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Longer term sitter, her rules vs mine - what to insist upon, what to be flexible about


AimeeM
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I'm going to delete this later - please do not quote.

 

DH insisted on hiring our occasional sitter (who is also my best friend) to stay with me for 4-5 weeks after my surgery. I do NOT think that I need her here this long, but I'm not going to upset my husband (again) by arguing about it. He has to work, and this is what he feels like "he can do" to help me.

 

She will be here from about 7:45 until about 5:30. She will be leaving at 2:00, taking my youngest with her as I'm not allowed to lift him, to get her three children from school and bring them back here (yikes - six kids in the house, lol!). 

 

As discussed with DH, she will not actually be "sitting" for our children, in the traditional sense. We had discussed her being here in more of a "mother's helper" sense - maybe watching them wholly if I need to nap (surgeon said I may need more sleep than usual the first week post-op, but that's it), otherwise she is just to hand me the 2 year old if he wants me, grab the laundry basket from the basement so I can fold, take care of LIGHT housekeeping (dishes, making beds)... but really just keeping me company and satisfying, for DH, that I'm not going to do things the surgeon said I shouldn't (please do not think DH is a bear - he isn't; this is my own fault, as I haven't the best rep about following doctor's orders, and it led to some problems with a c-section a couple years ago). 

 

Friend will NOT be handling any academics. I will be teaching DD13 from a "state of rest", and will continue to do phonics with DS5, while DD13 has asked to take over DS5's math instruction, read alouds, memory work recitation, art, and religion - she thoroughly enjoys teaching younger children and is fantastic with the boys, so that will work out well, I think, and I'll be here for back up and supervision.

 

However, the way my friend/sitter is talking, she seems to think she's going to be solely in charge of the children - asking me to write their routines, etc. That makes me nervous. While she's great to use for a couple hours here and there, and is an amazing woman, we have WILDLY different parenting philosophies. Read that as: I'm more of a "whatever floats your boat" in regards to parenting your own children, but these are things I have a huge problem with being implemented with my own children. Not a huge deal for a couple hours here and there, as she knows how I feel about these things, and never oversteps boundaries there, but for a month or more, full time, all day, every day... well, I'm not sure. 

 

I'm not going to get into all of the ins and outs of why we're different, within the parenting realm, etc... because I will also note that she is a FANTASTIC woman. My polar opposite on many levels, but fantastic and my very best friend. I adore her.

 

I don't want to offend her, but I also have NO desire to live in a stressed out mess for the next month or so, or for my children to end up upset during the days, because they aren't allowed to do things that they are normally welcome to do.

 

Is there any way to nicely, without offending her, lay some ground rules here? Please know that I'm asking because I know her very well, and have for years, and she CAN be sensitive about some of her parenting choices. I wouldn't ask if I felt that I could speak to her frankly about not implementing with my own children the rules and strategies she has with her own. I do feel like this is a different situation than the occasional sitting she's done before, and that without ground rules, it would be very easy for her to slip into her normal parenting role, with my own children, because it will be daily.

 

 

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Honestly, the tack I would take is to tell her, "Hey, I wrote down our general routine since you asked, cause I want you to be comfortable, but you really don't have to worry about it because I am going to be here, and be in charge. It's better for the kids to keep things the same as much as possible, my being down will already be a lot of change. Don't have any stress about taking care of the kids. I will manage the kids and you just enjoy being the fun auntie. You are here to help me, not get stressed out over them."

 

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She sounds like a fantastic woman and fortunately has the time available to do this for an entire month.

You may want to tell the kids that you are going through some procedure, assure them all will be fine and while you have to nap (sleep did overcome me in the weeks following surgery) xyz is here to take care of things. Unless she is in the habit of demanding unreasonable things from children, I would not worry too much. It's temporary and it sounds like you know she is completely trustworthy. Those parenting differences will likely not have a huge impact, especially since Dad will be home in the evening.

I would worry less about the kids and take good care of yourself. You only have ONE chance to heal right.

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I think you should simply write what you wrote here and what you would like her to do, and be fairly specific.  for example:

 

8am:  start laundry, fix breakfast, tidy kitchen

9am: reboot laundry, read books with ds2 while I do phonics with ds5

10am:  prepare snack for ds2, vac & dust main floor

 

 

You might also want to do one day's schedule at a time, or no more than one week at a time, so that you can adjust if problems arise.

