Dear Carolyn: My husband has three siblings and we are the youngest couple, and the only people without kids. My nieces and nephews are 6, 5, 3 and a baby. I have a really small family and no experience with little kids, and my friends haven’t had kids yet.
When we all get together, the schedule my brothers- and sisters-in-law impose seems really strict. The kids have to eat and go to bed at specific times and everything we do is centered around this.
When we are with them, it feels extremely rigid and it really dampens my enjoyment of spending time together.
My husband thinks we should just continue to go along with it. I think we shouldn’t be expected to all the time, and it’s reasonable that the occasional outing or event isn’t quite so rigid. Next time we all see each other I want to suggest going with the flow a little more.
My husband said if I really wanted to say something I should, but he is on record that it’s a bad idea. I don’t see what’s so bad about mixing styles of outings, I don’t think their having little kids means they get to dictate the way the entire thing goes for everybody.
Should I bring this up? If so, is there a good way to do it? I just think it would be fun to relax a little more.
If your definition of “fun” includes young children who are overtired, over-stimulated and hungry, and brothers- and sisters-in-law who, try as they might, will never forget the day their sibling-by-marriage with zero kid experience tried to tell them how to raise their kids, then, yes, you should go for it.
Trust me. How you phrase it won’t matter.
I’m a youngest, too, was an auntie for years before I had kids, and spent vacations and holidays under the thumb of 40-pound dictators. It’s confining, yes.
But tight schedules are really, really important for keeping young kids from shrieking the benevolence out of those dictatorships. If you think eating dinner at 5:30 p.m. puts a damper on things, then try enjoying your adulty twilight dinner against the backdrop of a tantrum in three-part disharmony. Alone, as parents calm down their kids.
If you haven’t yet, then you might have those so-rigid parents to thank for it.
Where you’re completely correct is in recognizing that (BEG ITAL)your(END ITAL) schedule needn’t be centered on the kids’. If you want to eat later or sightsee through nap time, then, do so -- independently. You’re tethered to their schedule, yes, but only at times you agree to be tethered to the rest of the group.
Hug your husband, too. Wise man.
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