Making Plans with Family, Is Mine Weird or is it Typical? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My FIL is in town for a visit and last night he went out with my husband and the girls. (I skipped since I am having some moon time problems.) 

 

I asked dh to ask FIL what he would like to do for dinner tomorrow (tonight), we could either stay in or go out.  The plan they came up with was for him to come to our house at 5.

I asked dh, "so, are we having dinner here?"

"I don't know. We can decide when he gets here."

 

Umm, how can we decide when he gets here, since I don't have anything planned or ready for a just in case clause. *ugh*

 

This is pretty typical of both sides of his family. They are very non-committal to plans, and when they do commit to something, they will arrive and ask if we would like to do something else. It drives me insane!

 

I picked up snacks/nibbles for between meals and made dessert, but if we want to eat here, I need to know. And no, my being there or asking doesn't seem to help.

 

Please tell me that your family does this as well, so I don't feel so frustrated.

 

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#2 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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Oh my gosh my DH's family is like this too! It makes me crazy. I think in the case of his family its seen as a politeness thing to always keep your options open in case someone (usually FIL who often acts like a petulant child) wants to do something else.
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#3 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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When my family gets together, it can take HOURS to figure out how we're going to get our next meal. It's ridiculous and it drives me crazy!!! My youngest sister & I tend to get into "field marshall" mode and tell people what the plans are, rather than asking, "what should we do for dinner?" We've also learned to tell certain people in the family that the start time for dinner is 30-45 minutes earlier than it really is. Then we have some chance of actually all being there to eat together at the same time.


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#4 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 02:36 PM
 
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When we get together on my side the "host" family is responsible for planning. They either cook, bring in or tell us which restaurant.

On my dh's side there is a lot of dithering and lateness (not good with a 1 and 4 yr old). I usually "take charge".

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#5 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 02:49 PM
 
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My family isn't like that, but dh's is.  Makes me insane. 

 

I'm a big meal planner and always struggled when fil would come to visit (he stayed with us).  They always wanted to wait to figure out dinner until it ended up being 8 and my boys are starving to death waiting for them to decide.  So now, I don't plan it all and leave it completely up to them, though I do feed the boys at their regular dinner time.  It's my one week a year of not cooking dinner.

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#6 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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I feel your pain.  My side of the family makes very precise plans:  Dinner is being served at X's house at  Yo'clock and you bring z.  My husbands family is much less organized.  Dinner is at someone's house (you don't really know where until the event is actually going on and people call you to say "why aren't you here?").  You are told to bring anything, so dinner often consists of 9 bowls of cole slaw and a cake.  The starting time is completely dependent on whim.  It is supposed to start at 5, but they will eat at 3:30 if they feel like it, or they will wait until 7.

 

I have learned to be take charge for my own sanity.  If I invite them, I tell them when to come and don't ask them to bring anything, because we start without them if they are annoyingly late.  If they invite me, I just show up with something not cake or cole slaw and keep my mouth shut.  If I were in your situation tonight, I would just smile sweetly and say that you assumed we were going out to dinner,  Who really expects dinner to materialize on no notice?

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#7 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 03:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syn_ack89 View Post

When we get together on my side the "host" family is responsible for planning. They either cook, bring in or tell us which restaurant.

On my dh's side there is a lot of dithering and lateness (not good with a 1 and 4 yr old). I usually "take charge".


On DH's side, and in DH's and my mindset, we consider the host family to be the decision-makers.

 

With my parents that gets very confused and basically it's "my mother is the decision maker no matter where she is and even if she's trying to be very subtle about it." But I think hosts making decisions makes a lot of sense. For one thing, they are, you know, hosting. They know where the good restaurants are. They are the ones who may or may not like cooking. They are the ones who may or may not be able to afford to take folks out. (That's a toughie for me and my mom, since my mom always wants to go out, and we're so poor I can't even buy new UNDERWEAR much less buy even one meal out).

 

Hosts should, of course, be sensitive to the needs of their guests, but I think it's still their call. MIL is always very kind and often asks "we'd like to take you guys out tonight, do you think Mexican sounds good, or Italian?" So maybe we get a little bit of a choice, but it's just "this" or "that."