 

Make sure your dd13 has a written schedule as well so she can say "oh that's on my schedule if bf tries to take over some of the schooling of ds5."  Make sure dd and ds have desks or tables where they do their things, maybe a desk in your room so you can be supervising and bf doesn't feel she needs to get involved. 

 

Also I would absolutely have her go home after school with her kids instead of bringing them to your house, but that's just me.

 

Good luck!

 

 

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Would it work to go ahead and write out the routines, casually incorporating what they are allowed to do? For example (I'm totally making some of this up):

 

DD - will be responsible for her own school work and can check in with me on an as needed basis. She will be helping DS5 with his math. When she is done with school work (both her own and DS5) and chores, she is allowed personal computer time or to go to the local skateboard park.

 

DS5 - Will make his bed after breakfast and then report to me to do his phonics. After lunch, he will work with DD on math. When his school work and chores are done, he can play in the playroom, do fingerpainting on the deck, or play video games. He is also allowed to (insert whatever thing you think she might say no to.) He may have fill-in-the-blank for snacks. He may then run the hose in the backyard to make mudpies.

 

DS 2 - For breakfast he eats:

For lunch he eats:

He is allowed to watch fill-in-the-blank on TV.

He takes a nap from 2-4 (yeah, I know, dream on...) and must be monitored so he doesn't leap from the dresser (if I recall, this is a very real possibility with your 2 year old). He may, however, jump on the trampoline, etc. He may be brought to me whenever he likes, as long as I am not sleeping.

 

If you fill out routines like this for each child, stating what each is allowed to do, maybe this will take care of things? Surely, she wouldn't be offended by stating what each is allowed to do, right? I hope...

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This doesn't sound like fun to me.  :grouphug:  I would take another look at the whole situation. Maybe you need her to be in charge for a week or so. Tell the kids it's her rules for that amount of time. Can't your 13 year old hand you the toddler? I wouldn't worry about school so much and I would get non family out of the house as soon as I could. That's just me. I also would consider her taking the two year old, picking up her kids and going to her house until your dh comes home.   

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Supposing that you are the more relaxed parent, try maybe something like:

 

"We are really quite a child-led family, and my kids' whims and preferences matter a lot to me. Our daily routine varies a lot, and we all appreciate the flexibility to go with the flow.

 

"So, just generally, we have breakfast, then do stuff like xyz, but sometimes mnop instead, or something else entirely. After lunch we tend to do (various things), and then supper and (other things). And we start to go to bed around (whenever).

 

"As my helper, I guess you would be more focused of meals and other chores, more so than whatever the kids and I are up to. I'm really looking forward to doing lots of restful parenting, without worrying about details and house work. I'm so grateful DH set this up. I'm sure it will all start to make sense once we get started."

 

If the difference is something else, similar things might work.

 

She will probably do best if you make clear hints as the various things come up. Real boundary staters may be needed, but probably not.

 

Examples:

 

Child: "I want some milk."

Friend, withholds milk, prompts for manners

You, to friend: "Sorry, we're actually not enforcing (or 'not working on') that right now. You can go ahead and give him milk please.

 

Child 'misbehaves'

Friend verbally corrects him in a way you don't like

You, to friend: The way you can correct him is by saying (provide a script) instead.

 

Child 'misbehaves'

Friend chooses a conciquence and begins to implement it

You, to friend: Sorry, wait, actually that's not the way we do it. (To child, "Come here" etc)

 

Plenty of smiles, and an attitude that is warm and funny abou how we are all different (but kids are used to their own parents' methods) will go a long way. Keep it about 'what works for us' and 'what they are used to' -- not about theory at all.

 

You can also just say (repetitively), "Thanks, but I've got this." When she goes more parenting than you would like.

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Starr, DH isn't budging here :P The doctor said that I am absolutely not to be put in a situation where I would be tempted to lift a kid, do laundry, or do dishes, and my husband is very linear (sweet man, though!) - if the doctor said so, he's going to make sure it doesn't happen. The 13 year old would absolutely help... when she's able, but she has outside commitments and I'm not comfortable taking those from her for over a month, kwim?

