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Getting really down trying to set boundaries

44 replies

Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 10:40


My in laws are our only local family. I've always got on really well with them. But during the pandemic they've been a complete and utter nightmare.

I had to shield, and we said in the parts last summer where we weren't on total lockdown that I would still see them, as long as we were all being safe.

So in September last year they all started breaking the rules. Having more than 6 in the house, my sister in law even went to a hen do in the city without bothering to socially distance and then came into our house the next day, I was only 2 weeks post partum.

We asked them to be careful, but they didn't bother, and so eventually we locked down and chose not to form a support bubble because it felt really unsafe because they were breaking the rules and then making a tonne of unnecessary journeys. My MIL obviously felt she needed to do that for her own mental health, but we locked down to protect everyone,
but still saw them on the doorstep every week so they got to see their grandson.

When they did turn up, they kept getting upset, because they couldn't see their grandson, but I always brought him to the door to see them, and took him on walks with them.

They now turn up to my house whenever they want! Sometimes on consecutive days. They have been asked not to (because I'm trying to work when the baby sleeps) and instead to message to let me know they are coming, but they keep doing it. And instead of knocking on the door, the stare through the living room window to see if I'm in. It's really getting to me that they turn up when they want but I think they're trying to be nice and see us and check we're OK, so I've been tolerating it. But I'm really annoyed that they have ignored us when we asked to let us know if they're coming.

I had to deal with a massive family row between my sister in law and her parents 6 weeks pp....we all went on a walk and my sister in law turned up crying her eyes out and storming off in front of everyone having a panic attack...whilst her whole family ignored her. So I stepped in to figure out what the hell was going on and calm her down.

When I was 40 weeks pregnant I sat in an empty pub garden with a friend very socially distanced....they turned up to my house whilst I wasn't there then got pissed off with me because they'd got frozen food with them (should have told me they were coming?!). So they phoned me, demanded to know where I was, I stupidly told them but then asked them 3 times to not come to the pub and said I'd call by there house on the way home...and they came to the pub anyway! My friend couldn't believe how rude they were.

Anyway.....I feel really let down and unsafe. They are the only family I have round here and it's making me want to move back to Wales and be with my own family 😭 I feel totally overwhelmed by them turning up all the time, not wanting to keep us safe, and just making demands of us all the time. I know they're trying to help, but they don't seem to listen to me.

We have said we might try and join a support bubble this weekend with them. I thought I could talk myself into it, but I'm struggling. I feel really let down and I don't trust them. They really want to look after the baby without me but I'm having a really hard time trusting them because they weren't there when we needed them and they keep doing things when I ask them not to.

What the hell do I do? If I can't mentally forgive them then how am I going to keep seeing them?! And I know the pandemic has been hard for them (they're not coping well being shut in the house), but I also feel like they didn't even consider us. We never ever ask for anything and then the one time we did they totally let us down 🙄 AIBU to feel like this?

Suggestions on how to move forward?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Aprilshowersandhail · 13/04/2021 10:43

Keep your curtains shut for a week. Ignore the door and phone. Get dh to invite them when he is home. He needs to manage their behaviour not you.


Loyaultemelie · 13/04/2021 10:53

I'm one of these unpopular people on MN who doesn't answer the door or phone if I don't want to, I will see someone look through the window, look them dead in the eye and go back to what I was doing and ignore them if I wasn't expecting them/it isn't convenient (pre pandemic now we have the yard locked down and it's bliss!). I got this way largely due to my abusive ex's parents doing exactly what you describe. Now I'm what my DH calls alternately a badass and a Sherman tank depending on his mood because I've zero fucks left to give. I spent years worrying about what others felt, letting them put their wants first and being made into a shadow of my self now I just won't do it. I've made my boundaries clear, phone/text first, if I can accommodate you I will, if you don't you can stand there until the cows come home not my problem.


Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 10:57

@Loyaultemelie I can't say I blame you to be honest! I think in normal circumstances that's what I would try and do. But when we come out of lockdown, they are my only source of childcare, and I am trying to set up a business 🙄 the plan was that they had the baby for us a couple of days a week so I could work.....But Im not sure I want that now! 😭

OP posts:

onitlikeacarbonnet · 13/04/2021 11:13

I think you need to ask your dh to take over here. If you haven’t already, you need to make it crystal clear to him that you can’t continue to tolerate their behaviour. Spell out what is acceptable and what isn’t. And if he can’t get them to comply with your rules, what the consequences will be.
You’re not being unreasonable asking for a quick text before they turn up.
He needs to remind them that it’s in their control to follow the rules and if they choose to break them, they’re also choosing to not see their grandchild.
In the meantime, put a note on your door saying the baby’s sleeping, you’re working and not to knock.


