How old is your MIL? Is she vibrant or frail? Does she speak English? Why CAN'T she be left alone with your child?
She's in her 60s. It's not really an etiquette issue about why we're not asking her to babysit while she's here, so I don't want to give details. But, the bottom line is that she's not going to babysit right now.
She does speak English, but it's not very good. In fact, many times she speaks to me in her native language, which I don't understand at all. She also doesn't seem to understand me that well. I'm not sure if it's because I don't talk loud enough, or she just doesn't understand what I'm saying. So, actually I'm a little afraid of what's going to happen once DH goes back to work. I don't want her to misterpret something I've said and be upset by it. So far, any misinterpretations, of which there have been several, have been sorted out by DH right away.
Have either of you asked MIL what she would like to do during her stay? Is there anything special she'd like to do or see while she's with you? I'm in Australia and if I were visiting the USA there's so much I'd like to see and do, and you guys have the cheapest, prettiest quiltig fabrics around. I'd be wanting to hit the stores, too, but wouldn't necessarily want you to accompany me - just point me in the general direction and let me loose! So, maybe ask MIL what her plans are. You don't have to plan every minute of her stay with you. Some initiative has to come from DH and MIL, too.
I'll see if I can get DH to ask MIL what she wants to do. That's a good idea. I really hope the answer isn't "go everywhere with shygirl when she goes out".
I don't know what she likes to do. She came here for a visit many years ago, before we were married. I can't think of anything she really wanted to do, except for some shopping for things to take back home. And when we went to visit her in her country, she didn't join us for any outings. As far as I could tell, she stayed home or went to church. She did have a lot of visitors at her home though, because we were visiting, and DH's old friends would come to the house to see him.
Shygirl, I get the impression that you are stressed and tired, even without this visit from MIL.
What do you mean when you say you and DH work opposite shifts? Is it like, you work 9am-5pm, and he works 6pm-2am type thing? So you get up, go to work, come home, send hubby off to work, feed and bathe toddler and wrestle him into bed, do some chores around the house, go to bed exhausted and then get up and do it all over again the next day? Hubby is home during the day looking after toddler, works all evening, gets home in the wee hours of the morning, grabs a few hours sleep before he gets up and does it all over again? If so, I can understand your frustration and lack of enthusiasm for having a long term houseguest.
This is pretty much all true.
Do you have a friend who could watch your son for a few hours so you could go shopping/run errands alone once a week? Is there some reason why MIL can't watch your son while you do the groceries. or even take him to the park for a picnic lunch and play so you could have some quiet time on the weekend to get errands done or just relax for an hour or so?
We don't have a lot of babysitting options, and the options we do have we reserve for emergencies or work issues. Babysitting is not free either, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to use up our limited babysitting options so I can relax, when we do have true conflicts on occasion and need an emergency babysitter. But, none of this really an etiquette question, it's really more of a parenting decision we've made.