 

I had NOT considered having her take DS2 home with her in the afternoons, though. While I don't think DH would consider it right now, he may very well be open to it after a few evenings of coming home to 6 kids in the house :P The only day this wouldn't be as much of an option is Fridays, when Friend is responsible for taking and picking up my kiddos from co-op, on top of getting her own kids from school. She will have my SUV for the month or so that she's here (and taking it home with her for the evening; they are a one car family and her husband has odd work hours). She would need to bring DS2 back here, though, after DH is home from work, as DH has a leased company car and isn't allowed to put carseats in it.

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If this were me, I suspect my children would adapt much better than I would.  It would absolutely drive me insane.  Maybe I would need her full-time help only the first couple of weeks, and after that, she could drop in or call to see how I was doing and if I needed anything.  Four to six weeks?  I'm afraid we would no longer be friends, and I wouldn't want to risk that.  I know that didn't answer your question.

 

I think I would write down only what I want her to be responsible for: dishes, laundry, picking up the little one, etc.  Her only responsibilities are what are written down.  Anything regarding what the children are allowed or not allowed to do, etc. should be referred to you.  I'm not sure how that would actually work out - for instances if you're napping, she needs to have some idea what the boundaries are.  Maybe a short list noting how much TV/computer time, appropriate snacks and such.  Hopefully, she will ask you first instead of stepping in and applying her own parenting style.

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I would tell my dh for the sake of the friendship with your friend that this won't work.  You will end up resenting her.  You said your 13 yo has some outside activities, maybe she could just come over during that time to help out with your 2 yo and then drive them to and from co-op.  The 13 is old enough to help you with anything you need.  I could not deal with a situation like that and it would really stress me out and likely hurt the friendship.  I just could not do it and would expect dh to realize that.

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I would tell my dh for the sake of the friendship with your friend that this won't work.  You will end up resenting her.  You said your 13 yo has some outside activities, maybe she could just come over during that time to help out with your 2 yo and then drive them to and from co-op.  The 13 is old enough to help you with anything you need.  I could not deal with a situation like that and it would really stress me out and likely hurt the friendship.  I just could not do it and would expect dh to realize that.

 

I agree, especially with the bolded. If dh really thinks outside help is necessary and you don't think it's worth arguing with him over it, I'd look for someone you don't know. Or at least someone who isn't such a good friend. 

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I would tell my dh for the sake of the friendship with your friend that this won't work.  You will end up resenting her.  You said your 13 yo has some outside activities, maybe she could just come over during that time to help out with your 2 yo and then drive them to and from co-op.  The 13 is old enough to help you with anything you need.  I could not deal with a situation like that and it would really stress me out and likely hurt the friendship.  I just could not do it and would expect dh to realize that.

 

oh yes. This.

 

Either this arrangement or look for a total stranger to whom you could communicate well with.

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The problem I see here is that the friend is going to be stuck in the middle of two parenting styles after school. She's not going to watch only our kids during those hours, but hers as well. Are you expecting her to have two different styles with the different groups of kids? Or one blended style for all?

 

I'm wondering if you can come to an agreement, for her sake as well, in which she lets things go more toward your style when it's just your kids at home, and you let things go more her style when her kids join after school.

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Thanks again, ladies. 

 

There are a few things that I'm absolutely not willing to compromise on:

1) Food. We do NOT implement a "clean your plate" rule, and I'm very firm about this. The children only eat what they feel they need to eat, and are never forced to eat more. Non-negotiable for me. We also do not entertain a "eat what I serve or you starve" home - we have a two bite rule which has never really been questioned by the kids (lol), but if they try two bites, they may eat something of similar nutritional value that they prefer (leftovers, a sandwich, fresh fruit, oatmeal, etc). 

2) Food. We have an open kitchen policy as per their pediatrician's orders. The children have free reign of the kitchen at all times. We do not keep a ton of junk, but they are free to eat it if it's there.

*If you didn't guess (lol), food is important to us, in the sense that it's never made a battle - this is for personal reasons, but still incredibly important to me and DH*

3) Time outs. Well lit hallway only. Never with the purpose of isolating a child or making them scared. One child in particular is terrified of the dark/dusk. 

