Just wondered what your opinions were on this. How to manage DP's expectations.

(535 Posts)
MinesADecaff Fri 07-Jun-13 10:53:26

DP and I are expecting our first baby. He has a DD who's 5 and who lives with us about 60% of the time.

Three days a week it's his responsibility to arrange childcare for her after school. At the moment a childminder picks her up and then DP collects her on his way back from work. I work FT too.

But now he's started talking about how, when I'm on maternity leave, I can start picking up DSD from school. But I really don't want to. Especially not in the first few months when I'm still getting to grips with being a new mum and feeling knackered.

I don't have any family or friends where we live - everyone is at least an hour away. So I'd be on my own with new babe plus DSD until DP got home.

I'm not completely averse to the idea once I've got a routine established with the new baby and I've found my feet a bit. But I've got a feeling that DP is going to be expecting me to be doing the school run the first Monday after he goes back from paternity leave.

AIBU to say that for the first six months or so I just want to be able to bond with my baby and find my feet as a mum without having to provide childcare for his DD too?

agnes2404 Sun 09-Jun-13 10:35:45

Judgemental toss. I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. OP - you set your own boundaries and do what you feel comfortable with.

Having first baby is often overwhelming and exhausting. Also beautiful and life changingly wonderful. I wish I'd set firmer boundaries around my commitments to my DSD based in what I know I can cope with rather than what I think I should be able to cope with.

I'm sure you do your best for your DSD, don't feel pressurised into doing more.

FrauMoose Sun 09-Jun-13 10:49:53

I think that doing what is best for a) oneself b) the new baby and c) a stepchild are not actually incompatible.

I accept everything that others have said about the particular exhaustion that may follow the birth of a baby who does not feed or sleep and/or who has health problems. And the need to be very much focused on getting them through the early months. However most babies, though tiring, are a bit easier. And if you accept other people's help - that also reduces the pressure. It is also true that if there's a good childminder on the scene, who an older child is very settled with, there's something to be said for keeping that relationship open.

My personal experience of this sort of situation was as follows. Before the birth of my daughter, my stepchildren were told by their mother and her friends and family. 'Oh FrauMoose may seem to be fond of you now. But when the new baby is born things will be very different.' It seemed rather important to assure my stepchildren that these dreadful warnings were wrong. They had a new sister and the fact that they were my baby's family made my stepchildren more important than ever. I also had bad memories of the arrival of my younger brother. My parents had been very focused on his arrival, but became cross and impatient with us around the time of his birth - and immediately afterwards. This had lasting consequences. I was very jealous of my brother, because I felt much less cared for.

Essentially making the effort to assure a stepchild - who may feel quite insecure about the birth of a sibling - that she is cared for and valued, will end up making your family life a lot happier. You can decide that all you really care about is your baby, and that all your other responsibilties are of no importance. But that it short-term thinking if you want to be part of a bigger and more stable family.

Sorry if that sounds preachy. And of course different people make different choices. But I am very glad that I acted as I did, and feel it has paid dividends.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Jun-13 10:59:51

I don't think your DSD's routine should be changed because you are on maternity leave with your baby. Keep the child minder in place and see how you both feel in a couple of months' time.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 09-Jun-13 11:01:23

In schools all over the country you find mothers with babies collecting- they don't opt out - the baby just has to slot in.

Yes. Mothers with babies. Not SM's.

The OP is not her DSD parent.

The OPs baby deserves the same undivided attention from the OP as the OPs DSD received from her Mum - the compromise in this blended family is that the father has other DCs, not both parents.

Baby or not, any parent who expects to be able to delegate their responsibility in this way purely on the basis that they have remarried/have a partner are failing their DCs.

Taking responsibility for someone else's child is something that should be willing offered - not obligated and expected.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Jun-13 11:02:54

Taking responsibility for someone else's child is something that should be willingly offered - not obligated and expected.

I agree 100%.

FrauMoose Sun 09-Jun-13 11:53:52

I think some people are very clear that they want boundaries. 'This is the Father's job. This is the Mother's job. I am a Stepmother. This is not my job. I will do this for My Child. I will not do that for Someone Else's Child.'

I think my line has been that I need to respect (try at all times to respect?) my stepchildren's relationship with their mother. But I have not found constantly resorting to these boundaries - other than in occasionally, in moments of crisis - particularly helpful.

