How to keep the grandparents in check...

(59 Posts)
MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:09:35

....in the nicest possible way?. My DD is 2. She is my parents first and only grandchild and my PIL's second of 2. We are so lucky, because they both adore DD and thoroughly spoil her. However, at Christmas, I wish they would just back off a bit. I think the problem is that when DH and I were little, neither family had much money. However, both sets of grandparents are better off than we are now and want to spend a fortune on DD. I am grateful, but it is overwhelming and ends up treading on the stuff that we do. An example would be the 'Advent Calender', last year we bought DD a lovely wooden calender that we could fill with our own treats. I managed (just) to convince my own mum not to buy DD a chocolate calender, but MIL bought one and gave it to DD even though I asked her not to. It is only a small thing, but it is annoying. DD doesn't need two, and we want the wooden one to be special. The same happened with the stocking, we bought her a lovely, personalized one, hoping to start a tradition, we told everyone about it, but she ended up with 5!! All of them personalized with her name. All of them filled with the same type of stockingy presents that we had already bought. This year, as with the two previous years, we are going to PILs on Christmas morning for breakfast and my parents in the afternoon for dinner and, if the two previous years are anything to go by, DD is going to have huge piles of presents at both houses that dwarf what 'Santa' has bought her. MIL also insists that 'Santa' has bought the gifts at her house too which I find annoying. I just want them all to follow our lead a bit more, and I want to be able to tell them they are getting carried away and treading on things that we are doing but without hurting their feelings. They do mean well, but we are the parents. I have already tried suggesting that DD goes to stay overnight with each set of grandparents and they can do special things together rather than just buy her loads of stuff. It seems to fall of deaf ears though. What do I do?

CaptainSweatPants Sun 29-Sep-13 09:12:47

I'd leave them to it tbh

Or go away for Xmas grin

My mil is like this

It annoyed me when kids were little but now they're 9 & 7 I've learnt to just accept it
They know that the inlays spoil them
Luckily my parents are more moderate

BillyGoatintheBuff Sun 29-Sep-13 09:13:19

oh this would annoy me very much! Your sticking should be the presents from santa/father christmas. You just need to tell them that it upsets you! I dont know how you tell them, but in your shoes id be upset too.

Tonightivehadwine Sun 29-Sep-13 09:17:09

Could you not just go with it and let them enjoy it too?

Sounds like they're wanting to spoil her at Christmas, and I honestly don't get why this should be such a big deal to you.
Your advent calendar sounds amazing, I don't think another calendar or two will take away from that. If you're worried about her having too much chocolate, then you and dh have the extra ones.

You might find their plans annoying, but I'm pretty sure your dd will love it, and so will they. Trying to stop them from doing this will really hurt their feelings, and when it comes down to it, it's one day, let them enjoy it.

If you end up with too many toys, put some away for a few months and get them out when she's bored of the others.

Dilidali Sun 29-Sep-13 09:19:28

Can you think of some large purchases for them to get their teeth stuck into? Like a toy storage unit, a book case, a stroller, swimming lessons for a year, shoes vouchers. I used to send my MIL potty asking for weird stuff like table corners (the clip on ones), childproof plugs, a particular sippy cup or bib. Hours of trailing the shops!!!
The too many toys I resolved swiftly declaring loud and cleargrinooh, Santa brought them for this house, so they are here for when you play at granny's. I watched with glee, as she has bought her oil paints that year for some reason.

DontmindifIdo Sun 29-Sep-13 09:22:41

Oh I've tried having words with my parents, it doesn't work - similar issues about mountains of stuff. My solutions are: a) tell them that Santa/Father Christmas only delivers to our house so if it's from FC it comes here in advance - but then also b) play on the fact DCs have richer families than I did growing up - I said that only a few things would be from FC, the rest from GPs, Uncles, Aunts etc, esp as "well, Mum, there's going to be children at playgroups and then later school who's parents and grandparents don't have as much money as us, I don't want those children to feel like they weren't 'good' enough in the year if mine reel off a list from Santa. That must put a lot of pressure on poorer parents" (playing on her remembering feeling stressed about Christmas costs).

This did help contain it (plus it makes thank you cards easier, if everything is from Santa how do you teach them to say thank you?), as they were limited to a bag of things they could sneek to ours in advance.

I also invite people to us at Christmas so keep more control. Oh and ask for clothes!

