Advice Needed on How to Handle Houseguests and Babies! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 12:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have three month old twins, and my husband's sister and her kids (7 and 10) are visiting us. This is the second time I've spent time with them (as they live very far away).

They are very sweet kids and are very interested in the babies.

However, I am about to kill them.

I have told them again and again that I don't want them rubbing the babies' heads as if they're shining a bowling ball. I've explained that the babies have a soft spot. I've asked them if they would like to have their heads rubbed that way. They don't listen.

Whenever the babies are quiet and happy, they immediately want to pick them up or play with them. The babies don't enjoy being manhandled constantly, and based on previous attempts, they very quickly get upset. I take the babies back, soothe them down, and then of course they want to hold the babies again because the babies are happy.

Whenever I have my back turned for a moment, taking care of one of the babies, making lunch, etc., etc., suddenly the 7 yo is wandering around the house with one of the the babies, attempting to carry the baby upstairs, put her in or take her out of the swing or whatever.

I am getting very resentful of my SIL for not riding herd on her kids and explaining to them the appropriate way to interact with the babies. If her kids want to watch TV, have ice cream, etc., I am always telling them to check with their mom first. Can't she extend me the same courtesy before having her 7 year old move my baby around?

From watching some of the other interactions with her kids, its pretty clear that my SIL has a hard time saying no to her kids and enforcing it. I really would like to have a good relationship with SIL and her kids, but I feel she is putting me in the position to have to do what I view as HER job because she doesn't like it when her kids are mad at her.

I'm pretty much at the point where I just want to yell at her kids and really enforce the concept that my kids are people and not dolls or toys.

Any suggestions for how to handle this? My husband has offered to speak to his sister about the issue, but he lacks the diplomacy gene so I am afraid of the outcome.

Maybe I just need to get an early start on mastering "NO!" before my babies are toddlers. Whether that NO will be listened to is another question....
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#2 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 01:47 AM
 
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Well, I have to say you must be saint. I would not be having houseguests with one 3 month old, let alone twins. I also would not be "hosting" 7 and 10 year old children either. If anyone was staying at my house during that time they best be cooking and cleaning

But you are in a bit of pickle it seems. If it's not at all possible for them to relocate to a hotel for the remainder of their stay, then I think your dh should talk to SIL about the behavior. If you're worried about what he would say (or how) , be present but as it is his family, I would recommend letting him do majority of the talking. If the behavior continues then maybe cutting the visit short might be in order

How long are they staying for?

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#3 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband wanted them to visit the first month the babies were born! That idea was truly crazy.

We have another seven days together. Although we are getting together with another older set of cousins for two days later in the week which I am hoping will reduce the appeal of handling the babies.

I know my husband would not be comfortable asking them to leave. Clearly we need to draw a harder line -- I feel like I'm not advocating well for my kids out of a fear of upsetting the apple cart and I'm kicking myself for it.
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#4 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:08 AM
 
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Wow- I don't let my 11-year-old daughter pick up her sister without asking! I can't even imagine a 7-year-old!!!!! I don't believe that a child that age can really understand the consequences of some actions or are responsible enough to be entrusted with a 3-month-old baby unsupervised.

Honestly, I'd talk to my SIL and let her know that you feel like things need to change in regards to her children and their handling of your children, then sit down with her kids together and explain the new rules.

If that doesn't work you really will have to start enforcing the "no picking up the babies/ molesting the babies" rules yourself. Which will be a bummer as you've already got enough to do with 3-month-old twins and house guests!

Good luck!

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#5 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:59 AM
 
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I told my older kids that the baby was a person and not a toy all the time when he was little.

Bottom line is they need to respect your rules for your children. They aren't being safe.
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#6 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 05:08 AM
 
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From watching some of the other interactions with her kids, its pretty clear that my SIL has a hard time saying no to her kids and enforcing it. I really would like to have a good relationship with SIL and her kids, but I feel she is putting me in the position to have to do what I view as HER job because she doesn't like it when her kids are mad at her.
You are your children's advocate. It is YOUR job to enforce boundaries when it comes to them. It would be nice if your SIL helped and took care of things on her end, but she's not.

Saying no is not a bad thing. It sounds like the kids are really jazzed up about having cousins, though, and it might help them (and you!) to give them things they *can* do.

The babies like it when you play piggy toes.

