I don't know about in your house but in ours my husband and I have now established some very set ground rules when it comes to our two little girls. They are four and two-years-old and at this stage we know all too well what (a) will set them off, (b) make them giddy and hyperactive, and if they get too much of it will (c) make them act out and answer back. For them such things include:
1. Watching too many cartoons
2. The use of our phones to again watch cartoons and videos on YouTube
3. Being bought too many treats like magazines or toys
4. Eating too many sweets, ice-cream, chocolate etc.
So, because we know that receiving an over-abundance of any of these things will undoubtedly lead to a big change in their behaviour, all of them are given out in strict moderation. Except for our phones, they are NEVER EVER allowed our mobiles – that one is a big ‘no no’.
To be fair the little ducks understand this so most of the time they don’t even ask. They know that they get treats on Fridays and Saturdays so they are generally happy to wait. Until Granny (and certain aunties) come to visit and then all rules go out the window.
And I’m not just talking about the children here. Believe me if it was only the children that we had to contend with it would be a bit of a doddle. No it’s the adults that cause the problems.
I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about here right? Have you ever tried explaining (and yes it is very awkward) to your mother or worse your mother-in-law that 'we don’t let the girls watch cartoons or videos on our phones, if they want they can watch them on the tv instead'? Oh yes, that’s a fun conversation.
You are trying so hard to phrase it in a way that won’t cause too much offence but at the same time get your point across that this is important and you would like to be taken seriously.
In my case, my own mother is actually pretty co-operative with our rules but mum-in-law? Forget it. We have tried countless times to explain to her that we don’t like them having mobile phones - well, when I say we it is mostly my husband doing the talking (it always sounds better coming from him), but he may as well be speaking Japanese to her (she doesn’t speak Japanese by the way).
The thing is she will stand there listening and nodding her head as if she is paying full attention to us but ten minutes later you will find her sitting in the living room with the two ducklings, their heads stuck in her phone watching Baby Shark. It is hopeless….
I have often wondered though, why? Why indulge them with their every want and desire whenever you see them? And so excessively? I have come up with two theories so far:
1. It is easy. It requires very little effort. Whipping your phone out to let them watch Peppa Pig until their eyes are bloodshot is much easier than having to sit on the floor and play with them or worse run around after them. Believe me I understand that this requires a lot of energy.
2. You are guaranteed that they will like you. In fact love you, adore you, if you give them everything they want whenever they ask.
However I do often think to myself (and I would love to explain this to both of them), that they don't have to do this all the time. They don't always have to arrive arms laden with sticker books, jigsaws and Peppa Pig magazines. The little ducklings will love you regardless, I promise.
They love us and we never let them have anything! But it can be a delicate subject and we don't want to cause too much offence. Because it seems to be a grandparent's prerogative to ignore the parents and spoil the grandchildren. Maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be.