4 Reasons Why I Wish My Mother-in-Law Would Stop Offering to Babysit

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Yes, I know I should be thankful that I have a mother-in-law who wants to help us with the kids. Babysitters are expensive. The kids love her. She wants to make our lives easier! But sometimes, when it comes to “helping” us out with the kids, my MIL is just the worst.

1. She’s like a drug pusher with the screens. Look, I’m not a huge rule mom. Pleases, thank yous, no throwing or biting. I don’t even mind that she apparently hasn’t read a health article since 1978 and gives them juice because “it’s healthy!” But does she really have to hand them phones and tablets the minute she walks in the door? Forget the fact that the jury’s still out on kids and screen time and what’s beneficial and what’s not and, come on, Steve Jobs’ kids didn’t even have iPads! Forget the fact that she knows I don’t like it. While it might technically be respecting my wishes, it’s not really the spirit when she hands the devices over, then “remembers” my position, and tells the girls it’s OK to play with them…if Mommy says so. No, my biggest problem with her and the screens is, does she not realize that, in the modern parenting arsenal, screens are your weapon of last resort? They’re the trump card, the big stick, the get out of jail free card, the safety net, the backpocket bargaining chip. It’s like punting on the first down. You lead with screens and when the real rain comes, you’ve got nothing.

2. She’s kind of an idiot. Look, I’m sorry, but what else would you call someone who blithely sets toddlers loose with magic markers, letting them draw on the walls because “they’re washable,” and then complains when the new Jackson Pollack on the back of the door doesn’t wipe off? I don’t feel bad for her having to repaint. Just like I don’t feel bad about her broken keyboard. Is it really that hard to figure out that you don’t give a 2-year-old a time out in the computer room?

3. She breaks things. No really. Just random stuff around the house that, all things being equal, I’d rather not be broken. The kids can climb all over the TV room and nothing. She’s at my house one night and I need a new lamp. Every time she offers to come over and help, I have to do a little mental calculation: Free babysitting or new blender? (Really? A blender? What’s the secret ingredient in her smoothies—ingots?)

4. She breaks my husband. She can’t really question me, because I’m the mom and, screen-time notwithstanding, she’s pretty much obligated to defer to me unless she wants to put herself squarely in a hoary cultural stereotype of annoying mother-in-law. But she seems to have no compunction about “annoying mother.” She questions everything my husband does as a father, she’s not supportive or encouraging, she acts as though he’s a total rookie ’50s dumba*s throwback—instead of the amazing diaper-changing, pigtail-making, bath-giving dad he is And that’s way worse than being annoying. It’s just kind of sad.

Can anyone else relate?