Ememem84 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:25:30

I think you (both of you) need to sit down with them and tell them how you feel. Suggest overnight stays and trips out etc. but tell them you want to start your own Christmas traditions and explain how to do them. Could they contribute to stocking gifts?

2anddone Sun 29-Sep-13 09:27:12

Oh dear my parents used to be like this! I remember driving home from theirs on Christmas eve with a boot full of presents (I had a people carrier and had to fold down seats to fit them all in!!) crying because I have tried so hard to not spoil my dc. When we were younger my parents gave us money and gifts rather than spend time with us and I don't want the same with my dc. When my parents rang on Christmas day they got really arsey because dc hadn't opened all their gifts yet. I explained they had completely overwhelmed dc and they were fed up opening gifts as they had gone Ott. Think I was a bit harsh for Christmas day but they have never done it again!!! This year they are getting ds Disney infinity and a play pack and dd playmobil take along hospital and ambulance and giving me £100 to take them out for a treat day. So major improvement!!!!

ZiaMaria Sun 29-Sep-13 09:28:37

I am also facing this problem. DD is almost 1 and her grandparents want to shower her with gifts. I, however, don't want her thinking that christmas is about chocolate and presents because as far as DH and I are concerned, it is not. Same goes for birthdays. So - we are about to tell the GPs that T should only get one present from each of them (and we will be sending out a list with appropriate suggestions). If they want to give more they are welcome to put money into DD's bank account or buy her premium bonds.

One reason for this one present rule is that one set of GPs is not as well off as the other, and I can see this becoming one of those things where one side is upset because the other side could afford to (and did ) but two hundred presents for DD.

We are also going to have to point out to them soon that there is a limited on space in the house, and that sneaking toys into the toybox while I am not present does not mean I don't notice they have arrived! Aaaargh.

CaptainSweatPants Sun 29-Sep-13 09:33:43

you're going to send a list if what they can buy?
You do realise you'll be a grandparent one day don't you !

TapTapBangBang Sun 29-Sep-13 09:36:28

I've given up trying. DS gets 3 advent calendars from both sets of GP and an aunt (SIL). His presets are ridiculously generous. Again 4-5 presents from each of them. It was annoying at first but it's what they do, I cant offend.

ZiaMaria Sun 29-Sep-13 09:38:35

And when I am a grandparent I think I will be wanting some decent guidance as to what my grandchildren want/is age appropriate/doesn't already have. Otherwise it will end up being like not having a wedding list and ending up with seven toasters when you don't eat bread.

raisah Sun 29-Sep-13 09:40:56

Dont tell people in advance what your plans are so they can't copy you.

Can you convince them to buy one gift to open and the rest in the bank? If you open two accounts, one for each gp and ask them to deposit the plastic tat money towards something long term like house deposit or university. Would they accept this?

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:43:10

Thanks all. I can't just go with it. I've tried that and it is just too much. I have invited both sets of parents on separate Christmas activities because I want them to be part of the fun. We go to their houses to join in with their traditions because we want to all be together. I just want them to back off a little bit. We told MIL that we are having Christmas eve afternoon to ourselves to spend at home this year and she got a but funny about it. I want them all to be a part of DDs Christmas, I just don't want to do everything their way. Same goes for my parents. I think I will try and have the conversation again.

StrangeGlue Sun 29-Sep-13 09:46:33

Could you do Christmas in your house? Sounds like a lot of running round on Christmas Day for you. Then it'd be in your house so your rules. They got their choice on Christmas growing up but now you're the ones with kids so people do what you want.

The stocking thing would really piss me off off along with the running round.

IsItMeOr Sun 29-Sep-13 09:49:05

Not that I am very proud of myself, but I had a mini-rant at DMIL when she bought DS a second stocking his first Christmas and she has never done it again. She is lovely though.

My view is that there's a lot of drudgery that goes with parenthood, and things like organising what comes from Father Christmas is one of the perks that helps to balance it out. They had their turn with you and DH, and now it's your turn. They should back out. Personally I wouldn't care how much they spent on toys and whether they were bigger than Santa's, but it would hack me off if they claimed they were from Santa. I hate waste, so lots of tatty little stocking fillers annoy me, but so long as they're things DC will use, I try to be relaxed.

As a compromise, DMIL buys the chocolate Santa for DS each year.

