If your ex doesn't have the kids for any length of time, do you ever stop yearning for a break?

(24 Posts)
marryinhaste Sun 19-May-13 11:07:27

Ex has been gone 8 months. We have 2 dcs - 5 and 2.

Since he went, he sees the kids on average once a week (no pattern to visits, he works shifts and will never arrange anything until the last minute). Most visits are on a week night so he will turn up at 7pm, do bath time for them both and put one dc to bed - I have to do the other. Occasionally he will come at the weekend and take them down the road to the park - he never takes them any further, and doesn't ever suggest doing anything different with them. So, I never get a real break.

I work Monday - Thursday in a job that I really need to put extra hours into. I often work when the kids are in bed.

I feel stretched beyond belief, no family nearby and while I'm making friends through the kids, it's a slow process. I just need a few hours of peace once in a while. I am so grumpy to the kids, and they deserve so much more. I am sitting here putting off doing anything with them today as I am just shattered.

Ex is off work today, and I asked him on Tuesday if he would be coming to spend time with the kids so I could actually get out and do something today. He agreed, but when I asked him last night what time he'd be round, her said it wouldn't be til after 3 as he has things to do. I hate that he is the only person who can give me a break - I'm sure he uses it as the last bit of control he can exert over me.

So, if anyone has been in a similar position, do you ever stop wishing for time off? Do you just get used to it eventually - I know it's already improved loads for me, but I'm not sure I will ever get used to no break at all. Or should I be trying to find a way to get a break - though not sure how. Not sure I can justify getting a babysitter just so I can sleep or read!

SEWannabe Sun 19-May-13 11:42:15

Marryinhaste- no, you are not the only one. My Ex and I split up when our children were 1 and 5 and he used to do the same as your Ex (turn up as and when).
I lived like that for 3 or so years, at which point I was tearing my hair out, so I put my foot down.
I told him that he either had the children for 1 full day every weekend, or a whole weekend every other weekend.
He had a bit of a hissy fit about it, but when he saw that he wasn't going to back down, he agreed to every other weekend from Fri 6pm-Sunday 11am (although this was flexible, depending on his work hours, sometimes he dropped them off earlier/later on the Sunday).

I would try (as much as you can) to come to the same/similar arrangement with your Ex, as it gives you some 'me' time.

SEWannabe Sun 19-May-13 11:43:38

Sorry for the typos, i meant to say "when he saw that I wasn't going to back down".

FrickingFedUp Sun 19-May-13 11:44:46

I think you need to make a more formal arrangement with your ex - your children are his responsibility as well as yours. Hope you get it sorted soon.

marryinhaste Sun 19-May-13 12:04:55

Thanks for the responses - I'm not sure I'm going to be able to pin down days for him just yet - he works 13 days out of 14 (I think, though he's do vague I never really know) He's quite new in his job so he is still on the spare rota, which changes daily if I believe him. When he does early shifts he is "too tired" to come and see the kids after work. I am trying to be flexible for the kids' sake (and tbh so I get at least some help occasionally) but it is unsustainable. I completely agree that the dc are his responsibility too, but he just doesn't take it, so not sure how to force him to? I am just too tired to think straight!

SEWannabe Sun 19-May-13 12:10:40

Unfortunately, you can't 'force' him to take responsibility. How well do you get on with him? Would he be receptive to a discussion about it?
If he ever finishes earlier on in the day, for example, he could come straight over and pick the children up and take them out for dinner.

I remember the tiredness, and lack of free time all too well, so my heart goes out to you. I had no family close either. Just hand on in there, things gets better and children get older.

marryinhaste Sun 19-May-13 12:37:41

We get on ok most of the time, until he let's the kids down again then I get angry at him (last week he refused to come to DDs birthday party because I hadn't involved him in organising it - considering we don't hear from him for days at a time I don't see how that would have worked!)

He doesn't even know where DD's childminder is as she started there just as he left, and he won't go to DS's nursery since he thinks they give him dodgy looks since we separated (they don't, he always sees things like this that don't actually exist). He would never take them out for dinner as "the CSA take all his money" - he came to DD's meal out on her birthday, but didn't pay a penny towards it - didn't even have a couple of quid for a tip when I asked him. Oh and he turned up without so much as a card for DD, too. He is quite hard work, as you can tell from the above, so I think I need to find other ways for a break as relying on him is sending me round the bend!

SEWannabe Sun 19-May-13 13:00:40

That sounds just like how my Ex was in the beginning too. It's bloody hard work.
Yes, I agree that finding other ways of getting a break is preferable.

