn’t ordinarily mind SIL staying but the babies were only a couple of weeks old at the time, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and she is also not the type of house guest that I would want so soon after having a baby (very immature and inconsiderate). There are millions of other examples that I could give but this post would go on forever.

Now they are staying I am terrified that she’s going to undermine everything I do and try to take over. She keeps claiming that she is coming to ‘help’ with childcare. A lovely gesture but I really really do not want or need that kind of help from her. Also, she hasn’t even asked what help we might need but has decided for herself that this will be exclusively looking after the babies for the duration of their stay. I understand that this is more about her bonding with the children though and do want her to be involved as she’s their granny so will let her ‘help’ with most things as it’s important for her and the babies to bond. The problem is the way she’s going on her idea of ‘help’ is looking more and more like playing mummy to my children, while undermining me and interfering in parenting decisions. I don’t know whether it is just the hormones but this idea is making me extremely anxious. She’s obsessed with them already and is way too involved in her own children’s lives so I can see her continuing to interfere for years to come if I don’t nip it in the bud now. She spoils all her family rotten, which is nice, and of course I want her to be able to treat the grandkids as it makes her happy and kids will love it (as a treat), but she’s the kind of person who will go completely over the top and buy them millions of expensive Christmas presents, overshadowing mum and dad (PIL have a lot more money than us), or will take over everything, the Christmas Eve box, first bike, first Christmas outfit etc. She has already bought them outfits for most of the holidays this year and it hasn’t crossed her mind that I or DH might like to choose these things for our own children. How do I politely tell her she is granny not mummy and needs to back off a bit? She also is very sensitive and cries at everything, her children (including DH) are all fiercely protective of her so I don’t want to end up causing loads of family conflict.

OP posts:

Seeline · 29/03/2021 12:06

First off I wouldn't change your set-up for feeding/soothing etc. THey will just have to find somewhere else to sit while that is going on. Could you use garden chairs or something? Don't disrupt a system that works!

If she is coming to help, make sure you have a list of things she can do - ironing, cooking etc. If you are bf'ing she won't be able to help there, and I imagine with twins that takes up a lot of time. Nappy changes would be helpful though.

Remember that you are Mum and they are your children. Use the Mumsnet classics - No, that doesn't work for us, or the simple No.

I wouldn't put up with tears from your MIL! That's what toddlers do to try and get their own way. Just ignore!

Do they have to stay with you? Is there a hotel nearby?


gabsdot45 · 29/03/2021 12:21

It's only for a few days. Let her and FIL bring the babies out in the pram for a few walks to give you a break. Let her do a few feeds and give cuddles. I know it's difficult to hand over your baby to someone else but it's lovely for kids to have grandparents and they can be helpful.


nokidshere · 29/03/2021 12:44

Nothing your parents or in laws can do will make your babies want them more than you. Nothing they say can make you change the way you parent.

The main problem is that you allow them to make you feel bad and/or stressed. You need to remove that power. Be calm and assertive.

Just because she buys things doesn't mean you have to use them. Pass them on to other people and buy your own if you must.

wouldn’t it be better if you did this instead of that?’ Respond by saying "oh no I really don't think so" or "oh is that how it was when DH was small? Current practice is much more [whatever]"

interfering in parenting decisions (or just my own personal decisions) such as where I live. Either ignore, change the subject or say well it's a good job you're not me then or some other throwaway comment

when I go on maternity leave etc and making condescending comments such as ‘well I hope it all works out’. Oh it's working out fabulously thanks

Alternatively you could sit them down when the babies are sleeping and tell them how you feel. "I really want you to have a great relationship with your grandchildren but I find your involvement undermining and overwhelming. I am very happy with my life and my parenting choices and it's exhausting having someone undermine me all the time. It would be very sad if we didn't see each other as much because you feel you have to behave like this. I'm just not prepared to spend time with people who don't treat me as an adult who is capable of making my own decisions".


stackemhigh · 29/03/2021 12:52

Use this visit to set the tone of your being calm and assertive, as nokid says.

Get DH on board beforehand.

It's not right that DH is fiercely protective of MIL to your detriment, his priority needs to be his babies and their mother.


MNWorldisCrazy · 29/03/2021 15:10

Crikey OP you've accused them of doing all sorts, years before it's happened! First bike?! Christmas Eve box?!? They've not even met the babies yet!

