h Ask Rene:
Is My Mother Being Unreasonable..
Or My Wife? 

Hi Rene:

My wife and I have two daughters who are 18 months and three-years-old. Shelia and I don’t often need babysitting services because she is a stay at home mom. Every few weeks my mother will ask to have the girls overnight, which I think is great for us to get some alone time.

But here’s the rub; my mother doesn’t like domestic duties. She asks us to send everything the girls need, from air mattresses (she doesn’t have beds for them) to food (she doesn’t like to cook). She even asked my wife to send pancake batter once.

The last straw for my wife was when my mother sent the girls home without a bath because she didn’t feel like doing it. My wife is getting angry about this, because she says it’s not a break for her as she ends up doing all the same things she would have to do if the girls were here.

Shelia is demanding that I do something, but I have no idea what.


Caught In The Crossfire


Dear CIC:

While it may not feel like it now, this problem has a relatively easy solution. Well, easy for me as I’m on the outside, looking in. But the answers lie in good communication, ground rules and understanding. With that said, here’s what I would suggest you, and your wife, do.



Your mother wants to spend time with the kids so you have a window of opportunity the next time she asks. Tell her that you’re happy to let her watch them but they need, then fill in the blanks. Be detailed too; “Mom, the girls need a vegetable with each meal, they need their teeth brushed before bed, etc.” Should you have to be that explicit? Maybe. Maybe not. But why leave anything to chance?

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You don’t say how old your mother is but it sounds like it’s been a while since she’s had children living in her house. So she doesn’t have beds for the girls? Is sleeping on an air mattress every so often, such a bad thing? So she asks you to send pancake batter? Big deal. Your mother is not Shelia and she’s not going to do the things the way your wife would. Personally, a couple of smelly kids seems a small price to pay for an evening with your spouse, something I hope Shelia would see.

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Portrait of a happy young couple on a date having red wine and a meal together

This sentence worries me a tiny bit—> “Shelia and I don’t often need babysitting services because she is a stay at home mom.” Stay at home mothers may not work outside the home but trust me, they work. Hard too. Did you know, the average toddler asks 400 questions or more a day?! So instead of waiting for your mother to offer to take the girls, how about hiring a sitter for a couple of hours so that Shelia can have a break? Find someone who can watch them so your wife can get a manicure, a latte or just sit in her car alone in silence. It’s a small price to pay for the preservation of Shelia’s sanity.

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*********************************************************************************************************************************Those Those are a few suggestions but the biggest one is EASE UP! Accept your mother’s generous offer, pack a picnic basket and backpack and let your kids go enjoy their grandmother. Then you and the woman you married go have a good time and remember to have a hot bath waiting when your kids get home.

Good luck to you!

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