Relationship Matters

When Grandma Comes To Stay (And All The Rules Go Out The Window)

I don’t know about in your house but in ours my husband and I have now established some very set ground rules when it comes to our two little girls. They are aged 4 and 2 and at this stage we know all too well what (a) will set them off, (b) make them giddy and hyperactive, and if they get too much of it will (c) make them act out and answer back. For them such things include:

1. watching too many cartoons

2. the use of our phones to again watch cartoons and videos on YouTube

3. being bought too many treats like magazines or toys

4. eating too many sweets, ice-cream, chocolate etc.

So because we know that receiving an over-abundance of any of these things will undoubtedly lead to a big change in their behaviour, all of them are given out in strict moderation. Except for our phones, they are NEVER EVER allowed our mobiles –that one is a big ‘no no’. And to be fair the little ducks understand this so most of the time they don’t even ask. They know that they get treats on Fridays and Saturdays so they are generally happy to wait. Until Grandma (and certain aunties) come to visit and then all rules go out the window. And I’m not just talking about the children here. Believe me if it was only the children that we had to contend with it would be a bit of a doddle. No it’s the adults that cause the problems.

I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about here right? Have you ever tried explaining (and yes it is very awkward) to your mother or worse your mother-in-law that “we don’t let the girls watch cartoons or videos on our phones, if they want they can watch them on the tv instead” ? Oh yes, that’s a fun conversation. You are trying so hard to phrase it in a way that won’t cause too much offence but at the same time get your point across that this is important and you would like to be taken seriously.

In my case my own mother is actually pretty co-operative with our rules so we don’t have too much hassle. But mama-in-law? Forget it. We have tried countless times to explain to her that we don’t like them having mobile phones – well, when I say we it is mostly my husband doing the talking (it always sounds better coming from him), but he may as well be speaking Japanese to her (she doesn’t speak Japanese by the way). The thing is she will stand there listening and nodding her head as if she is paying full attention to us but ten minutes later you will find her sitting in the living room with the two ducklings, their heads stuck in her phone watching Baby Shark. It is hopeless….

I have often wondered though, why? Why indulge them with their every want and desire whenever you see them? And so excessively? I have come up with two theories so far:

1. It is easy. It requires very little effort. Whipping your phone out to let them watch Peppa Pig until their eyes are bloodshot is much easier than having to sit on the floor and play with them or worse run around after them. Believe me I understand that this requires a lot of energy. 

2. You are guaranteed that they will like you. In fact love you, adore you, especially if you give them everything they want whenever they ask  for it.

However I do often think to myself (and I would love to explain this to both of them), that they don’t have to do this all the time. They don’t always have to arrive arms laden with sticker books, jigsaws and Peppa Pig magazines. The little ducklings will love you regardless, I promise. They love us and we never let them have anything! But it can be a delicate subject and we don’t want to cause too much offence. Because it seems to be a grandparent’s prerogative to ignore the parents and spoil the grandchildren.  Maybe that’s  just the way it’s supposed to be….

Musings Of A Tired Mummy
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  • Laurie

    I have to admit, I am THAT grandma. However, in my defense, when I visit my 3-year-old grandson who lives far away, we are not watching Peppa videos, we are watching my own videos of his cousins who live 2000 miles away and whom he rarely sees. 🙂

  • Michele Morin

    Great thoughts here, and we actually live quite close to our grandchildren, so we try to follow the rules set by their parents–especially our daughter in law! We want access to these kids, and we want our presence to be a help rather than a hindrance to our own kids’ parenting!

  • Enda Sheppard

    A bugbear of mine too … I remember with our oldest, a girl, being all first time parent anti sugar and all that and watching in horror as my father-in-law, supposedly knowing this, doling out a huge dollop of ice cream to her, at the table right beside me! #GlobalBlogging

  • Emma

    We’re very lucky that my mum (Nana) tends to follow our lead but then she sees my boys more often. When it’s time for Grandma to visit it’s a different story, she lives a distance away so will stay for a few nights. I go to bed with aching jaws from fake smiling through when stuff starts to grate. But at the end of the day, it’s only once in a while and she loves my boys and them her so I will continue to (fake) smile and pick my battles! #globalblogging

    • admin

      I’m totally with you on the fake smiling – I do a lot of that myself sometimes. Inside I am getting extremely agitated at times because I can see the girls getting more and more giddy the more stimulation they are given but like you I try to remind myself that it isn’t all of the time and to be honest they do slot back into good behaviour pretty soon after Grandma leaves. So not all bad!

  • Helen Copson

    I’m pretty lucky when it comes to this – my parents are local and help me out massively with my 18 month old twins and 3 year old. They are the ones down on the floor (despite being in their 70s) playing with them all, reading to them, taking them anywhere and everywhere, being ordered to line up dinosaurs across the floor. They don’t let them touch their phones and the TV is never on. They don’t bring them gifts or spoil them – but they spend HOURS and HOURS with them and have the best relationship ever. I love it and so do they. Swap to the father in law who lives three hours away and only sees them four or five times a year – he doesn’t get down on the floor or play, but comes laden with gifts. I know which one I prefer!

    • admin

      To be honest I don’t think either of our mothers have the energy for little kids anymore so I know they often resort to what is easiest and requires the least amount of energy. Which I completely understand but when I see the mobile phones coming out I do get annoyed I have to admit. But you have to be very careful what you say as to not cause too much offence…you are very very lucky with your parents. They sound like complete gems!!

  • Kate - The Mum Conundrum

    Oh God, my Mum is probably more strict than I am about these things (In fact, my issues with grandparents are more of the raised eyebrows and pointed comments variety – as I’m probably a bit too slack with this stuff!) Still, managing a unilateral set of rules in terms for your kids across the wider family is always going to be a bit of a minefield isn’t it – we have to be VERY diplomatic ;0)

    Thanks for linking up with #ItsOK lovely xxx

    • admin

      Oh severe diplomacy and so much tongue biting you can feel yourself getting blisters! The things you do to keep the peace….

  • Josie

    Food is the problem we have. My in laws are great but my own mother is a nightmare. On more than one occasion she has let them eat so much they have been sick when they are back home. It’s like she is incapable of saying no to them. I’ve no idea where this woman was when I was a child, for me it was always “If you’re hungry, have an apple!”

    • admin

      I know! My mother was so strict with us too when we were kids but every time she has my daughters she is taking them for ice-cream with the works – sprinkles, syrup and a flake. I don’t think she ever bought me one of those as a child!!It is a totally attitude when it comes to the grand kids!

  • Rachel - Kids, Cuddles and Muddy Puddles

    Oh it is a tricky one! I try to explain that kids want to be spoilt by love and time, not things! Ours are pretty good and generally ask us before offering sweets and biscuits, etc. Unless they’re staying with their grandparents, then… who knows what goes on?! #ItsOK

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