Also I find using terms like 'unsolicited advice' very, very strange when talking about a family member Hmm


MNWorldisCrazy · 29/03/2021 15:18

It could well be just the way you've written it, but I couldn't help but notice how you seem to regard the children and the parenting of them, as yours....
I mean this in the kindest way possible - these babies are just as much your husband's children as they are yours and these are his parents.
You absolutely do have a say and have a right to set your own boundaries, of course. Just try to remember that you could well be a MIL one day! So try to make as much of an effort with them as you would expect from your children's spouses/partners in the future.

That being said, if they do overstep the mark then make sure you are firm from the beginning. The longer you stay quiet and allow liberties to be taken, the more difficult it will be to put a stop to!


Hhhhhgx · 29/03/2021 21:49

I seem to have posted this thread twice without realising so am just seeing this all now 🙈. Thanks to everyone who responded, it’s really helpful to hear other people’s perspectives and to get some helpful advice.

@Seeline and @nokidshere thanks for the advice, especially the type of sentences to use. As you can probably tell I’m not very good at being assertive so examples help a lot. I definitely do need to not let it stress me out as much and be more calm and assertive. I don’t think the sleep deprivation helps and everything does seem more intense and extreme in lockdown - probably all this extra time cooped up at home is making me overthink things.

@stackemhigh yes there is a weird dynamic in the family where the nuclear family that they grew up in seems to take precedent over everything else. I mean I’m grateful to have been accepted into the family but we are also a family in our own right and I often feel that isn’t respected.

@MNWorldisCrazy yes I am probably overthinking and winding myself up - it’s the anxiety that I am feeling about the whole situation. By ‘unsolicited advice’ I mean advice that is not wanted because it is put across in a judgemental tone - for example she will question every thing that I am doing in a disapproving tone before giving her advice. Maybe she’s just trying to help and
I understand that she is family but it knocks my confidence. I am a new mum trying to learn the ropes and I just don’t find it very supportive frankly. It comes across as very undermining.

Thanks for your advice re: if they do overstep. Maybe it’s the way I wrote it regarding the parenting. Of course the children are DH’s as well and we make parenting decisions together but I can see why it might have read that way.

OP posts:

Ihavehadenoughalready · 29/03/2021 23:08

My advice is to not treat them as guests but as the helpers they've offered to be. You should announce when they arrive that they make themselves at home, but explain your routine so they can work around you, not you around them.

I would not let them take over baby care, but take on all the other tasks, like cleaning, wash, grocery shopping, meals, and covering you for some naps.

I know exactly what you mean about the condescending tone and you do just have to stick to your own way of doing things. You could say "thanks I'll take that into consideration" even if you know there's no way you're doing it that way!

Have they been vaccinated? If not, I wouldn't let them handle the babies.

Encouraging SIL to show up anyway when you said no would have been the end for me. I would have said No right at the door and not cared about the 6 hour trip which was her choice to be coerced into making. If I'd been a fast enough thinker I might have said the whole house was sick and in quarantine and Go Away.


Ihavehadenoughalready · 29/03/2021 23:12

Wait...they did offer to help, right? They aren't expecting to just visit and hold babies while you get no respite, right?


PanamaPattie · 29/03/2021 23:17

I would have slammed the door in SILs face. CF. Don't put up with any crap from MIL. Don't be afraid to tell her to back off and if she starts to cry, tell her manipulative tears don't work. Be tough and horrible. It's the only way. If you are nice she will walk all over you.


Freddiefox · 29/03/2021 23:25

She probably just wants to help.. let her, give her a list of jobs to do. Give them a role and keep them busy.


Thedogscollar · 29/03/2021 23:33

Watching with interest as my sons gf due baby this Summer.
It seems a tough gig being a MIL Shock


Sally872 · 29/03/2021 23:33

It is a few days. Babies are 4 months old. I would expect grandparents with limited mobility coming for a few days to be holding, talking and gushing over the babies as much as they want.

She won't be mummy. The babies will still need you a lot. Get yourself a nap, or a cup of tea in peace while the little ones are occupied if you can.

If she makes any rude remarks then addressing it directly but politely as suggested above will work.


firedog · 29/03/2021 23:37

It's a few days. She's not moving in. Relax. Let her do her thing. Enjoy the break. You've got years of parenting 24/7 ahead of you. I'd be passing them the pram & changing bag and going for a nap !


Knitterbabe · 29/03/2021 23:42

You don’t like her at all, do you?


lunar1 · 30/03/2021 00:01


It is a few days. Babies are 4 months old. I would expect grandparents with limited mobility coming for a few days to be holding, talking and gushing over the babies as much as they want.

