living with the in-laws

Elyssa - posted on 07/30/2009 ( 27 moms have responded )

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I'm a stay at home mom of a beautiful 15 month old boy, we were recently kicked out of our apartment and forced to move in with my in-laws. My in laws are clean freaks. My father in law was in the army for 20+ years. My mother in law is a little bit OCD. My son is at the stage where he wants to get into everything, it's what he's supposed to do! Its a toddlers job! They don't really want him touching anything. They baby proofed the important things like under the sink (with the chemicals), but won't put locks on the drawers, so naturally he likes pulling everything out. Nothing in the drawers is breakable or would harm him in any way (its tupperware lids, and mixing cups, and metal and plastic bowls etc) They get so upset with him when he's just "doing his job" as a toddler. They have so many rules and things he's not allowed to touch, he's becoming miserable and bored, so he's starting to act out a little bit. I would take him outside, but they have some massive sticker plants on their land, and I'm really worried about him falling down a window well in the 2 seconds I might not be looking. I'm so tired of telling my son no, when I wish I could be telling him "yes, it's okay to get into things and make messes!" I don't have a vehicle to use on a daily basis, my husband takes it to work, so I can't take him to the library or park or anywhere really because we live in the middle of nowhere. My question is, how can I comply with my in-laws wishes, but still keep my son happy?

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Jennifer - posted on 08/01/2009

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hi elyssa, when my kids were younger i had one drawer that was all their stuff. i put in some plastic bowls and kitchen spoons and stuff and that was their drawer so while i was cooking they could play and i knew they were safe fron sharp things and having their own drawer they knew what they could and couldnt play with even at a year old. try taling to your in laws and see if they'll meet you half way or even a quarter by giving your cutie pie a drawer of his own with his own things. best of luck.

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Melissa - posted on 08/09/2009

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its hard, i lived with my in-laws for one year, and there is conflicts, i just tryed to say out of everyones way, keeping my focus on my son and keep him happy. I would say you can try taking him on a walk in the stroller, keep him a little happy with that at least with the in-laws, maybe you should tell your husband how you feel about this whole thing and see if he thinks that it is worth bringing up to them.

LISA - posted on 08/03/2009

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WELL, i no longer live with her. So im good...this was 8yrs ago. My girls are happy aswell. The only thing that really bothers them is that why there dad dont come to pick them up or even call to see them. Its hard..He doesnt want to grow up. He still goes out there and party like hes 21 and he chooses his friends over our kids. i just dont understand. I left him after i had my last baby and that was 7 yrs ago so i think im better off..I have a bf an weve been 2gether for about 1yr an 4mons so he is the father figure for my kids an he also has 4 kids...he has custody of his kids. Our kids get along very well...i have 3 girls an 1 boy an he has 3 boys an 1 girl....He is a wonderful man who takes care of his own an mine. Now how many men out there do that...

Mercedes - posted on 08/03/2009

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I don't live with my inlaws but I do understand. My mother-in-law is OCD and my father-in-law is ex military as well. Not only that but he is hispanic with old school views. There are many times I have had to put both in their places. For example, once my MIL was feeding my son applesauce when he was 18m old. He hit her hand and apple sauce landed on her lap. She then yelled at him about not doing that. He started crying and I told her that he is just a baby and can not tell you when he is full. And that he will get messy and to get used to it. My FIL gets upset because my son is going thru the stage and screams to get something. I had my words with him too. Mind you I live in fear of my in laws (sometimes), but I have become strong because of the fire department. Even though you are having another baby you should volunteer somewhere. Talk to other people and moms, who would understand. And as for your inlaws just tell them what I told mine. "You need to be careful how you treat your grandson, because he is going to get older and when he gets to the age that he understands. Two things are going to happen, one he is going to hate you both for treating him in that way, and two he will hate seeing you both." Don't get me wrong I do love my inlaws , they buy things for my sons and love them both. But I feel that they are trying to relive their parenting days and trying to treat them like they treated their boys. You may live with them that is true and it is their home but your husband needs to set them both straight. You are a brave and sweet woman, you are not alone know that GOD loves you and your husband loves you.

