Author Topic: Update p3, 4, 5 Planning? That's for later  (Read 19129 times)

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Winter

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Update p3, 4, 5 Planning? That's for later
« on: January 02, 2013, 12:11:21 PM »
Let me start by saying I love my IL's. They're wonderful, sweet people. BUT - they never give notice for events. I thought it was getting better, and this holiday season proved me wrong - I need some eHell techniques for me and DH to try to get through to them to explain what we need.

This has apparently always been the way that his family has operated. We get calls from DH's mom mid-week asking us "if we're going to be there Friday." When we respond with a baffled "Where on Friday?" she then tells us it's so-and-so's birthday/christening/etc. There can be a few reasons for this:

Scenario 1) One of his many cousins has sent an invitation to his parent's house instead of ours, and she didn't let us know until days/hours before the event. These ones don't bother him or me too much - if they can't be bothered to send it to the right address, he's not that fussed if we're not there. If they ask where he was after, he'll straight-up tell them he didn't get the invitation, he hasn't lived at his parents for X years and we already had plans by the time he heard.

Scenario 2) The family event was literally planned the day before. Like the call we got at 1pm on a Sunday asking if we were going to his grandma's birthday. When he asked when it was, he was told 4pm. Cue fuming, but he doesn't want to punish his grandmother for the short notice (3h!!!!), so our day is upended and we go.

Scenario 3) IL's probably had something planned in their head for a while but didn't let us know until days/hours before. This is what took the cake this year. Knowing this planning problem, he questioned his mom for weeks about finalizing the Christmas family times and locations, since we split the holidays, and got weeks of "I don't know yet" until about the 21st. We went, and we thought we'd managed OK for this year's holidays. Cue New Year's. We had dinner plans with one of my out of town family members, a birthday party for a friend we'd committed to at least 2 months in advance, and another friend who asked us to stop in if we had time. Packed night, well planned, never any discussion of family plans. DH peeks at his phone and checks his voicemail partway through dinner when he sees a message from his dad left at 6pm. Contents of said message? "Where are you? You mom wants you to be here. Your brothers are here already." And instantly DH is quietly fuming again - especially since he said the voicemail wasn't even a question, it was a "where are you" as if we should already know.

So tell me, eHell - any magical tips and tricks for dealing with this and getting them to understand that we are busy people, we cannot - and will not - drop plans to accommodate last minute requests? We've been trying to put it that way and teach them by turning down last-minute requests whenever they aren't convenient - but the problem is that sometimes the requests are ones like his grandmother's birthday, where we'd be punishing the wrong person and he'd feel guilty. So we go, and the cycle continues. Anyone out there found a way out of this - firm, but polite - that doesn't involve us ripping our hair out in frustration? Or at least some deep-breathing techniques we can use?
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 12:53:37 PM by Winter »

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 12:16:26 PM »
Turn down everything and take Grandma out for lunch a few days later?  Call Grandma as soon as you hear about the party, explain that you just found out and can't make it but would love to see her and make plans for a convenient time for both of you.
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Winter

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 12:32:06 PM »
Turn down everything and take Grandma out for lunch a few days later?  Call Grandma as soon as you hear about the party, explain that you just found out and can't make it but would love to see her and make plans for a convenient time for both of you.

Not possible unfortunately - Grandma is in her 90s, frail and doesn't leave home except when her kids are able to take her around. She also speaks a particular dialect that DH doesn't speak, so conversation without the aunts present isn't doable. :(

NotCinderell

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 12:37:19 PM »
Turn down everything and take Grandma out for lunch a few days later?  Call Grandma as soon as you hear about the party, explain that you just found out and can't make it but would love to see her and make plans for a convenient time for both of you.

Not possible unfortunately - Grandma is in her 90s, frail and doesn't leave home except when her kids are able to take her around. She also speaks a particular dialect that DH doesn't speak, so conversation without the aunts present isn't doable. :(

I'm sorry to say this, but you might have to wait until Grandma passes to get the opportunity to train the ILs.

