• March 19, 2018, 04:16:42 AM

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Author Topic: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4  (Read 14431 times)

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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2017, 12:50:31 AM »
It is certainly reasonable to ask your MIL to keep the place reasonably tidy, to stay out of the master bedroom, and to throw away diapers.  However, I'm not sure how likely they are to get what they want.

Is the MIL's home normally untidy and/or dirty? If so, this is likely just what she's like, and the chances of changing are small, and the couple are going to have to find other arrangements if they want it done differently.

If the MIL is normally relatively tidy, I can see two likely explanations. One is that the MIL isn't happy with the situation, and the mess comes from that. She may have thought she'd love babysitting, but realized that she's not happy with doing it every day, but feels she can't step down because of how it's needed. The other possibility is that she's enjoying it, but is not able to watch an active one year old and keep up with the mess, and is perhaps letting him do whatever he likes, because dealing with a toddler who is screaming because he wants something is exhausting.

If she's retired, she's likely over 65, so it may well be that she physically can't provide childcare up to the standards of a younger nanny, but would be fine as an occasional babysitter. My mom loves her grandkids dearly, but from the beginning has freely admitted that she wouldn't be able to provide regular babysitting.

If the MIL is fairly reasonable generally, I'd approach it from the perspective of "I know how hard it is to keep up with the kid, so this is how can make it easier."  For example - leave a prepared lunch and snacks in the fridge, so she doesn't have to make food, and minimal dishes are used. Put a baby gate on the stairs, and arrange things so she doesn't have to go up there at all (ie, the baby can nap downstairs). Pack away a lot of the extra toys and dishes so there aren't as many to make a mess with (if there is only one sippy cup, it has to be re-used).  Leave some approved videos so that the MIL can park the kid in front of the TV to get breathing space when needed.

Otherwise - I agree with PPs that half an hour of tidying a day is a really good deal for a free, full-time babysitter, although the dirty diaper and wipe thing needs to be addressed. Ultimately, though, it does come down to beggars can't be choosers - they can take what they are offered, or make their own arrangements.

The one thing the mother can do, though, is make sure the father shares the work. Clean up the immediate stuff, like dirty dishes and diapers, and leave the rest for him.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #46 on: March 19, 2017, 02:43:00 AM »
Is the MIL's home normally untidy and/or dirty? If so, this is likely just what she's like, and the chances of changing are small, and the couple are going to have to find other arrangements if they want it done differently.

This is something I'd really be interested in as well. Leaving dirty diapers and wipes out is such a red flag for me. It's such a health hazard and a pretty odd thing to do, so I would be questioning whether her state of mind is slightly declining and whether that would be reflected in the cleanliness of her home.

I have zilch childcare experience, but I'm not sure that someone who casually leaves faeces lying around is really capable of providing an appropriate level of care for a baby. Also the bedroom thing is weird. I'm going to assume they've tried leaving the door closed, so the grandmother lets the baby in for some purpose. Bouncing around on a bed does not strike me as a safe activity for a baby/toddler, assuming that's what's happening.

Providing MIL with prepared meals could help alleviate the mess in the kitchen. I also agree that asking her to keep the baby out of the bedroom is a reasonable request, unlikely to cause offense, but the diaper thing... That's not something you should have to ask, and I doubt it's going to go down well.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #47 on: March 19, 2017, 08:53:23 AM »
I am not a naturally tidy person. When I provide free childcare (never on a full-time basis, but I watch my niece and nephew a LOT and watch some other children sometimes), I don't clean dishes. With older kids I do try to get them to clean up their toys some, but wouldn't put a huge effort into it. I'd clean up spills on the floor, but wouldn't wash all the counters. When I used to get paid to babysit as a teenager, I did clean/tidy more (but I was also often told not to worry too much about it as the parents knew they weren't paying me a huge amount and preferred to do some cleaning of their own to losing a babysitter). If someone I'm providing free care for wanted a really clean house when they returned, I wouldn't be interested in providing free care at their house.  I'm pretty good about setting boundaries for what I am/am not willing to do when providing free care.  (E.g. I was happy to watch my cousin's child so he could work and his wife could go to a family event - I was not okay with him collecting her at 1 AM even though that's when he gets off work - I'm asleep. We came to other arrangements).