Would you like to push the baby in the stroller?


Give them an option. And teach them how to "listen" to the babies: see his face? He's looking away and squirming. That's his way of saying TOO MUCH!

Kids aren't intuitive. They need the constant reinforcement of what is right and wrong and how to tell. Be firm: That is not okay. You need to stop. or even The rule is, ask before you move the baby.
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#7 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 06:55 AM
 
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I agree you're a saint.

You probably need to bring out your "stern aunt" voice with the kids. "It is NOT OKAY to pick up the baby without asking me. If you do it again we are going to have A PROBLEM."

You could even tell them "I love you, but I feel like I am going to KILL YOU if you do it again. Of course I won't, but you have to stop NOW." Assuming that you have a solid enough relationship that they'll get it. I've been that direct with my one nephew who needs directness, and we still have a great time together.

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#8 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 09:48 AM
 
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I would most definitely bring this up with SIL ASAP. Have your dh do it, or do it yourself if you're worried about him being diplomatic enough. Don't mince words with her. Speak calmly and kindly but let her know that this is a big problem for you.

Besides that you have every right to put on your "stern aunt voice" (as a pp called it). If your SIL does not step up to the plate you absolutely can firmly tell the kids that their behaviour is not ok and that you are upset that they have continued to do something that is against the rules. And don't confuse the issue by trying to lighten things by saying it with a smile. If you are upset you don't have to hide the frown that comes naturally, iykwim.

I like the pp's idea to have a short and simple line: "The rule is ask before you move the baby" (and I would maybe change it to: ask before you touch the baby).

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#9 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone -- I agree I need to be the babies' advocate. I definitely tend to be a "people pleaser" sort of personality. I can choose to be that way at my own expense, but I absolutely cannot be that way at my babies' expense and I can see this will be something I need to work on.

The babies and I will stay at home today, while my husband takes everyone else out for the day, and then we will have a "rules reset" tomorrow. I really like LilyGrace's idea of redirection and ideas of how to play with the babies appropriately.

Thanks also for confirming that I'm not crazy! My SIL was so nonchalant about these issues that I was starting to think I was being uptight or paranoid.
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#10 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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In addition to all of the above (good advice already), you should also be prepared to call your SIL in to help. Yes, address the kids directly, but if that doesn't yield immediate results, then you can call in your SIL. Something like "SIL, child cannot seem to leave baby alone. Could you please find something else for child to do right now. Maybe child would like to do X,Y or Z?"

Which brings up the prevention option here -- make sure you have other things besides the babies for the children to play with. If you don't normally have older children in your house, they may be bored and thus turning the babies into toys for lack of other options. Maybe find out what they like to do and stock supplies? Do they like to draw or create things? Build things? Play outside? Is there a neighborhood pool or park you can send them (with their mom, of course) to play? Other area attractions where they can be gone for part of each day? I have kids that are 7 and 10 and they would be getting into mischief from sheer boredom without some options and direction.
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#11 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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I have kids that are 7 and 10 and they would be getting into mischief from sheer boredom without some options and direction.
I agree that the older kids are probably bored and need activities, but I'm sure you would provide that for them as their mother, rather than leaving it to the mother of 3-month-old twins. But yeah, since the SIL doesn't seem to be stepping up I guess it falls to the OP to suggest stuff, unfortunately.

This was probably too early post-partum for a lengthy visit like this. It seems like a quick weekend visit would have been better -- is there a reason they're staying so long? I would feel like a terrible burden on a new family if I stayed with them for that long (and I wouldn't allow anyone who wasn't there specifically to help to stay at my house for that long!).

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#12 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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I agree that the older kids are probably bored and need activities, but I'm sure you would provide that for them as their mother, rather than leaving it to the mother of 3-month-old twins. But yeah, since the SIL doesn't seem to be stepping up I guess it falls to the OP to suggest stuff, unfortunately.
Well, yes, I would. But a strange city, strange house and hardly-ever-see-them hosts really is hard to deal with as a guest. We visited one of my best friends (but someone I almost never see in person) last month and I was very hesitant to ask for things for the kids. I did finally work up the courage to ask about a TV and went out and bought snacks when none were offered, but it was really awkward.