Lynn2000

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 12:39:02 PM »
I agree with Outdoor Girl. In all the scenarios you described I would decline to attend the event and try not to feel guilty about that exact thing. Then, I would make plans of my own, at a convenient time for me, to celebrate with the person whose event it was--like for Grandma's birthday. I'm sure Grandma would be delighted to have lunch with just the two of you, and get your focused attention at a restaurant of her choosing, in addition to the party with lots of people milling around (some of whom are only there grudgingly due to the last-minute plans).

I have had occasion to do this a few times myself, and frankly it feels very powerful, to say NO and feel like I have a good, solid reason, and to let their attempts to guilt me slide right off.

If this method leads you to literally miss everything, perhaps you could try offering to host things yourself so you can see people, and model more polite planning techniques as well.

It sounds like asking for advance notice hasn't really worked; you could try being very specific--like, we need a week's notice or it's an automatic no--but you may find that you just stop getting invited to things in that case.  :-\

ETA: Specifically for Grandma, then, could you bring lunch to her house, and arrange to have lunch with her and a translator? Not knowing her, of course, but if she's pleasant to be around, she may just be happy to see you and "talk" to you even if communication isn't 100% clear.
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Dorrie78

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 12:42:53 PM »
Like PPs have said, you need to stop going to any event that wasn't scheduled and communicated to you with sufficient notice. Stop fuming about it and start saying "sorry we can't make it, we have other plans. Please let us know about these things further in advance so that we can plan for it!" If you aren't receiving your own invitations to family events, contact family members and give them your address (again) and tell them that this is the only address which guarantees that you will receive their invitations in a timely fashion.

Sounds like you may want to make an exception for grandma, but not for other things.

This would drive me crazy. I feel for you, OP!


kitchcat

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 12:44:47 PM »
DH's family can be like this. I hate last-minute things as well, I'm very much a planner.

It really depends on how you feel about it. Do you want to go to these events, or do you feel obligated to go?  If you want to go, I'd say go ahead and attend, but be sure and say something like, "It's very inconvenient when we get invitations on short notice. We were lucky we were available today, but in the future, please give us at least a few days notice so we can ensure we'll be available."

If you don't want to go, don't go. If they ask why or pressure you, be blunt: "You didn't give us advanced notice and we will not be able to come. We can't plan to attend something if we don't know about it."
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siamesecat2965

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 01:03:32 PM »
If you don't want to go, don't go. If they ask why or pressure you, be blunt: "You didn't give us advanced notice and we will not be able to come. We can't plan to attend something if we don't know about it."

This.

My mom and I had a similar situation over the holidays. A relative hadspent  my birthday weekend with me.  At which time she announced that she was thinking of coming down to my mom's, on a particular day, to stay over.  My mom lives 8 hours from me, and I was going to be there for about 10 days.  She lives about 3.5 hours from my mom. So I gave mom a head's up, but we both decided as relative had not direclty contacted mom, we would continue on with OUR plans.  The only concession we made was to switch our planned Sunday brunch to the week before, as we wanted it to be just the two of us.  My mom is more than flexible and welcoming, but she, like me, feels this relative lacks some common courtesy, such as seeing if its ok to come visit (which it always is, but its nice to be notified!)

Midway through the week, said relative finally contacted my mom and said you know, I don't know if I ever spoke to YOU about this, how rude of me, is it ok to come down on this day? To which mom replied, yes, absolutely, but siamesecat and  I have plans and will be out until about 1 :)

If I were in the OP's situation, I'd simply refuse to drop all plans to entertain the non-planners. I'd keep saying sorry, we would have come had we known, been given more notice, etc. And stick to my guns.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2013, 01:29:04 PM »
DH and I went through this with his parents.  I realized that they hadn't had to do a lot of pre-planning prior.  MIL had a nuclear family and she set the social agenda for her and her DH, her older son living at home with limited social life, and a teenage daughter living at home.  My DH had been away at college for 6 years so hadn't really been a factor for a long time.  She really had a hard time realizing that DH and I, being mid 20's professionals, had a pretty busy life between work, friends, activities, and my family in addition to his. 

