Here is our background:
My DH is a wonderful man, amazing daddy and teriffic partner, he is also very very close with his family ( who live on the other side of the world). 4 years ago he moved to Canada to live with me and is fairly settled but misses home a lot. We live in a big city and he is from a very small village in the middle of nowhere on a farm. I know it was very hard for him to move so far away when he probably always imagined himself living with in 5 miles of home like his 26 cousins. I really really appreciate what he has given up. We have a 2 year old DS and a new baby on the way :)
We go visit his family at least once a year, it is a strain financialy but it is worth it for him and our son.
Here is my problem, I have never felt comfortable in his parents house and it is at the point where I dread our trips and am miserable the whole time we are here ( we're 1/2 through our trip this year). I feel like I need to find a solution but cant figure it out.
I would love some input from you ladies. I'm just gonna list my problems to make it easier
-DH's family is HUGE and the house is soooo busy (small house, lots of people), I need alone time for my sanity
-They yell...a lot. Not necesarily in an angry way, its just how they talk,
-so much negativity- when my MIL woke up the other day (at 9 am) I commented that I had been up since 4 am (jetlag) and her responce was barking "well, you cant blame any one else for that!" I'm not expecting much but shes so harsh to everything I say, all day long
- I cant stand the gossip and judgment, its all anyone talks about...other people. I know it must include me when I'm not around
-as soon as we land DH is given a list of things to do on the farm that take up most of the trip leaving me at home with his family all day ( he has differant skills and no one else can do these jobs), and we get almost NO time as a family for our only time off work together
- the other kids (who are always here) are crazy! all they eat all day is junk and run around screaming and misbehaving from morning till night. DS is very good but picks up some of these behaviors
- MIL and SIL yell empty threats ( including hitting) to the kids every 2 min ( no exageration), and of course there is no behaving from the kids cause they know there are no concequences.
- the house is cluttered and DIRTY, not messy (that too) but filthy
- food is unsafe, MIL will leave the a roast on the counter all day and over night to cook in the morning, cooked food is left on the counter to eat for the next few days
-unhygenic- it is not unusual to find a unwrapped chicken on the shelf of the fridge
- there are 2 open fires all day every day, I get sick every time we leave. I can taste the ashes in the air
- they have no garbage, everything and I do mean everything goes in the fire, wrappers, food, milk jugs, dirty diapers, any thing that you would recycle or put in the garbage goes in the fire. I am terrified about what we are breathing in
- I can not cook much of my own food so we have been getting maybe 1 serving of way over cooked veg a day, living on carbs and dairy
So my solution was that we would rent a place near by to stay next time, but DH says that can not happen, that it would kill his mother and create nothing but drama in the family. I am feeling like he is putting his familys needs and feelings before mine, we've been here just over a week and I have been on the verge of tears the whole time (beinge pregnant doesnt help).
His parents are elderly and very set in their ways, I am very aware that we have a limited time left with them and want to spend as much time as possible while they are alive and realitivly healthy
I know this is a tough place for him and he feels bad for me but feels like there is nothing we can do (besides insure me on a car next time so i can go out, which would help but not enough)
There are great things about being here too.... DS is so happy, he is much more active, so many kids to play with, loves to see his grandparents, he is forming such great bonds with them all. I love watching how happy he is :) And he sleeps like never before because he is running all day! Dh is happy too, so content with being home and with his family, so I guess its just me having problems
He gave up a lot for me, maybe I should just suck it up and give in to hating our 2 weeks holidays each year?
Any great advice for me? What would you do?
You need to shorten your visit so that it doesn't take your entire vacation time. Have DH leave to go early to get in the chores and then go later etc. And then squeeze another activity then or later that is more peaceful.
I agree... Shorten your visit or better yet, don't go at all. Just say you couldn't get off work after all, send DH and DS, and have yourself a nice little break by yourself. (Or you could go for a little while and come home early, leaving DH and DS there together...)