 

If she asked me if we should eat in or go out, it would feel awkward for me. I'd always answer "eat in" because I'm so sensitive to money issues, but I'm also aware that it might be MORE of a burden on the host (if she doesn't like to cook, or doesn't have anything in mind, or hasn't shopped for the meal yet).


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#8 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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I wouldn't make a dinner for "just in case," or even have any ingredients on hand. I would make sure I had something quick to throw together for the kids (eggs and toast or something simple like that), and then if everyone decided at 5pm to eat dinner at your house it would be DH's problem to figure out and prepare whatever we were having. Maybe then he'd realize that you actually do need SOME advance warning if you're going to serve dinner to a group of people minutes after they arrive at your house. 


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#9 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 04:30 PM
 
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My  mother will not be bound to any of your mortal PLANS, she wants choice, all the time.  She wants to do stupid things like plan family holiday meals at  3pm, only she's going to be angry if she doesn't get to host, angry if you have the nerve to ask what time, and angry if you point out that it is a holiday and all three sets of her children/grandchildren could have a meal with our family AND with the in laws if she would pick either lunch OR dinner.  No, she don't need your stinkin' plans.

 

If you DO have plans, don't act too excited because then she must change them and she will pout if everyone, all 12 of the rest of you, wants to do the thing you actually planned to do.

 

My husband, on the other hand, LOVES a plan but he will keep asking you what it is (are we going to eat?  are we going to eat?  at home?  at a restaurant?  which one?  that one?  this one?  ok that one?  are we gong to eat at home?  no?  no, we just decided that?  well I'm just MAKING SURE!  I KNOW we're in the CAR but I still want to be sure?  Which one?  That one?  That one right there?  Are you sure?  We could go to X or Y or Z?  I KNOW we already decided, I'm just saying we could go to X or Y or Z?  do you want to eat at home?  are you hungry?) even as you are sitting down and ordering.

 

SIGH.

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#10 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 04:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

My  mother will not be bound to any of your mortal PLANS, she wants choice, all the time.  She wants to do stupid things like plan family holiday meals at  3pm, only she's going to be angry if she doesn't get to host, angry if you have the nerve to ask what time, and angry if you point out that it is a holiday and all three sets of her children/grandchildren could have a meal with our family AND with the in laws if she would pick either lunch OR dinner.  No, she don't need your stinkin' plans.

 

If you DO have plans, don't act too excited because then she must change them and she will pout if everyone, all 12 of the rest of you, wants to do the thing you actually planned to do.

 

My husband, on the other hand, LOVES a plan but he will keep asking you what it is (are we going to eat?  are we going to eat?  at home?  at a restaurant?  which one?  that one?  this one?  ok that one?  are we gong to eat at home?  no?  no, we just decided that?  well I'm just MAKING SURE!  I KNOW we're in the CAR but I still want to be sure?  Which one?  That one?  That one right there?  Are you sure?  We could go to X or Y or Z?  I KNOW we already decided, I'm just saying we could go to X or Y or Z?  do you want to eat at home?  are you hungry?) even as you are sitting down and ordering.

 

SIGH.


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#11 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 05:00 PM
 
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#12 of 21 Old 04-08-2011, 05:52 PM
 
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Sigh. You should have seen DH's birthday party. He organised it, by which I mean "emailed a bunch of friends and told them to show up". The plans were for an afternoon of poker, friends to bring snacks and drinks, a cake provided by me, and then dinner. The "dinner" was the problem. He didn't want me to cook it, which was sweet, me being pregnant and feeble and all; but he didn't feel like coming up with any concrete alternative either. I kept saying "Why not just tell everyone we'll order from X pizza place, or Y burger place?" and he hemmed and hawed and said we could decide on the night. So of course we spent half the night with everyone going "Oh, I don't know if I feel like that, maybe we should split up?" and "We could just get a roast chicken from the supermarket"...