The OP is saint for even trying to host such a visit, but in the end, she is the host and does have some responsibility for entertaining guests (both big and small). Which is why the whole visit sounds like a bad idea. Since this is her SIL, maybe its time to delegate host responsibilities to the DH? As in "Your nieces/nephews are bored and need something to do. Can you please find out what they like and then get the necessary supplies or information." Of course, he should already be on top of this himself, but maybe he is gone during the day and just doesn't see it?
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#13 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:17 PM
 
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Wow, I'm another one who thinks you're a saint.

We had family visit when our first, DD was a little older than your twins. I got left alone with her and 6yo nephew. I did end up speaking sternly to him, but he's a basically good kid and got the message. Still, I felt bad about it and wished his mom and DP hadn't left me alone with him. It seems like even if SIL is physically somewhere nearby, she's doing that to you and that's really not fair. I agree with PP's recommendations that you and DH have a talk with her. And is she the only parent visiting with the kids?
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#14 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:18 PM
 
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My first thought is, Can the 7yo read? If so, tell him/her that the babies LOVE to be read to! at 3mo, the twins might not care, but having someone laying on the floor with them, excitedly reading to them won't hurt them either way. Show them where all the cute board books are, and tell them to go to town. Or, they can read their own books to the babies, who surely won't care either way.

Also show them where teh babies toys are - fave stuffed animals, fave teething toys, etc.

And, for goodness sakes, who cares if your DH lacks the diplomacy gene? Let him talk to his sister! They are brother and sister, I'm sure they've fought before, and I'm equally sure this won't be the last time - just don't worry about it.

And, you can always ask your SIL to take the older kiddos to the park so that you can have some peace. That way, they can run our some energy, and come back nice and tired!
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#15 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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I think your husband needs clubbing over his head! What was he thinking inviting his sister over when your dealing with little twins? His sister also needs a smack on the forehead. She should be trying to lighten your work load, not adding to it! Your husband needs to be YOUR advocate and talk to his sister about at least not adding stress right now, and if possible helping around the house. Give the kids jobs to do like pick up dirty clothes, fold laundry, wash up dishes, empty dishwasher, clean windows etc. Does your SIL think she is with you having a vacation? Some people amaze me!
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#16 of 24 Old 06-23-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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Honestly, at 3 months post partum I was still a hormonal wreck and would have shut myself and my babies up in my room and refused to allow anyone else in. I wouldn't have gone so far as to kick SIL and kiddos out of the house--too chicken to do that.

I would let the hubby with no diplomacy gene speak to his sister about the issue. Sounds like she needs to hear it straight-up anyway.

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#17 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 07:51 AM
 
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I think your husband needs clubbing over his head! What was he thinking inviting his sister over when your dealing with little twins? His sister also needs a smack on the forehead. She should be trying to lighten your work load, not adding to it! Your husband needs to be YOUR advocate and talk to his sister about at least not adding stress right now, and if possible helping around the house. Give the kids jobs to do like pick up dirty clothes, fold laundry, wash up dishes, empty dishwasher, clean windows etc. Does your SIL think she is with you having a vacation? Some people amaze me!

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#18 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 12:24 PM
 
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I think your husband needs clubbing over his head! What was he thinking inviting his sister over when your dealing with little twins? His sister also needs a smack on the forehead. She should be trying to lighten your work load, not adding to it! Your husband needs to be YOUR advocate and talk to his sister about at least not adding stress right now, and if possible helping around the house. Give the kids jobs to do like pick up dirty clothes, fold laundry, wash up dishes, empty dishwasher, clean windows etc. Does your SIL think she is with you having a vacation? Some people amaze me!
My thoughts exactly! When my kids were that young, ANYONE who visited, with the exception of my oxygen-dependent 84 year old grandmother, knew that if they visited us, they were certainly not on vacation. It amazes me that people don't understand that a new mom or mom with older children AND little babies is the one who needs things done for her. (Heck, even my grandmother couldn't be kept away from any stray dishes in the sink or fingerprints on a window. She would be mortified to come over your house and not do SOMETHING.)

As for the poster, If a stern warning to the visiting relatives doesn't get the point across, I'd give them the phone number for a local hotel and politely ask them to leave. And perhaps next time they are in town, staying somewhere besides your house and just visiting for a few hours during the day would be a better arrangement. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt...