BlackeyedSusan · 13/04/2021 11:17

net curtains. though they are no good if you have a window the other end of the room. and peering really close to them may let them see in.

frosted glass stick on stuff.


onitlikeacarbonnet · 13/04/2021 11:18

Having seen your update (I’m a slow thinker/typer), I think you need to look at alternative childcare, just in case. And try not to think they’ve got the upper hand because you need them. They want to see their grandchild.
But as pp say, it’s really up to your dh to sort this.


Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 11:49

@onitlikeacarbonnet it's seriously messing with my head. I think they're using us as an excuse to get out of the house. But I keep convincing myself that its OK because they turn up with packs of nappies and clothes I keep thinking they're trying to do a nice thing....but equally, it's ridiculous to come here 2 or 4 times a week unannounced to drop things off that we haven't asked for....or at least it feels ridiculous to me.

As for the childcare, they really do have the upper hand because i have nobody else at all to ask, and I can't afford a childminder/nursery right now. So I might just have to continue with the "working when I can" approach and accept I not gonna get much done.

OP posts:

onitlikeacarbonnet · 13/04/2021 14:19

Is your dh supportive of you? When you said “we were talking about going into a support bubble” do you mean he was saying that? Trying to persuade you? If he doesn’t know how strongly you feel, then you need to make it crystal clear. If he does know, and he’s still trying to persuade you, then he’s your problem, not your in laws.
Without him standing up for you, you are bound to feel even more vulnerable. I can’t imagine having a tiny baby in these times but he should understand.


billy1966 · 13/04/2021 16:02

You need to communicate this to your husband.
I think unless he steps in and spells it out, this will continue.
You could just ignore the door but they sound horrendous.
It reads like harassment, because you have repeatedly asked them to do things and they just don't care.

If you imagine things are bad, using them for childcare will be so much worse.
They will do what they want, how they want.

You sound very stressed.
I think unless you speak very clearly to your husband and he has your back completely, I think you may find your marriage damaged and Wales will look even more attractive.

Your husband should be reiterating to them NOT to call without checking if it's convenient and you need to think about not answering the door. Close your curtains, nets etc., misting spray is easy and inexpensive.


Angrypregnantlady · 13/04/2021 16:55

This is the problem with childcare from family. You stand up to them and they refuse to do, what is a massive favour for you.

Put headphones on while you work so you can pretend you can't hear them? It's what I do when I'm sick of talking to people, or pretend to be asleep.


GreenFingersWouldBeHandy · 13/04/2021 17:21

What is your DH doing to help sort out HIS parents?

They sound bloody awful.

Tell them you will no longer be available for 'ad hoc' visits. Then stop answering the door. Draw the curtains. Don't answer the phone.


Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 17:24

@onitlikeacarbonnet my dh feels exactly the same, but is sick tof explaining to them, and not getting through. But, in all honesty he thinks he's tried hard enough and he could be being a lot clearer than he is. He's not standing up to them enough. He says he's going to now, but I have a feeling he won't 🙄
They kept coming round when I was 6 weeks post partum, and I kept saying that I didn't want to see them and could we please have a weekend off. I never got that weekend....But my husband seems to not notice things until after they've happened 🙄 I'm not feeling great about the fact that he feels the same but it's effectively me who has to deal with it because its me whose here when they turn up 🙄

OP posts:

Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 17:29

Also, they keep coming round with stuff to give me which feels even worse. Like, I can't feel bad about spending 40 mins on the doorstep because they've brought me food or nappies.....which I am grateful for, but I didn't ask for it!

I also know for a fact that they are fed up with my SIL and her husband and kid living with them, so they are coming to our house to stand on the doorstep as something to do.

They even came Easter weekend to drop off some random stuff through the letterbox....Knowing full well that we were in Wales (went to my mums as a support bubble for anyone worrying I'm not covid compliant 😉) it's all very very odd!