This thread, for some reason, has reminded my of something I read in a biography about Johnny Cash, about his wife June. I went online to look for this and found the same info here. It is in Roseanne Cash's tribute to June, her stepmother.

http://www.myspace.com/junebug_blue/blog/507881122

I'd also been thinking about Arthur Miller's play 'All My Sons'. It's as if there - ideally - should be a kind of including generosity towards a circle of children, rather than a narrow focusing on those who are felt to be most 'yours'. And yes, I do know this is easier said than done.

seeker Sun 09-Jun-13 12:03:35

"Taking responsibility for someone else's child is something that should be willingly offered - not obligated and expected.

I agree 100%."

Does this mean you decide whether or not you want your own biological child to have a sibling relationship with your step child or not?

Bonsoir Sun 09-Jun-13 12:06:05

Well no, it doesn't.

babyhmummy01 Sun 09-Jun-13 12:36:26

I agree with notadisney and others who say you are not being unreasonable. This is your first child and you are going to need time etc, I am in a similar position in so much as do has other children. However I think the key is talking.

Have you explained how you feel to your do?

I have spoken to mine a lot and said that I want no one visiting for the first 24-48 hours and I don't care who that is and what relation they are. I have also said that whilst I have no.probs with dsc's visiting I don't want overnights for the first few weeks so have asked him to talk to his parents about them staying there. We only have a 1 bed flat atm and I want to try and get settled before we have to start moving cribs out of bedroom into lounge when its our contact weekends.

I have also talked to the dsc's about it and explained that I will be very tired and baby will be up a lot in the night etc for feeds and have asked if they would mind staying with HP's rather than us and they are so far quite happy.

I do the school run once a week and am quite looking forward to doing it with baby, but I drive and I am not sure I would want to do the return journey on the bus with baby either so I do empathise.

I do think 6 months is a bit long decaff maybe a compromise of 3 months would be better. But then as some have Saud if you need cm etc after maternity leave you may need to find out if cm will.ring fence a place. All things you should find out before you make a decision.

Also talk to dad about how she feels, like someone up thread said, she may need/want that 1:1 time with her dad even more now she has to share him.

Good luck and please don't let the "anti" brigade upset you. Just because its.not what they would do.doesn't mean its not right for you to do xxx

LittleBearPad Sun 09-Jun-13 12:36:36

Talk to your DP about waiting til the baby's born to decide. In the first few weeks you may want to keep the status quo ie 3 days with childminder however as you find your feet you may want to pick up SD one, two or three times a week. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

If SD is happy with childminder then it may be good to keep her there at least one day a week so their relationship continues for when you go back to work. It could solve your own childcare question when the time comes.

needaholidaynow Sun 09-Jun-13 13:43:18

Yes. Mothers with babies. Not SM's.

Hit the nail on the head there NADM ! When DS1 starts school I will have DS2 with me who will be 2 by that point. That's because I am their mother. I am not DSD's mother so I won't be taking my DS1 (2) and DS2 (3 mo) to pick her up because I won't be picking her up. They both shouldn't have to fit in to a strict and rigid routine each week because there are other things I could really be doing with them, which may simply involve chilling at home watching a film when it is chucking it down outside. No, the school runs are a responsibility that DSD's mum and dad should do and not me just because I am her SM. my kids don't just "slot" in to it!

seeker Sun 09-Jun-13 14:02:15

So you are not treating the step child as a "proper" sibling for your child? Because most people, I would say, think it's a good idea for a child to spend as much time as possible with a new baby. The sibling relationship needs to be worked on- even more so when it's a "step" relationship.

I think yabu tbh, the school run with a pram will be fine and it shouldn't be a problem. You are over worrying about something very simple that most mums have to do everyday except she isn't biologically yours.
Pfbism at it's very best, and tbf it isn't fair & doesn't make financial sense for the dsd to be picked up by a childminder when you are available to do it yourself.
You and your dh are a partnership & you must respect he has a child also.

needaholidaynow Sun 09-Jun-13 14:15:16

Picking a step child up from school is not the determining factor of maintaining a good sibling relationship though is it? They don't miss each other because of it. They spend a lot of time at home with each other, so by me not picking DsD up it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference. DP is off so he can bloody do it!

NotaDisneyMum Sun 09-Jun-13 14:25:46

You are over worrying about something very simple that most mums have to do everyday except she isn't biologically yours.

You know what? SM spend their whole lives doing this!