The diapers are disgusting. As I said, I'm not tidy but I would never in a million years do that. I could see it happening once (Grandma is changing Jr. and the doorbell rings - she hurries to answer and forgets she never through the diaper away). If this is truly happening daily, something needs to be done. I like the idea of more trash cans if they're all over the place. If she's always changing Jr. in one place and that's where all the diapers are, does she know how to use the diaper pail? If not, she obviously should have asked after Day 1, but some of the newer contraptions are confusing.

I also think setting some boundaries are a good idea. E.g. "Junior is not allowed in our bedroom. We'd appreciate your help in keeping him out." That helps reduce the mess without requiring Grandma to clean. As a free child care provider I would not be bothered by that at all (and it can easily be enforced by locks - "so no one has to worry about him sneaking in").

It's their house and the parents are entitled to ask for anything they want. Certainly their requests wouldn't be out of line with a paid nanny/babysitter.  But Grandma is also entitled to decide providing childcare no longer suits her. So if I were them, I'd think long and hard about what they can live with and what they can't. The diapers seriously gross me out and that would ultimately be a deal breaker for me, personally. I'd be willing to try a few things first (more pails, different pails, conversation) but that would eventually be too much for me. Most of the other stuff I could live with. Yes, daycare is cheaper than a nanny, but it's still not cheap. Having free childcare is a HUGE cost savings, even if they could afford childcare.  Would it be possible for them to use some of their savings to hire a cleaning person? Not everyday, which means they'd still need to address that, but if they're not having to do the deep cleaning, would the 30 minutes of tidying bother them? Because that's really not very much. As a single person with no kids, I could easily have at least 10 minutes of tidying at the end of every day (not that I always do it ...). 30 minutes for a toddler sounds pretty good compared to what I hear a lot of parents with kids complain about.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2017, 11:40:00 AM »
The dirty diapers sitting out and grandma going into the master bedroom are the only two thins that I think they should bring up and/or change.  Talk to her about the diapers, and lock the bedroom door.  The rest of it?  Sorry but I do think that's just what they are going to have to accept if they want THIS person to take care of their child for free.  There's a reason childcare is expensive.  It's a LOT of work to both watch a toddler and clean up after him/her at the same time.  Heck, when I had toddlers, my house was never anything I could have called "spotless".  Some people are fully capable of doing both, and hats off to them.  But really I am having trouble imagining how the mess could simultaneously be described as absolutely awful and also able to be picked up in 30 minutes.  I spend more time than that daily picking up my house, and I don't have a toddler.  It just doesn't seem like that big of a deal in exchange for free childcare.  Of course, if it's  big deal to the parents, they are within their rights to find and pay for someone more clean.  But in terms of tradeoffs, I think they are still getting a pretty good deal here.  (Again, other than the diapers, they need to speak up about that).

rose red

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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #49 on: March 19, 2017, 11:52:09 AM »
My biggest issues would be the dirty diapers and tacking in mud. I would make it a rule that diapers must be tossed in to the garbage and no shoes in the house. Those are not unreasonable requests and if MIL refuses, there's something else going on.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #50 on: March 19, 2017, 12:14:29 PM »
Could MIL be trying to get herself fired?


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #51 on: March 19, 2017, 03:07:41 PM »
On the diaper thing:  I agree that it's absolutely disgusting, and needs to be addressed.  But I do want to mention that I know a couple that regularly had dirty diapers lying around, and it was not a sign of their minds going or passive-aggressiveness.  They would just change the child wherever he happened to be, put the wipes in the diaper and wrap it closed with the adhesive tabs, set the diaper down with every intention of throwing it away later, and then completely forget about it.  I guess maybe sometimes they remembered, but there were definitely some that were forgotten until either they vacuumed or the dog discovered it.  Again, not arguing that it's okay, and they should definitely address it with Grandma, but I just wanted to mention that it's not automatically a sign of a larger issue.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #52 on: March 20, 2017, 01:47:04 PM »
I think this could be an easy conversation if they put a spin on it. Act like this is related to Junior's new life phase as toddler, not a criticism of past behavior. MIL's son could say "Mom, we are really trying to train Junior now, while he's little. Now that he's a toddler, can you help him clean up his toys whenever he gets done in an area and really get him involved as much as possible? You did such a good job of teaching me that lesson, and I want the same for Junior." Yes, also make the master bedroom off limits and pre-prepare meals and snacks. For that matter, if they have a good relationship, he might even say "I know watching Junior is a handful, and we are so appreciative. Is there anything we can do to make the day go easier?" It could be that a new set of storage tubs for toys or a clearly marked area in the garage for outdoor toys would simplify the cleanup process so it can be completed more effectively by an older woman chasing a toddler! And if grandma is involved in the planning phase, she will have more buy-in going forward.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"?
« Reply #53 on: March 20, 2017, 03:02:31 PM »
**** OP HERE! ****

Hi everyone! THANK YOU for all the responses! You have all brought up excellent points and ideas that neither me nor Sally even thought of when we first discussed this.

