Does my mother try to do too much for me?


I’m not sure if I’m making mountains out of molehills here, and if you think so, please tell me. Baby #4 is due for us any day now. I live close to my parents and they are a great help for me in watching our kids about one afternoon every two weeks (usually my mom). They are devoted Catholics and I love them dearly. However. My mother is a very organized housekeeper and I… I am not. I am much more laid-back in most matters than she is, and it is driving her BATTY that I do not have one shred of the nesting instinct within me. Since this is my fourth baby, and my kids are fairly close in age, much of the baby “stuff” is still out. I have gotten the newborn clothes out of storage, have the basinette ready, and have purchased some newborn diapers. Other than that, I haven’t done much. The “nursery” isn’t ready because I know the baby will be in our bedroom for the first year anyway. I haven’t scrubbed the house from top to bottom because - I don’t know. I haven’t had time, it’s clean enough, and it doesn’t matter that much to me. I haven’t packed a hospital bag because- again, I don’t know. I never do. I just throw a toothbrush, change of clothes, and hairbrush in a bag when I go into labor. The hospital is close enough that DH can drive home to fetch anything that I decide I need the next day anyway.

All of this, I can tell, drives her nuts. She will be staying at our house for 2 nights while DH and I are in the hospital, and I know (from past experience) that she will try to do all of those things that she thinks I should have been doing- tidying the house, organizing onesies, ironing shirts that our family doesn’t think need to be ironed, pruning the bushes (really). I shouldn’t be ungrateful, but I really don’t want her to do these things. When she “tidies”, it essentially means rearranging things such that DH and I can’t find them or they are put in places where we don’t want them, and have to move them again. The other issue is that she sometimes gets so focused on the act of cleaning that she puts it ahead of taking care of the children. I’m not worried about their physical endangerment or anything—it’s not like she’s letting them play in the street—but the fact that she will set them in front of the TV for an hour or two so she can iron shirts that I don’t usually iron because SHE thinks they need to be ironed instead of interacting with the kids.

I know that what she wants most in her heart is simply to be helpful to me, and this is how she thinks she is best being helpful. I have told her, calmly, that the most helpful thing she can do for me is to simply watch the kids, be attentive to them, play with them, read them stories, etc. I have asked her specifically not to iron/do yardwork/etc. and I feel her response is to treat me as her 12-year-old child again: she rolls her eyes, tells me I’m being “stubborn” and proceeds to do those things anyway. It’s like a power struggle: as if her “helpfulness” is a means of control, of telling me she knows how to run my household better than DH and I.

How can I speak to her charitably about this (it’s not just the two days I’ll be in the hospital, it’s the semi-monthly babysitting)? Or should I just let it go and offer it up? Or am I the crazy one here?!



Have you spoken to your husband about it? What does he think? This would be my starting place.


Yes, my husband and I have talked about this extensively and we are definitely on the same page. In fact, since he does most of the laundry at home, he has specifically (but kindly) talked to her in the past about leaving that area alone. He has a system set up to do the wash and doesn’t like it messed with! It doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference.

Since she is my mother, though, I feel it’s up to me to handle this with her, if we’re going to bring it up at all. I’m just afraid she will get offended and think we’re telling her she’s not good enough or something.


What a blessing! *
You do not know with certainty how you will physically feel on your return home from the hospital, and to have some of your chores already taken care of for you, could
prove very helpful** indeed!*
I would thank my mom, give her a huge hug for her thoughtfulness, and also see to it that a had a huge bunch of flowers for her:flowers:.


As frustrating as it is, I would suggest you just let it go. If you push too hard, you may upset her and damage the relationship, which I can tell you don’t want.

If I were you, I might try this: thank her every time she tidies and such around your house. When you later can’t find something, call her and ask where she put it (even if you did find it). Perhaps over time she will understand that where SHE thinks something belongs may not be where it goes in your house. As for cleaning instead of playing with the kids . . . it depends on your mom’s personality if you’ll ever make progress there. If she enjoys little ones, you might be able to leave her with a craft or game that “the kids have been begging” to do/play. Now, if she’s like my mom, even this wouldn’t work. My mom just doesn’t enjoy kids until they are at least 4, when they start to show interest in more grown up things. (She also likes to clean my house when she comes, but they live 300 miles away, so it’s not that big of a deal to me.) But just keep thanking her for what she does. It will help you feel more grateful, she’ll feel appreciated, and she may be more able to hear you when you ask her not to do something specific.

Congrats on the upcoming birth!


How she takes it is up to her. You can’t control that.

As to ignoring your husband’s specific request, that’s a problem. My husband would be furious if he asked my mom to leave something alone and she ignored him. I’d be unhapy as well.

Yes, she’s helping with the housework, but is it at the expense of your husband’s wishes? If your husband is really serious and DOES NOT want your mom in the laundry room, you’ve got your work cut out for you :eek:.


You do not know with certainty how you will physically feel on your return home from the hospital, and to have some of your chores already taken care of for you, could prove very helpful indeed!

Well, actually, that’s the thing- she’s *not *taking care of any of my chores for me. She’s doing things I would never ordinarily do nor notice (iron T-shirts, pillowcases) or creating *more *work for DH and me (“filing” items on my kitchen island). The kids don’t like it so much when she comes because they want to play with her and she gets annoyed when they get in her way.

I like the suggestions of asking her to do specific things, though- that might work.


I think the idea of giving her a list of things that would greatly assist you is a wonderful idea. That way she can still fill needed and you get the assistance that you could use and it wouldn’t go against your husband’s and your wishes.


Yeah I think the list might be helpful. If she comes over expecting to help, she just helps in ways she thinks is necessary (things that would be important to her). Writing down things that would be helpful to YOU may help guide her. Also, for the kids - maybe list out their favorite things to do. If you just say something generic like “entertain the kids” maybe she doesn’t know where to start. Write down what their favorite things are - playing catch at the park, playing legos, painting with water, etc… whatever, so she has a list instead of having to create her own ideas.


Or . . . seeing a list could cause her to take the,

“I’m not their maid! Who do they think they are telling me what to do!” attitude and maybe she’ll end up doing nothing :thumbsup:.


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