Here's some things that helped us out.
Grandma (MIL's mother) lived with DH's parents.  MIL's sister lived about an hour and a half away and the two of them might talk on Friday night and decide between Saturday or Sunday for a family dinner and then let us know mid-day Saturday that dinner was planned for Saturday because that's when her sister could make it into town.  We started striking early.  Two weeks before Grandma's bday, DH would call his mom and say "If your planning a dinner for Grandma's bday, HMM and I can come on this Saturday night prior to her bday or Sunday lunch after her bday. If neither date works, we'll come by on that Sunday and bring her a gift."  We found that his mom was now really good negotiating with her sister on planning a date to meet our schedule. 

Last minute holiday invites. New Years Day was always the big one for them.  They figured we'd be out NYE but might call at 11am NY Day and request we meet them for a late lunch.  So prior to any event we'd call and say "Just wanted to call and wish you a happy New Year before we head out.  We've got a big night planned so tomorrow we aren't doing anything but staying home and watching football.  We'll see you guys next weekend."  If the response was "but I was planning on everyone going out to lunch tomorrow."  we'd respond with "oh, shoot, wish we'd known and then we wouldn't have committed to such a late night tonight."

But I will warn you that this approach of forcing them to give us advance notice did back fire some because after a few years, they'd never invite us to last minute things.  So if an uncle happened to come into town at the last minute we'd find out a month later that they all met for dinner. 

bah12

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2013, 01:32:28 PM »
"So tell me, eHell - any magical tips and tricks for dealing with this and getting them to understand that we are busy people, we cannot - and will not - drop plans to accommodate last minute requests?"


You have to tell them the bolded, then you have to follow through.  It's not magic.  It's the only way.  If you continue to "quietly fume" and change your plans to go to these events, then there is no reason for your IL's to change.  Until you stop accepting this behavior, they will not change.

I get that it's frustrating and hard, especially when dealing with your grandma.  I don't blame you for making an acception to see her on her birthday, but outside of that, there is no reason for you to continue to accept these last minute requests when you have other plans.  If the IL's complain, let them.  Be clear on how much notice (in general) you need and if you already have plans when you get the invite, then say so.  They'll get it eventually (and your cousins may also learn that they need to invite you to events directly vs. through your parents).

m2kbug

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2013, 01:46:58 PM »
The only thing I've really had to do is say no to the event.  Sorry, we cannot cancel our plans.  We didn't know.  You should have told us sooner.  I guess it depends entirely on how okay you are with missing certain events, but missing a few of these events might make it clear to the in-laws that without advanced notice, you can't go.  I'm assuming at this point you have already had numerous discussion about some warning which has fallen on deaf ears.  Really, what you are describing suggests to me, "Hey you're just really not all that important."  That's how I would feel, even if it weren't entirely true. 

I ran into this with my ex-husband's family.  Already our weekends are divided.  I plan things around my weekends and my family members have gone to great lengths to plan around the weekends my children will be home, plus I have to arrange around work.  Sometimes we have to trade.  I don't see how this family couldn't do the same.  It might be more difficult for them, I get it, and will try to accommodate best I can.  It started to get really bad, and I felt like I was forever having to cancel out what I had planned whether my kid weekend or my kid-free weekend to accommodate these people who seemingly couldn't stick to any type of planning at all.  After arranging to trade weekends, oops, we now need to go back to the original schedule.  I started saying no or not giving up my entire weekend if I had something going.  They became better planners.  Sometimes these things happen and you have to juggle around a little, but when this happens constantly, it starts to get really old.  Just say no, or drop in for a short visit and get back to what you wanted to do in the first place. 

Winter

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 01:54:24 PM »
DH and I went through this with his parents.  I realized that they hadn't had to do a lot of pre-planning prior.  MIL had a nuclear family and she set the social agenda for her and her DH, her older son living at home with limited social life, and a teenage daughter living at home.  My DH had been away at college for 6 years so hadn't really been a factor for a long time. She really had a hard time realizing that DH and I, being mid 20's professionals, had a pretty busy life between work, friends, activities, and my family in addition to his.