A few responses to common questions -

Ironically MIL is actually very neat and tidy. Not over the top, but definitely clean. I've been to her house a couple times to use the pool, and also take care of her dog when she had to fly out for a family emergency. The house was pretty clean both times and both times she didn't have time to "prepare for guests". I think that's partially why Sally and John were so frustrated at all of this - they didn't see it coming.

No one has ever worried about the son being in MIL's care but I did let Sally know it was brought up several times.

Sally said she thinks that MIL just lets son do whatever the heck he pleases. She seems to love taking care of him and son LOVES her, probably because she lets him do whatever he wants! Any kid would love that.

Via text Sally told me that John was going to talk to MIL and basically say that they are trying to set good examples for son and that they won't be allowing him to have food anywhere except at the kitchen table/high chair (and bottles at certain times on the couch). He's also going to ask MIL to stay on the first floor of the house. She said he's telling her "we want the upstairs to be everyone's sanctuary so we are keeping it as clean as possible". He's also going to say "no more going into the office on the first floor". They are going to "start with that" and then down the road start pushing the "clean up after yourself" habits with son, and ask MIL to enforce that. They would be teaching those habits anyway so are hoping it helps. I think by asking for those few things the mess will be confined to the living room, dining room, kitchen, and den.

I didn't get the impression Sally and John were going to directly say "stop leaving our house a disaster" because they ARE thankful for free child care and would rather, at the end of the day, have a messy house than have to pay for day care.

Sally and John definitely are not neat freaks but I've seen photos from Sally of the house at the end of the day and it really it THAT bad.

Also John is currently on the hunt for a new job. So hopefully that works out for him and they can get a nanny again down the road. I think they had a super Nanny for that first year that is a hard act to follow. Sally used to say she'd 'take a bullet for that woman'.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 03:05:32 PM by PennyandPleased »

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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4
« Reply #54 on: March 20, 2017, 03:51:30 PM »
I hope that works!


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4
« Reply #55 on: March 20, 2017, 05:45:50 PM »
Sounds like a good plan!


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4
« Reply #56 on: March 20, 2017, 08:52:01 PM »
Also re: diapers I would say something like "What can we do to make it easier to throw diapers away? Would a diaper pail/diaper gene/bags in there be the most convenient?"

Like you are trying to make things easier for MIL.

"Would it be helpful for us to get you some slippers to wear so you can take your shoes off when it is muddy?"


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4
« Reply #57 on: March 20, 2017, 10:35:17 PM »
Sounds like they're on the road to a good plan.  Hope all goes well.


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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4
« Reply #58 on: March 21, 2017, 08:19:22 AM »
Sounds good!

First thought that came to my mind:
1) the grandma feels like she's sort of getting paid with not having to worry about cleaning up and
2) she's like my grandma: whatever the child wants, the child gets, and that's the main focus which results in food in weird places and no time for cleaning. (My grandma prided herself with my child never having a tantrum with her, unlike with me or my mother. Why would the child throw a tantrum if they always got what they wanted even without one?)

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Re: A case of "beggers can't be choosers"? Response P.4
« Reply #59 on: March 21, 2017, 01:15:11 PM »
Hope it goes well.

My worry would be that the child is not having any clean/tidy behaviours modelled for him during the day, so he's likely to think making a mess and leaving it is 'proper'/acceptable practice.  I remember a discussion where I once worked: half the ladies thought "Judy" was a real meanie expecting her child to clear up his own mess, and the other half thought it was wonderful that Judy's 18-month-old had his own dustpan and brush and would get them out and use them if he had need to utter the phrase "oops, I dropped some crumbs".  I was undecided, but am pretty sure that lad would never be asked to leave a house-share for being a slob when he grew up! ;D
"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."  - Julian of Norwich