She won't be mummy. The babies will still need you a lot. Get yourself a nap, or a cup of tea in peace while the little ones are occupied if you can.

If she makes any rude remarks then addressing it directly but politely as suggested above will work.


Hhhhhgx · 30/03/2021 03:32

Thank you for all of your responses and advice. It has made me think a bit more about why I feel so anxious about the whole thing - I’m still trying to work out why I feel this way and talking about it helps.

@Knitterbabe I liked her fine enough before the babies were born. Admittedly I’ve always found the lack of boundaries annoying but nowhere near as emotionally charged as I do recently, so I do think hormones play a role. It’s also hard to have positive feelings towards someone who you feel is constantly undermining you as a mother at a vulnerable time. It’s making me feel anxious about her being around watching me look after them as I feel like I constantly have to justify my actions to her - which I don’t of course, but that doesn’t stop her questioning. And I know I am a good mum.

@Sally872 I have no problem with her ‘holding, talking and gushing’ over the babies, that’s what I want her to do, that’s being a granny. What I don’t want is her questioning everything I do in a disapproving tone and overstepping by trying to change things that are working for us. It’s hard to get across what I mean without going into a whole back story, but basically she is over involved in her own adult children’s lives (their relationships with their partners for example), and appears to want to be over-involved in my kids lives too - for example, feeling that she has a right to interfere in parental decisions which to me is playing mummy not granny. If I felt that she would be respectful of me as mummy I would be more inclined to let her help out more.

@Ihavehadenoughalready yes they’ve been vaccinated. They have offered to help, but the ‘help’ they are expecting to provide from what I understand is exclusively child care. I have not asked for help with child care and feel that this is being pushed on me. I don’t really want or need help with child care but am more than happy for them to play with baby, hold, bond and assist with tasks like bathing etc. What I think MIL has in mind though is taking over sole responsibility for their care which I am not ready for or happy with at the moment. Maybe when they are older I might feel differently, but for now that’s how I feel. I don’t want to be selfish but I also wish that she would be content with just enjoying them for now and leave the main care giving stuff to me unless I ask for the help. There are plenty of opportunities for her to get involved without needing to take over. I’ve got it more than covered but if granny wants to help with bathtime etc then I am happy for her to join in. I guess for me it’s just about her respecting me as the mother really and letting me get on with it without any interference. I am a reasonable person and happy for her to be involved, it’s just the domineering attitude and vibe that I am getting from her at the moment.

OP posts:

CandyLeBonBon · 30/03/2021 07:49

I get it op. I had a judgemental interfering mil. It was hard work. It's hard to relate if you've not been through it. Dh needs to be on board for sure. Have you told him how you feel?


fizzandchips · 30/03/2021 08:51

my PIL insisted on buying the first children remember us teaching them without stabilisers NOT who bought the bike. For years my PIL insisted on buying the ‘big’ Christmas presents - again my children have no memory of who these presents were from only memories of playing with them. If your PIL have more money please don’t worry about them doing all the big purchases, it will save you a lot of money over the first few years and give your PIL a lot of joy. Choose your battles OP.
My MIL could be tricky, but the love she had for my children was the most endearing thing about her. Get her on your side, use that bond of love for your children. Mould her to do things your way. Set your boundaries, but try not to sweat the small stuff.
And chose tasks your happy for them to do. For example if the cot bedding needs changed and put in the wash if she does that for you as your feeding and getting ready to put them down then as she helps you put them in the cot you can say “aren’t you lucky going to sleep in a lovely clean cot that Granny made for you? You lucky baby to have such a lovely Granny!” She feels appreciated and you had a helpful job done for you whilst doing what you wanted.
So...”would you be the most amazing grandparents and take them out for a walk. I’m really shattered and need to lie down. If you could take them out for me whilst I lie down that would be amazing”. You then decide number of layers etc and later in the day you again tell the babies how lucky they are to have grandparents who will take them out so mummy can sleep and later in the day - in front of your PIL - tell your husband what a difference it made having your in laws take the babies out whilst you slept etc.
Absolutely don’t let them only do what they want, instead know what will work for you and, with kindness and maybe a bit of clever use of thanks and praise get your way. Good luck OP. From one mum of twins to another - you’ve got this!


dannydyerismydad · 30/03/2021 09:23

"We've tried a few things, but this works best for us". The only phrase you need

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