4) No insisting that the boys speak clearly to get what they desire. DS2 is seriously speech impaired and under the care of a speech therapist.  I really prefer to go with ST's advice here. DS5 is currently acclimating to a dental device and having a difficult time articulating well - this will get better with time, but it only upsets him unnecessarily to insist he say something he can't; coaching "okay" here, but not requiring; the dentist said this will simply take time.

5) No getting on DS5 for smearing his underwear. This is something that he under the medical care of a doctor for. It isn't his fault. He has NO control over it. No making him help clean it up, no "you should have done that in the potty! Shame on you!". 

 

I do really like the suggestion of outlining what she is responsible for and what she isn't.

The amount of time/weeks that she's here really is not up for debate with DH. I'm not going there with him (again). I *do* think he may agree to her leaving for the day after she gets her kids from school, provided she take our youngest with her.

 

I am pretty finicky about my kids (sorry - sincerely - I know I sound like a control freak). We really have NO time to find, and appropriately vet, someone else. And, truth be told, I trust her more than anyone. We have no family nearby. Our other sitter is high school aged and too busy with outsourced classes and school things (homeschooled, but I believe she's a senior). Also, our other sitter isn't somebody that I trust (or want) to help me to the bathroom and other little (personal) things I'll need help with for a bit according to the surgeon.

 

I think the list of responsibilities, and the warm, friendly reminder that she's more here to keep me company than anything (and to babysit ME, so to speak) is the ticket... and if I can convince DH, I think it would be great if she took DS2 home with her after her kids get out of school.

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This is an impossible situation to solve, because you have already said no to my solutions. My dh would not be telling me how I would recover. To me, he is ADDING greatly to the stress of your recovery. So if you are stuck with her because your dh is running your recovery, there is no magic solution.

For me, what you describe of what her parenting would be sounds like it borders on emotional abuse against your children for disabilities tbey can't help. I could not stand by and let dh inflict this on them. So....I am honestly puzzled...

 

I protect the kids first. That is all I've got.

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Those clear, specific and well worded paragraphs above would require very little editing, just to be tacked on to the bottom of a "here's our routine, just like you asked for" email. Easy-peasy, all fixed.

 

Those are perfectly normal variations of parenting, and I'm sure that when she knows the details, she will easily adapt to your ways of dealing with food, speech, consequences and soiling issues. As long as she isn't the type to go her own way after you've been clear, I think things will be fine.

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Oh I do NOT think that she would intentionally do any of these things. I just think that in the normal course of events, she can tend to forget that DS5 has special medical needs, because 90% of the time he is very much like her boys. 

These are just issues that I do not WANT to come up - these are not specific to her, as much as they are to ANY sitter.

 

And my husband sincerely has my best interests at heart. Without making myself sound like a completely lost cause, I did some pretty stupid things recovering from my last surgery, which resulted in complications, and my husband knows me well enough to know that if I *feel okay*, I'll pick up my regular duties, regardless of the doctor's orders - not because I intend to be neglectful, but because I am naturally very forgetful and that I'm recovering WOULD slip my mind because I tend to overbusy myself (if "overbusy" is a word, even).

This is an impossible situation to solve, because you have already said no to my solutions. My dh would not be telling me how I would recover. To me, he is ADDING greatly to the stress of your recovery. So if you are stuck with her because your dh is running your recovery, there is no magic solution.
For me, what you describe of what her parenting would be sounds like it borders on emotional abuse against your children for disabilities tbey can't help. I could not stand by and let dh inflict this on them. So....I am honestly puzzled...

I protect the kids first. That is all I've got.

 

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Why is this your dh's decision to make? :confused:

The minute the doctor went into detail about possible risks associated with me not following post-op recovery instructions, and given my history with listening to such instructions, it was his decision to make. I know that not everybody agrees with that, but I understand DH's position on this. 

Regardless, I *do* need someone for a couple of weeks. Even the doctor agreed there - given the high energy needs of my youngest, and that I will not be allowed to drive, bend over, etc. DH is simply extending this out a couple of weeks, because he is a "better safe than sorry" kind of guy, and because my "limited movement" restrictions won't be technically lifted for a full 4 weeks.