But yeah, I have several friends in the same boat as you. It is hard for some of them to go home (5-8 weeks at a time once a year) and they have similar issues, even when it's THEIR family! One friend routinely gains 15 pounds at "home" and then comes back and immediately starts a detox diet so he can lose the weight and get his body healthy again. It's a strange transformation to watch, but he does it. EVERY single year. Not saying you should go to this extreme, but you are not alone.
We did talk about me not staying as long next time. I will be on mat leave so having to work will not be a good excuse but I could think of something :)
I have also said that I would just stay home but the new baby will be about 5 months old so they will all want to meet him or her and obviously baby will not be going without me!
If I let ds go without me for the extra week I know he will be filled with crappy food and juice and alone in the middle of the crazyness (which he doesnt seem to mind). It worries me but I guess I just may have to realise he will survive even on sugar and yogurt for a week :)
After reading my first post I feel like I made them all out to be nasty people. They are absolutly not, I love them and (mostly) get along with them all. They love their family and would do absolutly anything for anyone. This is just the way they were raised and how many people around here are.
I think I would def. cut the visits shorter. Breathing in all that crap is toxic! Burning PLASTIC? really? If you have to go, I would ask that they wait until you are gone to do that sort of thing. I would have asthma for the trips, seriously. If they think it can cause you breathing problems, maybe they would show some compassion and not burn things while you are there.
You could tell them it's bad for the baby, too. I don't know if that would work, but that's the way my family is. (was, I don't see them anymore) They refuse to smoke around a pregnant woman, and chastised me for smoking during my last 2 pregnancies, but as soon as the baby was born, that was over. My great-grandmother tried to hold my baby with a lit cigarette in her MOUTH, and got super upset when I told her no.
Is there any way you can go out for meals, or bring a cooler with some healthy snacks? Nuts/seeds, apples, oranges, etc. Things that don't need to be refrigerated? And a vit. C supplement.
None of the ideas expressed above are actually mine. They are told to me by Luthor and Ferdinand, the five inch tall space aliens who live under my desk. In return for these ideas, I have given them permission to eat any dust bunnies they may find under there.
Where do they live? It sounds like a lot of those things could be cultural, at least to some extent. I personally wouldn't recommend cutting the visits short, it sounds like it is really important to DH and he has given up a lot, to me that seems unfair to him. That being said, since we have had my DD we don't stay at my in laws house, we go for a long visit, but stay at a friends house, camp, or rent a hotel. We will be just a few minutes away from her parents but will only go to her mom's house for 2-4 hours a day and then will go out to eat or for a hike with with her dad (her parents are divorced but live near each other). I know that it hurts her parents feelings a lot, they often comment on it, but DW & I agree that neither of their houses is a safe environment for a toddler. Luckily, DW is on my side with that, and she has the kind of relationship with them where she is just up front with them about why.
I feel for you because everything is harder when you are pregnant! If i was in your shoes, though, I would just try to be polite and make the best of this visit, and then figure out something that would work better for next time. If there is one thing that you could change on this visit, maybe you could have your husband talk to them about the trash burning. A lot of people just don't know how bad that is! He could he could tell it's making you feel sick because you are pregnant or something. Good luck!
We have tried to talk to them before about the burning plastic thing but it does not work, they are very set in their ways and do not believe ( or want to) that it could/ does pose a health problem. Asking them not to burn plastic just untill we leave will not work either.
Over the years I have came to the conclusion that they will never change, they do things the way they want and that is it! DS and I both have a rather nasty cough and I know it is because of the stupid fire, we always get sick while here. I have pointed it out and they tell me its because we dont wear socks/ slippers all of the time. They say DS is going to die of pnomonia(sp) every single day.
Rstelle- they live in rural Ireland, it is cultural I guess, my friends who have family from the city or towns say its not like that there, only in the country. Nothing has changed in 100 years.
I actually had a nice few days, one of my best friends came up to visit me and gave me some reliefe, she is just as stunned by the way they are. While she was here we talked and decided that I should just suck it up and stay here next time, and get insured on a car here so I can go out.
