About a month ago, I had a major blow-out with my MIL. At that point, DH and I decided to discontinue the longstanding babysitting schedule (2 afternoons/week plus 1 overnight/week) until/unless the underlying issues could be resolved.
We have discovered since then that there are many upsides to this otherwise ugly situation.
- I don’t need to schedule around the babysitting schedule, therefore, I have a lot more freedom when it comes to scheduling activities, appointments, and so on.
- I don’t have to see MIL 3 times per week , which has ratcheted down my stress level several notches. More often than not, after she would stop by to pick up Kid_1, I would feel aggravated or stressed from something she had said or done.
- Related to the above point — we don’t need to explain or justify our parenting decisions to her on a regular basis. Case in point — Last week I decided to become very regimented with Kid_1’s nap schedule (inspired by a recent column from John Rosemond), AND I didn’t need to go through the hassle and stress of explaining it to her, AND Kid_1 has been napping very well lately, partly due to him being home every afternoon to nap.
- Related to Point 2 – Certain discipline strategies (such as John Rosemond’s ticket system) are more effective when we don’t need to take into account the “Oh yeah, Adam is going to Grandma’s this afternoon, now what?” factor.
- We have more time together as a family, because DH doesn’t have to pick up Kid_2 after work from MIL’s place 2 times per week. Any mom or dad knows that getting home at, say, 4:30 is a lot different from getting home at 5:00 or later.
- I don’t have to deal with Kid_1’s “re-entry phase” after he gets home from Grandma’s house 3 times per week.
- Since MIL lives in town, we have done a lot of holidays and activities together in the past (which has had its pluses, to be sure). But now that we don’t have the option to pick up the phone and invite her over for things like the 4th of July, our family time feels more like family time. We are more relaxed, more spontaneous, and don’t need to worry about what “someone else” will think of our decisions.
Of course, there have been plenty of downsides to this conflict with my MIL, and we certainly don’t want her out of our lives completely. To that end, DH has met with a family therapist to see if we can resolve the ongoing issues that are between us (this process is still in its early stages).
MIL still sees Kid_1 and Kid_2 about once per week, because it is not our intent to “keep her” from seeing the boys. But we are very pleased with our deicision to pull the plug on the former babysitting schedule, not because we want to be mean to her or get back at her. We just have to do what’s best for our family, no matter how angry she becomes as a result.