Long In-Law Visit Coming Up: Advice Appreciated. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-21-2012, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm not really sure where to put this--please let me know if it should be posted elsewhere.


I just found out that my brother-in-law and his wife are coming for a month-long visit with their three children next week. They will be staying at my mother-in-law's house (a five-minute walk from our house). We get along well with this family in general, but they are very different from us, very mainstream. The way we raise our respective children is our own business of course, but here is my conundrum:


MIL babysits my DD 1 1/2 days a week (I work full-time out of financial necessity). A huge part of me wants to suspend this babysitting while the cousins are here. They watch a lot of TV, while DD (20 mo.) is totally TV-free. They eat a lot of junk and when they are here they are spoiled by all of the relatives with even worse stuff--tons of sweets--while we restrict DD's sugar and don't eat junk or sweets. The list goes on--you get the idea. If this was going to happen for a week, maybe even two, perhaps I would have to accept that DD would be exposed to things I don't approve of, but a month? I see the potential for lasting effects. 


However, I'm not out to hurt feelings or be the nasty daughter-in-law and I'm looking for a way to limit the negative impact on my DD without seeming to judge their parenting as somehow inferior to mine. Honestly, PLEASE don't take this as a super judgmental, anti-mainstream post; I truly don't want to offend ANYONE (including my in-laws) but I have a right to parent the way I want (just as they do) and I'm not comfortable with DD having so much exposure to TV, junk food, etc. 


Is there ANY way I can do this without causing drama?


Thanks for reading and I just feel compelled to say again that I'm not judging anyone else, just trying to raise my daughter the way I feel is best for us.

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#2 of 11 Old 06-21-2012, 10:00 AM
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Well, if you have alternative child care, you could just say that you're going to do everyone a favor and keep the chaos to a minimum! I mean, I would imagine your MIL would be happy to not have this chore while having a MONTH LONG visit, that's stressful on everyone.


If she protests that it's no problem, just say that it just does seem like a lot of chaos and you already arranged it (seriously, just go ahead and arrange it, don't wait for permission), and reassure her that she's your number one and it'll all go back to normal when the visit is over.

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#3 of 11 Old 06-21-2012, 11:36 AM
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I would talk to your MIL openly about childcare while the cousins are there. Would she like you to find alternate childcare during that time? Is it a conflict to care for your child too? You might mention your specific concerns *in advance.* If she has requested your wishes in the past then there is a good chance she will respect them while the other kids are there.


If she doesn't respect your wishes generally or would likely not do so when the other kids are around, then I'd find alternate childcare during that time.

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#4 of 11 Old 06-21-2012, 08:23 PM
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I can completely understand your concern.  Although, keep in mind that DD is only there one and a 1/2 days a week.  I think I would let it be, really.  It could be nice time for the cousins to be together, and as long as MIL is ok with it, I'd loosen expectations for this month and just go with it.


DD is only 20 months, I don't think that there would be a real problem with habits forming from junk food.  My only real concern would be TV. If it were me, I would absolutely insist that DD does not see any TV that the older kids watch.  Not because its TV, but because the things older kids watch can be scary to little ones.  

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#5 of 11 Old 06-21-2012, 09:32 PM
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Ah, I didn't notice that it was just 1.5 days per week. I'd still mention my concerns in advance. I think the cousins could do without TV 1.5 days out of the week, right? Same with junky food. But also, if your DD is just getting it 1.5 days a week, that's probably not the end of the world, either. Honestly, if she doesn't do TV, I can't see her sitting down to watch it. My DD is TV-free, too, and she's simply not interested. She doesn't "get" that you're just supposed to sit there and stare at it. If anything, she'd be watching the other kids watch the tube.

All that said, my MIL recently started watching my DD for 2 days (4.5 hours each day) a week to cover a childcare gap for 5 more weeks -- and she's REALLY not offering what I want her to be eating and it is INCREDIBLY awkward. DH said (on his own) that he needs to talk to her about it, but he hasn't yet.

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#6 of 11 Old 06-22-2012, 05:48 PM
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1.5 days a week for four weeks...I would be inclined to just let it be, personally.  If it were full-time that would certainly warrant alternate care or a talk stating your concerns, but for that amount of time I'd try to shrug it off.  If you're totally TV-free and junk-free in your home, I think she will be able to understand that those things happen at Grandma's house but not at home.  If she comes home one day bouncing off the walls and out of control from sugar and TV overload, then yes, definitely have a talk.  I think that kind of talk would be easier than a pre-emptive one, because you can say, "DS has been out of control after coming home the last couple of days, has she been watching lots of TV or eating things she doesn't normally have?"  Then you have a jumping off point for discussion.