Here's some things that helped us out.
Grandma (MIL's mother) lived with DH's parents.  MIL's sister lived about an hour and a half away and the two of them might talk on Friday night and decide between Saturday or Sunday for a family dinner and then let us know mid-day Saturday that dinner was planned for Saturday because that's when her sister could make it into town.  We started striking early.  Two weeks before Grandma's bday, DH would call his mom and say "If your planning a dinner for Grandma's bday, HMM and I can come on this Saturday night prior to her bday or Sunday lunch after her bday. If neither date works, we'll come by on that Sunday and bring her a gift."  We found that his mom was now really good negotiating with her sister on planning a date to meet our schedule. 

Last minute holiday invites. New Years Day was always the big one for them.  They figured we'd be out NYE but might call at 11am NY Day and request we meet them for a late lunch.  So prior to any event we'd call and say "Just wanted to call and wish you a happy New Year before we head out.  We've got a big night planned so tomorrow we aren't doing anything but staying home and watching football.  We'll see you guys next weekend."  If the response was "but I was planning on everyone going out to lunch tomorrow."  we'd respond with "oh, shoot, wish we'd known and then we wouldn't have committed to such a late night tonight."

But I will warn you that this approach of forcing them to give us advance notice did back fire some because after a few years, they'd never invite us to last minute things.  So if an uncle happened to come into town at the last minute we'd find out a month later that they all met for dinner.

OP here - your situation sounds a lot like ours! DH's brothers both have young kids now, and they're more stay-at-home, whereas DH and I are both extremely busy careerwise, frequently travel, and have pretty busy social lives. Since the BIL's are almost always up for the last-minute gatherings, they assume we will be too.

Your warning is what I'm a bit afraid of. We're pretty firm about not attending smaller gatherings when we have other plans made or don't have reasonable notice (DH is chock full of spine), but it's the ones that are important to us (like his Grandma's birthday) that will likely still be last minute calls - saying 'yes' to those undermines the training program, but we don't want to miss the truly important gatherings either. Classic no-win :P

For the record, we didn't go to his family's on New Year's - DH returned their call the next day and pointed out to them that by 6pm on the 31st, we not only had plans, we were at those plans. (I think he's feeling guilty though - a close family member passed away over the holidays, and although she didn't say it I suspect that's why she wanted the kids over - which we could have arranged, if she'd asked. :P)



SPuck

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 01:58:26 PM »
So tell me, eHell - any magical tips and tricks for dealing with this and getting them to understand that we are busy people, we cannot - and will not - drop plans to accommodate last minute requests?

This is the only thing you can do. Stop accommodating for last minute requests. If it happens enough either they will change or they won't but at least you won't be left hanging. As for third party problems, time to contact your extended family that you want information directly from then, not your in laws. As for grandma, work with the aunt who can understand he for an alternative time. Don't get mad, just let it go, and if they ever try to guilt you, you have the right to repeat the same line above. 

Winter

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2013, 02:02:16 PM »
  Really, what you are describing suggests to me, "Hey you're just really not all that important."  That's how I would feel, even if it weren't entirely true. 


Glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Yup, this is kinda how we feel - although I think it's honest cluelessness on their part. It just doesn't occur to them that we have schedules and lives. If his mom gets us on the phone after trying a couple of times, she sounds perpetually surprised "You didn't pick up earlier!" Um, no, we were out, it happens sometimes. Honestly, 6pm on NYE and a surprised "Where are you?" call? *headdesk* Not only are our schedules expected to be wide open, we need to be psychic.  /endrant :)

BeagleMommy

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Re: Planning? That's for later
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 02:23:16 PM »
Winter, I think you would be fine to say, if you're asked why you're not at an event, to say "How could we come to an event we didn't know was happening?".  If it  continues you can simply say "We made plans already.  If we'd had 2 weeks/a month/whatever notice we could have made arrangements.".  True, you may miss some events, but they will hopefully realize that you're not trying to avoid them.

Are your IL's retired?  Sometimes retirees forget how difficult it is to arrange work schedules if they haven't had to do it for a while.