 

Oh well. His party. :p

 

Anyway, yes, I'd say your family is pretty typical. Mine is famous for "Right, we're going to leave really early this time. Crack of dawn. We'll get there by 9". And then at 10AM everyone's dashing around in their pyjamas looking for the camera and the sunscreen and the shirt they thought they washed. :p


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#13 of 21 Old 04-09-2011, 08:27 PM
 
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When it comes to food, I plan. Heck, I pack lunch for me and the kids when I go to a friends house to babysit, half the time. I don't do this wishy-washy thing. My father does, though. Drives me nuts. If someone's coming over around a meal time, I typically have that meal planned out, with dessert and appetizer at least a week in advance. For holidays, it's more like a month.

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#14 of 21 Old 04-09-2011, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thankfully, we had plans for Saturday- I cooked but tomorrow the plan is this- Come over around lunch and then go out to an early dinner. This plan is at least semi-organized, so I will take it.

 

My Mother also is one to not plan events until the last minute, and even then, she has trouble nailing down a time. Personally, I prefer a time, an idea of what or where we are eating, so I can plan the rest of my day.

 

Glad to know I am not alone. Thankfully, today went very well, but then again, I stepped in and organized it. I should never leave things up to my husband. hehe

 

I love the labrodore comment, that would describe my husband as well.


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#15 of 21 Old 04-09-2011, 11:16 PM
 
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I think it's an unfortunately normal thing for a lot of families. 

 

I am the one who travels the farthest to our family gatherings -- 6 hour drive or so.  And, my kids had multiple allergies when infants/toddlers (dd1 has one remaining allergy to plan around).  So, I am typically the one who sends out the email 4-6 weeks in advance of a holiday saying, "Hey, we need to decide who's bringing what, where the meal is, when are people arriving, who's sleeping where, etc.?!"  This is usually greeted with silence for a couple weeks, then I send the reminder out, and finally people start planning things.  We do typically know where we're going to be, and who's bringing what, by 10-14 days out.  But my mom has a real problem allowing us to plan other meals and bring food/snacks for the other meals - this is where dd1's allergy helps, as we simply bring food and that's that.  But all of us kids try to plan and split up meals for the durations of visits (hey, this is about 20+ people suddenly storming my parents' house, advance planning is a good idea since the nearest grocery store is a 20 minute drive and in a small town, so closes at 8pm).  It's come to the point where several of us just coordinate it without consulting Mom - otherwise, we find ourselves in a situation where there's not enough food or milk or etc. because she assures us that she has food covered, and then doesn't. 

 

Dh is *very* bothered by the fact that things are not scheduled and that schedules aren't followed closely with my family.  Dinner might be supposed to be at 1, but it may end up at 2 depending on how well things come together --- or, we'll be planning to do something the next day and no one really commits to a time or whatever.  A couple years ago, all my siblings rented a beach house together, and we all brought our families - first time most of my siblings and their kids had seen the ocean.  And it was like pulling teeth to get people to decide whether they wanted to go to X, Y, Z location (or what was for supper).  We eventually just did our own thing and invited people along but didn't wait for input because it wasn't happening.  One night, no one seemed motivated to figure out supper at all - I ended up fixing supper for all the "little kids" (10 and under, about 6 kids) and for myself and dh, and the other adults figured out their meal several hours later....

 

That said, for dh's family  - step-MIL is really busy, and often doesn't have time to plan very far in advance for holidays etc. either.  We live in the same town so travel isn't an issue.  I'll usually talk to her a couple weeks in advance and see what I can do to help, and she'll tell me, "Well, let's decide [three days out] what the plan is."  She likes to do the planning and delegating and I don't get in the way, just make sure I'm bringing something safe for dd1 to eat and let it go.  While Mom's meals are sometimes late, step-MIL's meals are all over the board.  Sometimes they're an hour early (so if I was finishing something at home to bring to the meal, suddenly there's a phone call to come on up now, everything else is ready) - and sometimes they're an hour late.  We just roll with it now. 

 

And, I'm endlessly fascinated by how unconcerned dh is about schedule/timeline/plans when we're visiting his cousins/grandmas/aunts and uncles.  They live in the Midwest, and when we get there, we just wait to hear what the plans are - if we ask, and no one has decided yet, dh is completely relaxed about that and doesn't worry about it or become frustrated.  I've told him the contrast between his reaction there, and his reaction when we're at my family's, but he doesn't think there's any similarity at all. 