He is not, by any stretch of the imagination, usually as firm as he is about this one. Although I tease him about this, it's very important to him, and since he isn't generally this firm about anything (seriously - I'm generally the firm one in this house, lol), I'm inclined to bide by his wishes here. 

DH did not make the decision about WHO. I did. That simply had to do with that there is nobody else with the time to do this, and we have no nearby family. He simply agreed with the "who". He wanted my friend to split shifts with our other (high school aged) sitter, but the other sitter hasn't any real available free time right now.

 

ETA: I am terribly afraid that, as I often do, I misrepresented my friend AND my husband. My friend would NOT go against my wishes - my question was "how do I phrase these wishes, in a way that would not infer an attack on HER parenting, since she can be sensitive about that", in a nutshell. My husband has his reasons for insisting I have someone, and frankly the surgeon agrees with him there - that part really isn't something I want to debate about, and I really do not want negative DH comments - pretty, pretty please. My husband lost his mother very young (age 11), when something very small went wrong with a very routine *thing* (childbirth) - while I know many people would consider this something that one needs to get over, he does still get very antsy when I have anything medical done, or when I trivialize anything medical; it isn't something he harps on (what happened to his mother), but considering how laid back he is otherwise, this is the only reason I can think of why he gets so antsy about me and anything medical. I'm letting him have this. It makes him feel better. I love him and that's important to me, no matter the cost to my sanity.

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Given what you've said, I suggest sitting down with your friend, tell her how eternally grateful you are for her help, and then share your concerns.

 

And, saying this very gently, I think you should prepare yourself for the possibility that with the best will in the world, your friend may slip up.  She's going to be a little tired, a little frazzled, something will happen, and she's going to go to her default, not yours.  I hope you will be able to overlook it, and not overreact.

 

Best of luck in your surgery and recovery!!

 

Anne

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I don't have anything. I think it's going to be hard. If she's a strict meal times only eater it's going to be difficult if your kids have unlimited fridge access and hers don't. (Actually just spent a weekend with friends like this and dd ended up having a pretty serious meltdown because she was so hungry.)

 

You can't find someone else with no kids? More of a mothers helper teenager that could take the work but would be less likely to slip into a parenting role?

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Given what you've said, I suggest sitting down with your friend, tell her how eternally grateful you are for her help, and then share your concerns.

 

And, saying this very gently, I think you should prepare yourself for the possibility that with the best will in the world, your friend may slip up.  She's going to be a little tired, a little frazzled, something will happen, and she's going to go to her default, not yours.  I hope you will be able to overlook it, and not overreact.

 

Best of luck in your surgery and recovery!!

 

Anne

Oh I definitely expect some slips! I'm human too - sometimes I'm too harsh, I yell at times, and I have a potty mouth to top it off (lol). Slip ups are OKAY, I just do not want her to take anything personally. She's such a dear friend. This is for both of benefits and I haven't really gotten into that in this thread - she badly needs the money, we need the sitter, so it's kind of a win win; I suppose I could have found someone a month ago, when I learned of the surgery, but to be honest, as usual, I kind made a gut decision, knowing that I love her dearly, she needs this, and I really wouldn't enjoy the daily company of anyone as much as I would her company!

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I don't have anything. I think it's going to be hard. If she's a strict meal times only eater it's going to be difficult if your kids have unlimited fridge access and hers don't. (Actually just spent a weekend with friends like this and dd ended up having a pretty serious meltdown because she was so hungry.)

 

You can't find someone else with no kids? More of a mothers helper teenager that could take the work but would be less likely to slip into a parenting role?

No, there's noone else. Remember that I need someone who can drive as I'm not allowed to do so. The teenagers old enough to do so, do not have the free time to stay all day.

 

DH did readily, happily agree (to my shock) that she leave and take DS2 with her after school hours.

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It is great to have someone to help till you are fully recovered. Don't underestimate that.

 

I'm with AM. When I'm sick, I have to be satisfied with 'good enough' care of my kids. It doesn't harm them.

 

I'd only be concerned if you thought the friend was likely to discipline your kids and you weren't comfortable with her discipline methods...

 

Otherwise ? Graciously adapt, accept the help, accept that things will be different for that month...and then focus on your recovery.

The food issues are a kicker for me, because they are medical needs for both boys. I am not comfortable with the discipline methods she utilizes with her own children, but she's never attempted to utilize them with mine, so there's that.

