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In-laws not following covid restrictions and about to start providing childcare

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  • #1009350 Reply

    I’m not sure if I’m overreacting – or how I should react at all – and would appreciate outside perspectives (I’ll be discussing this in therapy later this week).

    I’m heading back to work (part-time) in a few days after a mat leave. My in-laws will be watching my baby two days a week. Over the course of the past year, they’ve accepted whatever precautions we’ve set in order to get together – wearing masks when we were able to gather indoors, or sticking to outdoor visits when restrictions changed.

    But a few times, we’ve caught them breaking rules – for example, during a lockdown, we arrived for a surprise outdoor visit and found my SIL’s family in their home, maskless. Or, my MIL let it slip that she’d had her hair done in someone’s basement during a period when salons were closed. My in-laws are high risk, so each time, my husband had a conversation with them to express his disappointment and fear for their health.

    My province (I’m in Canada) has been under a stay-at-home order since Boxing Day, and my in-laws have really been looking forward to watching my baby, since there’s an exception for childcare. My husband has a conversation with them recently reminding them not to see other people for at least 10 days before I return to work.

    Yesterday, my BIL and his GF dropped by for an outdoor visit and the GF let it slip that they’d just been at my in-laws’ for lunch, and had been visiting regularly during this lockdown because my in-laws are so lonely and isolated. I know they’re not taking the pandemic as seriously as we are, since they told us they attended a NYE party.

    I feel sad, frustrated, and scared. My husband called his mom, who apologized and said she’d wear a mask the whole time she’s watching our baby. But she’s talked about how unpleasant it is to wear a mask for a long time, and my daughter constantly grabs at masks, so I can’t see it staying on properly the whole day.

    My husband is struggling with having told his parents not to see their other kids and grandkids, especially since they’re doing us a favour. Even if his parents see some people, he feels it’s still safer than daycare. He’s been working from home, and my mat leave encompassed the entirety of the pandemic, so we’ve been fortunate to have a very low risk of exposure so far compared to essential workers and people with kids in daycare or school. We wonder if we’re expecting too much.

    I don’t know how to feel or what to do. I’m upset about my in-laws lying to us about their exposure, but even if they told us everything, I don’t think it would change our childcare plans. My husband suggested I could delay going back to work, but that would create a whole new set of stressors (financial, delaying future family planning, probable job loss).

    For context, my province has a population of around 14.5 million and we’ve been reporting around 2K cases daily lately – things are not as serious here as they are in the US. My in-laws and my BIL and his GF live in regions where numbers are worse than where my family lives.

    Any advice or insight is appreciated.

    #1009351 Reply

    I think you have to be realistic and accept that they’re not going to wear masks consistently; that they’ll do sketchy things in terms of getting together with people, and that you’ll all be at risk of contracting the virus.

    It might still be safer than a licensed day care though, since there your baby would be around a bunch of other babies who may or may not follow protocols perfectly. I could be wrong about that though. Maybe it is safer. Everyone I know with babies uses a combo of grandparents and/or daycare.

    Even with a dedicated nanny – my coworker, her husband, and their toddler all got covid recently after their nanny got sick.

    I think unless one of you can stay home and not work, you’re going to be at some risk. Unfortunately the reality is, parents have to make it work somehow, and more and more it seems like women are having to drop out to make that happen.

    #1009352 Reply

    That’s a tough situation. They’re obviously not going to do anything differently, so let go of the stress of trying to make them follow the rules.

    You said that your daughter grabs masks and I was wondering how a 6 week old baby could do that. Then I remembered Canada offers much longer mat leave than the US. How nice

    #1009353 Reply

    You’re in a no-win situation. The likeliest outcome is not that your kid gets sick, but that your in-laws get sick and then can’t take care of the kid. So you should definitely start lining up backup childcare as it is.

    My aunt said that every time she wants to go to TJ Maxx she imagines herself with a respirator tube down her throat until it passes. Maybe a similar approach would work?

    #1009357 Reply

    @Helen she’s really a toddler now, as I’ve been on mat leave for 18 months. I feel for my American friends and hope they will have the same benefits one day soon.

    I think my anxiety around this is heightened by the loss of control that I’ve enjoyed by being at home for the duration of the pandemic, and, like @Kate says, our increased risk may just be something I have to deal with.