It's not like a DSC/SM relationship can be compared to other "non-biological" mother/child arrangements - there are biological parents whose opinion and responsibility will always overrule that of a SM.

Like most SM issues, it's the inconsistency that is more disrespectful than anything else. SMs are equal when it comes to the school run, Drs appointments and other less convenient aspects of parenting and should suck it up and get on with it.
Suggest that same SM has an equal say in her DSD's ear-piercing, haircut, prom dress selection, sex-ed, or curfew time, and suddenly SM isn't a 'parent' after all.

OP, if you want to prove a point to your DP and his ex, do the school run and pop into Clare's on the way home to have your DSD ears/nose/belly button pierced; after all, you've as much responsibility for your DSD as they have because you chose to be with her Dad wink

Slambang Sun 09-Jun-13 14:26:09

Compromise.

For the first 2 to 3 months you don't know how you will find having a baby. You don't know how life will feel or if you can cope with the simplest things like having a shower. Tell dh you will see how you feel but to start with it's best for his dd to carry on her normal routine of going to a childminder.

After 3 months or so, life will be on a more even keel. Then you could start picking up more of dsd's care. perhaps reduce the childminder days to just once or twice a week.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Jun-13 14:29:46

No seeker, stepchildren absolutely do not need to spend as much time as possible with a new half-sibling in order to have a great relationship.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Sun 09-Jun-13 14:40:35

As others have said, there are plenty of full siblings who stay in their normal childcare arrangements when a new baby arrives, if money allows.

OP, if your DSD stops going to the childminder for 6-12 months, will the space be there still?

If money is not the issue you could pick DSD up from the childminder's early sometimes.

NatashaBee Sun 09-Jun-13 14:42:14

Well said NADM.

seeker Sun 09-Jun-13 15:10:19

"No seeker, stepchildren absolutely do not need to spend as much time as possible with a new half-sibling in order to have a great relationship."

So, different from "ordinary" siblings, then?

Bonsoir Sun 09-Jun-13 15:13:19

I don't think siblings need "to spend as much time as possible" with a new baby either! I'm of the school of thought that siblings in nuclear families spend far too much time together anyway.

FrauMoose Sun 09-Jun-13 15:36:27

This isn't a question that is one right answer to. But is having a new (first) baby that hard if the baby is reasonably healthy? I was in my late thirties and had a forceps delivery with some tearing, plus an infection after childbirth that needed treatment. I breastfed and my baby woke about three times a night for feeds. I didn't have any difficulty with milk supply, but there was the usual soreness at first. I put her in terry nappies so there was more laundry to do. (I also had my stepchildren staying overnight in the normal routine at the normal times which meant wet laundry as neither of them were dry at night.) I did feel extra-ordinarily tired at times. We were also pretty skint, so there were some concerns about money.

But from the very first week I carried on doing freelance work at home. I went out and saw friends. I just got on with life. I didn't think, 'Oh I now A Mother and must Bond with my Baby above all other things and all other people.' I am not underestimating the major upheavals and adjustments and the fact that you want to do the right thing for a very small human being. But there is a great deal to be said for Keeping Calm and Carrying On.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Jun-13 15:45:29

Sure, but in the OP's case normal routine is that DSD goes to a CM. "Carrying on" would mean carrying on with that routine, surely?

LittleBearPad Sun 09-Jun-13 17:14:51

Bonsoir That argument could be made with regard to any older sibling (step or not) when a mother/step mother is on maternity leave but previously worked and used a childminder.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 09-Jun-13 17:28:18

litlebear exactly! when it is a full-sibling relationship, the parents make the decision together whether or not to continue to pay for the childcare that they agreed on (together) or whether to change the arrangements for their older DC in order to save money/allow bonding.

In this case, the DC's parents have decided to change the arrangements for their DC and place her in the care of the OP against the OP's own opinion and wishes, because she is available, in order to save themselves money - which the OP will not benefit from in any way.

The fact that the OP isn't confident that she can provide the older sibling with what she will need, the fact that the older sibling hasn't been cared for in this way by the OP before and the fact that the OP doesn't have authority to parent the older sibling as she feels is right seems to have been totally overlooked!

If the OP's DSD "needs" her, as some posters have suggested, then it implies the parents are not meeting their DC's needs. Why on earth should the OP divide her time between her own newborn DC and one who has two parents already, just because those parents are absolving themselves of that responsibility?

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