Angie - posted on 08/03/2009

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This is a tough situation for you and your family (in-laws included). However, to be a downer, this is their home and they can make the rules as they'd like. Perhaps getting a job at a daycare like, Emily suggested will be helpful in getting together the money you need to get out on your own and out of your in-laws home.

EmilyBeth - posted on 08/02/2009

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Get a job at a childcare facility. This allows him to be himself as well as learn from others. You get out of the house and get to met other people--if you are lucky you can get his care discounted or even free thus providing more income for you and hubby to get your own place. I did this with my first child and it was awesome. I would even go spend any breaks with him and see his interaction with other babies/kids his age. You will be happier too--as long as you like kids.

Susan - posted on 08/02/2009

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I would be your in-law if I could. LOL I would suggest asking your mother-in-law to help you with your boy. Ask her what he could play with. We put child locks on the doors in the kitchen that we did not want our grandbaby to get into. My daughter has started teaching my grandson (and he is just now - this next week - turning 2) to put things away if he takes them out. He has to have toys and your in-laws need to see this.

Jeannette - posted on 08/01/2009

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wow!! I can feel your frustration... it's very difficult when you don't have your own space; however more families are suffering because of the economy and are relying on family members to lend a hand. I understand your situation; because I was there myself not too long ago... I can only offer you my suggestion of talking it over with your hobby as best as you can without arguing... and asking him if it would be alright to drop him off at least two times a week... so you can take your son some where he won't feel so restrained.. if that doesn't work out.... be open with your mom in law and ask to remodel a small space... closet or room where your little one may be able to explore... don't be ashamed of showing how u feel... they might not even know... how hard this must be 4 u... Keep the good faith and if u r a believer... pray before u open up.

LISA - posted on 08/01/2009

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I use to live my girls dads mom, and it wasnt easy. It was kind of hard to raise my girls how i wanted to, his mother always had to say something.Well anything that i was doing or making or washing wasnt rite.It was really hard for to raise my kids how i wanted.Its very hard..

Myra - posted on 08/01/2009

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I live with my mother inlaw since my daugther is 3 Theres a lot of limitation of what to do and what not.Pretty much I just tend to be quiet since its her house and benefits us to stay there .I just try to explain nicely to my daugther things that she should not get into and I always clean up after her mess.

Genevieve - posted on 08/01/2009

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My husband and I have an agreement. When it comes to issues with his family, he will take the initiative to speak with them about it and if the issue is with my family I will take the lead on it. We live with my mother and have a 9 1/2 month old baby girl. My mom sometimes irritates my husband but that is to be expected when you are living with family. I approach my mother in a non-threatening way when problems arise. Have you asked your husband if he would take the lead on this? It would help take the pressure off you a little while not running the risk of tainting your relationship with your in-laws. I believe that your toddler should have certain areas where he is allowed to play and make a mess so long as he he supervised and you clean up after him. For example, letting him have a certain cabinet in the kitchen that has things that are harmless for him to play with (tupperware, wooden spoon, etc) so that his curiosity for the area can be satisfied without him getting into other areas. Children do need to learn that certain things/areas are not for playing with but they do need to be offered alternative areas where they can explore. I think the key is starting a dialogue with the in-laws who I am sure love their grandchild and want him to enjoy their home. I know it is hard to live with parents, whether they are yours or your husband's, but that is what families are supposed to do when times are tough. Each person is going to have to give a little in this situation. I really hope this helps and if not at least know that you are not alone in your situation. Best of luck to you and your little one!

Anita - posted on 08/01/2009

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aww thats aweful...at the age ur son is at he is curious and its a time of learning and exploring...have u tryied maybe asking if ur inlaws can clear out one of the bottom draws and one of the cupboard for ur lil man to get and play with whater they can afford to put in there...say a couple of spare plastic containers, mixing spoon, plastic cups and plats etc...at least u can start teaching bubs thats its ok to play with whats in that particular draws or cupboard...

also if the inlaws place is a big enough or they have a spare room can u ask if that could be a designated playroom or area for ur little man and try to keep the mess in the one area?...

