Do you have a crazy relative or two (or three!)? Maybe they’ve always been crazy and you saw this coming, or maybe this is the surprise of your lifetime and all of a sudden you’re considering a home security system to keep the crazy from sneaking into your home.
Maybe you don’t even have a problem right now, but I think it’s best to be prepared and have the solutions to diffuse a shocking scene up your sleeve.
Whether the symptoms appear before, during or after pregnancy,
baby rabies are very real.
Some of the best people in your life might become completely crazy when a baby comes into play. This is what we can call baby rabies and it can be TERRIFYING.
Suddenly your favorite Aunt might roll her eyes every time you mention your parenting plans, or your mom will completely ignore you when the baby is around. The strangest stuff happens, but when it starts to drive YOU crazy it’s time to shut it down.
When we conceived our daughter, it was probably not the *best* time for us to start a family. My husband was a brand new student, fresh out of the military and I was the full-time breadwinner while we were fixing up our fixer-upper. So although we were thrilled and actively trying (there’s no such thing as the right time), it put a huge strain on me/us/our plans.
I was anxious about returning to work and all too familiar with the crazy that runs in my (& his) family. To top it off, we had just moved BACK to our hometown and my mom was living with us. All my stress lead me to therapy as I coped with annoyances, anxiety, and the stress of my relatively unconventional pregnancy.
SIDE NOTE: Pregnancy is the best time to start prioritizing your mental health if you haven’t already. That shit’s important, yo.
We all get stressed out now and then, but now is a good time to get control. There is absolutely no shame in attempting prevent anxiety or any mental illness during one of the most fragile and beautiful states of your life.
I might be hyper-sensitive but I also have a little too much experience dealing with crazy people. When it comes to staying sane, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way.
Just No MIL (a subreddit dedicated to people handling crazy moms & mother-in-laws) might have added to my sensitivity, but it mostly assured me that I was NOT nuts for enforcing boundaries. And more importantly, I was not alone in handling crazies.
I don’t care what people say. modern pregnancies are different
From sleep deprivation to 10+ diapers a day, some things never change. But “best practices” are not those things.
So much has changed since my kid brother was a baby 16 years ago, so when relatives who haven’t taken care of newborns in 20+ years come spouting advice and methods, it’s best to consult your pediatrician or Dr. Google first.
Everything, and I mean everything can be found online these days. And because we have so much *relevant & up-to-date information at our fingertips, it’s surprisingly easy to piss off older relatives.
I had a relative insist and even argue with me over formula being BETTER than breastmilk. Oy vey…
My mother-in-law seriously told me, verbatim, “they didn’t even have postpartum depression when I was having kids! psh!”
this was after I was telling her how much things have changed. I can’t help but laugh & cry because I wonder what OTHER nonsense is your head filled with? And CAN I leave my daughter alone with you? Yikes.
There is so much outdated and downright offensive information is still circulating from the dark ages aka before the internet.
Nowadays we are more informed and frankly too damn connected, with social media and cell phones. Why do you have to visit us, again? Can’t a picture do the trick?
That’s why the best tip you can get is to learn how to set and stick to sanity-saving boundaries!
Establishing Boundaries 101
Boundaries are *essential* for new family units. No matter how close you’ve been to your families, becoming parents is so big & it’s time to start making your own ways. I’m not saying you shouldn’t embrace all the love and support they have to give, but if you feel like your own opinions are being pushed aside it’s because you don’t have established boundaries.
For me it started with belly groping. Within seconds of announcing my pregnancy to my mother-in-law, I got a sneaky stomach grab to my not-even-there-yet bump. I let that one slide. It was an exciting moment.
But please keep in mind, that is not a normal place to be felt up. It was weird to me, and to top it all off I wasn’t even consented! Never asked. This was the first symptom of baby rabies.
With the second attempt, I covered my stomach and said please, don’t. Her response: It’s my grandbaby!! With wide-eyes I realized it was time to start drawing up some lines.
Most of my boundaries came up as weird offenses went down. But the trick to the trade is being crystal clear with expectations. There is no time for dropping hints and expecting magical mind reading powers.
Being nice is important. Obviously we don’t want to burn any bridges. But if a boundary is broken more than once, there has to be some sort of consequence. I know you’re thinking these are adults, but if they can’t respect words then they need to be trained.
Things like don’t call us, we’ll call you or keeping visits to their place (so you can leave whenever you want!).
what to say when boundaries are broken
r/JustNoMIL has seen it all, but there are a couple essential phrases to have ready to whip out when lines are crossed.
1. This is not up for discussion.
My favorite for shutting down nonsense. Undesired belly groping, telling me I need to make as much noise as possible while she naps, what we should name her, who will be there when she’s born!
This is not up for discussion. If you want to touch my body, you gotta go through me.
2. I’ll take that into consideration.
For all things unsolicited. Advice, decor, plans, nap times, baby names…. etc. Generally anything you don’t care/didn’t ask to hear, and even the stuff you did.
I hope you take this phrase into consideration 😉 for your boundary bank. It’s super helpful for any scenario.
New moms need support and guidance, not criticism or condescension
Way too many factors are at play in the modern pregnancy and parenting these days. Social media-induced perfectionism is contributing to mental illness and that only increases the risk of more critical issues from low self-esteem to postpartum depression.
So if you think someone is overstepping or driving you a little crazy, you have every right to draw up the boundaries you need. The only people who will think you are out of line, the ones who disrespect your desire for healthy family dynamics are the people that need those firm rules in place.
Boundaries are a form of self-care, and these 10 tips take some practice, but will save some sanity!
Simple Solutions to Common Family Problems
Here’s a nice little collection of random wtf? moments and the easiest way to handle them.
- is someone flinging a ton of unwanted baby stuff at you? (“Hey! I saw this outfit/toy/stroller/used diaper and thought you should have it!”) – donate it to a woman’s shelter
- unexpected/unwelcome visitors coming at you all too often? (“We just want to see the baby!”) – let them know your rule & don’t answer the door *I NEED a phone call, because I don’t like wearing pants. Totally reasonable!
What is the craziest thing your relatives have done postpartum?