We were talking and I was saying how I always feel bad causing drama here ( not hard to do if you have differing opinions) becuase Dh's parents are elderly and we dont know how many more visits we will have with them (could be 1 or 15), MIL has parkinsons and could be fine for 10 years or she could not be able to talk or walk in a year. I want to give my kids and DH as much time with them as possible.
But since my friend left I feel again like I just need to be selfish and look out for MY family, my children. Most of my issues could be solved if I could stay somewhere else, jsut have a place to retreat to for a few hours a day. And its not like we'd be staying an hour away, their neighbors, ( 5 min walk) have a garage apartment that we could rent.
I dunno, maybe I will just leave decisions about the next trip untill this one is over
I think the best idea is to rent your own place. My mom's house is very busy and the last time we went to visit we stayed in a rental. It was so nice to come and go. Something has got to give, right? Better a compromise than you just flat out dreading the trip and not going, not visiting, not seeing your ds have a blast running around with everyone.
And seriously, Id be terrified about the house burning down and make a plan for getting out in case of fire. If they have two open fires, then that means they have two chimneys that probably need to be nearly replaced if they have been burning plastic for that long. Burning plastic is awful for your home. And kind of makes you a terrible person for emitting all that crap into our environment. Most people do it because they are uneducated, but it seems likely that there is no changing his family. But, this website is great for all kinds of information about heating with wood. You shouldnt be eating ash all day either. The way you describe the fire makes me want to beg you not to take your five month old there, at least not without a carbon monoxide detector. Aside from the inherent danger of a child not being able to properly breathe, these posions that are created when people are burning plastic can cause asthmatic issues. I'd stay in a house where people were smoking cigarettes first.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
DH and I had a good talk about all of this today, our other discussions were when I was really annoyed or in a bad mood, having a rational discussion helped. We will be talking to them about burning the garbage and I made it clear that for our childrens sake we will not be here if they burn garbage. I think he may understand about staying somewhere else too, on top of all of the other reasons it is quite clear that MIL is exhausted and needs to nap more that she can with DS and the other kids around all day. It'd be better for all of our health. If these things can happen I think we will all enjoy our yearly trip much more!
Regardless of what my husband said, I would refuse to stay in a house where they were burning toxins. It's not healthy for them, for you, or for your unborn child. Some of the things you mentioned arent anything Id raise a red flag about, but are just a different lifestyle than yours. But, you dont need to expose your children to toxins, stress, and violence just to make your husband happy. I suggest going every other year and on the years that you dont go there, take a vacation somewhere else. If those are your only vacations, you are going to really grow to resent his whole family and him.
And seriously, Id be terrified about the house burning down and make a plan for getting out in case of fire. Thankfully the house is small and on one floor...if need be there are big, low windows in every room. For some reason I have never been afraid of fire here, maybe cause there doesnt seem to be many, If they have two open fires, then that means they have two chimneys that probably need to be nearly replaced if they have been burning plastic for that long.These houses are really old, FIL and his dad where both born in the house! Burning plastic is awful for your home. And kind of makes you a terrible person for emitting all that crap into our environment. Most people do it because they are uneducated, but it seems likely that there is no changing his family.I dont think its fair to call them terrible people, its just the way their parents and grandparents did it, they have never been told otherwisem ( till I came along). Almost every person who lives in the country side does the same. I think the government should become more accountable, it is illigal but they must know it happens and dont seem to try to inform people ( a tv comercial or 2 would be great!) But, this website is great for all kinds of information about heating with wood. You shouldnt be eating ash all day either. The way you describe the fire makes me want to beg you not to take your five month old there, at least not without a carbon monoxide detector I never even thought of this, now that I think about it they dont even have smoke detectors! We'll pick some up for them tomorrow. Aside from the inherent danger of a child not being able to properly breathe, these posions that are created when people are burning plastic can cause asthmatic issues. I'd stay in a house where people were smoking cigarettes first.