 

I think there are good things about flying by the seat of your pants and figuring things out as you go - but there are benefits of scheduling and planning in advance, too.  A place for both approaches, if you will.  And I'd err on the side of planning ahead when it involves travel and meals, personally. 

 

Whenever we're hosting something, we make sure we let people know far in advance, and get everything organized etc. so people know what's going on with plenty of time to adjust plans (or to adjust our plans).  Right now, we're in a small house that's not conducive to hosting family gatherings; once our remodel is completed, we'll host more of them (I think step-MIL is looking forward to this!), and when that happens, we'll work to make things go smoothly and plan in advance. 


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#16 of 21 Old 04-10-2011, 06:13 AM
 
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I need to know ahead of time. I guess if my dh wanted to decide at the last second then he can whip up something at the last second. My mom is far better about whipping up a quick meal,but I need time.

 

I plan outings ahead of time too,but am not going to freak out if we need to cancel it for some reason.

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#17 of 21 Old 04-10-2011, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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On vacation with family, I much prefer the "fly by the seat of your pants approach", since we often don't know where or what we will be doing until the morning of but for weekend visits or holidays, I prefer a loose plan. My Mother drives me nuts as well, she is usually, "bring what you want", which is fine but then I tell her what I am bringing and she will decide to have chicken and my dish doesn't go with chicken. Hmmph! She also tends to plan meals for odd times, like 2 or 3, which doesn't generally work for my kids since they are still younger and either will eat way too many snacks and no dinner, or they will complain until it is time for dinner.

 

 


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#18 of 21 Old 04-10-2011, 11:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeress View Post

My FIL is in town for a visit and last night he went out with my husband and the girls. (I skipped since I am having some moon time problems.) 

 

I asked dh to ask FIL what he would like to do for dinner tomorrow (tonight), we could either stay in or go out.  The plan they came up with was for him to come to our house at 5.

I asked dh, "so, are we having dinner here?"

"I don't know. We can decide when he gets here."

 

Umm, how can we decide when he gets here, since I don't have anything planned or ready for a just in case clause. *ugh*

 

This is pretty typical of both sides of his family. They are very non-committal to plans, and when they do commit to something, they will arrive and ask if we would like to do something else. It drives me insane!

 

I picked up snacks/nibbles for between meals and made dessert, but if we want to eat here, I need to know. And no, my being there or asking doesn't seem to help.

 

Please tell me that your family does this as well, so I don't feel so frustrated.

 

help.gif

 

It is okay to change plans- when it is doing the same kind of thing or making the same effort.

"Do you want to see this movie at the theater or rent something and watch at home?" "Do you want to go to the Italian restaurant or the Mexican restaurant?"

I'd be okay with those changes.

 

It is not okay to say, "I suddenly don't feel like going out tonight. I want you to cook a 3 course meal right now."

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#19 of 21 Old 04-10-2011, 02:55 PM
 
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Since DH and I have been together we've made it a rule that when his family comes to visit we get take out pizza.  They probably think I never cook, but I don't care.  It's a treat to see them (most of the time) and we celebrate by having a treat (pizza).  Easy peasy.


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#20 of 21 Old 04-16-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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I'm lucky I guess, My dh's family never expect me to cook now that I don't eat meat. I think they are scared what I might serve them (probably something terrible like Pasta or fajitas, ya know, really scary vegan stuff :) so usually we just eat out or order pizza. Easier for me anyhow.

 


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#21 of 21 Old 04-19-2011, 09:18 AM
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When folks come to visit us I plan the meals.  I will either plan what to cook or when we go out to eat and usually where we're going.  Otherwise we'll be sitting around twiddling our thumbs until midnight.  When we go and visit family I usually leave it to them but if it's running late and my kids are hungry I will make them something to eat, they will not be made to wait for dinner and get crabby because the others can't get their act together in a reasonable amount of time.  Same thing with doing stuff, we will tell people that today we're doing X,Y, and Z and they're more than welcome to come with us, we're leaving at B time.  Been burned one too many times with waiting around until people finally made up their mind and got their butts in gear.  My vacation time is too precious for that baloney. 

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