OP posts:

ThereOnceWasANote · 13/04/2021 17:33

My mum did this a lot - she'd turn up at my house with guests when I was working. After about the umpteenth time, I asked her not to do it and very politely asked that she phoned to agree a time when I could take a break from work. But she likes to play games, so she carried on doing it. First time I let her into the hall with her guest and then ushered her out after a few minutes. And repeated my request politely. Second time, I didn't let her through the door, but did pass her the ridiculous thing she asked for to justify the visit. Told her if she did it again, I would not answer the door. The next time, I just ignored her.
With my mum it's a powerplay. I have to be available on demand.
She then decided to up the ante and stopped calling round at all - she needed to teach me a lesson. On the few times she did have to call round for something, she would stand on the doorstep and refuse to cross the threshold unless I made a formal request for her to come in.
It's fucking ridiculous. We've gone from having a good relationship to a crap one because she can't accept that when I'm working from home, I have to work and can't host her and her friends. She'd rather go low contact with me than pick up a phone and agree a time to visit.
But you can't argue with batshit crazy.
So we see very little of each other anymore, but at least she's had the pleasure of knowing she's taught me a lesson.


Sorka · 13/04/2021 17:34

YANBU OP. That would drive me mad and, as you say, how can you trust them when they ignore you? If you were to move closer to your family would your family be a childcare option?


Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 17:43

@thereoncewasanote that actually is fucking ridiculous! You've done all the right things. It pisses me off that people think when I'm working at home I'm just watching Netflix and am available for drop in visits.

OP posts:

Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 17:46

@sorka I can't move closer sadly. My husband is buying a business here and we can't move it. So I'm stuck. I'm hoping to resolve it but it feels ridiculous now. Some weeks they turn up 3 days in a row, sometimes not at all other than the weekend. Its like Russian roulette.

OP posts:

Biffbaff · 13/04/2021 17:47

1)They sound dreadful and are taking advantage of your good nature. I would also like to know what you do when people trample all over your attempts to set boundaries because mine are the same!
2)Support bubbles aren't just something you can opt in and out of whenever you feel like it. They're fixed aren't they?


ThereOnceWasANote · 13/04/2021 17:47

It is fucking ridiculous. Not least because my brother also works from home, but she would never dream of dropping into his during work hours because he is a MAN with an IMPORTANT JOB.


SelkieIntegrated · 13/04/2021 17:47

I sympathise. My parents get very angry when i try to have a boundary.
People say "set boundaries!" But ime boundaries are forbidden in my family and will peovoke a row no matter how little i say. Im 50 and my parents act like they own me. Lc atm but they put that down to my beingso stressed and so "silly"


Suffolkmum07 · 13/04/2021 17:49

@biffbaff they're not fixed. You are allowed to start a support bubble when you want, leave one when you want and you can change your bubble if you rely need to as long as you isolate for 2 weeks in between.

So far I've had a bubble for 4 days. Just to see my mum. Because I was going out of my mind here.

OP posts:

Lollypop4 · 13/04/2021 17:55

Lock the doors, dont answer if they knock/call, Put up nets/stick on frosted glass.
Consider answering just once a week and if that still doesnt work, you call them once a week and arrange somewhere such as a park to meet


burritofan · 13/04/2021 17:56

You need a better/different option for childcare than these jokers.


An0n0n0n · 13/04/2021 18:03

Actually, they are YOUR HUSBANDS only source if childcare of you will also be working.

You need to make them his problem.


DuckbilledSplatterPuff · 13/04/2021 18:10

They are not listening to anything you say and doing exactly what they want. You have to stop this. I don't know why you agreed to do a bubble with them or did you DH agree because he's just used to it.
They are not your employers.
You have the right to say no to this and decide how often you see people.
The gifts are a way to make you feel beholden so that you can't then turn around and say but I asked you not to come.
Ask yourself What would happen if you said no to them? Whats the worst thing. Would they be angry? Cause a scene? Punish you by taking offense and turning the cold shoulder? At least that would give you some respite.
As they are not listening you could try to write, email them. Be consise and clear and don't couch it in apologies.
Say that You have wfh work to do in between baby's naps and you cannot have people dropping round without asking first whether its convenient. More than once a week is too much. Its causing you stress because you've tried to say this in person many times.
it is still a pandemic you have a young baby and whilst people might not agree, you ask them to respect your wishes about social distancing mask wearing etc. Its kind of them to give you gifts but the biggest gift you could have is some time and space to get used to being a new mother and to catch up with work.

sign it from both of you. Let them kick off but you know you are right, what you are asking for is reasonable and they are taking advantage.

They really want to look after the baby without me but I'm having a really hard time trusting them because they weren't there when we needed them and they keep doing things when I ask them not to

If they keep ignoring your requests they don't get to babysit without you. And you decide when and if you are ready for that to happen.

Either that or Your DH needs to firmly ask that they back off, start listening to both of you and give you some space!! Good luck.

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