But if you are really concerned about it, I like the idea of offering to find alternate care with the excuse that there are already other kids in the house and you want to cut down on the chaos (for her and for them).

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#7 of 11 Old 06-24-2012, 08:15 AM
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My DD is 2 yrs old now, and I'm not big on sugar or TV, but as a single mom it's not something I can totally control all the time because I do rely on others to babysit when I need help. In my own home, I put movies on sometimes for DD so I can cook or take a shower without her getting into things. Now that she is getting older, I do it less, but once in a while if I'm sick or she is, we have them on more. So far, it has been my experience that she'll crave movies the more we watch them, and she'll get to where she gets upset if I don't put one on first thing in the morning. When I saw that happen the first time, I cut movies out altogether for a while, and would just have one on for 20 mins here or there when I really needed her to stay out of my hair. Getting her used to having a movie interrupted at any point without her getting ruffled was my goal. I don't want her to think TV is our main focus in life, or that entertainment trumps responsibility. That is the horrible TV trap that I personally can't stand. I'm really picky about what movies I have around. I prefer classic musicals like The Sound of Music or Singing in the Rain, some of the older Disney movies, and old classic comedies/dance movies like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movies, or movies like Flubber/Son of Flubber, Cheaper by the Dozen (old version). They are fun for DD to watch and inspire her to sing and dance around the house, and have upbeat attitudes in them. I like to listen to them while I do my sewing projects or clean house. Sometimes I'll pick a movie for the week and that will be the only one we have on at all, so it gets less stimulating for DD to see/hear again so she goes back to playing and will stop to watch just when someone is singing or dancing.


Anyway, all that to say that my DD is retrainable and can be exposed to TV without becoming emotionally attached and dependent on it. It's not a big deal in our house, it's just one of the options for things we can do when we're waiting to get on with life and have to take a rest break. Even when DD has been attached to the tube, it didn't take long to retrain her. 


If you decide to send your DD w/your mom like usual, you might request some fun classic movies and ask her to avoid letting Sponge Bob or other cartoons that are super annoying and probably destroy attention spans. 


As for the sugar, just ask your mom not to offer or allow the kids to offer it to your DD. "She's too little for candy, cake, cookies, pop, etc"


Sorry if this is somewhat disjointed...DD just woke up and I gotta go.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-24-2012, 08:48 AM
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I'd just let it be. Your DD is only going to be there for a total of 6 days, right? Spread out over 4 weeks? I dont think that is going to totally throw her off her routine. The thing I would be really cautious of, is making sure that your MIL returns to her normal childcare routine for your DD after they leave. As in, just because the tv has been on for a month, it cant stay on after they leave. I'm having lots of problems like that with my in laws and DD after two months of me needing constant childcare from them and now that I am back to being 100% present, Im having to take blow pops away from DD (not only because they are sugar, but because it was 10:00 pm.) eyesroll.gif

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#9 of 11 Old 06-24-2012, 02:45 PM
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I agree. It's only 1.5 days a week for a month..that's not very much. I think it's more important for her to spend that time with her cousins. I'm sure she'll have a blast. :)

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#10 of 11 Old 06-28-2012, 07:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies! I really appreciate the input. We've decided that we will let the babysitting continue (MIL expressed her desire to keep doing it, even amid the chaos) but we are going to gently express our concerns and make sure--like you said, Adaline'sMama--that the routine goes make to normal after the visit is over. The cousins fly in today, so we'll see how it goes! Thanks again.

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#11 of 11 Old 06-28-2012, 09:24 AM
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I've always hated TV, even when I was a little kid. I'm an only child, so it wasn't a problem at home, but I was always so miserable at babysitters and friends houses. All other kids ever wanted to do was watch TV- no matter how many stacks of board games & puzzles & crafts were around, no matter how beautiful it was outside, I just couldn't convince anybody to unglue themselves from the screen.


Can you send her along with some fun activities that she can do either on her own or with her cousins? Be sure to include stuff that can be done indoors, just in case the weather's bad, because "We'll just watch TV til it stops raining" seems to be common logic among the TV crowd.

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