[deleted account]

I HAVE BEEN THERE!!

Wow, I was totally living that life last year, except I had TWO toddlers and I was pregnant, my hubby worked out of state, I had no car, and my MIL lived in the middle of nowhere. It was NOT FUN! She also liked her house just so, and I was so tired doing nothing but keeping my kids out of her stuff! I got to where a lot of days I would just sit on the deck with the kids, or over to the creek, and they could play. Toward the end it got pretty bad, and I kept them in our guest bedrooms so they wouldn't be in the rest of the house unless necessary.

Do you have a stroller, are you somewhere you could just go walking? I would have killed for a way to get out of the house! They lived in the mountains and sometimes we would walk up the trail, even though there were bears around, or ride the 4-wheeler (picture that: a 2 yr old, 1 yr old, and me at 6 mo pregnant) Can you get out of the house some evenings when your husband is off work? Even Walmart can be a fun distraction.

Also, Tamra has a good idea...drop off hubby and have the car. It won't make a difference on your gas budget. If you have to stay in town all day, then do it! Find parks and libraries, drive at naptime if you have to to put him to sleep, meet your hubby for lunch, that sort of thing. I know how trapped you can feel and maybe just do this a few days a week.

Unfortunately since you are in someone else's home, they get to make the rules. Hang in there! I know how you feel, and there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Good luck!

Sarah - posted on 07/31/2009

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We lived with my in laws for 9 months and we have 4 kids so I can totally relate. I would suggest to just hang in there. When he makes a mess just clean it up before they get there. When they are home put up a gate so he can't get into the kitchen. It's sort of deceitful but you have to survive somehow. Hang in there! It will all work out.

Jane - posted on 07/31/2009

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suggest that twice a day that he can explore and you can put things back after he has some playtime. he really needs it at this age. maybe they can let you borrow their car or they can drive you to a YMCA for a class or someplace that has a playgroup. call your local WIC office and see what they have for playgroups in the area.

Kelly - posted on 07/31/2009

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I don't mean anything disrespectful to any veterans (WE LOVE OUR TROOPS!), but I have heard from many people how being in the military all those years can change a person and yeah, kinda make them a little strange. So I can sypmathize with your situation. I think I would talk to your mother in law, or have your husband help you talk to her, and just explain that he has to be able to play, and maybe set up an area somewhere in the house that he can be free to do that. Of course in the heat of summer and early in your pregnancy it is too much for the two of you to go outside for long periods of time. I'm wondering too, if you all are going to be living there when the new baby is born, how difficult will that be? In this economy, more and more families are going through this kind of situation. I really hope things get better for you soon!

Alicia - posted on 07/31/2009

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It seems that you have no choice but to talk with your in-laws. I know it is hard and it is so much easier for me to say than for you to do. Offer to do things that will cause minimal damage to their house (pressure fitted gates, the type of cabinet locks that just attach to handles and are not screwed in). Maybe you could get one room totally kid-proof, even if it is a bedroom. Just someplace he can be free, be put when you need to go to the bathroom, etc. You might also get one of the "super yards" which is a big gate-like thing that you could out him in to play inside or outside. Less confining than a pack n play or playpen, folds up when not in use.
I have a car and no in-laws and some days I don't know what to do with my 15month old who also puts everything in his mouth, so I feel really badly for you. I wish I had a good answer. I think you have to pick a few things that would really help make it better and then discuss it with them.
And here are some things I do to help pass the long day:
I often use the bathtub as a pool--its not out in the heat, it is fun for my son, kills some time, and I just get to sit and watch.
A water table (from the toy store) that he can stand at and splash outside or in a garage.
Make an "obstacle courses" out of pillows and boxes for him to crawl/walk over, in, around.
Put on some music and dance and sing (which might be tough while pregnant)
I give him all the recyclables (cereal boxes, yogurt containers, anything safe) to play with. The novelty usually captures his attention for a while. He does end up chewing most things, eventually.
A short little TV show for kids (if you are not opposed to that) can give you both some down time.
And don't be afraid to seek out and reach out to other moms, even if your kids are not the same ages. really, companionship and having somewhere to go is the thing that keeps me going! If you go attend a local church you might be able to find some people there or if there is a park around, go to it as often as you can and see who you can meet.
Hang in there. Remember your in-laws are probably not making all the rules to drive you crazy but because they just can't relate anymore to what you are going through. That is why honesty is your best chance at sanity while you have to be there.