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#19 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well -- things are going better. My husband spoke briefly to his sister and asked her to supervise the kids more closely. I have been experimenting with a stern voice and being very explicit and direct in my instructions with the kids, as well as giving them ideas of how to interact with the babies appropriately. If they think I'm the mean auntie, well that's just too darn bad.

The kids are are certainly not unentertained -- so far they have hit the local water park, laser tag, bowling, putt-putt, the children's museum and the science center. They brought DVDs and we have rented some others. However, there is always down time -- while people are getting ready to go out, people are getting dinner ready, etc. and that's when the potential for trouble arises. Clearly our error as hosts was (as I have been informed by the 10 yo) not to purchase a Wii before their arrival!

Happily this is the only visit on the horizon for quite awhile, and I will make sure my husband is aware that I am a saint, and he has narrowly avoided a clubbing...

No chores have been done by our guests, but they are out at the park this afternoon, and my parents are visiting, so we'll be able to make a dent in the current chaos in the kitchen and family room. I knew, given that the kids were coming too, there would be no help (just more work)!
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#20 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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Clearly our error as hosts was (as I have been informed by the 10 yo) not to purchase a Wii before their arrival!
Excuse me!?!? REALLY?!?!?! At that point, I think my patience would have just completely snapped and I would go from 'stern auntie" to raving mad auntie, and one who wanted her house back. And if the mom didn't discuss just how rude that was, then maybe hotel recommendations really are in order.

Your halo is growing with every post. You deserve extra pampering by your husband. And can you spring for a one-time cleaning person visit?
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#21 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 08:49 PM
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My husband wanted them to visit the first month the babies were born! That idea was truly crazy.

We have another seven days together. Although we are getting together with another older set of cousins for two days later in the week which I am hoping will reduce the appeal of handling the babies.

I know my husband would not be comfortable asking them to leave. Clearly we need to draw a harder line -- I feel like I'm not advocating well for my kids out of a fear of upsetting the apple cart and I'm kicking myself for it.
You're going to have to seriously hurt their feelings.....

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#22 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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Clearly our error as hosts was (as I have been informed by the 10 yo) not to purchase a Wii before their arrival!
LOL this is something my son might comment on (3.5y) and something if the family were the type to enjoy such a thing that my hubby would run out and buy for them. My son would comment out of innocence in thinking that everyone has game systems of some sort (we have an xbox 36o, a Wii, DS, Itouches..you name it)...it is just what he is used to. Hubby would do it out of generosity...

By the way I think it sounds like you are doing a great job!! I rember when my son was about 6wks that hubby decided to invite all our friends over for a get together for me.....After about an hour or so I couldn't handle it anymore and went up to be with my little ds with the excuse of "he needs to be nursed". I think hubbies do irrational things while thinking it is the greatest idea...out of love. lol

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#23 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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You could even tell them "I love you, but I feel like I am going to KILL YOU if you do it again. Of course I won't, but you have to stop NOW." Assuming that you have a solid enough relationship that they'll get it. I've been that direct with my one nephew who needs directness, and we still have a great time together.
Even with a solid relationship, this is something I would NEVER EVER EVER say to a child. There is too much opportunity for there to be a misunderstanding about what was said, and the next thing you know, Auntie is ending up with a restraining order or charges filed against her or something.

Now I have told children that what they are doing is driving me crazy. But there isn't any way that that statement could be misconstrued or misheard as a threat against the child's life.

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#24 of 24 Old 06-24-2010, 11:35 PM
 
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Even with a solid relationship, this is something I would NEVER EVER EVER say to a child. There is too much opportunity for there to be a misunderstanding about what was said, and the next thing you know, Auntie is ending up with a restraining order or charges filed against her or something.

Now I have told children that what they are doing is driving me crazy. But there isn't any way that that statement could be misconstrued or misheard as a threat against the child's life.
Ehn. I can see your point (sort of, although I don't relate-by-fear-of-bizarre-court-orders) but my point really was if you're feeling that way - express it. It doesn't have to be in those words, but it's not a terrible thing for kids to know.

Obviously you have to know your family, the children involved, etc. But in ours getting that melodramatic would help get the point across in a way that would add humour and playfulness. Being all silently upset about it without addressing it would be much more damaging.

A lot depends on tone, I think. You could always turn it around and say "if I have to tell you one more time to stop touching the baby I think I will run screaming around the house one million times."

We're also big Robert Munsch fans so what can I say.

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