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:50:36

They absolutely will not give money at Christmas so that is out. Clothes are in addition to presents. When dd was 5 mo on her first Christmas I asked for clothes and MIL told me I was being unreasonable. Thanks again for the replies x

topbannana Sun 29-Sep-13 09:51:56

We did the same as raisah suggested and got my DP's to open DS a bank account though this did take a couple of years of constant lobbying.
Now DS is older we also go halves on big presents so they are part of that. This year DS is having an xbox one, an uncharacteristically big present but one that will be greatly appreciated. We explained to DS that as it is very expensive he would be getting very little else and he was happy with that. My DP's have been primed along these lines too and hopefully will get the message (they are much better recently!)
Also clothes is a good one. DS likes Animal which is too expensive as an everyday purchase but my DP's can splash out at Christmas, he gets the clothes that he likes and we save a little money as he has new clothes smile

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:52:45

I think Christmas will be at our house from next year! Hubby really wants to cook for everyone so that might be the way forward x

K8Middleton Sun 29-Sep-13 10:02:08

Oh gosh I'm so glad it's not just me. Every Christmas Ds cries because the present mountain is just overwhelming. I also struggle with the stepping on toes with stockings but also the rewriting of Christmas traditions by family members so it becomes impossible to keep our story straight.

I have compromised on a few things - I still get a stocking although I am in my 30s but I do my children's stockings. I had to firmly say to dm "stockings come from the parents. You have had your turn, now it's ours".

I'm also trying to implement a "one present per person" rule using space in cars etc as a reason and clearly stating that I do not want Ds to become spoilt. We also don't have room for all the tat stuff. It is the sheer volume I find horrifying. It just becomes meaningless because quantity has replaced thought.

I'm considering suggesting a secret Santa with a price limit so it doesn't get ridiculous but I think my parents would be very offended.

I find the whole thing really, really stressful. We have to be careful with our cash because I've been on maternity leave and for other reasons but we're not badly off. I feel like we're seen as being poor or tight and actually I think we have a healthy attitude vs the obscene profligacy.

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:07:12

I am so glad others feel the same. I just want Christmas to mean a little bit more than presents.

NannyPlumForPM Sun 29-Sep-13 10:37:16

mamabear I have exactly the same thing with my inlaws and my parents feel left out as Pils Buy everything. I have convinced my parents to put money in an account now until she's older and wants bigger presents like a bike/ school trips etc. but inlaws are u stoppable.

It is probably going to sound harsh but I look at the surplus presents from Christmas and birthdays and take them down to the women's shelter who are SO grateful. Other options are charity shops but I prefer them to go to the children (rather than just hoarded and sold on by charity shop connoisseurs)

In laws buy so much they often cannot remember what they have bought. (I find that directing them towards a particular gift - ie this year they are buying a tablet ?!?! For her birthday (she's going to be 3) which will cost a fair bit and should discourage them from buying other useless tat)

In my experience (sorry for long post) you will probably offend if you tell them she has too much and it's probably more discreet to let them buy as it makes them happy, and siphon the excess after. There is usually a thread closer to Xmas that has lots of mums in hard financial times DESPERATE for things. Maybe you could pass them on this way?

NannyPlumForPM Sun 29-Sep-13 10:42:20

Also for ther second Xmas dd had two big Christmas bags stuffed with toys. I was shock to put it in context we hav THE tiniest 2 bed house in world. You can touch both sides of kitchen at the same time!!

kiwidreamer Sun 29-Sep-13 10:44:19

If they don't like the idea of giving money would they consider gift vouchers for something like Peppa Pig world or National Trust, something that you could all do together when the weather is warmer?

I would be very firm on the stockings situation, Father Christmas is for the parents but let them do their thing on the other gifts... also love the idea of having grandparents presents live at grandparents house!!!! But that might upset your little one so maybe not.

MamaBear17 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:46:47

I would love to be able to do that, but Hubby wouldnt agree with it and the Inlaws would know. We are close and they would expect to see the things in our house. If they found out I gave stuff away they would take great offence. I am doing a carboot in a week or two to sell on some of DD's baby toys and hubby has already moaned that it is offensive to people who bought them for her. The only thing that is keeping him on side is that we have no room for new toys if we keep the old ones! I think im going to bite the bullet and attempt the conversation. Im going to be honest about how I feel and not accept comments like 'thats what grandparents do' as an excuse!

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