I'm just getting nervous, I think, and probably needlessly worrying about stupid... crap.

My big thing - I do want her to understand that she's really, sincerely, not expected to take care of the children on her own! I want her to keep me company, keep DH happy and keep me sitting. Help with the kids, but not really as their sitter - more as my physical helper :)

I also want her to know that when in doubt, it's okay to use my 13 year old. DD adores her brothers and is privy to their daily going-ons - she has no problem helping, can't wait to do so when she's able (I need her somewhat focused on her school work, though, and she's unmedicated ADD right now, so her attention span for helping will be short, on top of outside activities).

I am very, very grateful to her for helping. I'm very grateful that my husband took over this, too, to be honest - I wouldn't have considered it, I would have (and have) fought it, and then I would have done things I shouldn't be doing because I would have felt I *had* to. 

Regardless of our differences, I trust this friend more than I trust anyone, ever (other than DH).

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Oh I definitely expect some slips! I'm human too - sometimes I'm too harsh, I yell at times, and I have a potty mouth to top it off (lol). Slip ups are OKAY, I just do not want her to take anything personally. She's such a dear friend. This is for both of benefits and I haven't really gotten into that in this thread - she badly needs the money, we need the sitter, so it's kind of a win win; I suppose I could have found someone a month ago, when I learned of the surgery, but to be honest, as usual, I kind made a gut decision, knowing that I love her dearly, she needs this, and I really wouldn't enjoy the daily company of anyone as much as I would her company!

 

Here's what you write on pretty paper for the first day.

 

"Dear friend, I love you so much and really appreciate all that you will be doing for us during my recovery. I am apologizing in advance for anything that I may say or do that will bug you. I'm not at my best right now, and this period, while it may have some fun parts, will probably have some difficult moments. I am begging for a little grace right now. I love you.

 

No matter what I accidentally said!"

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Here's what you write on pretty paper for the first day.

 

"Dear friend, I love you so much and really appreciate all that you will be doing for us during my recovery. I am apologizing in advance for anything that I may say or do that will bug you. I'm not at my best right now, and this period, while it may have some fun parts, will probably have some difficult moments. I am begging for a little grace right now. I love you.

 

No matter what I accidentally said!"

I love it!

It may help her that I will be heavily medicated for a while. I tend to be much less "stick up the butt" when I'm loosey goosey and medicated :P

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Here's what you write on pretty paper for the first day.

 

"Dear friend, I love you so much and really appreciate all that you will be doing for us during my recovery. I am apologizing in advance for anything that I may say or do that will bug you. I'm not at my best right now, and this period, while it may have some fun parts, will probably have some difficult moments. I am begging for a little grace right now. I love you.

 

No matter what I accidentally said!"

 

Followed by medical issues she needs to keep in mind. 

Followed by "if you are suspicious about their interpretation of my rules since sometimes kids will be kids, send them in to clarify. Unless I'm asleep I'll be bored anyway so will appreciate the interruption."

 

All the best.  :grouphug:

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And also, can I say I think you and your dh are great for not overloading your 13 yr old with responsibility ? It's tough to be the eldest when mom is sick or recovering from something major.

I would never want to overload her. Being a teenager is hard enough. She willingly takes care of them enough that it's a help. The best thing she could do for me, and what I'm looking forward too, is actually some uninterrupted time with her - we're planning a Harry Potter marathon in my bedroom while there's someone else here to help with the Flying Marvelous Marco, lol.

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Followed by medical issues she needs to keep in mind. 

Followed by "if you are suspicious about their interpretation of my rules since sometimes kids will be kids, send them in to clarify. Unless I'm asleep I'll be bored anyway so will appreciate the interruption."

 

All the best.  :grouphug:

This sounds great. I think I'll pin a note on the fridge (there are actually NO allergy restrictions to their food; on the contrary, they need to be allowed access to food at all times), and note that if she has questions, ask me; if I'm asleep, ask DD (who can also interpret whatever DS2 is asking for).