    That’s a sobering thought, @LisforLeslie, but my husband has had enough serious conversations with them that I would have thought it would sink in by now. Worth a try, though!

    #1009358 Reply

    So – I’ve found that some of the people that are most at risk of getting severely ill from Covid but still flout the restrictions do get what they are risking. Some are delusional and think Covid is fake, but many have a clear view of the situation and understand perfectly that their actions may result in them in the hospital on a respirator or in the ground.

    For them, the trade off of potentially avoiding death and suffering isn’t worth the certainty of loneliness and isolation right now.

    I’m not saying I agree, or would make the same choices if I were in their shoes, but all this to say, trying to reason or scare these people into a different risk calculation isn’t going to work. They get the potential consequences, they know a trip to TJ Maxx may result in them being on a ventilator, they’ve accepted that risk for themselves.

    I know this is frustrating, particularly when our loved ones are the ones won’t toe the line…but, we can’t control what other people do. Even in these extraordinary times. All we can control is what we do.

    In truth, your baby is likely not the one at risk here, nor likely are you and your husband. So, knowing you can’t change what your in laws do and that they bear the biggest burden, what do you want to do? Find alternative care? Accept that they’d prefer to put themselves at risk and accept they have the right to do so and carry on with your childcare plan?

    I don’t know what your right answer is – but I do know that getting them to change their behaviors is probably not one of the viable options at your disposal.

    #1009359 Reply

    There is a risk, but a low-risk. I find it difficult for your in-laws to wear a mask with a toddler. That is unnatural. The most important is for their regular visitors, like your BIF and his GF, to wear masks when they are at their place. You or preferably your husband could phone them and underline the necessity for them to be serious about wearing a mask at all times when they visit their parents – no meal there. This is as much for your in-laws than for your baby.
    If they are high-risk, they should soon get the vaccination, so your anxiety will decrease.
    I think that you get anxious because you are at the eve of going back to work after a long mat leave. This is a major stressor, a big change. Then, you will see, you will soon find it familiar and motivating again. And you will learn that there is no point in being anxious about your baby when you are at work. You can’t help there, you have no control on it, it is just a loss of energy. Focus on your work when you work, prepare the child care the best you can, then trust it and yourself and accept that there is no zero-risk situation, be grateful to your in-laws who are relatively disciplined nevertheless and kind to help, and don’t expect too much indeed. Enjoy your child when you are with her. Been there, done that. When I came back to work, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do my work properly, but after a few days, it was fine and everything settled properly. If there are problems, you will be able to address them appropriately with your husband. Good luck!

    #1009360 Reply

    Honestly? You returning to work —- along with your husband continuing to work is just as much a risk to your baby as the grandparents behavior. That’s just a very grim reality.

    It is REALLY worth this added risk to work two days a week? Eh… I think not.

    #1009362 Reply

    @BGM it would be nice if our family could subsist on one income, but it’s not feasible long-term. I’ll be working 3 days a week to start, with my husband caring for our daughter on Saturdays, but I’ll have to go full time within a few months to avoid depleting our savings.

    My husband has been working from home for the duration of the pandemic, and I’ve been applying for jobs that will allow me to do the same.

    #1009363 Reply

    Then you’ll have to accept the risk. But the reality is that you —- by going into any workplace three days a week —- are most likely the greater danger to your husband, yourself, and the baby than the grandparents are.

    #1009364 Reply

    @BGM – unfortunately if Lucidity’s maternity leave is about to run out, that may not be an option.

    And also, the mommy track wage gap is real, so if Lucidity would like to continue to have a career even as her child grows and becomes less dependent, she can’t stay out of the game all that long.

    COVID has been terrible in making us make really hard choices – either prioritize our health and safety RIGHT NOW, or make sure we don’t totally screw over our future selves.

    It sucks

    #1009365 Reply

    Hard decisions? Please. The virus has run rampant as far too many have refused to make the hard decisions. Instead, damn near most everybody has instead taken the best for them option. And here we are.

    Then again, maybe shutting down and trying to slow the virus has been a huge waste of time. Or simply a misguided effort.
    — yeilding feeble resulte. It certainly didb’t help us any in LA county.

    Honestly? I don’t know what to think any more. Or what to believe.

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