I see that you work Mon-Thur, are you able to leave the children for an extra hour with the childminder/nanny, and take just an hour for you?
Or get out for an hour during your lunch break? It's not really a huge amount of time, but if you organise something (like a picnic in the park by yourself, or invite a few friends to meet you for lunch at a cafe) it may be the difference between sanity and insanity.

marryinhaste Sun 19-May-13 13:31:18

Thanks for talking to me, by the way - it is so nice to find someone who knows how I feel! Though I'm sorry you had to deal with the same crap!

Unfortunately my hours are 9am to 5pm and as it is I'm arriving ten minutes late and leaving 15 mins early every day to drop off/pick up on time. So I tend to work through my lunch break to make that time up - where I work most people do 2/3 hours extra every day (for free!) just to keep on top of everything so I feel I'm not really pulling my weight at all.

I know it will get better as the kids get older - the 2 year old is particularly challenging most of the time, and isn't old enough to be left at playdates/parties yet but that will come - it just seems a long way off!

It doesn't help that my mum was planning to move a bit closer (currently 500 miles away) but now needs a major op so that has been postponed at least for a year - and in the meantime I don't really feel I can offload on her as she is going through hard times herself just now.

It has really helped just having someone to talk to, thanks!

Yika Sun 19-May-13 14:05:13

Can you afford a babysitter for a few hours every now and then? I'm thinking daytime babysitting, like on a Saturday afternoon so that you could do something for yourself. It would help make you less dependent on your ex. I do get breaks as my ex has my 2.5 year old regularly but recently when staying with family no one helped me and I didn't get a minute's break and it made such a horrible difference to my mood and behaviour towards my DD I really sympathise.

SEWannabe Sun 19-May-13 15:02:15

You're welcome, I remember those years all too well, and they were not pleasant.
How approachable is your boss? Would you be able to ask if you could take work home with you to do in the evening (if you would feel OK to do that as a trade for lunchtime), so that you get a proper lunchtime?
I have never had an approachable, family-friendly boss though, so I understand that may not be possible!

I think that you need to prioritize yourself and your needs. I know, it is hard work, and can seem impossible (oh God, really believe me, i know exactly how it can seem that way), but nobody will take your needs seriously until you do.

Like Yika says, if money isn't too much of an issue, you could get a Friday/Saturday afternoon of babysitting, and go off and do something for just yourself.

Or a Friday could be spent getting to know other mums at the local toddler club/childrens centre etc, and building up a base of mum friends. I did this, and ended up having an active social life in my own home as I'd invite them for drinks/dinner/movie nights when the kids were in bed. If they had kids too, and no babysitter, all the kids would come too, and we'd have a massive sleepover.

Have you formalised things through the court/solicitors?

Would he come to a mediation session to discuss things calmly?

I totally agree about you needing a break, and regularly too,but if you can make it about the children , he is less likely to argue, or at least not without seeming to be a feckless father.

EOW or a part of it that fits reasonably around his shifts plus/minus a midweek evening/overnight is standard.

Why is he coming to the house? He really needs to make arrangements to see them at his place or agreed third party house,trusted friend or family member.

I know this is difficult at first but it helps the kids to understand he has gone & form new traditions & habits some with you some with him. It is important to reinforce that he is not with you as deep down that's what kids want at first.

Can some of your new friends help out for a swap of a sleepover /playdate occasionally? Or can some of your family come & stay or have you to stay with the DC's & take over to let you recharge your batteries?

Raaraathenoisybaby Sun 19-May-13 16:24:40

He had things to do.....Jesus wept that made me cross!

What's his accommodation?
On Fridays I take it dc1 at school. Could you manage an extra morning at nursery once in a while? Claim it through wtc.

I am a lp with two under 4 and in to my second year of single parenthood. I found the first year v tough but now it's much easier. I am well used to not having a break.

I am a bit blunt about these things but this putting the kids to bed one each sounds invasive and frustrating. I personally wouldn't want that bit if you do I suggest you be ready to go out as soon as he turns up and leave for a few hours.

Raaraathenoisybaby Sun 19-May-13 16:25:14

And I agree wig others insist on regular schedule of contact

SnoopyLovesYou Sun 19-May-13 17:11:32

I agree about the ex coming into your house. It doesn't give you a break at all!
My only suggestion is to try and grab relaxation time when kids w you. Doing things that you like if possible, taking appropriate-length-breaks really regularly, treating yourself, meeting friends...