 

 

She's a super fun, too. She plays flying angry birds with the boys (and I look the other way, lol!) - something about huge stuffed birds flying through the house makes me cringe, but that's what makes them look forward to her visits :P

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I'm not sure if this is the case or not, but if I were coming in to watch someone's children, I would be nervous on how this was all going to go too.  Maybe that is where some of her questions are coming from?  She probably wants to know some of your routine because some children aren't as adaptable as others and she knows you homeschool.  She may be thinking I know they have to get their school work done during the day . . .when is it that they work on their studies?  When is it ok to play?  I don't want to disrupt their lives anymore than I have to during this stressful time, so I'll ask Aimee her schedule, so I know what's expected of me.

 

 I'm thinking that you are overthinking and worrying a little too much about this.  You've explained to her what you need her help with.  I'd cover it again with her.  I'm sure everything will be fine and if it doesn't go well after the first week or two, you and your husband may have to re-evaluate.  I'd also be prepared though to let her do more for your kids than you want her too.  You don't know how your will react after surgery or how much rest you will require.  I had some very minor outpatient surgery done that knocked me out for a couple of days between pain and pain pills.  I can't imagine trying to do school work with my kids after major surgery.  I'd probably turn the first 2 weeks into a fun time with friend and go with the flow.  

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In addition to the other things mentioned, I would talk to the kids. Preparing them that little things will be different for a while may help.

 

When my mom comes to visit she makes the kids wash their hands really often. It's a lot more often than they usually do. That was nust one of many little things she changed. One of mine used to resent the change in routine. Now he copes a bit better. Before her visits I still talk to them and let them know it is only temporary and all of those little things will go back to our normal when she is gone.

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I agree with writing up the routine and including your rules/desires in the routine. I would also phrase it in terms of your particular kids' needs so that it doesn't seem just like a parenting style difference. "The pediatrician recommends that Susie and Joey have access to food whenever they want due to their low weights" sounds less confrontational than "We allow our kids access to an open kitchen because we are a child-led household and believe children have the right to decide when they are hungry." (Just for examples, I don't know if either is true about you.) The first becomes something she can roll her eyes about with your quirky family but comply because she loves you, the second has more potential to be an attack on her own attitudes towards kids and food. 

 

I'd also prepare my kids for the idea that she might do things differently and what to do in that situation. "You guys know Jane is coming over to help me out after the surgery. She is really kind to do this for us and we are so grateful. You guys know all families are different and have different rules and that Jane has some different rules for her kids. She might tell you to clean your plate which you know we don't require. If that happens ____________" You'd have to decide how to guide them in what to do. Politely remind her that your rules are different? Come and ask you or dh to intervene? Go along with her rule? It might be different for different things and it would probably help to have them know what to do. And I'd really emphasize that it's ok if she asks them to do something they don't usually do, that it isn't her being mean. 

 

Finally, I'd prepare your own heart and mind for the very likely possibility that your rules/desires will be broken. If you're going to agree to this, I think you have to go in knowing that it will probably happen and being prepared to not let it ruin your friendship. 

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You have received some great scripting ideas!  

When we have sitters, I have a write-up on anything they may need to know about each of our kiddos (transition troubles, favorite toys & foods, etc.).  For your son who has a speech issue & smearing troubles, you could include that in the write-up.  It would be a more FYI/reminder then anything she could perceive as against her parenting, since you said she can be sensitive.  "As you know, X can be difficult to understand at times.  His ST suggests A, B, C.  If you have any troubles and I'm asleep, DD is great at understanding him."  Or whatever.  

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I'd consider sending the middle child(ren) off to Auntie's for part of the day for play after school . . . There's no way in tarnation I'd want OTHER people's kids in the house while recuperating!  I'd plan on keeping the 2 year old and 13 year old home with you . . . the 13 yo can keep an eye on the 2 yo. Or, if the 2 yo would enjoy going off for the afternoon, too, send him along with the 5 yo. Dad could pick them up on his way home from work. That'd leave your 13 yo and you home alone for a few hours to get some nice quiet time. You'd have your 13 yo there in case you needed a hand getting around or had an emergency, but mostly, you could rest and she could get a breather.

 

I'd plan on taking school mostly OFF with the 5 yo with the exception of, if possible 20-30 min of phonics and math most days (after a week or so of recuperation). So, I'd want to send him off to friend's houses, etc, as much as possible so he doesn't get bored and cranky.