Elyssa - posted on 07/30/2009

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These are all great ideas, but keep in mind my son is only 15 months old, he's really not old enough to do board games or color even. Everything still goes into his mouth! I bought him a little inflateable pool, but the cats popped it, so that doesn't work well. I would take my son for walks, but I'm 4 months pregnant and it's on average 103 outside. It's just a little too warm for my comfort. Plus, there's not much out here but a gas station a couple miles away. I do on occasion drop my husband off at work so I can do the shopping and doctors appointments and other errands, but I stay in town all day then go pick him up after work so we don't waste gas. Those aren't the days I'm worried about, it's every other day. I really wish my son wouldn't suffer anymore. It really breaks my heart!

[deleted account]

I would drive my husband to work just so I could have the car. Then you and your son could go about town and have some fun. Is there a park or some other place nearby that you could walk to? I would also try picking one room in the house to stay in and maybe put a baby gate up. Put your son's toys in that room and stay there to play. Hang in there.

Tiffany - posted on 07/30/2009

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I understand, my parents are simular. Try to talk to them about making a place (drawer, cabinet, or just a small area) in each room that he IS allowed to touch or get into. And teach him to put things away when done, that's what I did. My daughter liked putting things away just as much as getting them out, it became a game. That way not everything is no. And try letting him help you do some things, laundry or dishes. Also take him on walks during the day and when your husband is home try to go out and do things together. My parents have loosened up a bit, hope your do too.

Laurie - posted on 07/30/2009

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That is a real tough situation. Is there anywhere you could go on walks to? Maybe a local park or even a field that he could wonder around in and push some toy trucks around? I think maybe you should talk to your in-laws about setting a specific drawer in the kitchen just for him. So when he starts to get into things you could point him to the drawer that has some of his toys. That way he can still open and close the drawer and will find fun things to interact with.

Brittney - posted on 07/30/2009

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Im not really familiar with this situation for me its the other way around my mom and sibs are living with us so my daughter can do what she wants but maybe some suggestions would be since its warm right now...maybe get a lil pool for him to splash around in and u can sit outside and play with him in the water. Maybe go to ur room and put in a sing a long dvd and sing and dance with him. Get some bubbles and show him how to do that. Some coloring books and crayons..even take him out in the backyard away from those plants and have a lil picnic or even do a lil one in ur room and set it up in a way he would love. Roll a ball back and forth to each other. Hope this helps some =]

Tamra - posted on 07/30/2009

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I was in an identical situation all the way down to the career millitary father-in-law and one car. I took my girls for walks just to get out. When we weren't on walks we would play board games in our room or as soon as my husband would get home we would take off in the car just to get out. Maybe you can make some local friends that would be willing to give you a lift. It isn't a fun position to be in. When I read your posting it was just about identical to our past situation.

Nicole - posted on 07/30/2009

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We live with my fiance's grandmother so I know how you feel. We just moved to NC from GA and I have no idea where anything is. My son is 9 months and I've always been one of those to just sit around the house. I don't really go places because I get lost easily and I don't believe in wasting the gas. But I think she assumes that I just sit around and do nothing all day, when in fact, I'm washing clothes everyday, feeding and it's just tiring.

Nicole - posted on 07/30/2009

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We live with my fiance's grandmother so I know how you feel. We just moved to NC from GA and I have no idea where anything is. My son is 9 months and I've always been one of those to just sit around the house. I don't really go places because I get lost easily and I don't believe in wasting the gas. But I think she assumes that I just sit around and do nothing all day, when in fact, I'm washing clothes everyday, feeding and it's just tiring.

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