Ask people you know to help out. It's really hard asking! Maybe 'child swapping' with another parent or single parent to share Childcare a bit?

PurpleThing Sun 19-May-13 18:35:01

My ex sounds very similar, things to do, rota always changing, everyone is mean to him etc. It has taken a lot of hard work on my part but now he has just about got the rules, that things must be agreed in advance.

Agree that you have to insist this is for the dcs (it is of course), not as you need a break as he clearly doesn't give a monkeys. He's your ex for a reason right? Stick to your guns.

You say you can't justify childcare just for your leisure but if you had a nervous breakdown tomorrow, ex is not going to be able to care for them, neither is your mum. It is in their best interest to keep yourself functioning. But making friends with other parents is a good plan too.

girliefriend Sun 19-May-13 19:00:26

I found it got a bit eaiser when dd started school as at least then I had some time during the week to catch up on shopping, house work and occasionally meet a friend for coffee!!

Your ex sounds like an idiot tbh angry

marryinhaste Sun 19-May-13 22:33:31

Thanks for all the suggestions - I am definitely going to try and formalise contact more, and think about how to get a break either on Friday or a Sat afternoon.

I don't know where ex lives - he originally refused to give me his address and I haven't asked recently. I assume it's a bedsit near where he works.

The reason he comes here is because most contact is on a weeknight - I don't get home with the kids til 6pm, and he often isn't here until 7 and the kids are in bed by 8 (in theory) so I don't really know else the contact would work.

This is definitely the hardest, most frustrating thing I have ever faced.

thornrose Sun 19-May-13 22:43:52

My ex used to come round to my house for contact. It certainly wasn't a break as inevitably dd would want me to be in the room so I couldn't even get things done then.
I think it does get easier, in my experience the first year was hardest. My ex couldn't bear the idea of me getting a break or heaven forbid going out, at first. He'd do anything to make contact as awkward as possible, it did improve though.
You CAN justify childcare for your leisure, it is really important you get some time out, so don't feel guilty about that.
It is hard and frustrating sad

PurpleThing Sun 19-May-13 22:54:19

I found it very hard having ex here as you can't relax as you are being exposed to their twatishness, plus trying to keep dc happy while not getting in the way. That is not a break and I think is confusing to the dc.

Maybe he just sees them on his day off? Up to him to arrange his work so he can have contact. Not for you to bend over backwards. A good parent would do anything to see their children, don't feel you have to manage everything.

Could he Skype them in between? Bedtime story etc.

It does get easier once you've sorted things out and settled into your own space. What if you let someone (when/how that could happen, I know!), would he still be coming over to your house?!

PurpleThing Sun 19-May-13 22:56:38

met someone

marryinhaste Sun 19-May-13 23:20:03

That's so true about a good parent doing whatever they can to see their kids - that's what really gets me in this. For all his faults, I thought he was devoted to his kids - since he's been gone, though (and for a good few months before tbh) it has all been about him. He openly says he has to put himself first (which is alien to me, as I don't have the luxury of doing that). He doesn't actually seem to have much interest in the kids, other than using them to get at me.

I was looking at old holiday snaps where he is hand in hand with both kids and wonder how he has got so far from that. Even paying the CSA is a hardship for him - where is my option to only pay 20% of my net pay towards the kids and no more? All my money goes on childcare/bills and he is bitching about 20 sodding percent.

Right, better get to sleep so the whole merry-go-round can start again tomorrow. I am not looking forward to work tomorrow - I so should have done some work over the weekend sad

PurpleThing Sun 19-May-13 23:38:29

OMFG ex is exactly the same, "I have to put myself first", "I can't afford X as I give you so much money." He really, really wanted children, I didn't and now I am the one giving everything to looking after ds while he goes to gigs and buys himself crap. Realising ds isn't his number one priority is probably harder than anything else that has happened.

marryinhaste Mon 20-May-13 08:52:27

Ha, I didn't think there was anyone else self obsessed to say things like that, but you have one too! They are total idiots aren't they? All they miss out on because they can't be arsed to put the effort in - the reason I finally asked ex to leave (after months of him telling me he was only staying with me because of the children) was because DD was reading to him for the first time ever, sat on his knee. And he was totally ignoring her, looking over her shoulder watching Ice Age on the tv!! Even when he comes round now, for his hour a week/fortnight/whatever he feels like he ignores them to watch kids tv. Drives me crazy!

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