 

 

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I'd consider sending the middle child(ren) off to Auntie's for part of the day for play after school . . . There's no way in tarnation I'd want OTHER people's kids in the house while recuperating!  I'd plan on keeping the 2 year old and 13 year old home with you . . . the 13 yo can keep an eye on the 2 yo. Or, if the 2 yo would enjoy going off for the afternoon, too, send him along with the 5 yo. Dad could pick them up on his way home from work. That'd leave your 13 yo and you home alone for a few hours to get some nice quiet time. You'd have your 13 yo there in case you needed a hand getting around or had an emergency, but mostly, you could rest and she could get a breather.

 

I'd plan on taking school mostly OFF with the 5 yo with the exception of, if possible 20-30 min of phonics and math most days (after a week or so of recuperation). So, I'd want to send him off to friend's houses, etc, as much as possible so he doesn't get bored and cranky.

 

If any of the kiddos go off to my friend's house after school, it'd definitely be the 2 year old. As responsible as my 13 year old is, she cannot handle him alone (he's a bit of a handful). DD is super excited to take over DS5's academics, lol. I can't not do school with DD13 - she fell too far behind last year at the private school (we've already had to "hold her back" a year because of it)... but she is very flexible about timing, as she's a night owl, and I've specifically moved a couple of her subjects over to more independent. 

 

I don't really want all of the kids here, lol. I did talk to DH about what another poster (or a few) suggested - having my friend take my 2 year old with her to pick up her kids from school, and then just taking him, with them, back to her place. 

 

DH can't pick up the children after work. He leases a vehicle form the company and he isn't allowed to put car seats in it (it's returned for a new one every so many thousand miles). This the one downside to my friend taking my vehicle for the duration (she's a single car family, and her husband has odd work hours, so it's a must - and I'm not using it regardless, as I'm not allowed to drive for a few weeks) - she would have to bring DS2 home again. 

 

My friend and DS5 tend to butt heads the most. She gets along best with DD13 and DS2 (probably because she sits with DS2 most frequently).

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We definitely are not child-led... but we lean towards more gentle parenting. The food access is doctor's orders, but most of the food rules (or non-rules, lol) are simply the result of our own upbringing and the things we feel strongly should have been different.

 

I definitely think you are right about talking to the children. Not so much the younger ones (well, the 2 year old, as he wouldn't understand - he's with her frequently), but definitely the 13 year old. We've already had some discussion, DD13 and I, about this. She has absolutely no problem speaking up if necessary, and has before (in a very respectful way - but she is nothing if not protective over her siblings) - despite, or because of, this, her and my friend get along very, very well, so I see that going fine. My friend is aware, if nothing else, that her sitting duties do not extend at all to DD13; DD13 is to continue on as she usually does, be there to help if asked (not often, as she tends to take help with her brothers often just by playing with them, reading to them, etc), and just enjoy her days. 

I agree with writing up the routine and including your rules/desires in the routine. I would also phrase it in terms of your particular kids' needs so that it doesn't seem just like a parenting style difference. "The pediatrician recommends that Susie and Joey have access to food whenever they want due to their low weights" sounds less confrontational than "We allow our kids access to an open kitchen because we are a child-led household and believe children have the right to decide when they are hungry." (Just for examples, I don't know if either is true about you.) The first becomes something she can roll her eyes about with your quirky family but comply because she loves you, the second has more potential to be an attack on her own attitudes towards kids and food. 

 

I'd also prepare my kids for the idea that she might do things differently and what to do in that situation. "You guys know Jane is coming over to help me out after the surgery. She is really kind to do this for us and we are so grateful. You guys know all families are different and have different rules and that Jane has some different rules for her kids. She might tell you to clean your plate which you know we don't require. If that happens ____________" You'd have to decide how to guide them in what to do. Politely remind her that your rules are different? Come and ask you or dh to intervene? Go along with her rule? It might be different for different things and it would probably help to have them know what to do. And I'd really emphasize that it's ok if she asks them to do something they don't usually do, that it isn't her being mean. 

 

Finally, I'd prepare your own heart and mind for the very likely possibility that your rules/desires will be broken. If you're going to agree to this, I think you have to go in knowing that it will probably happen and being prepared to not let it ruin your friendship. 

 

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